Tabor, Nathan Lee Marsh, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'The Politics and Patronage of Urdu Poetry in the Contemporary Indian Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali
NATHAN TABOR, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded a grant in May 2008, to aid research on 'The Politics and Patronage of Urdu Poetry in the Contemporary Indian Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali. The project seeks to understand relationships among minority language aesthetics, civil society, and the state by examining the political relevance of poetic texts and the ways in which communities are built around literary circulation and consumption. The grantee examines these themes in the context of Urdu language poetry symposia (mushairah) within North Indian agroindustrial towns. The mushairah is an Indo-Persian recitational space for the circulation and enjoyment of literary and ethical knowledges. In the years following India's partition and the communalization of Urdu as a Muslim language, the mushairah has become a constituent institution of vernacular mass media that target lettered and unlettered Muslim minorities. Based on participant observation, interviews, and literary historiography, Tabor's project analyzes the importance of public Urdu poetry recitational gatherings in the circulation and enjoyment of populist Muslim politics, showing how ethical and aesthetic concerns simultaneously undergird minority publics within India's plural democracy.
Mookherjee, Nayanika, Lancaster U., Lancaster, United Kingdom - To aid research and writing on 'Specters and Utopias: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. NAYANIKA MOOKHERJEE, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in June 2005 to aid research and writing on 'Specters and Utopias: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971.' 'Specters and Utopias' is a book-length project which aims to map out the public memories of sexual violence of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Situated within the context of anthropology of gender, violence, body, the state and South Asia this is rooted in the paradigm of political and historical anthropology. The study is discursive, is based on fieldworks in 1997-1998,2003,2005-2006 in Dhaka and Enayetpur, a village in west Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the end of the nine-month long war in 1971 found 3 million dead and 200,000 women raped by the Pakistani army and their local collaborators. After the war, in an attempt to rehabilitate the women raped, the state eulogised them as birangonas (war-heroines). Within the context of a transnational global language of human rights, in Bangladesh, the histories of rape exist on one hand, in the realms of the valorised, national imaginary among the state and civil society through the processes of documentation of narratives of rape. On the other hand, the lived-in experience of the war-heroines provides a reconceptualisation about the 'trauma' involved in the violence of rape vis-a-vis the natio,nal documentation of their history. The study concludes that these public memories of rape based on political, historical and social contingency, suppress the experiences and needs of birangonas. The focus on intersubjective lived experiences of the raped women can alone ensure an ethical exploration of the sexuality of war, its processes of gendering and its effect on the individuals affected by sexual violence.
Baxstrom, Richard B., John Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Difference and Danger: Brickfields, Tamils and the Emergence of an Alternative Modernity in Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
RICHARD B. BAXSTROM, while a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, received funding in December 2001 to aid research on the emergence of an alternative modernity among Tamils in Malaysia, under the supervision of Dr. Veena Das. By undertaking a detailed ethnography of Brickfields, a primarily Malaysian Tamil neighborhood located near the center of Kuala Lumpur, Baxstrom investigated the ways in which the Tamil minority community in Malaysia is concretely produced as, and is the producer of, a discrete subcategory of identity. His approach was to empirically investigate and connect the specific situation of Brickfields Tamils with global processes, Malaysian state power, and the unique trajectory of urban life in Kuala Lumpur, examining the ways in which their identity is produced by the Malaysian state and how the community itself produces its own identities, which simultaneously accommodate and resist the state's agenda.
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
Preliminary abstract: How are borderlands produced in the intersection of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through sixteen months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in their everyday lives as a part of the political economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations, moralities and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.
Wang, Jing, Concordia Welfare and Education Foundation, Hong Kong, P.R. China - to aid training in social/cultural anthropology at Case Western Reserve U., Cleveland, OH, supervised by Dr. Melvyn Goldstein
Hasinoff, Erin, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Material Burma: Missionary Inventories and Consensual Histories,' supervised by Dr. Laurel Kendall
ERIN L. HASINOFF, a student at Columbia University, New York, received funding in December 2005 to aid research on 'Material Burma: Missionary Inventories and Consensual Histories,' supervised by Dr. Laurel Kendall. The grant was used to study the Missionary Exhibit, a fragmentary collection of ethnological artifacts that was accessioned by Franz Boas of the American Museum of Natural History following the close of the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions of 1900. The project assessed how the Burmese portion of this unstudied collection inventoried Burma (today, Myanmar), and traced its legacy: the production of Burmese identities in contemporary cultural museums in Myitkyina, Putao, Hkamti and Layshi. By critically engaging the object biography approach, this investigation looked at how the Missionary Exhibit materialized and continues to shape inventories of Burma, now at the periphery of anthropological knowledge. This research considered how artifacts were not just expressions of a new context, but were also technologies that created the context anew. This is premised on the idea that objects came to embody information about Burma, while also acting as agents in the relationships that developed between specific Burmese missionaries and anthropologists. Research followed the contours of the Exhibit's collection history back to Burma by considering how identities are produced in cultural museums. The study contributes to our understanding of the missionary imagination and its material entanglements over time, as well as to the politics and performance of cultural identity in museums today.
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?