Dressler, Dr. Wolfram H., U. of Queensland, Australia; and Pulhin, Dr. Juan M., U. of Philippines - To aid collaborative research on 'An Ethnography of Rural Livelihood Transitions among Migrant and Indigenous Uplanders on Palawan Island, Philippines'
Preliminary abstract: The intensification of the 'agrarian transition' threatens forests and traditional livelihoods in the rural Philippines. In particular, indigenous residents on the frontier island of Palawan contend with rapidly changing livelihoods arising from unequal commodity relations with migrants in an expanding market economy (Eder and Fernandez, 1996; Cramb and Culasero, 2003; Rigg, 2006). As frontiers are settled, indigenous peoples face growing threats to traditional livelihoods and customary practice as they negotiate agricultural intensification and new markets with migrants in the uplands. But how exactly do indigenous livelihood practices respond to the local outcomes of the 'agrarian transition'? How do household social relations and customary practice engage with migrant trade relations and commodity production? This study seeks to examine in ethnographic detail how indigenous households adjust to livelihood transitions, changes in forest landscapes and changes in the regional political economy.
Dressler, Wolfram. 2009. The shifting ground of swidden agriculture on Palawan Island, the Phippines. Agriculture and Human Values. Published online.
Dressler, Wolfram. 2009. People, power and timber: The politics of community-based forest management. Journal of Environmental Management 91: 206-214.
Dressler, Wolfram. 2010. The Role of 'Hybrid' NGOs in the Conservation and Development of Palawan Island, The Philippines. Society and Natural Resources 23:165-180.
Thiranagama, Dr. Sharika, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'The Cultural Life of Communism in Kerala'
Preliminary abstract: In 1957, the south Indian state of Kerala elected the first democratically elected communist government in the world, one of many such elections since in the state. Communism in Kerala has survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and waning of the organized left in most of the world. Kerala provides a compelling site to study how one of the twentieth century's most global ideologies traveled and shaped new social and intimate relations, as well as how it was vernacularized and re-framed by distinct cultural and political contexts. This study will aim to explain this persistence of the communist movement by investigating how communism has become embedded in durable cultural institutions and practices in Keralan life and has created a unique vernacular public culture that incorporates existing gender and caste distinctions. The two empirical sites for this investigation are the public library and the private household. Kerala's unique library movement introduced reading rooms, mass literacy, deliberative political discussion and supposedly communism into everyday life. The historical and contemporary life of the library as a caste-free but highly masculine public space will be investigated. The second site, 'the communist family', would provide data on how the communist movement reconfigured the ethics and practice of intimate life and attempted to mold ideas about the ideal communist family. The research focuses on a core communist constituency, the households of Dalit ( formerly untouchable) female agricultural laborers to understand how gender and caste stratification plays out in the lives of those historically considered the bulwark of communist support. Interviews, participant observation, household surveys, and life histories will be carried out in households in two villages, and, with library users and staff in 2 libraries in the communist stronghold of rural Palakkad.
Park, Choong-Hwan, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Serving Peasant Family Meals to Beijing Urbanites: The City and the Country in Post-Mao China,' supervised by Dr. Mayfair Yang
CHOONG-HWAN PARK, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, received funding in December 2005 to aid research on 'Serving Peasant Family Meals to Beijing Urbanites: The City and the Country in Post-Mao China,' supervised by Dr. Mayfair Yang. Over the last two decades China has witnessed a unique form of countryside tourism called nongjiale (peasant family delights) in which Chinese urban middle-classes travel down to rural villages and consume rustic meals in farm guesthouses run by peasant families. This dissertation fieldwork explored: 1) what socio-economic implications nongjiale tourism has for China's rural village life and development; 2) how and in what politico-economic and cultural conditions nongjiale has become a locus of authenticity and nostalgia in the imagination of Chinese urban middle-classes; and 3) the broader social-historical context of post-Mao China in which nongjiale has become a socially meaningful and economically lucrative tourism commodity. The research finding is that nongjiale is not simply a symptom of 'the tourist gaze' looking for authenticity and escape from urban drudgeries but also a crucial marker of the emergence of a new cultural-political regime in post Mao China, a regime that can be conceptualized in terms of the contrast between Maoist China's emphasis on production and asceticism and post-Mao China's promotion of consumption and hedonism. This post-Mao regime of 'leisure and pleasure' not only informs the desire and fantasy of the Chinese people today but also shapes the discursive formation of rural-urban fault-lines and identities central to forging the cultural hierarchy and power structure in post-Mao China.
Kim, Dr. Eleana Jean, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research and writing on 'Making Peace with Nature: The Greening of the Korean Demilitarized Zone' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract; The Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), the buffer zone that separates the two Koreas, has been uninhabited for more than sixty years, and in that time it has transformed into an accidental ecological haven for rare and endangered species. Ecologists and preservationists in South Korea and internationally have recognized the unique conservation possibilities of the DMZ since the 1960s, yet only in the past decade has active government and NGO attention been concentrated on rebranding of the DMZ as a zone of 'peace and life' rather than a traumatic scar of national division and war. Empirically, my research focuses on the South Korean border area and what I call the DMZ's 'ecological exceptionalism,' which emerges out of the social practices and relations among scientists, ecologists, environmentalists, activists, local residents, bureaucrats, and nonhuman actants, including endangered birds, alien fish, uncultivated flora, and land mines. The monograph and articles I plan to complete analyze how the production of the DMZ's nature also entails the naturalization of the DMZ as a space of social and political exception that takes place in relation to Korean nationalisms and unification politics, global environmentalisms, neoliberal capitalism, and political violence. But beyond deconstructing the DMZ's nature as always already social and political, my work identifies the mutual constitution of hope and nature in contemporary attempts to grapple with planetary futures and the limits of human agency. I argue that political ecology debates over capitalism and conservation must also include issues of global security and militarization and that the politics and poetics of utopian imaginaries are crucial to an anthropological understanding of what many refer to as the Anthropocene.
Fujikura, Yasuko, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Cultural Politics of Badi Families: The Social Impact of AIDS Prevention Projects in Western Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp
YASUKO FUJIKURA, then a student at New School University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in May 2003 to aid research on 'Cultural Politics of Badi Families: The Social Impact of AIDS Prevention Projects in Western Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp. This study focused on the social impact of AIDS prevention projects on reproductive practices in the Badi community, historically considered as a 'prostitute' caste, in the western region of Nepal. The Badi, who are treated as dalit (untouchable caste), had served as entertainers for small rajas (kings) and landlords in the past, and became increasingly dependent on income from women's sex work in the recent decades of migration and urbanization. Badi women became identified as one of the 'high risk groups' by HIV/AIDS prevention projects from the late 1980s, when the WHO and international media predicted that the HIV/AIDS virus would enter Nepal from India through migrant laborers and sex workers. During the 1990s, the identification of specific target areas and groups in the AIDS prevention projects generated various rumors and accusations among other local residents, resulting in renewed discrimination and disputes over the questions of sex work, children's rights, citizenship, and property rights. Through ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a Badi settlement in the urban town of Nepalgunj near the India-Nepal border, this project investigated how the international and domestic AIDS prevention projects create new contexts in which Badi families find possibilities and constraints in their reproductive futures. By identifying subtle transformation through family biographies and life histories, this research documents how people struggle within and against their conditions of life in the context of large social transformations.
Bajracharya, Sepideh A., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'A Country of Hearsay and Rumor: Imagining the Nepali Nation Through the Politics of Rumor and Vigilantism,' supervised by Dr. Mary M. Steedly
SEPIDEH BAJRACHARYA, while a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on 'A Country of Hearsay and Rumor: Imagining the Nepali Nation through the Politics of Rumor and Vigilantism,' supervised by Dr. Mary Margaret Steedly. This project asked how the circulation of subterranean discourses (rumors, scandals, conspiracy theories, prophecies) in Kathmandu and its vigilante-run urban neighborhoods enabled a form of political imagining that was specific to what has - since the royal massacre of 2001 - become recognized as a period of political crisis. The study focused on: 1.) actual and imagined links between networks of neighborhood vigilantism and the state; 2.) the techniques and technologies that produced these associations; and 3.) how 'city' and 'neighborhood' became landscapes marked by, and generative of these dealings. It was based on work done in two adjacent Kathmandu neighborhoods affiliated with a gang rumored to have illicit connections to the palace and political elite. Fieldwork consisted of working with, and attending, public events sponsored by members of the gang, and the network of 'patriotic organizations' to which they were linked. Interviews were conducted with residents of the two neighborhoods, political activists, and city/police officials. The use of media and inscription technologies (such as cell phones and invitation cards) was examined to understand how they generated rumor circuits that fed the city's public/political imagination. The study revealed that the face of the criminal and that of the ruler were interchangeable and created through orchestrated and imagined spectacles of legitimacy and rumor. The dissertation will focus on the exchangeability of these legal and illegal structures of rule through rumored associations and public spectacles that allege connections, but do not provide any proof of connection. How does this shape our understanding of 'the political' and its relation to the condition of crisis that foregrounds assumptions about the postcolonial nation?
Vevaina, Leilah Sohrab, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'In Community We Trust: Parsis and Property in Mumbai,' supervised by Dr. Vyjayanthi Rao
LEILAH S. VEVAINA, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'In Community We Trust: Parsis and Property in Mumbai,' supervised by Dr. Vyjayanthi Rao. Funding supported field research in Mumbai, India, from July through December 2011, which centered on Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) religious endowments. Collectively with their governing trust, the Bombay Parsi Panchayat or Parsis, who number about 50,000, are the largest private landowners in this megacity of 18 million. The research explores how the communal trust, with its particular econo-legal status, manages access to its holdings to mitigate a perceived demographic crisis of the community, and to construct boundaries of membership. The large amounts of litigation that surround Parsi trusts also expresses the complex authority and regulatory structures within the community, and the ways in which the courts negotiate their authority over this minority religious group. The research also explores how litigation can be a technology of property management in this city strangled by outdated rent laws and an overwhelmed legal bureaucracy. Lastly, the project undertakes an analysis of the large-scale redevelopment projects, which are planned for much of existing Parsi trust real estate. While completely in step with Mumbai's real estate boom, these trust assets in motion create new entanglements for Parsi residents, and reveal new circuits of value and property in the landscape of megacity Mumbai.
Reddy, Malavika, U of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Legal Practice and the Production of Licit Subjects in Thailand,' supervised by Dr. John Kelly
MALAVIKA REDDY, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Legal Practice and the Production of Licit Subjects in Thailand,' supervised by Dr. John Kelly. The research focuses on a recent trend in Thailand for Burmese workers -- people who otherwise occupy a liminal status in that country -- to make claims in the Thai legal system. Conducted through fifteen months of ethnographic observation of legal aid workers and their clients in Mae Sot, Thailand, the research answers three questions: 1) How do foreign workers with marginal status mobilize the law on their behalves? 2) What do these mobilizations suggest about the possibilities of law in an era in which the presence of people with no meaningful legal status is a structuring principle of the nation-state? And 3) As law defines new people and spaces as its object, how does legal practice re-subjectify not only claimants, but also lawyers, activists, and legal aid workers? The study concludes that legal practitioners, from police to claimants and lawyers, are defining a licit jurisdiction -- an authority with which the breadth of both legal and illegal migrant livelihoods in Mae Sot can be adjudicated. Called up by those acting in the name of law, authority in this jurisdiction is nonetheless exercised not according to legal statutes, but by using law and legal procedure as a foil or context to practice.
Lai, Lili, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Beyond the Economic Peasant: Embodiment and Healthcare in Rural Henan,' supervised by Dr. Judith B. Farquhar
LILI LAI, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was awarded a grant in June 2005 to aid research on 'Beyond the Economic Peasant: Embodiment and Healthcare in Rural Henan,' supervised by Dr. Judith B. Farquhar. This dissertation project seeks to provide a better understanding of 'rural' realities in today's mobile Chinese society, through an ethnographic interrogation of daily practice, attitudes (at household, community, and county government levels), policy history, and local memory in Henan, China. It aims to demonstrate that the rural-urban distinction is a mobile, relative dyad and shows how at every point a person's (or place's, or practice's) 'ruralness' or urban sophistication is an intimate, local quality. This research project focuses on everyday social practice in order to gain insight into forms of embodiment and local cultural worlds, bringing together questions concerning everyday life, the body, and peasant status. The phase of the research funded by Wenner-Gren was conducted at two sites: a migrant community in northwestern Beijing from October to November 2006, and the village in Henan Province in December of 2006. The major concern at the Beijing site was how preparation for the 2008 Olympics affected the life of migrant laborers from Henan. The major questions were centered on the rural-urban (dis)interaction and more importantly, discourses about the peasants. And the major task at the village was to complete the village gazetteer project in collaboration with the village committee and concrete historical data on local production, education, consumption, transportation and construction to this gazetter were added through the archival research in the county seat and interviews with senior villagers.
Goner, Ozlem, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'History in the Present: Historical Consciousness and the Construction of Otherness in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Joy Misra
OZLEM GONER, then a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, received a grant in May 2010, to aid research on 'History in the Present: Historical Consciousness and the Construction of Otherness in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Joy Misra. This study mobilizes archival and ethnographic methods to interrogate the relationships among history, power, place, movements, and everyday identity formation at the margins of the Turkish state. It focuses on the relationships between historical and everyday state-formation and the making and remaking of the people, geography, and nature of Dersim, as insider-outsiders of the Turkish nation. It analyzes how relations of power and struggle, as well experiences and identities of people unfold through memories and social movements and shift in time with three historical periods: the construction and consolidation of the Turkish state explored through 1938, the massacre, and the following forced migration the Turkish state imposed on Dersim during the 1930s; the rise of social movements and accompanying state violence starting with the 1960s, which intensified with the rise of the Kurdish Worker's Party in the 1990s; and the most recent decade where identity and geography of Dersim have been central to various social and political organizations, through the public recognitions of 1938 and a still growing anti-dam politics. Looking at how outsider populations remember, imagine, and act upon historical consciousness(es) of different events in the everyday, this research contributes to an ethnographic understanding of historicity, state, nationalism, and difference.