Seale-Feldman, Aidan Sara, U. of California, Los Angleles, CA - To aid research on 'Adolescent 'Mass Hysteria' in Rural Nepal: Subjectivity, Experience, and Social Change,' supervised by Dr. C. Jason Throop
Preliminary abstract: In the wake of economic and political instability, high rates of unemployment and outmigration and the decade-long violence of the 'People's War,' increasing cases of 'mass hysteria,' also known as 'chhopne rog,' among adolescents have been reported in government schools throughout Nepal. Investigating the phenomenon of mass 'chhopne rog,' which affects mainly female adolescents in rural Nepal, this study traces connections between new forces of social change which have taken shape in the post-conflict period, and the psychocultural dimensions of people's lives. Why are adolescent girls disproportionally afflicted by 'chhopne rog' and how might this be connected to relations of power? What is the public discourse on 'mass hysteria' in Nepal, and how do families, healers, and psychiatrists understand, explain, and treat this illness? What is the nature of the experience of 'chhopne rog' for people themselves, and how does it relate to the sociocultural and economic conditions in which they live their lives? Through a phenomenological, person-centered approach to ethnographic research, this study contributes towards understanding the ways in which subjectivity, an individual's intimate, affective, emotional life-- thoughts, desires, hopes, fears or dreams-- takes form in particular historical, political, economic, and sociocultural contexts.
Maunaguru, Sidharthan, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Brokering Marriage: War, Displacement, and the Production of Futures among Jaffna Tamils,' supervised by Professor Veena Das
SIDHARTHAN MAUNAGURU, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received a grant in November 2006 to aid research on 'Brokering Marriage: War, Displacement, and the Production of Futures among Jaffna Tamils,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. Three decades of prolonged war in Sri Lanka has devastated the social and economic landscape of Sri Lankan communities, making their lives insecure and disrupting their social relations. Under these conditions of enforced dispersion this research is designed to look at ways in which marriage has emerged as one of the most significant ways by which people are not only moved out of places of insecurity, but also by which people are brought together. Specifically, the project focuses on the role of marriage as a way of building alliances between dispersed members of Tamil communities, and the manner in which these communities secure a future from the fragments of their devastated habitus through marriage. The research has concluded that: 1) in this process, the renewed expertise the marriage broker, in consultation with priests, astrologers and official legal instruments, is a primary character in negotiating these fragments, even as states constantly work to block and prevent the movement of newly married couples across border; and 2) in this process of negotiation traditional categories of kin, family, and marriage are transformed and rearticulated to adjust both to the context of an altered landscape and to the demands of hosting states.
Johari, Radhika, York U, Toronto, Canada -To aid research on 'Endangered Forests, Enterprising Women: The Politics of Conservation and Livelihoods Development Programs in Himachal, India,' supervised by Dr. Shubhra Gururani
RADHIKA JOHARI, then a student at York University, Toronto, Canada, was awarded funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Endangered Forests, Enterprising Women: The Politics of Conservation and Livelihoods Development Programs in Himachal, India,' supervised by Dr. Shubhra Gururani. This doctoral research critically examined how environmental perceptions and practices have been shaped at the interface of past and current paradigms of conservation and resource-based livelihoods development within the recently concluded Indo-German Changar Eco-Development Project in Himachal, India. Adopting a multi-sited ethnographic approach, it has contextualized these articulations of environment and enterprise building within a wider framework of historical and current resource rights and property regimes. It has demonstrated how an increasingly influential paradigm of neoliberal market-centered development has structured project interventions, and how in turn these interventions have been refracted by a deeply entrenched and intersecting politics of knowledge, identity and place. The research identified and explored these points of refraction, for example, within project discourses and practices of knowledge production and valuation and in plantation and livelihoods development strategies. In doing so, it revealed how environmental and entrepreneurial knowledges and practices have intersected with existing social, economic, and political relations, as well as property relations, in ways that have significantly shaped perceptions, norms, and practices around environmental resources. In sum, the research provides a grounded critique of prevailing efforts to converge conservation and resource-based livelihoods and the reasons for their disjunctures in practice.
Deomampo, Daisy Faye, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'The New Global 'Division of Labor': Reproductive Tourism in Mumbai, India,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings
DAISY FAYE DEOMAMPO, then a student at the City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'The New Global 'Division of Labor': Reproductive Tourism in Mumbai, India,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings. This research examines the social, cultural, and policy implications of 'reproductive tourism,' briefly defined as the movement of people across national borders for assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).
Yang, Xiaoliu, Sun Yat-Sen U., Guangzhou, China - To aid research on 'Making Participatory Poverty Reduction Chinese,' supervised by Dr. Daming Zhou
XIALIU YANG, then a student at Sun Yet-sen University, Guangzhou, China, received funding in January 2006 to aid research on 'Making Participatory Development Chinese,' supervised by Prof. Daming Zhou. The fieldwork was conducted in Meigu county, an impoverished, Nuosu ethnic region in Sichuan Province, Southwest China. The grantee did fieldwork from February to December 2006 to study how the Western 'participation' in China's rural poverty reduction is made Chinese. Research focused on three Western projects in a Nuosu village -- from the World Bank, the United Nations Children's Fund, and Germany's Misereor Foundation -- to observe how 'participation' is made Chinese at different stages of the project cycle. Support enabled a multi-level investigation to collect information identifying key stakeholders involved in the delivery of Western participatory aid, including state and local government, international aid organizations, Chinese scholars, and indigenous people.
Achilli, Dr. Luigi, European U. Institute, Florence, Italy - To aid workshop on 'Rethinking Political Agency in the Middle East: Engaging Political Anthropology,' 2016, Florence, in collaboration with Dr. Antonio De Lauri
Preliminary abstract: This workshop intends to bring ethnographic research in the Middle East into conversation with anthropological debate on political agency. In so doing, our first aim is to bring together a group of junior and more established scholars who have been seeking, in diverse ethnographic sites and in hitherto isolated fashion, to bring the theoretical insights of recent anthropological work on political agency to bear on the study of political change in contemporary Middle East. Our second aim in holding this workshop is to bring together scholars whose research in the Middle East has sought to develop alternative ways of thinking about political action and political subjectivity, and whose work has thereby come to envisage forms of agency that cannot be fully explained by traditional analytics such as 'pouvoir-savoir' and sovereignty. We believe the time is ripe to set up an organic and ground based political anthropology of the Middle East so as to test and expand existing accounts of political agency that have sought to go beyond the limitations of the Foucault-Agamben canon.
Shreeniwas, Dr. Sudha, U. of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC - To aid research on 'Traditions in Transformation, New Reproductive Technologies, and Gender Bias'
DR. SUDHA SHREENIWAS, of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, North Carolina, was awarded a grant in June 2003 to aid research on new reproductive technologies and gender bias among members of two castes in India. Shreeniwas examined two hypotheses: (1) Social changes that enhance the productive roles of men more than those of women, together with the rise of patrilineality and dowry systems among formerly matrilineal-matrilocal communities, will increase families' preference for sons. (2) The motivations and means adopted to achieve newly emergent gender-biased reproductive goals will be similar to those operating in places where such goals have been long-standing. Shreeniwas studied members of the Nair caste or community in Kerala state and compared them with members of the Jat caste or community in peri-urban Delhi. The results supported the first hypothesis and partially supported the second. Patrilineal descent, residence, and inheritance, along with dowry practices, had become widespread in Kerala. These trends appeared to be associated with a verbalized preference for sons, although there was little evidence of prenatal sex selection among Nairs. The Jat community had long been patrilineal, with dowry, seclusion and educational limitations for females, strong son preference, and widespread prenatal sex selection. The main similarities between Nairs' and Jats' reasons for son preference were concerns about dowries and women's upbringing. The main differences were encouragement of education and paid work among Nair women and a 'memory of matriliny' that protected them from the worst forms of gender bias. Thus, despite high contraceptive use and low fertility, use of sex selection technology was almost nonexistent among Nairs.
Mullard, Jordan C., London School of Economics, London, UK - To aid research on 'Where the Water Flows: Suffering, Illness, and Human Rights in Rajasthan India,' supervised by Dr. Christopher J. Fuller
JORDAN C. MULLARD, then a student at London School of Economics, London, England, was awarded a grant in March 2005 to aid research on 'Where the Water Flows: Suffering, Illness, and Human Rights in Rajasthan India,' supervised by Dr. Christopher J. Fuller. This research is a study of caste, class, and religion. Particularly, how all are utilized as strategies for social mobility for India's low castes. Research was carried out in a village containing a high class, yet low (untouchable) caste, ruling elite in Rajasthan State. The ethnographic data is divided into four key institutional arenas: caste and the village, economics and class, public sector and politics, and religion. Relations within and between these arenas are articulated through social networks comprising of both achieved (class) and ascribed (caste) status distinctions. These can overlap to form open networks but can also close into enduring groups. Findings indicate that change is characterised, in the village, by the networks undergoing a process of dialectical expansion and contraction resulting from contradictions presented by visible upward social mobility. Explicitly, it is the malleability of the said dichotomous relationship between caste and class, popular in both political discourse and in some village social relations, that provides the form and texture to the process of change. These antagonistic and contradictory unions represent the way in which social mobility in India, as never before, is perhaps challenging the basis of the naturalisation of hierarchy upon which the society has rested.
Keimig, Rose Kay, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Growing Old in China's New Nursing Homes,' supervised by Dr. Marcia Inhorn
ROSE K. KEIMIG, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid 'Growing Old in China's New Nursing Homes,' supervised by Dr. Marcia Inhorn. The greying of Chinese society is a pressing issue as models predict the population of people over age 60 will more than double by 2050, accounting for 30 percent of the total population. A combination of reduced family support due to the one child policy and reduced state support due to massive privatization of social services has increased the demand for private eldercare facilities and prompted twelve months of anthropological research on aging and caregiving in Kunming, China. During that time, interviews and participant observation were conducted with caregivers, elders, and their families in nursing homes, hospitals, and public spaces. Results from the research indicate that living in a nursing home is 'the choice when you have no choice.' The main reasons for institutionalization include illness, disability, the busyness of adult children, and a complex interaction between parental and filial love. Data also suggest that rather than weakening familial bonds, in many cases nursing homes serve as a way to maintain, or even strengthen, familial bonds in a society where needs are becoming ever more differentiated and individualized. Issues of charity, euthanasia, religion, and volunteerism also arose during interviews and conversations and point to other areas of changing moralities.
Fish, Allison Elizabeth, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Michael Maurer
ALLISON E. FISH, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Maurer. Research related to this project took place primarily in Bangalore, Dehli, and California. What the grantee terms 'transnational yoga' is an example of the rapid transformation that forms of traditional cultural knowledge undergo as they are increasingly offered in commoditized form to consumers in affluent and cosmopolitan markets. The research takes two US federal district court cases, Bikram v. Schreiber-Morrison et al. and Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram as a starting point. These suits served as the catalyst triggering open conflict concerning the proprietary nature of yogic knowledge. In researching the resulting dispute, the grantee attends to two sets of reactions. The first is that of the Indian state, which is concerned with what it perceives to be the on-going piracy of its national-cultural heritage. The study focuses upon the state's own claim to yoga and its attempt to protect this claim through the construction of a traditional knowledge digital library. Secondly, the research examines the reactions of select yoga organizations, which have also adopted intellectual property claims. In tracing these relationships the grantee shows how not only yoga, but also other cultural objects (such as intellectual property) are contested and reconfigured. In doing this, the project contributes to a re-examination of the tradition-modernity binary.