Maitra, Saikat, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Labouring to Create Magic: New Worker-subjectivity, State and Capital in Kolkata,' supervised by Dr. Kaushik Ghosh
SAIKAT MAITRA, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Laboring to Create Magic: New Worker-Subjectivity, State and Capital in Kolkata,' supervised by Dr. Kaushik Ghosh. The project investigates the formation of a new worker-subjectivity among youth populations employed in upscale retail spaces in Kolkata, India. Under the liberalizing effects of a formerly socialist government in Kolkata and private investments flowing into the organized retail sector of the city, a large number of jobs are being created in this sector. Most of the employees in the lower segments of this sector are from socially under-privileged backgrounds for whom jobs in such spaces offer them the thrills of participating in a global lifestyle of high-end consumption, otherwise unavailable to them. However, with the reluctance of the state to intervene in the protection of labor rights in private retail institutions, these young workers have to negotiate with increasingly precarious work environments demanding constant flexibility, pressures to maintain sales targets and the ever-present threat of job loss. The dissertation fieldwork focuses on the ways in which the subjectivity of these workers are being molded through negotiations between the institutional forces of the state and corporate capital trying to produce malleable and self-regulated workers and the employees' subjective desires for class mobility and better ways of inhabiting the urban space.
Idrus, Rusaslina, Harvard U., Cambridge MA - To aid research on 'Native State, Transnational Indigenes: Strategies in the Era of International Accountability,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
RUSASLINA IDRUS, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2005 to aid research on 'Native State, Transnational Indigenes: Strategies in the Era of International Accountability,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho. At the international level, the legal realm is an emerging space of resistance for indigenous movements. There has been a significant increase in the number of court cases involving tribal communities successfully suing state governments for land and resource rights world wide. This project seeks to understand the larger implications of this strategy. How has this changed the relationship and dynamics between marginalized groups and the nation state? How has the state responded? How are transnational discourses such as 'human rights' and 'cultural rights' influencing these cases? How do ideas of international accountability and the global audience play into this? This project will examine the questions above by focusing on the relationship between the Malaysian State and the aboriginal people of Peninsular Malaysia, the Orang Asli.
Daulatzai, Anila, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid 'Ethnography of Widowhood and Care in Kabul,' supervised by Dr. Jane I. Guyer
ANILA DAULATZAI, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Ethnography of Widowhood and Care in Kabul,' supervised by Dr. Jane I. Guyer. This project takes the category of 'widow' as a site from which to address the social realities faced by the many women in Afghanistan whose husbands have disappeared or died as a result of war and prolonged conflict. The care and protection of widows occupies a special concern in Islamic societies; particular notions of care also guide the specific modes of intervention by international aid agencies within Afghan society. With respect to Afghan widows, the concept and practice of 'care' thus emerges as particularly salient, and provides a lens that brings into focus otherwise disparate actors and influences such as kinship, community, the legal structures of the state, and the humanitarian efforts of international aid agencies. The project circulates around three major domains of investigation: 1) subjectivities of widows in Kabul, Afghanistan; 2) notions of care as mobilized by various social institutions, and as transformed by widows; and 3) the discursive construction of the category of widowhood. This project explored the social forms and relationships created by and around widows through in-depth ethnographic research conducted over a two-year period among Afghan widows in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Sherpa, Pasang Yangjee, Washington State U., Pullman, WA - To aid research on 'Sherpa Perceptions of Climate Change: Local Understandings of a Global Problem,' supervised by Dr.. John Bodley
PASANG YANGJEE SHERPA, then a student at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, received a grant in April 2011, to aid research on 'Sherpa Perceptions of Climate Change: Local Understanding of a Global Problem,' supervised by Dr. John Bodley. This research was designed to examine how Sherpa perceptions of climate change differ between on-route and off-route villages, as to what causes these differences and how the differences might affect the effectiveness of risk management policies and practices. This research found that Pharak Sherpas are knowledgeable and adapting to the changing climate, while also vulnerable to the short-term and long-term effects of climate change. The data collected from the field show that in addition to the on-route/ off-route residence, a Pharak Sherpa's age, gender and employment situation also play a role in how he/she perceives climate change. This research therefore defines socio-economically created cultural units as consisting of Pharak Sherpas from same residence, age group, gender, and employment, who are likely to interact with each other more than with someone from outside their own unit. The vulnerability to the inevitable effects of climate change in Pharak depends on the cultural unit an individual and his/her family belongs to. Further analysis of policies suggest that collaborating with the local people and accommodating to the existing cultural units by the institutions, local and foreign, as they design, develop, and implement climate change risk management programs can increase their effectiveness.
Sherpa, Pasang Yangjee. 2014. Climate Change, Perceptions, and Social Heterogeneity in Pharak, Mount Everest Region of Nepal. Human Organization, 73(2):153-161.
Mohaiemen, Naeem, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on ''Independence, Memory, and Blood,' supervised by Dr. David Scott
The British Indian empire ended in 1947 with the partition of India and Pakistan. In 1971, the 'Muslim nation' ideology of Pakistan was rejected by its Eastern half, which became independent Bangladesh. Between these two postcolonial markers lie a slow process of dissolution and convergence. My project looks at the social processes by which the event in its time is remembered today. The research focuses on the use of memory by social groups. I look at how a population, majority born after the war, wrestles with remembrance of that period. The hyper-pressures to remember and materialize that history, while the actual artifacts, documents, and oral memories were under-preserved and often destroyed, creates a rupture that continually juxtaposes the urge to erase against the desire to remember.
Karchmer, Dr. Eric Ivan, Independent Scholar, Weston, MA - To aid research and writing on 'Orientalizing the Body: Postcolonial Transformations in Chinese Medicine' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. ERIC I. KARCHMER, an independent scholar located in Weston, Massachusetts, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2007 to aid research and writing on 'Orientalizing the Body: Postcolonial Transformations in Chinese Medicine.' Orientalizing the Body is an ethnography of the hybrid practices that doctors of Chinese medicine have adopted to suit the institutional demands of modern health care delivery in China. Medicine in contemporary China is shaped by postcolonial power asymmetries: doctors of Chinese medicine practice two types of medicine, Chinese medicine and Western medicine, while their Western medicine counterparts learn only one. Despite the social imperative for doctors of Chinese medicine to use both medical systems, they have not developed an overarching theory of integration. Instead they rely on a small set of 'Orientalist' comparisons that posit the two medical systems as mirror images of each other, especially with regards to efficacy, anatomy, and diagnosis. These seemingly innocuous comparisons operate as purifying claims that both marginalize the clinical scope of Chinese medicine to the chronic, the functional, and the hard-to-diagnose, while also enabling clinical innovation by facilitating its integration with Western medicine. The manuscript traces the historical emergence of these Orientalist formulations and their implications for contemporary practice, demonstrating that the dual processes of purification and hybridization, simultaneously constraining and expanding the horizons of clinical practice, have become the central organizing dynamic in the modern development of Chinese medicine.
Karchmer, Eric. 2010. Chinese Medicine in Action: On the Postcoloniality of Medical Practice in China. Medical Anthropology 29(3): 226-252.
Farquhar, Dr. Judith B., U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; and Zhang, Dr. Qicheng, Beijing, China - To aid collaboration on practices of cultivating life: yang sheng and everyday life in Beijing
DR. JUDITH B. FARQUHAR, then at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; and DR. QICHENG ZHANG, Beijing University, Beijing, China, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in July 2002, to aid collaborative research on 'Practices of Cultivating Life: Yangsheng and Everyday Life in Beijing.' Yangsheng, or nurturing life, is a rubric that in China today incorporates medical selfcare, nutrition, exercise, daily habits, hobbies, and healthful dispositions. Yangsheng offers a vision of a good society rooted in wholesome lives, combining notions of life, the person, and the social world. This project has been an anthropological investigation of this complex indigenous category and social theory. An American anthropologist and a Chinese philosopher have here collaborated to understand how contemporary Beijingers configure lives in ways indebted both to cultural tradition and Maoist mobilization, both idiomatically Chinese and modernistically global. The research looked at unique modern Chinese values and proclivities at work: 1) an emphasis on life nurturance as pure enjoyment; 2) an emphasis on everyday life activism; 3) a depoliticized but quiet politics, visible in the ways large groups occupy public space to nurture their lives; 4) resonances among official health propaganda, informants' common sense, and esoteric Chinese philosophies. Theoretical questions also arose: the nature of the political, the charging of urban space in practice, the 'life' of 'tradition,' the constitution of meaning in the practice of the everyday. Publications have appeared from this project, notably three articles by Judith Farquhar and several mass market books by Qicheng Zhang. A co-authored English-language monograph from the study is in press with Zone Books.
Zharkevich, Ina, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Generation, Gender and Change in the Maoist Base Areas of Nepal during the Conflict and its Aftermath,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner
INA ZHARKEVICH, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Generation, Gender and Change in the Maoist Base Areas of Nepal during the Conflict and its Aftermath,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner. The fieldwork was carried out in the village of Thabang, hailed as the capital of the Maoist base areas during the war. The findings of the fieldwork suggest that the 'people's war' has reconfigured key hierarchies along which Nepali society was organized - that of caste, gender and generation. However, the old hierarchies were subverted not only due to the spread of Maoist ideology, but also due to the processes engendered by the situation of war -- the exodus of able-bodied men who either joined the Maoists or migrated abroad, the concurrent feminization of villages, and inevitable change in the gender and generational structure of society. While the 'people's war' had a clear generational dimension, these were predominantly unmarried youth who joined the rebels -- pointing towards the importance of the moral economy of marriage and kinship for understanding the Maoist mobilization campaign and broader social processes during the war. The fact that such practices as beef-eating and inter-caste commensality, considered as a serious transgression in the once Hindu Kingdom of Nepal, endure in post-conflict environment testifies that the 'people's war' undermined Hindu ideology as the basis of the moral order in Nepal and introduced new ideas about morality grounded in the Maoist discourse of equality and progress.
Askew, Dr. Marc Richard, Victoria U., Melbourne, Australia - To aid research on 'Neighborhood in a Time of Danger: Buddhist and Muslim Villagers amidst Thailand's Southern Insurgency'
DR. MARC R. ASKEW, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Neighborhood in a Time of Danger: Buddhist and Muslim Villagers Amidst Thailand's Southern Insurgency.' Set in the environment of the ongoing violence afflicting the Muslim-majority border areas of southern Thailand, this ethnographic research explored webs of relationships, personal stories, and shared rumor in a group of neighboring Buddhist and Muslim villages in adjoining districts of the provinces of Songkhla and Pattani. Involving ten months' fieldwork, and building upon networks of informants from a previous pilot study, the project investigated local values about neighborhood, social and ethno-religious difference, and sought to determine how village leaders negotiate pressures imposed both by mysterious local insurgents as well as Thai state authorities. The researcher found that in the absence of effective state protection, villagers have draw on a range of networks and traditional social modes to maximize safety and manage relationships, patterns that reveal much about the relative strength of society and weakness of the state in Thailand. The research in the villages of this area highlights that in this strange 'war zone,' though people are dogged with suspicions of mysterious enemies and sometimes prone to vent their frustrations about the dangers surrounding them in terms of ethnic stereotypes, they still remain committed to affirming values and relationships of co-existence in a multi-ethnic space.
Askew, Marc. 2007. Landscapes of Fear, Horizons of Trust: Villagers Dealing with Danger in Thailand’s Insurgent South. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 40(1):59-86.