Tacey, Ivan Charles, U. Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France - To aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia
IVAN C. TACEY, then a student at University Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia. This research examined place-making and processes of territorialization in contemporary Peninsular Malaysia among the Batek, an indigenous minority people. Research was also undertaken with government agents, NGOs, and lawyers working with indigenous peoples in Malaysia. Since the 1970s deforestation, tourism, mining, and illegal poaching have brought increasing numbers of outsiders into the Batek's world. Multi-sited fieldwork was undertaken to examine the complex interactions between the Batek and the wide array of actors who now move through their traditional territory. Methodologies used to gain data on how Batek links to landscape are made and transformed included: GPS mapping; the collection of historical and religious stories; ethnographic interviews; surveys; and participant observation. Initial research findings demonstrate how Batek society, religion, and connections to landscape are being radically altered by national and global pressures. The Batek are acutely aware of how landscape changes and intensification of transnational flows of people, objects, and ideas have transformed their environments and sacred places. This awareness has informed new figurations within their cosmology, social discourses, and symbolic worlds. A key research finding concerned the emergence of Batek topophobia and 'tropes of fear:' dynamic, figurative manifestations of collective anxieties about unrelenting and uncontrollable global processes.
Nayar, Anita, U. of Sussex, Brighton, UK - To aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead
ANITA NAYAR, then a student at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead. This research explored the subject as a process shaped by the momentum of growing consumer demand from within India and emerging markets in North America, the Gulf States, and Europe. Emphasis was given to the implications of these changing consumption patterns and related production process for the herb-gathering communities and the natural resource base upon which this transnational market economy depends. Specifically what is the impact of these processes on the social structure and political economy of herb-gathering communities? What are the implications for their access, control, and conservation of forest resources and related knowledge systems? How has it affected people's changing conceptualization of medicinal plants and their relation to them? These questions framed an anthropological study in several herb-gathering communities, the majority of which were adivasi (indigenous peoples), residing in or near the forest. The researcher accompanied adivasis during their forest work, walking from four to ten kilometers a day trekking through thorny forest, climbing hillsides, searching and digging for medicinal plants, helping them collect and sell their goods. The trade routes of several 'middlemen' traders were also studied, which involved travelling with the traded goods, following transactions at storage and transport depots, and tracing the various buyers involved. After 16 months of fieldwork the researcher emerged with an understanding of the political economy of medicinal plants, particularly how structural and systemic inequalities around the labor and knowledge of medicinal plant collectors have evolved and are being reproduced by state and private forces.
Kadirgamar, Ahilan Arasaratnam, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York NY - To aid research on 'Households, Caste, Class, Land and Post-war Reconstruction in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Michael Blim
Preliminary abstract: In May 2009, a three decade long civil war came to an end in Sri Lanka. Its war-torn areas are now under reconstruction; a process led by state infrastructure development. While the livelihoods of rural people of Jaffna, the war-torn, predominantly Tamil district in northern Sri Lanka, are mainly from agriculture, foreign remittances and the state sector also contribute to their household incomes. How is reconstruction shaping their relations to agriculture as a livelihood and land as a productive asset? What are the changes to labor, and how is that impacting class differentiation and caste stratification? This study will use both quantitative and qualitative approaches to analyze the sustainability of rural livelihoods in Jaffna. Through an analysis of rural livelihoods in war-torn Sri Lanka, it will address the dispossession of the peasantry, common to so many places in the global South going through armed conflicts and rapid global integration.
Deomampo, Dr. Daisy Faye, Fordham U., New York, NY - To aid research and writing on 'Transnational Reproduction: Kinship, Power, and Commercial Surrogacy in India' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: The proposed book project examines the global surrogacy industry in India, in which would-be parents from around the world travel to India in order to obtain assisted reproductive technology procedures such as gestational surrogacy and egg donation. Across transnational and local socioeconomic hierarchies, how do commissioning parents, surrogate mothers, and egg donors understand and articulate their relationships with one another as they collaborate in the creation of babies? In addressing this question, I show the diverse ways in which actors attempt to conceal, or misrecognize, the commercial and commodifying aspects of transnational reproduction. My book, Transnational Reproduction: Kinship, Power, and Commercial Surrogacy in India, grapples with disparate acts of misrecognition, arguing that such processes of misrecognition ultimately obscure broader patterns of stratification, while reinforcing socioeconomic hierarchies. I draw critical attention to global relations between and among countries, systems of commerce, and global regulatory systems, as well as the local conditions that make possible the kinds of transnational relationships I describe. Without such an analysis, ongoing debates around policy and bioethics remain problematically focused on abstract principles or rigid rules. Instead, this project calls for a practice-oriented approach that accounts for the multiple perspectives and experiences of those involved in transnational surrogacy. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, this book will make an important contribution to the fields of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, feminist studies, and bioethics.
Venkatesan, Dr. Soumhya, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK - To aid research and writing on 'Crafting Discourse: Mat Weaving in Pattamadai, South India' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. SOUMHYA VENKATESAN, of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in December 2002 to aid research and writing on mat weaving and the discourse surrounding the craft in Pattamadai, India. From January 2003 to January 2004, Venkatesan conducted research in South India among Muslim mat weavers, exploring issues relating to Islam and the craft object. She wrote up the results of the research in a manuscript for publication as a monograph, with the working title Transformative Words: 'Craft,' 'Development,' and the Worlds of Indian Artists. Aspects of the research were also to be published in a paper entitled 'Making Gifts Matter,' in a volume edited by Ssorin-Chaikov and Sosnina.
Venkatesan, Soumhya. 2006. Shifting Balances in a 'Craft Community:' The Mat Weavers of Pattamdai, South India. Contributions to Indian Sociology 40(1):63-89.
Venkatesan, Soumhya. 2009. Craft Matters: Artisans, Development and the Indian Nation. Orient Black Swan: New Delhi.
Peche, Linda Ho, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong
LINDA HO PECHE, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong. This project is about spiritual connection -- how the 'spiritual' is accessed, experienced and/or transformed in the materiality of everyday life for Vietnamese Americans. The context is a community envisioning itself emerging from war and refugee flight as well as grounding itself as truly American. Specifically, this project examines Vietnamese American home altars and shrines as social spaces where cultural, religious and political ideologies are experienced and expressed. It seeks to explore how religious experiences inform and are produced by a kind of 'spirit' of a community, addressed not through some static notion of 'identity' but, instead, as constituted (and continually re-constituted) through expressive practices. With this approach, the 'spirit' and 'spiritualities' of Vietnamese America are fulfilled through experience rather than revealed in a holistic sense. What emerges is a shifting and negotiated spectrum of belief and practice, navigated both through an exploration of different spiritual/spatial landscapes and collective diasporic imaginaries.
Kim, Dr. Eleana Jean, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research and writing on 'Making Peace with Nature: The Greening of the Korean Demilitarized Zone' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract; The Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), the buffer zone that separates the two Koreas, has been uninhabited for more than sixty years, and in that time it has transformed into an accidental ecological haven for rare and endangered species. Ecologists and preservationists in South Korea and internationally have recognized the unique conservation possibilities of the DMZ since the 1960s, yet only in the past decade has active government and NGO attention been concentrated on rebranding of the DMZ as a zone of 'peace and life' rather than a traumatic scar of national division and war. Empirically, my research focuses on the South Korean border area and what I call the DMZ's 'ecological exceptionalism,' which emerges out of the social practices and relations among scientists, ecologists, environmentalists, activists, local residents, bureaucrats, and nonhuman actants, including endangered birds, alien fish, uncultivated flora, and land mines. The monograph and articles I plan to complete analyze how the production of the DMZ's nature also entails the naturalization of the DMZ as a space of social and political exception that takes place in relation to Korean nationalisms and unification politics, global environmentalisms, neoliberal capitalism, and political violence. But beyond deconstructing the DMZ's nature as always already social and political, my work identifies the mutual constitution of hope and nature in contemporary attempts to grapple with planetary futures and the limits of human agency. I argue that political ecology debates over capitalism and conservation must also include issues of global security and militarization and that the politics and poetics of utopian imaginaries are crucial to an anthropological understanding of what many refer to as the Anthropocene.
Aragon, Dr. Lorraine V., East Carolina U., Greenville, NC - To aid research on 'State Policies, Religious Narratives, and Multiculturalism: Addressing the Communal Conflicts of Post-Suharto Indonesia'
DR. LORRAINE V. ARAGON, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received a grant in May 2002 to aid ethnographic research on the religiously polarized communal conflicts that began in Indonesia after President Suharto's resignation in 1998. One of Aragon's objectives was to examine how state policies and the activities of state agents interacted with local community networks to foster regional disharmony between ethnic groups that were divided as Muslim and Christian. The most detrimental policies related to migration, ethnoreligious discrimination, bureaucratic corruption, the promotion of cash cropping, and land commodification. A comparison of conflicts in Maluku, central Sulawesi, and Kalimantan indicated that violence became religiously polarized where Christian and Muslim identities heavily overlapped local categories of 'indigenous' versus 'migrant' and did not crosscut significant ethnic boundaries. Aragon also investigated Muslims' and Christians' experiences of the violence and explored their divergent understandings of why the conflict began, who suffered most, and when violence was justified. Mass media also proved to be implicated in the religious polarization and escalation of conflict. Media narratives in a wide variety of formats framed conflicts in terms of a Muslim-Christian 'holy war' or religious aggression, which helped transform local, national, and transnational interpretations and actions.
Aragon, Lorraine V. 2005. Mass Media Fragmentation and Narratives of Violent Action in Sulawesi?s Poso Conflict. Indonesia, Vol. 79:1-55.
Webb, Sarah Jayne, U. of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia - To aid research on 'Materials Reformed, Materials of Reform: Value and Forest Product Trade on Palawan Island, the Philippines,' supervised by Dr. Wolfram Dressler
SARAH J. WEBB, then a student at University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Materials Reformed, Materials of Reform: Value and Forest Product Trade on Palawan Island, the Philippines,' supervised by Dr. Wolfram H. Dressler. This project traces how values of Palawan forest honey are produced through socio-economic relations between Tagbanua harvesters, middle traders, civil society, and, the state. Value-adding such non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is heralded as a market-based solution to sustainable forest use. The grantee's multi-sited ethnography highlights the need to consider the specificities and complexities of how value is made through everyday exchanges. Rather than relying on linear production-to-consumption models dominating forest product valuations, this study uses a commodityscape approach. Well established in anthropological studies of globalization, the approach suggests commodity values are contextually created within the networks of people, places, ideas, and, things through which products circulate. Data from participant observation, workshops, interviews, and, surveys were collated with secondary sources to document how a product with a relatively localised market is embedded within national, regional, and global value-making networks. This study contributes an analysis of how marginalizations of Tagbanua families from broader meanings made about honey value, and the romanticisms of forest-livelihoods which make it valuable are not abnormalities external to processes of 'value-adding,' which can be technically amended, but cultural politics endogenous to the creation and communication of value.