Solomon, Daniel Allen, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Coexistence and Conflict: Associative Techniques of Humans and Rhesus Macaques in Northern India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Friend Harding
DANIEL A. SOLOMON, then a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received a grant in October 2008 to aid research on 'Coexistence and Conflict: Associative Techniques of Humans and Rhesus Macaques in Northern India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Harding. This research focused on the often problematic relationships between humans and rhesus macaques in and around 'monkey temples' in Delhi and Shimla, India. The project had two focuses: first, the ways in which humans and rhesus monkeys associated with one another in everyday contexts; and second, how monkeys were talked about in media and political narratives about problems like monkey attacks and crop destruction. Urban macaques make their livings on handouts from devotees of the monkey-like god Hanuman and on the edible refuse left behind by dense urban crowds and patchy waste-handling infrastructure. So as monkey management programs have begun to take off in earnest, questions around waste management and the distribution of public resources have been highlighted. Debates about what to do with problematic monkeys have often taken the form of a critique of Indian modernization and government competence in general, but these debates have also provided spaces for re-evaluating governmental and religious protections afforded to animals vis-à-vis the travails of underserved classes of people. These particular issues offer urban Indians spaces for experimenting with different techniques for mitigating the most adverse effects of coexistence between social species, and for re-imagining the ethics of social protections and resource distribution.
Menon, Dr. Kalyani Devaki, DePaul University, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Making Place for Muslims: Religious Practice and Placemaking in Contemporary India'
Preliminary abstract: This project will explore how religious practice enables Muslims residing in Old Delhi to construct identity, community, and national belonging in contemporary India. Exclusionary constructions of religion and identity have enabled extreme violence against Indian Muslims, and have resulted in their political and economic marginalization in the country. Living amidst such inequalities, exclusion, and violence, how do people construct alternative imaginaries that bridge difference and facilitate coexistence? Drawing on data gathered over eight months of fieldwork amongst Muslims who inhabit the religiously plural spaces of Old Delhi, I will explore how religious practice enables alternative and inclusive constructions of community in the face of violent assertions of exclusion in contemporary India. In exploring this question, my project speaks to broader anxieties generated by the pluralism that marks the contemporary moment and challenges constructions of Muslim difference that animate Islamophobia, thus making a significant contribution to scholarship on the place of religion in the modern world. In focusing on how individuals build communities across axes of difference, my project underscores the importance of studying identity, and indeed religion itself, not in isolation, but rather as always in relation to others and inflected by the pluralism that marks our world.
Huang, Yu, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Cultivating 'Science-Savvy' Citizens: Empowerment and Risk in Shrimp Aquaculture Development in China,' supervised by Dr. Ann Anagnost
YU HUANG, then a student at University of Washington, Seattle Washington, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Cultivating 'Science-Savvy' Citizens: Empowerment and Risk in Shrimp Aquaculture Development in China,' supervised by Dr. Ann Anagnost. This research seeks to investigate how, in the context of China's economic reforms, aquaculture has become a site where the state engineers new forms of citizenship to fit the demands of the global economy, and how new forms of subjectivity around empowerment and risk emerge in tension with state projects. While slogans of 'scientific aquaculture' hailed farmers' pursuit of unprecedented high-yields in the 1990s, recently, the focus of science extension has shifted to the promotion of 'healthy aquaculture.' This research traces how scientific aquaculture was produced 'in action' as a result of friction between the state's neoliberal policies, scientists' social aspirations, and farmers' conceptualization of risks. Research sites include stationary sites such as a village dominated by small family farms and a large state-owned collective farm, as well as mobile sites such as science extension activities including fish veterinary training workshops and food safety inspection trips. In addition, the researcher rented a shrimp farm to conduct experimental shrimp farming. Evidence from this project will not only help facilitate more conversations between fishery managers and shrimp farmers, but it will collaborate with both experts and lay people to speculate on the possibilities of new forms of agency in a globalized economy.
Tahir, Madiha, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Recognition of Risk: Drone Warfare and Strategies of Recognition,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Povinelli
Preliminary abstract: In the face of the variable logics of empire--in particular, in the practice of drone attacks on Pakistan's Tribal Areas (FATA)--how do survivors and families of the dead attempt to gain recognition for their loss? What is the relationship between the displacement of all risk onto people living on the political and geographic margins of Pakistan and the forms of recognition open to them in the international discourse of human rights? My dissertation project analyzes how drone affectees deploy artifacts--testimony, photos of dead kin--in tandem with human rights organizations to lay claim to their humanity and dignity. They attempt to resuscitate a data point into a fleshly material body that has been killed. I ask: How do these strategies succeed and fail? What are the vocabularies and discursive techniques through which these artifacts are made and unmade? My project contributes to anthropological literature on violence and the social as well as examining how our world and forms of recognition are being remade as new technologies make it possible to (once again) re-distribute risk across the globe.
Ngo, Anh-Thu Thi, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Constructing / Belonging in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,' supervised by Dr. Michael Herzfeld
ANH-THU THI NGO, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Constructing/Belonging in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,' supervised by Dr. Michael Herzfeld. This research focuses on transformation, adaptation, and belonging in Vietnam's largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City (known locally as Saigon). Three fields of interaction -- distinguished broadly as artistic, political and philanthropic activity -- serve as the grounds for an examination of the sociality inherent to self- and world-making in the context of urban growth. Amid both the empowering and obstructing capacities of city life, how do particular agents construct the means for grounding their lives meaningfully? How do the landscapes and social processes around them impinge on these endeavors? In each of the three spheres of inquiry, young Saigonese organize themselves to share information and resources to broaden and enable their creative, civic or charitable aims. The urban environment, which engenders these connections, grounds the ethnographic picture, even as Saigonese increasingly turn to social media platforms to engage one another. These investigations into well-being are framed not as processes that have neat arcs of fulfillment but rather as continual working at
'being-with:' being with oneself in terms of spiritual or moral understanding; being with others in social and political engagement; being with one's environment or cityscape in its multitude and mutations. Through extended conversations and multimedia engagement, this ethnography provides a mosaic of urbanites' attempts to forge futures when collective memories and present realities come together in uncertain manner.
Kaehler, Laura E., City U. of New York, Graduate Center, NY - To aid research on 'Market Translators in Kuala Lumpur: Social Practice in High Finance,' supervised by Dr. Jane C. Schneider
LAURA E. KAEHLER, while a student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in New York, New York, received funding in July 2001 to aid research on social practice in high finance in Kuala Lumpur, under the supervision of Dr. Jane C. Schneider. Kaehler's findings indicated that in Malaysia, the commodification of risk was a crucial cause of the financial crisis of 1997-98. Risk management practices were also implicated in the uneven distribution of the effects of the crisis across society. At the time of Kaehler's research, the political and financial elite were attempting to inculcate practices of risk management at the family, state, and national levels. However, the governmental calculus and rhetoric of risk aversion, as well as the state-controlled media's focus on manipulation of risk, had served to make the public not more risk averse but less so. 'Stock fever' continued at pre-crisis levels, and market participation had become a key marker of sociability, patronage, and prestige. Increasingly, social life had become regulated by market practice, which meant not just simple market economics but the adoption of a frenzied style of stock-market speculation by unlikely comers from private and public life. Kaehler collected evidence through interviews with government officials, fund managers, and individual investors and through participant observation at a Malaysian hedge fund. Her findings suggested a possible reformulation of anthropologists' arguments regarding the embedding of markets in societies to incorporate the transplanting of Euro-American financial markets into developing countries without grafting roots in local market cultures, even where financial markets were run by locals.
Deutsch, Cheryl Lynn, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'The Traffic of Desire: Economic Growth, Environmental Sustainability, and Transportation Planning in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Keith Murphy
Preliminary abstract: In a recent decision, Delhi's High Court directly challenged the car culture of India's growing middle class. Striking down a lawsuit brought by car-owners against a new bus system in the capital city, the Court argued: 'A developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport.' The Court's decision gave a go-ahead to convert over 300 kilometers of vehicle lanes into bus-only corridors along the city's congested road network and reflects a shift in thinking about urban development away from consumer culture and towards environmental sustainability. Transportation planners now face the challenge of implementing this new Bus Rapid Transit system and, with it, re-engineering the car culture of Delhi's middle class. Through one year of ethnographic research with Delhi's transportation planners, this project will bring to light the contestations at work in changing conceptions of development through infrastructures of mobility.
Venkatesan, Dr. Soumhya, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK - To aid research and writing on 'Crafting Discourse: Mat Weaving in Pattamadai, South India' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. SOUMHYA VENKATESAN, of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in December 2002 to aid research and writing on mat weaving and the discourse surrounding the craft in Pattamadai, India. From January 2003 to January 2004, Venkatesan conducted research in South India among Muslim mat weavers, exploring issues relating to Islam and the craft object. She wrote up the results of the research in a manuscript for publication as a monograph, with the working title Transformative Words: 'Craft,' 'Development,' and the Worlds of Indian Artists. Aspects of the research were also to be published in a paper entitled 'Making Gifts Matter,' in a volume edited by Ssorin-Chaikov and Sosnina.
Venkatesan, Soumhya. 2006. Shifting Balances in a 'Craft Community:' The Mat Weavers of Pattamdai, South India. Contributions to Indian Sociology 40(1):63-89.
Venkatesan, Soumhya. 2009. Craft Matters: Artisans, Development and the Indian Nation. Orient Black Swan: New Delhi.
Peche, Linda Ho, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong
LINDA HO PECHE, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Constructing Self and Spirit: Home Altars and the Articulation of Vietnamese American Subjectivities,' supervised by Dr. Pauline Turner Strong. This project is about spiritual connection -- how the 'spiritual' is accessed, experienced and/or transformed in the materiality of everyday life for Vietnamese Americans. The context is a community envisioning itself emerging from war and refugee flight as well as grounding itself as truly American. Specifically, this project examines Vietnamese American home altars and shrines as social spaces where cultural, religious and political ideologies are experienced and expressed. It seeks to explore how religious experiences inform and are produced by a kind of 'spirit' of a community, addressed not through some static notion of 'identity' but, instead, as constituted (and continually re-constituted) through expressive practices. With this approach, the 'spirit' and 'spiritualities' of Vietnamese America are fulfilled through experience rather than revealed in a holistic sense. What emerges is a shifting and negotiated spectrum of belief and practice, navigated both through an exploration of different spiritual/spatial landscapes and collective diasporic imaginaries.