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'.
Bernstein, Anna, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Transformations in Siberian Buddhism: Mobility, Visuality, and Piety in Buryat Worlds,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Grant
ANNA BERNSTEIN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2007 to aid 'Transformations in Siberian Buddhism: Mobility, Visuality, and Piety in Buryat Worlds,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Grant. This project explores the renovation of Siberian Buryat Buddhist practices through transnational, post-Soviet ties. It brings together field and archival study to bear upon three fields of inquiry: 1) the ethnography of Siberia; 2) cosmopolitan, transnational religious forms; and 3) material culture. In contrast to some scholars who have seen Buryats purely as 'native,' 'indigenous,' or even as a 'fourth-world' people, many Buryats have long viewed themselves as cosmopolitans who consider Buddhism as one of the most prominent markers of southern Siberia's expansive histories since its arrival in approximately the eighteenth century. Many today ask: Should Buryat Buddhism be understood as adhering to a 'Tibetan model,' one most recently advanced through pilgrimages by monks and well-funded lay persons to Tibetan monasteries in India? Or, as nationalists argue, should it downplay its international ties to assert itself as a truly independent 'national' religion? This project argues that the ways in which Buryats transform older cosmopolitanisms into contemporary socio-religious movements are key for understanding new geopolitical forms of consciousness, as long-held Eurasian ties are now being revived in the wake of Soviet rule. Based on twelve months of field research, this project tracks these issues ethnographically through a study of two Buryat monastic and lay religious communities located in Russia and in India. The focus on material culture engages specific case studies of how various material objects -- such as relics of famous monks, auspicious images found on rocks, and ritual implements buried underground during Soviet times -- are reinterpreted to create new sacred geographies, historiographies, and modes of religiosity.
Bernstein, Anya. 2011. The Post-Soviet Treasure Hunt: Time, Space, and Necropolitics in Siberian Buddhism. Comparative Studies in Society and History 53(3):623-653.
Wang, Dr. Mingming, Peking U., Beijing, China - To aid workshop on 'Crossing Borders & Paradigms: Anthropology of Southwest China Reconsidered,' 2007, Dali, China, in collaboration with Dr. Zhengwen Yang
'Crossing Borders and Paradigms: Anthropology of Southwest China Reconsidered'
August 7-14, 2007, Southwestern University for Ethnic Minorities, Dali City, Yunnan, China
Organizers: Dr. Mingming Wang (Peking University) and Dr. Zhenguen Yang (Southwestern University for Ethnic Minorities)
The workshop brought together 39 established scholars, representing various perspectives, to reflect on recent Western and Chinese anthropological discourses of minority nationalities in Southwest China. It successfully met its goals of: 1) cross-fertilizing various approaches; 2) historically deepening critical reflections on issues of power/knowledge; and 3) representing local concerns about issues of minority rights. Apart from the senior researchers participating, an equal number of graduate students from all over China attended the sessions and organized their own workshop, marking a new approach to education in the China. The success of the conference was evident in the fruitful dialogues and interactions, and the organizers plan to compile a collection of conference papers for publication in Chinese.
Rofel, Dr. Lisa Beth, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Made in China, Designed in Italy: The Twenty-First Century Silk Road'
DR. LISA ROFEL, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Made in China, Designed in Italy: The Twenty-first Century Silk Road.' This project addressed three questions: 1) how is the cultural contact zone between China and Italy constructing a historically specific form of transnational capitalism in China?; 2) how has this cultural contact zone with Italy enabled changing moral valuations of labor and social inequality in China?; and 3) how has the Italy-China high-fasion textile production led to a culturally and historically specific understanding of desire and 'cosmopolitanism' in China? The field research, conducted in both China and Italy, found that: 1) both subcontracting and changes in the temporality of production and marketing have both arisen out of the cultural contact zone with Italian fashion design firms; 2) most managers have not put the recent socialist past fully behind them and are quite articulate about the poor treatment of workers; and 3) Chinese involved in the textile industry see themselves as successfully cosmopolitan to the extent that they can succeed in all aspects of the textile industry, including those aspects in which the Italians still predominate -- design, and marketing in Europe and the U.S.
Lau, Timm, Cambridge U., Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Development of Moral Knowledge and Identity Formation in a Tibetan Community in Baijnath, India,' supervised by Dr. James A. Laidlaw
TIMM LAU, while a student at Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in March 2004 to aid research on 'The Development of Moral Knowledge and Identity Formation in a Tibetan Community in Baijnath, India,' supervised by Dr. James A. Laidlaw. This research, undertaken for the duration of 15 months from March 2004 until July 2005, set out to investigate the development of moral knowledge in a Tibetan settlement in North India, and its relationship to the formation of identity in this exile community. Ethnographically, it contributes to existing research in providing an in-depth description of Tibetan exiles in India, which includes interaction with the Indian host population. The most notable of these outside the Tibetan settlements is widespread itinerant trading in the Indian marketplace. Descriptions of Tibetan refugees' evaluations of Indians sheds light on issues of morality and identity: negative moral evaluations are often constructive of Tibetan identity through ascription of difference. They are also shown to be instrumental in dealing with contradictions in the lives of Tibetan refugees, which are largely shaped by Tibetan cultural preservation, but to some extent influenced by the pop-cultural sensibilities of their Indian host nation. Furthermore, the ethnography of the Tibetan emotional notions of harmony and shame establishes them as effective in moral development, through the construction of moral emotions, and also as instrumental in the construction of relationships within the family and the wider community.
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.
Chattaraj, Durba, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Between the City and the Sea:Transport and Connectivity in West Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Blom Hansen
DR. PARTH R. CHAUHAN, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'Palaeoanthropological Surveys and GIS Mapping in the Narmada Basin, Central India.' Due to future extensive submergence from large-dams in the Narmada Basin, the project's goal was to carry out a systematic survey for palaeoanthropological occurrences in stratified contexts and also create multi-layer GIS maps of known and new find-spots, sites, and localities, and associated stratigraphic sections in relation to geological formations of the valley. The field strategy involved locating, mapping and documenting as many sites as possible within an area of 60 sq-km, between the Tawa and Sher tributaries. Using multidisciplinary data, the research team constructed models of land-use patterns during the Paleolithic. For example, the Early Acheulean and Late Acheulean and Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic are geographically separate, despite shared raw material preference and locations (fine-grained Vindhyan quartzite). Additional work involved preliminary test-excavations or test-trenching at promising sites to understand the stratigraphic context of the associated material (e.g. lithics, fossils, geological features) and absolute dating possibilities. The most significant discoveries include: 1) high density of artifacts at Dhansi (the oldest-known site in the Basin and possibly in India); 2) Late Acheulean artifacts associated with an extensive paleochannel; 3) rare stratified Early Acheulean occurrences; 4) and the most complete Late Pleistocene elephant recovered in buried context.
Selby, Don F., Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Human Rights and Political Change in Contemporary Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
DON F. SELBY, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in January 2005, to aid research on 'Human Rights and Political Change in Contemporary Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. This research studies the emergence of human rights in Thai politics. It emphasizes, on the one hand the efforts of national institutions like the National Human Rights Commission to domesticate human rights to local social imperatives by identifying them with Buddhist ethics and the protection of national symbols like the village community. On the other hand, it follows human rights advocates at the grass-roots level to study how they draw on human rights as a new political resource with institutional authority (in the Commission), while at the same time drawing on long-standing social conventions like patron-clientage, maintaining face, and avoiding shame, to give human rights their force. Finally, ethnographic work at state institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the Commission suggest that the study of human rights in Thailand throws into question, first, ideas of a unitary state, or a homogeneous human rights movement, free, in either case, of internal contests, fissures, and competing strategies, and second, conceptualizations of human rights that deny the inevitability of cooperative state-advocate projects.
Maitra, Amrapali, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Domestic Violence, Care, and the Family in Urban India,' supervised by Dr. Tanya Luhrmann
Preliminary abstract: In past years, domestic violence in India has become both a public health issue and a criminal act. My project explores how cultural ideas of intimacy, care, and obligation influence Bengali women's experiences of domestic violence. Additionally, it examines how the growing medicalization of domestic violence in India affects these experiences. I ask three questions: 1) How do women and men define and experience domestic violence? 2) How do medical encounters shape experiences of violence? 3) How do local modes of dispute resolution define domestic violence differently from medical approaches? These themes will be investigated through 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kolkata, West Bengal, an Indian city with a low index of gender equality. Methods of participant observation, interviewing, clinical ethnography, and neighborhood survey will reveal how women think about domestic violence within ordinary married life, whom they turn to during violent situations and why, and how their ideas transform through clinical encounters. By following women's experiences as they move in and out of home and clinic, this project strives to illuminate the spectrum of intimate violence and care in contemporary Bengali families.