Park, Jun Hwan, U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK - To aid research on 'Economic Crisis and Ritual Revival: The Case of Urban Popular Religion in Seoul, Korea,' supervised by Dr. Heonik Kwon
JUN HWAN PARK, then a student at University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, was awarded funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'Economic Crisis and Ritual Revival: The Case of Urban Popular Religion in Seoul, South Korea,' supervised by Dr.Heonik Kwon. Money plays an important role in the relationship between the living and the dead in contemporary South Korea. In shamanistic ritual practices in particular, money notes are one of the principal means of making and reshaping relationship between the living actors and the various supernatural identities invited to the ritual. In this context, money contributes not only to connecting the two ontologically distinct groups of beings but also to changing their relationships. The reception of money may transform ghosts to ancestors; the absence of money may mean, for an ancestor, that its status becomes close to that of a ghost. With the act of offering money, the living may feel that they have paid relevant tribute to ancestors and, thus, feel freed from guilt of not strictly participating in their ritual obligations. The research explores the powerful presence of money in religious norms and practices of modern South Koreans, partly in historical perspective, paying attention to the history of industrial modernisation in the past decades and also drawing upon ideas about money and monetisation of social relations in existing sociological theories.
Khanduri, Dr. Ritu, U. of Texas, Arlington, TX - To aid research and writing on 'Caricaturing Culture: Cartoons, History, and Modernity in India' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. RITU KHANDURI, University of Texas, Arlington, Texas, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2010, to aid research and writing on 'Caricaturing Culture: Cartoons, History and Modernity in India.' During the fellowship tenure, the grantee completed the manuscript, revising chapters and incorporating new research completed in 2009 and 2010. The manuscript is currently under review.
Fly, Jessie Kimmel, U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Unnatural Disasters: Coping Strategies and the Legacy of Agent Orange in the Mekong Delta,' supervised by Dr. Ted L. Gragson
JESSIE K. FLY, then a student at University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Unnatural Disasters: Coping Strategies and the Legacy of Agent Orange in the Mekong Delta,' supervised by Dr. Ted Gragson. Much of the recent literature on strategies for coping with food insecurity emerges from communities with subsistence-based economies and highlights the importance of a diversity of resources, or 'capitals,' from which households can draw to procure food. This research project, conducted over a one-year period from 2007 to 2008, sought to understand how people cope with food insecurity in a rapidly changing natural and economic environment. The research focused on three coastal hamlets in Tra Vinh, Vietnam, that were swept into world shrimp markets in the late 1990s. Now, with aquaculture crops failing, mixed messages from the government about environmental conservation, the rising costs of inputs, and the falling price of shrimp, many households find themselves coping not only with regular seasonal food shortages but also with mounting debt and variable access to the necessary resources to cope with those food shortages. This project used a combination of ethnographic methods, including oral-history interviews, livelihoods surveys, and a weekly food frequency survey that captured data on dietary diversity and household methods of food procurement, in order to document changing coping strategies across space and time.
Anand, Nikhil, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Water: The Limits of the Commodity and its Neoliberal State,' supervised by Dr. Akhil Gupta
NIKHIL ANAND, then a student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'The Social Life of Water: The Limits of the Commodity and its Neoliberal State,' supervised by Dr. Akhil Gupta. The research focuses on the political ecology of urban infrastructures, and the social and material relations that they entail. Through an ethnography of 'The Social Life of Water' in one of Mumbai's many informal settlements, the grantee follows the anxious arrangements that informal residents made to get water, and the tenuous ways in which they established themselves as deserving urban citizens. Through eighteen months of fieldwork, Nikhil situated himself in one of Mumbai's many informal settlements to learn of the diverse social arrangements that residents made to get water. He also worked with city water engineers to understand the ways in which state functionaries responded to the petitions of the poor. Through conversations, interviews, and site visits, he learned of the ways in which they see themselves and the work of water supply. This research urges an attention to the ways in which informal residents petition and request community volunteers to mobilize the city's water department to carry out public works. Mobilizing social relations, the poor have made some measured urban gains over the last two decades. Such political practices are not those of rights-bearing citizens, but instead of a very personal, compromised politics that have been enabled by representational democracy and its leaky state.
Webb, Martin, U. of Sussex, Brighton, UK - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Anti-Corruption in India,' supervised by Dr. Geert deNeve
MARTIN WEBB, then a student at University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'The Social Life of Anti-Corruption in India,' supervised by Dr. Geert deNeve. This project looks at the social life of anti-corruption activist networks in Delhi, India. These networks contain a wide range of people and groups, from the social elite of lawyers, activists, journalists and ex-military and civil service people working on high level policy issues, to some of the poorest in the city living in slums and doing the daily work of the 'community mobilizer' in activist groups that work in very specific localities. This social world provides a space in which to investigate how power relations based on class, caste, gender and education operate and facilitate the work that groups do, as well as providing an historical perspective through contact with older activists who had been involved in previous movements for ethical change. A focus on the relationships between these actors reveals how everyday life and livelihoods are caught up in a scene that connects urban slum dwellers to elite individuals and then on to national and international sources of funding that enable them all to continue to muddle through the work that they do.
Reisnour, Nicole Joanna, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Sounding the Immaterial: The Sonic Politics of Adat and Agama in Post-Authoritarian Bali,' supervised by Dr. Martin Fellows Hatch
Preliminary abstract: What happens when something invisible is made publicly audible? How do objects and practices that make the unseen perceivable mediate sociality in contemporary Bali? This project is an investigation of the religious and communal attachments that are produced, sustained, and transformed, through specific practices of making and manipulating sound. Through twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork--focusing primarily on the explicitly religious and customary use of bell towers (kulkul) and loudspeakers, but also considering a variety of musical and popular sound practices through which individuals and communities interact with, and intervene in, the immaterial world of spirits and the divine (niskala)--this study will pursue the following research questions: 1) What semiotic ideologies and affective sensibilities mediate engagements with sound in contemporary Bali?; 2) How do the specific material qualities of sounds contribute to their affective and semiotic agency?; and 3) How do sounds participate in negotiating the boundaries of adat (custom), agama (religion), and their various others (e.g. the modern, the secular, the state) in the post-authoritarian context? Ultimately, this study will provide insight into ongoing debates concerning the proper limits of religious and customary authority in Bali, which have been receiving renewed investment since the 1998 collapse of Suharto's New Order regime.
Lai, Lili, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Beyond the Economic Peasant: Embodiment and Healthcare in Rural Henan,' supervised by Dr. Judith B. Farquhar
LILI LAI, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was awarded a grant in June 2005 to aid research on 'Beyond the Economic Peasant: Embodiment and Healthcare in Rural Henan,' supervised by Dr. Judith B. Farquhar. This dissertation project seeks to provide a better understanding of 'rural' realities in today's mobile Chinese society, through an ethnographic interrogation of daily practice, attitudes (at household, community, and county government levels), policy history, and local memory in Henan, China. It aims to demonstrate that the rural-urban distinction is a mobile, relative dyad and shows how at every point a person's (or place's, or practice's) 'ruralness' or urban sophistication is an intimate, local quality. This research project focuses on everyday social practice in order to gain insight into forms of embodiment and local cultural worlds, bringing together questions concerning everyday life, the body, and peasant status. The phase of the research funded by Wenner-Gren was conducted at two sites: a migrant community in northwestern Beijing from October to November 2006, and the village in Henan Province in December of 2006. The major concern at the Beijing site was how preparation for the 2008 Olympics affected the life of migrant laborers from Henan. The major questions were centered on the rural-urban (dis)interaction and more importantly, discourses about the peasants. And the major task at the village was to complete the village gazetteer project in collaboration with the village committee and concrete historical data on local production, education, consumption, transportation and construction to this gazetter were added through the archival research in the county seat and interviews with senior villagers.
Gill, Dr. Harjant Singh, Towson U., Towson, MD - To aid filmmaking on ''Sent Away Boys' - Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: 'Sent Away Boys' is a 30-minute documentary film that provides an intimate look at the gendered process of transnational migration as captured through the journey of a young Indian man named Pali moving from a village in Punjab to the urban metropolis of Toronto. Pali, like many of peers, does not see a secure economical future in India. His definition of being a successful man include being able to migrate and settle abroad, remit money home, sponsor the migration of other family members, and thereby acquiring the social and cultural capital associated with being a transnational migrant. While obtaining a visa to Canada is a celebratory occasion for Pali and his family, his departure is marked simultaneously by a sense of sorrow and loss as his parents make the incredibly difficult decision to send their son away. We see Pali leave his childhood home, his neighborhood and his German shepherd named Rocky behind, knowing that he will not return for many years. We see Pali's parents, driving him to the airport knowing that they will not see their beloved son for a while. Even though South Asian men enjoy the privileges that accompany being a man, the film reveals the tremendous pressure migrant men experience to live up to certain gendered expectations to be successful. 'Sent Away Boys' reflects on the journeys migrants undertake, the sacrifices families make, and the social and economic conditions that necessitate such decisions. It also shows how a particular geographical and cultural space is transformed when an overwhelming number of young men have left or aspire to leave.
Berthin, Michael Edwin, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'An Ethnographic Examination of Social Robots in Japan,' supervised by Dr. Rita Astuti
MICHAEL BERTHIN, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'An Ethnographic Examination of Social Robots in Japan,' supervised by Dr. Rita Astuti. This research project examined social robots in Japan. The question for this project was simply to ask, 'Can a robot be social?' This question is intended to be not only about robots themselves but also about the fundamental meaning of 'social.' First, fieldwork at robotics research laboratories showed that the motivations for roboticists usually fit into three broad categories: science for those who want to do basic research about topics such as human cognition or emotions; engineering for those who are interested in directly making practical and useful devices; and the 'cool factor' for those who are simply fascinated by robots or technology in and of themselves. Second, ethnographic research was done with people in wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are not like social robots in that people don't have dialogues with them, but they are also intimate machines in the sense that people rely on them and spend all their time in them. Further, people at the center rely heavily on helpers who assist in most daily tasks. This is a role roboticists envision for high-end social robots. The result of this research shows the relation between abstract reasoning in the lab and day-to-day life for people in wheelchairs.