Samarawickrema, Nethra Anjana., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Trade and Trust Amongst Sri Lankan Trading Families in the Indian Ocean,' supervised by Dr. Sharika Thiranagama
Preliminary abstract: During Sri Lanka's civil war, moments of spectacular violence--riots, mass displacements, and bombings--received much popular and scholarly attention, as did the claims of competing Sinhala and Tamil nationalisms that the island's ethnic relations were constituted by intractable conflicts. In this process, everyday economic exchanges across ethnic lines that persisted during and after the war have become occluded from view. Seeking to attend to such exchanges, my research focuses on gold and gem trading networks that draw a diverse range of actors--Muslim merchants, Sinhalese miners, and Tamil jewelers and goldsmiths--linking small costal and hinterland towns with the capital, and with markets in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong. Through ethnographic research with gold and gem family firms and their local and transnational trading partners, my project will investigate how Sri Lankan traders build inter-generational commercial relations across multiple registers of affinity and difference. Examining these exchanges through wider frames than the nation state, and beyond the confines of war, it will also inquire how local commerce is shaped by traders' efforts to access transnational capital in the Indian Ocean. While doing so, my project places traders' notions of trust at the center of ethnographic inquiry. It asks how traders conceptualize trust, invoke it, employ it to maintain credit across ethnic lines, and use claims about trust to signal hierarchical relations of class, and caste. By focusing on trust, rather than on polarizing notions of ethnic conflict and cosmopolitanism, my research will contribute new frameworks to analyze the ambivalent and contingent social relations that shape trade in contemporary Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean.
Mahadev, Neena, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
NEENA MAHADEV, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. The rise in global Pentecostal Christianity has begun to affect Sri Lanka over recent decades, inciting Buddhist nationalists to revive their efforts to protect against the possibility that Christianity will supplant Buddhism as the majority religion of the country. This research attended to the discourses and practices involved in protecting Theravada Buddhism, as well as to new practices of evangelism and charismatic Christianity in Sri Lanka. The fieldwork considered sub/urban religious landscapes where conversions to charismatic Christianity have been relatively concentrated within certain socioeconomic demographic groups, in contrast to predominantly Buddhist tsunami-affected areas where conversions have been gradual, limited, and dispersed across southern districts. In the crosscut between Buddhist nationalism and Pentecostal evangelism in Sri Lanka, this project took up the following ethnographic tasks: 1) to study the events that have caused a resurgence of exclusivist religious doctrines and practices, exacerbating Buddhist-Christian discord in Sri Lanka; 2) to study the impacts of heightened tensions on Buddhist and Christian institutions and individuals; 3) to gain knowledge about the workings of both harmonious and discordant inter-religious relationships; and 4) to understand how experiences of belonging within families and within village communities did or did not match ideologies of exclusivity promoted by religious authorities.
Ibrahim, Farhana, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Crafting the Nation: Artisanal production in Contemporary India,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini P. Munasinghe
FARHANA IBRAHIM, while a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on artisanal production in contemporary India, under the supervision of Dr. Viranjini P. Munasinghe. Ibrahim focused her research on questions of political and cultural identity in a border zone. Her work with a pastoral-nomadic community in the western Indian state of Gujarat employed ethnographic data from the district of Kachchh along with textual analysis to critically investigate the modern postcolonial state from the margins. The 'ethnographic moment' was a moment of crisis, which provided a unique historical opportunity in which to turn the ethnographic lens toward a subject as diffuse as the state. This moment of crisis was situated between two critical events in the region: an earthquake in January 2001 and sectarian violence (Hindu-Muslim riots) in March 2002, both of which had far-reaching effects on the physical and ideological landscape of the region. Thirteen months of field research and archival work on the 'edges' of the state (both geographically and temporally, in such a moment of crisis) offered Ibrahim an opportunity to look through the cracks of the ideological constructs employed by the state in its quest for legitimacy. She used detailed vignettes of the social production of religious identities, the construction and practice of citizenship, religious nationalism, and the 'nationalization' of a regional identity in order to reflect on her larger questions.
Darmadi, Dadi, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'The Hajj, Reinvented: Pilgrimage, Mobility and Inter-State Organizations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
DADI DARMADI, while a student at Harvard University, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'The Hajj, Reinvented: Pilgrimage, Mobility and Inter-State Organizations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia,' supervised by Professor Engseng Ho. The grantee conducted twelve months of research on the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in March 2007, working with Indonesian pilgrims, bureaucrats, middlemen and other key actors in the Hajj business -- spiritual guides, tour and travel agents, government officials, leaders and activists of Islamic organizations, and migrant workers. The research was designed to investigate the consequences of state-to-state organization of the Hajj between a country with the largest contingent (over 200,000 pilgrims) and its host. Research was conducted in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and during the pilgrimage itself, and provides an analysis of the burgeoning pilgrimage bureaucracy by emphasizing the actual rather than the ideal workings of state-sponsored Hajj administration. It shows that various groups of middlemen in both countries have a far greater role in shaping the contemporary practice of the Hajj than was previously believed and, while both governments seek to serve and protect pilgrims from organizational failures, the state regulation often becomes a vehicle for private gain at public expense. The social context of bureaucratization and marketization of pilgrimage were examined through a multi-sited ethnography including direct observation, interviews, and participatory research during the Hajj Islamic pilgrimage, and documented by an in-depth study of both state regulations and recent popular Hajj literature. The key aim of this ethnographic research is to provide useful analysis and enlighten anthropological understanding of such major ritual practice as the Hajj and its complex relationships with government and market institutions.
Sheldon, Victoria Lynne Charlotte, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'The 'Natural' is Political: Transforming Cancer, Temporality, and Ethical Relations Through 'Nature Cure' in Kerala,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek
Preliminary abstract: My project examines how alternative therapeutic expressions of cancer transform in relation to moral and political imaginaries in Kerala, south India. Despite having a rich history of holistic therapy, the last fifteen years has seen a dramatic rise in what is locally called 'Nature Cure' (prakriti chikitsa). In opposition to the state 'Medical Mafia', 'natural' therapies have been increasingly used to manage Kerala's rising chronic 'lifestyle' illness: cancer. At 7-day 'cure camps' held throughout India's 'cancer capital', patients within early and advanced stages of cancer practice a diverse set of non-invasive therapeutic modalities, linked together through their common idiom of being 'natural' and through explicit reference to Gandhian virtues of nonviolence (ahimsa), self-rule (swaraj) and 'truth force' (satyagraha). It has been argued that Gandhi's somatic politics have declined in public significance since Indian Independence, due to the market logic of mass media (Alter 2000; Mazzarella 2010). Yet in Kerala, Gandhian theories of the body and temporality have become central to 'Nature Cure.' This is not a revival: during the late colonial period, caste movements and communism in Kerala informed politics far more than did Gandhian nationalism (Menon 1994). My research question is: how do investments in particular forms of 'natural' therapy for the rising regional issue of cancer reimagine the body and serve as symptoms of social ferment and sites of post-colonial political action?
Milne, Dr. Sarah, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research and writing on 'Saving Nature? The Politics and Practice of Internatinal Conservation in Cambodia' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: This project examines contemporary global efforts to 'save nature', as seen in the ideas and practices of big conservation organisations. It is important to study these organisations through a critical anthropological lens, because they now have significant influence over how natural resources are managed globally, and an ability to shape fundamentally the relationships between people and nature across the planet. Often their actions take place in tropical developing countries, where biodiversity is most abundant and threatened, and where human needs compete with the demands of conservation projects. The result is a complex, transnational and highly political realm of work; about which little in known. In addition, as environmental problems escalate, many conservation groups are increasingly turning to 'the market' as a tool for saving nature: this neoliberal strategy, with the potential to commodify nature, has unknown effects in practice. My research sheds light upon the nexus of all these issues. I conducted a ten-year study of a major US-based conservation group (2002-2012) and its attempts to implement a market-based conservation project in the remote Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia. Through a multi-sited 'insider ethnography', I reveal how policy ideas were created and implemented across scales; and how unintended consequences emerged when these 'global' ideas were transformed by the local Cambodian context, often in dangerous or damaging ways. Observing project dynamics closely, I saw the conservation organisation's inability/unwillingness to address the gaps between theory and practice. Rather, it focused on the image of success only; highlighting the grave consequences of 'corporate conservation' for people and nature.
Moerman, Dr. Michael, Nevada City, CA - To aid preparation of personal research materials for archival deposit with the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre at Chiengmai University, Bangkok, Thailand
Kar, Sohini, Brown U., Providence RI - To aid research on 'Creditable Lives: Microfinance, Development and Financial Risk in India,' supervised by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti
SOHINI KAR, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Creditable Lives: Microfinance, Development, and Financial Risk in India,' supervised by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti. In 2008, Indian banking regulators celebrated the country's limited exposure to the global financial crisis. Yet, in 2010, India experienced its own 'subprime' crisis due to lending in microfinance. The growing for-profit microfinance sector in India has extended credit to the poorest populations under a 'financial inclusion' policy. As the crisis unfolded, microfinance institutions (MFIs) faced a sudden credit crunch, revealing the wide-reaching effects of tethering the poor to financial markets. While banks and MFIs sought to manage these 'risky' portfolios, loan officers and borrowers who interact regularly negotiated, often-divergent ethics of financial sustainability, and the locally constituted obligations. Drawing on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kolkata, India, this dissertation takes credit as a site of encounter between global finance, state and institutional regulations, and the everyday practices of borrowers and lenders. The project is based on ethnographic data collected through participant observation at MFI branch offices and group meetings, interviews with borrowers, MFI staff, policymakers and bankers, as well as media and textual analysis. It situates microfinance within the history of banking and moneylending practices in India, while tracing the ways in which new financial technologies -- intersecting with local ethics of kinship, community, and gender -- reshapes everyday life.
Fan, Elsa Lai, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Opportunistic Infections: The Governance of HIV/AIDS in China,' supervised by Dr. Tom Boellstorff
ELSA LAI FAN, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Opportunistic Infections: The Governance of HIV/AIDS in China,' supervised by Dr. Tom Boellstorff. This research explores how HIV/AIDS interventions are increasingly determined by market logics rather than public health models. Underscored by the principles of the free market, competition and value, the response to the epidemic in China has shifted away from prevention and treatment, and towards market-oriented approaches that commodify HIV testing. These approaches focus on creating markets to sell testing as a product, and cultivating consumers among men who have sex with men (MSM). In part, these markets are a response to epidemiological trends that highlight the increasing rates of infection among MSM. These trends have generated a public health crisis around this population, placing them at the crux of interventions. On the other hand, such approaches are mobilized under the impetus of international institutions, namely the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. In effect, a new kind of AIDS industry is emerging, one that invokes a domestic market that profits from the epidemic and its potential crisis. At t