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.
Hsieh, Jennifer Chia-Lynn, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Sound and Noise in the City: Public Sensibilities and Technocratic Translation in Taipei's Aural Cityscape,' supervised by Dr. Miyako Inoue
Preliminary abstract: For the last 30 years, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency has implemented noise control standards in efforts to reduce the noise level on the island. While their efforts have succeeded in lowering the decibel levels around the island, citizens perceive Taiwan as noisier than ever. This paradox illustrates that sound in the form of noise is a contentious topic and reflects political claims about one's self-identification as a modern, Taiwanese subject. I focus on the problem of noise in Taipei as a uniquely urban discourse. Through city efforts toward urban re-development and the influx of new migrants from rural Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Taipei is fast becoming an even more densely-populated, diverse space for a number of urban subjects. I argue that the governance of noise creates a new paradigm in the delineation of urban space that restructures the urban experience through ways of hearing. By situating an ethnographic project within both government agencies and individual communities in Taipei, I draw attention to the imbricate nature between the technocratic system that produces a set of noise control standards and the everyday practices of individuals who either react, circumvent, perpetuate, or manipulate such standards toward their own diverse set of interests.
Closser, Svea Hupy, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Global Development in Policy and Practice: The Polio Eradication Initiative from Atlanta to Rural Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Peter John Brown
SVEA CLOSSER then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in May 2006 to aid research on 'Global Development in Policy and Practice: The Polio Eradication Initiative from Atlanta to Rural Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Peter J. Brown. This case study of a public health project focused on Pakistan, one of the last four countries in the world with endemic polio, and explored the reach, limits, and complex negotiation of the power of UN and bilateral agencies over the Pakistani health system. This research revealed that because the Polio Eradication Initiative is a 'partnership' of donors and UN agencies with country governments, officials at places like the WHO in Geneva have no direct control over the actual implementation of immunization activities. Polio vaccination campaigns are carried out in Pakistan by highly political district health offices along with very poorly paid and largely disgruntled workers. The WHO uses a number of tactics to put pressure on Pakistani government officials, but they are unable to make polio the priority in a nation beset with other, more politically pressing problems. However, due to the donor-directed culture of optimism that pervades upper levels of the project, these issues are never discussed in official publications. These tensions between the culture of global health institutions and local political cultures threaten to undermine the 20-year, six-billion-dollar initiative.
Closser, Svea. 2010. Chasing Polio in Pakistan: Why the World's Largest Public Health Initiative May Fail. Vanderbilt University Press: Nashville, TN.
Zhao, Jianhua, U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'Fashioning Change: The Political Economy of Clothing in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Nicole Constable
JIANHUA ZHAO, then a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Fashioning Change: The Political Economy of Clothing in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Nicole Constable. This project combined interpretive anthropology and political economy to examine the changes in Chinese clothing fashions and their social and cultural meanings, and the influence of local and global processes on China's clothing and apparel industry since the post-Mao economic reforms began in 1978. During the field research, the researcher gathered historical data in order to show the changes in clothing fashions and China's textile and apparel industries. By working with fashion professionals, including designers, executives, and journalists, the researcher also collected ethnographic data to illustrate the relationship between clothing and the state in China, to explicate how the Chinese clothing system works as a cultural system, and to elucidate the interconnectedness between the global and local processes in the production and consumption of clothing and fashion. This study contributes to an ethnographic understanding of clothing, to the study of the social and cultural impact of the economic reforms in post-Mao China, to the wider study of post-socialist societies in which the reconfiguration of the state and society articulates in the production and consumption of fashion and clothing, and to the anthropological critiques of 'globalization' as a simple and unidirectional economic process of 'westernization,' cultural imperialism, or cultural homogenization.
Solomon, Harris Scott, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Diagnosing India: Food, the Body, and the Healthy Economy in Mumbai,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Lutz
HARRIS S. SOLOMON, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Diagnosing India: Food, the Body, and the Healthy Economy in Mumbai,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Lutz. This study examines the rise of obesity in urban India to understand the lived experiences of simultaneous scarcity and excess. In Mumbai, public health officials estimate that one third of the population is overweight. Debates about obesity traffic in concepts like 'globesity' and 'affluenza,' contemporary genetic logics, and critiques of middle-class consumerism. Although obesity symbolizes a national threat, it also creates a tension between consumptive capability and the national promise of urban, middle-class modernity. Fieldwork tracked this tension across multiple sites, and observed food preparation and consumption in a seaside fishing neighborhood, and the medicalization of these practices at a metabolic disorders clinic. The grantee explored the commercialization of eating and dieting at street food stalls, and the regulation of nutrition by government officials. Findings detail two broad developments. First, the home kitchen has become a laboratory for the prevention of weight gain and for the commodification of food rituals. Second, a fluid language of biomedical standards now structures expressions of aesthetics and desire linked to food, effectively blurring moral, medical, and consumer choices. In this context, consumerism works as both the germ and the antidote for urban modernity's ill effects that materialize in aggregate as obesity.
Mojaddedi, Fatima, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The War Bubble: Kabul's Shifting Warscape and Afghan-American Community,' supervised by Dr. Rosalind Carmel Morris
FATIMA MOJADDEDI, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'The War Bubble: Kabul's Shifting Warscape and Afghan-American Community, ' supervised by Dr. Rosalind C. Morris. This dissertation is based on multi-site ethnographic fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Kabul, Afghanistan. The research situates socio-cultural and economic transformations in Kabul within a trans-national framework that takes as its starting point the assertion that culture and economy are the primary mediums of warfare. The grantee examines the socio-cultural ramifications of the current war and Afghanistan's integration into an international war economy that demands a commodification of land, language, and culture alongside a devastating counterinsurgency, illustrating how an international web of social and economic relations shape both the city of Kabul and its massive green zone. Moreover, the dissertation illustrates a crucial transition from an urban economy of war to one of shared fantasies based on a future mining industry. This is inextricable from how the future is being re-imagined among both Afghans and Afghan-Americans as the notion of invisible treasure is fantasized as existing underground, shifting the site of surplus value from a tumultuous green zone economy and speculative real estate market to its new subterranean home, buttressing the belief that peace can only occur alongside an extractive industry and illustrating the crucial link between new forms of war profiteering and older logics of imperial violence.
Joshi, Dr. Vibha, U. of Oxford, Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Naga Textiles as Diasporic Objects in the Field and in Museums During and Since Colonialism'
DR. VIBHA JOSHI, University of Oxford, Oxford, England, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Naga Textiles as Diasporic Objects in the Field and in Museums During and Since Colonialism.' The grant was used to fund archival and object based research in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and fieldwork in Nagaland, India. The grant covered the research period from January 2006 to January 2007 for the ongoing research on Naga textiles as diasporic objects in the field and in museums during and since colonialism. Nearly a hundred Lotha and Angami Naga textiles from the Pitt Rivers Museum collection were examined and photographed. Archival photos, records and correspondence between the collectors and the director of the Pitt Rivers Museum in the Museum archives were studied. The photographs of textiles were taken to Nagaland for further information which also included identification of textiles which had scant information labels. Women weavers including entrepreneurs and master weavers were interviewed to get information on the current design, production and distribution of textiles within Angami and Lotha Naga area. The study brought to the fore the similarities and differences among the Lotha and Angami in their practice of weaving and the transmission of the knowledge of weaving to the younger generation. The fieldwork revealed the continuing loss of older designs and an increasing decline in the number of girls learning to weave, as many mothers are themselves giving up weaving. The photos of older textiles (dating from 1914-1940s) from the Pitt Rivers Museum collection that I took with me to Nagaland in 2006 were appreciated and greeted with surprise by the weavers, since the particular designs had been regarded as permanently lost.
Deomampo, Ms. Daisy, Fordham U., New York, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Policy, Health, and Women's Rights: An Engaged Project on Transnational Surrogacy in India,' 2014, Mumbai, India
DAISY DEOMAMPO, then a graduate student at Fordham University, New York, New York, was given funding in August 2013 to aid engaged activities on 'Policy, Health, and Women's Rights: An Engaged Project on Transnational Surrogacy in Mumbai, India.' This engaged anthropology project emerged from dissertation research on the global surrogacy industry in Mumbai, India, in which prospective parents travel across national borders in pursuit of assisted reproductive technology (ART) services such as gestational surrogacy, egg donation, and in vitro fertilization. This project comprised two primary activities. First, with the assistance of a translator, the grantee conducted a participatory workshop with current and former surrogate mothers and egg donors. This workshop focused on women's concerns around the health, medical, and contractual aspects of surrogacy, with the goal of articulating key concerns for inclusion in ongoing ART policy debates. Second, with the assistance of the Advanced Centre for Women's Studies and the School of Development Studies, the grantee presented research findings at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to an audience of scholars, students, and research participants. This project brought together diverse actors in order to disseminate key research findings and to provide a forum for local actors to share their experiences and voice their concerns about ART regulation. Future activities include the development of articles for publication in mainstream media outlets and for sharing with the broader community involved in ART policy debates in India and beyond.
Tacey, Ivan Charles, U. Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France - To aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia
IVAN C. TACEY, then a student at University Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia. This research examined place-making and processes of territorialization in contemporary Peninsular Malaysia among the Batek, an indigenous minority people. Research was also undertaken with government agents, NGOs, and lawyers working with indigenous peoples in Malaysia. Since the 1970s deforestation, tourism, mining, and illegal poaching have brought increasing numbers of outsiders into the Batek's world. Multi-sited fieldwork was undertaken to examine the complex interactions between the Batek and the wide array of actors who now move through their traditional territory. Methodologies used to gain data on how Batek links to landscape are made and transformed included: GPS mapping; the collection of historical and religious stories; ethnographic interviews; surveys; and participant observation. Initial research findings demonstrate how Batek society, religion, and connections to landscape are being radically altered by national and global pressures. The Batek are acutely aware of how landscape changes and intensification of transnational flows of people, objects, and ideas have transformed their environments and sacred places. This awareness has informed new figurations within their cosmology, social discourses, and symbolic worlds. A key research finding concerned the emergence of Batek topophobia and 'tropes of fear:' dynamic, figurative manifestations of collective anxieties about unrelenting and uncontrollable global processes.
Padwe, Jonathan, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove
JOHNATHAN PADWE, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove. The subject of this research is the use of memories of genocide within the political debates surrounding 'development' among highland minorities in northeast Cambodia. Wenner-Gren funding supported the first year of a projected two and a half years of fieldwork. Research for this initial period consisted of five months of research in Phnom Penh among policy makers and staff of NGO and government agencies working on land titling and agricultural development, and seven months in Mondulkiri Province, both in the provincial capital and in Dak Dam village. Initial work in Phnom Penh resulted in the establishment of a network of contacts and the acquisition of reports and documents. Key accomplishments included significant improvement of language ability (in Khmer), the collection of extensive interview data regarding agriculture and land titling, and a refinement of the research questions. As a result of reviewer comments and feedback from this network, the initial focus on hunting has been deemphasized in the research program. Fieldwork in Mondulkiri province included developing contacts within the development community based in the provincial capital, initial visits to Dak Dam village, and eventually an extended period of fieldwork in Dak Dam. Data collected included participant observation and interview data about ongoing development projects, villagers' encounters with development, agricultural practices, such as the establishment of swidden fields, and cultural and religious activities, such as calendric agricultural ceremonies. During this period the Cambodian government granted a large land concession to a Malaysian pine-plantation enterprise, and villagers in affected areas (including Dak Dam) began protests.