Lee, Seung-Cheol, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Financialized Ethics: Governing Individual Bankruptcy in South Korea,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Povinelli
SEUNG-CHEOL LEE, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2013 to aid research on 'Financialized Ethics: Governing Individual Bankruptcy in South Korea,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Povinelli. This research aims to examine South Korea's governance of individual bankruptcy over the past decade, in order to understand how sociality and ethicality are remolded and imbricated with financial neoliberalism. To explore the intricacies of the social realities that surround the issue of personal insolvency, this project started with the focus on the legal process and remedial education for bankrupt individuals, and expanded its scope to the workings of other relevant institutions and agents. The conducted fieldwork has included: 1) archival research on government documents, court records, and poplar representations of the bankrupt issue; 2) following individual bankruptcy cases as they pass through court hearings and the rehabilitation program; 3) participant observation at a leading local NGO concerned with individual bankruptcy; 4) interviews with the bankrupt, bankruptcy attorneys, court officials, and NGO activists. The research found: 1) individual bankruptcy has been problematized as a 'moral' issue, and thus it has served as a point at which economy and morality overlap; 2) during the rehabilitation process, the bankrupt individuals are trained to embody neoliberal responsibility and morality; and 3) the present-day governing practices produce depoliticized effects by mobilizing morality as the antidote to a crisis that requires political/economic solutions.
Heimsath, Kabir Mansingh, Oxford U., Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Lhasa Contemporary: Urban Spaces and Tibetan Practices,' supervised by Dr. Marcus Banks
KABIR MANSINGH HEIMSATH, then a student at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Lhasa Contemporary: Urban Spaces and Tibetan Practices,' supervised by Dr. Marcus Banks. The tangible modernization of Lhasa, Tibet, has accelerated dramatically in the past decade. This research attempts to use the theoretical construction of space as a method for understanding Tibetan lives in a continually shifting urban landscape. Building on previous experiences residing and working in Lhasa, this fieldwork focused on people's interaction with the material and visual environment of the city. The project attempts to bring together ethnographic research methods with more geographic and architectural concerns of space, buildings, and the city. Fieldwork time was divided between different areas of the city as well as different modes of work, leisure, commerce, and home; while research questions focused on the inter-dependence of material, lived, and representative spaces in the city as they relate to the lives of individual Tibetans. The growing diversification of economies, homes, and professions leads to multifarious spaces in Lhasa, but this project also seeks to discover whether it is possible to discuss the city itself as a coherent place/space. Unexpected riots and crackdowns during fieldwork both complicate and emphasize the peculiar nature of urban topography and its significance for Tibetans today.
Chudakova, Tatiana, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Institutionalization of Tibetan Medicine in Post-Soviet Buryatia,' supervised by Dr. Judith Brooke Farquhar
TATIANA CHUDAKOVA, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in October 2008, to aid research on 'The Institutionalization of Tibetan Medicine in Post-Soviet Buryatia,' supervised by Dr. Judith B. Farquhar. This research focused on efforts to institutionalize, scientize, and commercialize the practices of Tibetan medicine in Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation located in southeastern Siberia. In so doing, it interrogates the emergence in Russia's state--sponsored and private health care institutions of what appears to be a kind of 'biocosmopolitan' imaginary -- a set of rhetorics and practices that attempt to combine and blend together disparate therapeutic cosmologies, diagnostic techniques, and possible ways of managing bodies and subjectivities under a single logic of 'optimizing' and 'revitalizing' health through the 'integration' (integratzia) of 'Eastern' and 'Western' medical knowledge. This project looks at the ways in which Tibetan medicine in Buryatia has been closely entangled with local scientific and biomedical practices, entanglements that both predate strictly post-Soviet logics of cultural and religious revival, and give rise to new kinds of knowledge practices, forms of expertise, and modes of care and health management. In this sense, this research focuses on the ways in which Tibetan medicine in Buryatia is both transformative of the efforts to 'rationalize' it, and constantly informed by them.
Chudakova, Tatiana. 2015. The Pulse in the Machine: Automating Tibetan Diagnostic Palpation in Postsocialist Russia. Comparative Study of Society and History 57(2):407-434.
Wang, Yu, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Naturalizing Ethnicity, Culturalizing Landscape: The Politics of World Heritage in China,' supervised by Dr. Ralph A. Litzinger
YU WANG, then a student at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, was awarded funding in September 2005 to aid research on 'Naturalizing Ethnicity, Culturalizing Landscape: The Politics of World Heritage in China,' supervised by Dr. Ralph A. Litzinger. In the past ten years, more than twenty sites in China have been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List. This growing World-Heritage 'fever' has manifestly transformed the lives of people living in these sites. It also raises questions about the changing relationships between culture and nature, local and global, and development and conservation. Based on an ethnographic account of the tourism development, ethnicity construction, and heritage protection on a potential World Cultural Heritage Site in Yunnan Province of China, the research investigates how the world-heritage system generates debates about cultural (ethnic) authenticity and creates new sites of struggle over control of local resources in this particular site of Yunnan. In a context where both global and state policies continue orchestrating developments in contemporary China, and where local struggles over identification and poverty increasingly haunt the policies, this research particularly tackles the problems of development and conservation by offering a case that is centrally engaged with international and state-based modes of governmentality. This project aims above all to put in question assumptions about the simple relationship between the development agenda of the state and the conservation mission of UNESCO.
Sandesara, Utpal Niranjan, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Prenatal Kinship and Selective Reproduction: The Process of Sex Selection in an Indian Community,' supervised by Dr. Philippe Bourgois
UTPAL SANDESARA, then a graduate student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received funding in April 2014 to aid research on 'Prenatal Kinship and Selective Reproduction: The Process of Sex Selection in an Indian Community,' supervised by Dr. Philippe Bourgois. Over the past thirty years, the selective abortion of female fetuses has led to far more boys than girls being born in parts of India. There exists a plethora of research on the phenomenon, but this literature includes very limited instances of fieldwork with people actually engaging in the practice. The current project contributes a 'from-the-inside' understanding of how sex selection works, on the basis of interviews and observation with pregnant women and their relatives, clinicians, and government officials. Empirically, the project provides: 1) the first clinically based account of how women, relatives, clinicians, brokers, and medical technology come together to perform sex selection; 2) a new account of how families make decisions around sex selection, emphasizing emotional suffering and the psychodynamics of continuity as important factors; 3) the first empirical account of two new forms of marriage emerging as adaptations in response to skewed sex ratio; and 4) one of the first fieldwork-based accounts of how the state's anti-sex selection activities operate on the ground. Theoretically, the project explores a broader social system that rests on alienation of women; pressures parents to desire sons over daughters; remains resistant to state intervention; and sustains itself through inflows of outside women.
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.