Gross, Victoria Gabrielle, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Articulating Honor, Authoring the Past: Political Statements among the Devendra Kula Velallars of Tamil Nadu,' supervised by Dr. E. Valentine Daniel
VICTORIA G. GROSS, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Articulating Honor, Authoring the Past: Political Statements among the Devendra Kula Velallars of Tamil Nadu,' supervised by Dr. E. Valentine Daniel. The Devendra Kula Velallar community-a Dalit caste long subjected to violent subjugation in the Tamil region of India-is in the midst of a multivalent socio-political movement. Devendras, who are known to others as Pallars, are in the process of claiming a higher status for themselves. They articulate their claim by adopting a more aristocratic caste title, performatively asserting dominance during caste-centered functions and in everyday moments of bodily comportment, writing and distributing documents about their history, and engaging in conspicuous consumption indicative of a high class position. In opposition to most approaches to Dalit assertion, which employ the discourses of human rights and distributive justice and foreground the oppression of India's untouchables, Devendras refuse victimization. Instead they focus on their position in the distant past, which, they claim, was very high. Some even claim that the Devendras are, in fact, the descendants of the ancient kings of the Tamil region. Such claims are not voiced without opposition. The Thevar community, which used to dominate Southern Tamil Nadu, is staunchly opposed to the Devendras, and intercaste violence between the two communities is increasingly common. This study tracks both the Devendras' upward mobility and the Thevar backlash that it elicits.
Cameron, Clare Coghill, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'From Citizen to Stakeholder: New Logics of Humanitarianism in West Papua, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Ian Whitmarsh
Preliminary abstract: Anthropological engagement with Melanesian gift economies can be traced back to Malinowski's (1922) seminal work on the kula ring, itself instrumental to Mauss's (1925) theorization of gifts, countergifts and social debt. Yet, the logics of gift exchange -- notably, reciprocity, obligation and debt -- remain contemporary concerns, as they are increasingly appropriated toward the production of economic value. This project is concerned with a specific manifestation of this appropriation: corporate social responsibility programs. These programs not only speak to global trends in the privatization of social welfare, but a simultaneous marketization of the humanitarian ethic. In this shift, logics of humanitarianism can be appropriated and reconfigured -- by both donor and recipient -- to new ends that are not yet well understood. Situated in West Papua, Indonesia, this project, thus, explores how corporate humanitarian enterprises craft a complex dynamic between the corporation, its local stakeholders, and the public (state) sector. Although this new humanitarian project bears striking resemblance to past imperial projects of development, the contemporary mode of intervention -- the public-private partnership -- is an emerging formation that has important implications for how citizens relate to the state. My project examines what relationships, mediated by both debt and opportunity, might suggest about a new humanitarian logic that has widespread significance as public-private partnerships increasingly characterize the global health enterprise.
Venkatesan, Dr. Soumhya, U. of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Makers of Gods: Materials, Processes and Rituals in Tamil Hindu Life'
DR. SOUMHYA VANKATESAN, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Makers of Gods: Materials, Processes and Rituals in Tamil Hindu Life.' The research project sought to explore the common-sense distinction between persons and things through ethnographic research among sculptors and potters in Tamilnadu, South India. Acknowledged as ritual experts, the sculptors and potters make images of gods that are worshipped as gods in Hindu temples within and beyond India. The research question was posed as follows: If persons are social actors possessing agency and intentionality, then how do we understand/theorize manufactured artefacts that possess both capacities and are treated as full social actors? Fieldwork produced interesting and complex answers to this question. A further research question sought to unpack a puzzle: why is it that stone sculptors who make pan-Indian, high-status Hindu gods retreat from the images once their work is completed whereas potters who make Tamil 'village gods' remain connected to the gods they make as priests? The answer it was found partly lies in the ascribed natures of the different gods and in indigenous theories about materiality that also critique hierarchies derived on the basis of caste. Fieldwork for the project was carried out in India over four trips of varying length.
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.
Lee, Dr. Julian, Monash U., Sunway, Malaysia - To aid workshop on 'New Ethnoscapes of a Cosmopolitan Malaysia,' 2012, U. of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, in collaboration with Dr. Gaik Cheng Khoo
Preliminary Abstract: This workshop aims to bring together international and local scholars and researchers to examine a range of ethnoscapes in the urban Greater Klang Valley, Malaysia, that characterise Malaysia's globalised modernity. The project asks about the possibilities of conceptualising Malaysian multiculturalism as more inclusive, by going beyond the Chinese-Malay-Indian-Dan Lain-Lain (Others) ethnic categories to encompass non-citizens such as migrant workers, refugees, traders, stateless persons, expat spouses, international students and marginalised 'failed subjects' like Orang Asli. The broad scope of the study aims to cover identities from diverse classes, ethnicities, citizenship/country of origin and migration status in order to conceptualise different forms and modes of belonging and home-building; alternative ways of constructing subjectivity and rights for non-citizens with the view of seeing possible cosmopolitan solidarities forged between citizens and non-citizens.
Khoo, Gaik Cheng, and Julian C.H. Lee (eds.) 2015. Malaysia's New Ethnoscapes and Ways of Belonging. Routledge: London, UK
Hefner, Claire-Marie, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Shaping Muslim Subjectivities: Gender, Piety, and Modernity in Indonesian Islamic Boarding Schools,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gates Peletz
CLAIRE-MARIE HEFNER, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Shaping Muslim Subjectivities: Gender, Piety, and Modernity in Indonesian Islamic Boarding Schools,' supervised by Dr. Michael G. Peletz. How do young Indonesian Muslim school girls learn and engage with what it means to be a proper, pious, and educated woman? How do differences in understandings of proper Muslim femininity reflect broader variations in Indonesian associations, educational traditions, and social values? These are the broad questions that frame this comparative study of two Islamic boarding schools for girls in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The focus of the investigation is two prominent Islamic boarding schools (pesantren): Pesantren Krapyak Ali Maksum and Madrasah Mu'allimaat Muhammadiyah. Each school is run, respectively, by one of the two largest Muslim social welfare organizations in the world: the 'traditionalist' Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the 'modernist' Muhammadiyah. These two schools were selected because of their national reputations and because of the critical role they play in molding future NU and Muhammadiyah female kaders (cadres). At a time when many scholars suggest that the distinctions between NU and Muhammadiyah are no longer relevant, this study questions that assertion through the optics of developments in Indonesian Islamic education, evaluating what it means for these young women to be members of these organizations. As private institutions with strong academic reputations, Mu'allimaat and Krapyak also cater to the needs and desires of the new Indonesian Muslim middle-class. Through ethnographic observations, a multivariate student survey, over 100 interviews, and media analysis, this study examines girls' engagement with 'gendered' aspects of curricula, extracurricular practices, and informal socialization within and outside of school.
Chuang, Julia, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Scandals of the Absent: Migration, Village, and Homecoming in Rural China,' supervised by Dr. Michael Burawoy
JULIA CHUANG, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Scandals of the Absent: Migration, Village, and Homecoming in Rural China,' supervised by Dr. Michael Burawoy. As the Chinese state shifts from treating the vast hinterland as a source of deployable labor to seeing it as a site of convertible land, the hinterland becomes a site of exodus. Welfare reforms facilitate rural departures by linking normative forms of mobility to distinct visions of rural modernity. This dissertation compares divergent departures in rural Sichuan -labor migration and marital endogamy in Shixi Town (where land underwrites subsistence) and urban relocation and exogamy in Julong Town (where evictions encroach), and argues that in both sites, the local stigmatization of discrepant mobilities, enacted by wayward Shixi wives and immobile Julong bachelors, enables the extraction of labor and land for development through the respective preservation and erosion of agrarian society.
Sampat. Preeti, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, - To aid research on 'Right to Land and the Rule of Law: Special Economic Zones in India,' supervised by Dr. David Harvey
PREETI SAMPAT, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Right to Land and The Rule of Law: Special Economic Zones in India,' supervised by Dr. David Harvey. The Special Economic Zones Act 2005 was enacted by the Parliament of India in two days amid total political consensus. Within two years, intense conflicts over land and resources erupted in SEZ areas across the country between corporate developers, the state, and peasant and citizens groups. The federal government designated SEZs' 'public purpose,' enabling forcible acquisition of land and resources; peasants and citizens groups contested transfers of land and resources to private developers. In the ensuing furor, Goa state unprecedentedly revoked its SEZ policy suspending thirteen approved SEZs, three with construction underway. Amid raging debates and accusations of corrupt real estate deals, the federal government attempted a new land acquisition policy. And the Ministry of Finance retracted critical financial incentives for SEZ investors. The enthusiasm for SEZs declined, from a whopping 747 approved SEZs in 2010 to 637 in 2013. This ethnographic and archival study of SEZs in India examines their legal genesis and evolution, successful peasant and citizen resistance to them in Goa, and emergent Indian jurisprudence around land and resources. It analyzes contemporary capital accumulation processes, development policy, property relations, social movements and negotiations of citizenship and the state refashioning the 'rule of law' in India's 'liberalizing' democracy.
Maitra, Amrapali, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Domestic Violence, Care, and the Family in Urban India,' supervised by Dr. Tanya Luhrmann
Preliminary abstract: In past years, domestic violence in India has become both a public health issue and a criminal act. My project explores how cultural ideas of intimacy, care, and obligation influence Bengali women's experiences of domestic violence. Additionally, it examines how the growing medicalization of domestic violence in India affects these experiences. I ask three questions: 1) How do women and men define and experience domestic violence? 2) How do medical encounters shape experiences of violence? 3) How do local modes of dispute resolution define domestic violence differently from medical approaches? These themes will be investigated through 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kolkata, West Bengal, an Indian city with a low index of gender equality. Methods of participant observation, interviewing, clinical ethnography, and neighborhood survey will reveal how women think about domestic violence within ordinary married life, whom they turn to during violent situations and why, and how their ideas transform through clinical encounters. By following women's experiences as they move in and out of home and clinic, this project strives to illuminate the spectrum of intimate violence and care in contemporary Bengali families.