Ghosh, Sahana, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
SAHANA GHOSH, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in May 2014 to aid research on 'Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan. This project studies the working lives of rural Bengali men and women on both sides of the increasingly militarized India-Bangladesh border, focusing on borderland residents' struggle to maintain transborder family relationships and their daily spatial practices along and across the border. The grantee conducted fieldwork in the border district of Coochbehar in eastern India and the adjacent border districts of Lalmonirhat and Kurigram in northern Bangladesh. In addition to this, archival research was conducted in New Delhi, Kolkata, Siliguri, Coochbehar (India) and Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dhaka (Bangladesh). Tracing the family histories and networks of borderland residents spread across the region, this project constructs a people's biography of this border through multiple migrations across it in both directions, since its violent institution in 1947. With India's construction of a fence to seal all forms of porosity at this border, there has been an increasing security apparatus on both sides (relatively smaller in Bangladesh). This project examines civil-military relations at the border and what it means for lived practices of citizenship, routine incidents of violence, and the gendered labor that comprises national security. Belonging to the agrarian poor, Bengali residents of the Indian and Bangladeshi borderlands, both Muslims and Hindus, embody a courageous form of transnational living, their daily lives, necessarily involving complex moral negotiations with 'the law,' state power, and the politics of dis/emplacement.
Bovensiepen, Judith, London School of Economics, London, UK - To aid research on 'Tracing Fragmented Paths: Memories of Violence in the Reconstruction of East Timor,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Engelke
JUDITH BOVENSIEPEN, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Tracing Fragmented Paths: Memories o Violence in the Reconstruction of East Timor,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Engelke. The research project consists of an ethnographic study of a remote mountain village in the central highlands of East Timor and is based on fieldwork that was carried out between November 2005 and August 2007. It is the first long-term anthropological study in this region and one of the first to be carried out in East Timor since independence. The primary focus is on the way local people have made sense of and have situated themselves towards various colonial intrusions (Portuguese colonialism and the Indonesian occupation) and the dramatic political changes at the national level, such as the recent internal conflict. The main goal of the research is an exploration of the interface between personal memories and collective representations and historical narratives. Historical memories and spiritual forces are considered to be embodied in physical objects and the study examines how the threat of losing these objects represents both a local mechanism of power and people's fear of further loss and exploitation.
Bovensiepen, Judith. 2014. Words of the Ancestors: Disembodied Knowledge and Secrecy in East Timor. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20(1):56-73.
Tidwell, Tawni Lynn, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Transmitting Diagnostic Skills in Tibetan Medicine: Embodied Practices for Indigenous Categories of Cancer,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman
TAWNI L. TIDWELL, then a graduate student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Transmitting Diagnostic Skills in Tibetan Medicine: Embodied Practices for Indigenous Categories of Cancer,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman. This research engaged the diagnostic learning processes central to Tibetan medical pedagogy for diagnosing indigenous categories of cancer. It systematically tracked and recorded learning processes in the classroom as well as mentoring sessions in the clinic. It also linked Tibetan medical diagnostics (pulse, urine, tongue, symptomology) with biomedical diagnostics (blood, urine, imaging technology) for over 500 patient cases of indigenous cancer to illuminate synergies with and distinctions from Western biomedical cancer. The current research showed that learning to diagnose such subtle and complex illnesses such as indigenous categories of cancer in Tibetan medicine requires sophisticated sensory entrainment that produces the Tibetan physician as embodied diagnostic tool. Thousands of hours of memorization and oral recitation of root canonical texts written in poetic, metaphorical, and trickster modalities entrains the physician's conceptual, perceptual, and embodied understandings of Tibetan medical theory and practices linked to experiential understandings of the natural world. With clinical engagement and medicinal plant collection and formulation, the macro- and micro-cycles of one's body, bodies of others, and the ecological and social web of relations are tracked, intimately engaged, and allow the Tibetan physician to recognize novel knowledge sets of the body including the development of indigenous types of cancer.
Prasad, Srirupa, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Gender Construction at Crossroads of Colonialism, Nationalism and Health: A Case Study of Colonial Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Winifred R. Poster
SRIRUPA PRASAD, while a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, received funding in December 2001 to aid research on gender construction, colonialism, nationalism, and health in Bengal, India, under the supervision of Dr. Winifred R. Poster. Prasad looked at the history and trajectory of medical practice in late colonial Bengal (1885-1935), addressing the absence of the home or household in the literature on the history of medicine in India and arguing that the household was a critical unit of analysis for understanding the history of medical practices in modern societies. In colonial India, ideas about disease, good health, sanitation, diet, cleanliness, and therapeutics were important means through which bodies were controlled and disciplined. They were a part of the nationalist discourse, too, behind which lay a zeal to regenerate the nation through healthy bodies and healthy minds that gave rise to a complex politics between Western and existing traditions of knowledge. Everyday prescriptions for health were also implicated in the construction of gender. Culturally nuanced and traditionally Indian notions of health, disease, and therapeutics played a crucial role in the techniques of bodily discipline, making disciplinary regimes in India different from those in the West at the same time. Prasad found that domesticity and the Indian household were indispensable for understanding anticolonial political nationalism in India and argued that the domain of the political should be extended to include the social forms of bodily disciplining that took place in the private domains of Hindu Bengali society.
Hamada, Shingo, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Network, Biotechnology, and Cultural Consensus in Conservation Projects in Coastal Fishing Communities in Northern Japan,' supervised by Dr. Richard R. Wilk
SHINGO HAMADA, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Network, Biotechnology, and Cultural Consensus in Conservation Projects in Coastal Fishing Communities in Northern Japan,' supervised by Dr. Richard R. Wilk. Examining herring restoration efforts in northern Japan as a case study, this research focuses on consensus and variation in the perceptions and practices concerning conservation. Sea ranching projects, fisheries scientific researches, and community-based reforestation efforts for ecosystem recovery have developed in coastal fishing communities in the last two decades, despite the economic and ecological uncertainty of harvests from restoration projects. This ethnographic research describes under what conditions humans engage in conservationist behaviors after experiencing a crisis in coastal common pool resources. This research applied Actor-Network Theory to navigate in and not through a priori defined 'fishing communities,' and it examines how inshore fishers, fisheries managers, fisheries scientists, and seafood buyers interpret local resource issues and restoration and values of conservation. The researcher used qualitative text analysis and questionnaires to understand how fishery techno-sciences influence actors' decision-making processes concerning fisheries management. Ultimately, this research explores how the acts of cultivating seascape through transplanting fish species blurs the boundary between the natural and cultural while becoming an anti-politics machine that blurs locations of environmental stewardships among different social groups.
Walker, Christopher, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Open-Source Software in Tibet,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
CHRISTOPHER E. WALKER, while a student at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in August 2003 to research the social conditions of Tibetan language software development, under the supervision of Dr. John D. Kelly. Central to the research was a study of the Tibetan block of 'Unicode,' the de facto standard for encoding the world's natural languages in computer systems. More than a decade ago, Tibet University in Lhasa (China) played a central role in this emergent and powerful standard. This feat has been celebrated by the Chinese press, which often highlights any state support of science and technology within minority areas. Curiously, however, the study of more recent technical proposals and computer projects involving Tibetan language reveal that China has mixed reactions to the very standard it helped create. Contrary to the philosophy of Unicode, namely that every language should have only one set of codes, China has recently used the 'private use area' of Unicode to define a second, competing standard for Tibetan. The official reasons given for creating two standards for Tibetan language are mainly technical and pragmatic. A deeper analysis has revealed that economic pressure, educational background, and the social environment play a pivotal role in the development of Tibetan information technology in China.