Oleary, Heather Elaine, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN - To aid research on 'The Disparity of Water Access in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. William O. Beeman
HEATHER E. O'LEARY, then a student at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'The disparity of Water Access in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. William O. Beeman. This research explores the disparity of water access in Delhi, India, through the perspective of urban domestic workers. These workers often live in informal 'slum' communities adjacent to the homes of their employers. Like many who struggle to meet minimum consumption requirements for drinking water, domestic workers must also make difficult decisions about using water for the most basic household chores. Yet, many have been exposed to and trained in the aesthetics of modernization, and experience tension over meeting high standards of cleanliness, purity and order with limited resources. Moreover, their active participation as agents of purification in upper-middle class homes distance them from traditional, informal and peer networks of water sourcing, and as a result they are excluded from both formal and informal networks of water access. By elucidating the dynamics of water access, theories from economic anthropology, environmental anthropology, and anthropology of development can be employed to shed light on not only the local water disparity, but can also contribute to a greater understanding of how structures of development, class privilege and resource management are embroiled in socio-political problems of urban water scarcity beyond the context of India.
Kar, Sohini, Brown U., Providence RI - To aid research on 'Creditable Lives: Microfinance, Development and Financial Risk in India,' supervised by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti
SOHINI KAR, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Creditable Lives: Microfinance, Development, and Financial Risk in India,' supervised by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti. In 2008, Indian banking regulators celebrated the country's limited exposure to the global financial crisis. Yet, in 2010, India experienced its own 'subprime' crisis due to lending in microfinance. The growing for-profit microfinance sector in India has extended credit to the poorest populations under a 'financial inclusion' policy. As the crisis unfolded, microfinance institutions (MFIs) faced a sudden credit crunch, revealing the wide-reaching effects of tethering the poor to financial markets. While banks and MFIs sought to manage these 'risky' portfolios, loan officers and borrowers who interact regularly negotiated, often-divergent ethics of financial sustainability, and the locally constituted obligations. Drawing on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kolkata, India, this dissertation takes credit as a site of encounter between global finance, state and institutional regulations, and the everyday practices of borrowers and lenders. The project is based on ethnographic data collected through participant observation at MFI branch offices and group meetings, interviews with borrowers, MFI staff, policymakers and bankers, as well as media and textual analysis. It situates microfinance within the history of banking and moneylending practices in India, while tracing the ways in which new financial technologies -- intersecting with local ethics of kinship, community, and gender -- reshapes everyday life.
Dowdy, Sean Michael, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'How 'Strangers' Account: Cosmoeconomics in Contemporary Assam, India,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates how, why, and in what ways emergent relations of 'strangerhood' and the forces mobilized in coincidence with them have become sources of prosperity in Assam--a state in India's northeastern periphery beleaguered by violence associated with ethnic personhood. Following recent descriptions of Assam's political and economic turbulence as 'durable disorder,' this project asks how resilient misfortune might also elicit counteragents of fortune. To explore this question ethnographically, this project sets out to describe and analyze Assam's 'parallel economy,' a local theory of the informal economy where economic dynamics are (1) marked by relations between strangers, and (2) driven by impersonal forces of prosperity (e.g. life-giving power, good fortune, deferential honor). Adopting a heuristic of 'cosmoeconomics,' this project investigates how such relations and forces are accessed, accounted for, and mobilized toward new cosmological horizons. Focusing on trans-ethnic events of exchange and value-creation, and how accounts of them are reckoned, this project seeks to open up the study of India's Northeast beyond the politics of ethnic personhood. Doing so, it also seeks to theorize the causal, logical, and conditional relationships between cosmology and economic life, especially by attending to how accounting repertoires might attune microcosmic parts with macrocosmic wholes.
von Hatzfeldt, Gaia, U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Vernacular Justice: Adjudicating Corruption in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Spencer
GAIA von HATZFELDT, then a student at University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Vernacular Justice: Adjudicating Corruption in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan Spenser. Policy-making is not a static linear process, but rather, it is intrinsically dynamic, involving a broad constellation of variables, actors and activities. A significant variable in this dynamism of policy-making is the role played by civil society. This project examines the processes involved in the formulation of one of India's landmark social policies - the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) - through the lens of one particular civil society formation. Specifically, it focuses on the efforts of these civil society actors in institutionalising social audits, a mechanism for safeguarding transparency and accountability in NREGA. MKSS, an organisation active in rural Rajasthan, has over its two decades of campaigning against corruption, become widely recognised as pundits in the practice of social audits. By mobilising on various scales and performing multiple roles and affiliations, MKSS has played a significant role in drafting national transparency and accountability measures. The entry of MKSS into domains of decision-making in the formulation of NREGA indicates that policy-making is a porous and fluid process. By shaping the formulation of social audits for NREGA, MKSS contributes to the blurring of boundaries between state and society and the reconfiguration of policy-making processes in India.
Piliavsky, Anastasia, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Crooked Circles: 'Criminal Castes,' Vernacular Governance and the State in Rural North India,' supervised by Dr. David Nicholas Gellner
ANASTASIA PILIAVSKY, then a student at the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Crooked Circles: 'Criminal Castes,' Vernacular Governance and the State in Rural North India,' supervised by Dr. David N. Gellner. This ethnographic and historical research focused on a community of professional thieves, known as Kanjars, in western India, who have been historically instrumental to local governance as agents of resource extraction, intelligence gathering, and protection. Today, many of them continue to be employed both in the 'shadow economy' and the formal governmental sphere. This work shows that relationships between Kanjars and their employers, be they local farmers, police officers or politicians, draw on a basic formula of relatedness, status and rank in local society, which may be heuristically termed the 'patron-client' bond. The ethnography details the moral economy of such relationships -- the attendant rules of comportment, forms of economic exchange and mutual expectations -- in Kanjar life, showing that relations with hereditary patrons and state employees follow a shared set of rules, with policemen, civil servants, and politicians acting much like the erstwhile princely chiefs. The opposition between the logic of patronage and the global philosophy of impersonal statehood has provoked much concern with the 'criminalization' of the Indian state. Because Indian patrons must give, feasts, and gifts are as central to modern political campaigns as they were to the courtly rites of pre-British kingdoms. Resource extraction by means of theft, decried as 'criminal' or 'corrupt' in the press, is crucial to such donorship, making thieving as central to petty countryside politicking as to the success of elections, political parties and Indian rural electoral democracy at large.
Piliavsky, Anastasia. 2013. The Moghia Menace, or the Watch Over Watchmen In British India. Modern Asian Studies, 47, pp 751-779 (doi:10.1017/S0026749X11000643)
Piliavsky, Anastasia. 2011. A Secret in the Oxford Sense: Thieves and the Rhetoric of Mystification in Western India. Comparative Studies in Society and History 53(2):290-313.
Kleyna, Mark A., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Spectacles of the Modern: Technology, Development, and the Imagination of the Indian Nation, 1947-1965,' supervised by Dr. Nicholas B. Dirks
Fukuda, Chisato, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Breathing Uncertainty: Risk, Exposure and the Politics of Air Pollution Controls in Mongolia's Capital City,' supervised by Dr. Claire Wendland
Preliminary abstract: In 2012, the World Health Organization ranked Ulaanbaatar the second most-air polluted city in the world. Epidemiologists attribute one in ten deaths to air pollution in this city of 1.5 million people. Unlike other Asian capitals like New Delhi and Beijing where industrial power plants and vehicles are the primary culprits, the largest single source of air pollution in Ulaanbaatar is the widespread use of coal-burning domestic stoves among residents of urban slums. Mongolia became a national partner of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private initiative with aims to create a global market for energy-efficient stoves in the name of global health. How do urban residents develop and deploy knowledge about risk in interaction with air pollution controls? This project will ethnographically examine how local scientists, state officials, private company managers and slum dwellers engage with the stove-replacement program in Ulaanbaatar. This ethnographic study will 1) enhance medical anthropology literature on global health by analyzing how stove technologies render public health a household responsibility; 2) expand social science literature on risk by investigating how quantification facilitates expert and lay citizen understandings of risk; 3) contribute to the anthropology of urban infrastructure by highlighting the production of the citizen-consumer.
Aulino, Felicity, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Transforming Death, Transforming Society: Palliative Caregiving Networks in Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Byron J. Good
FELICITY AULINO, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Transforming Death, Transforming Society: Palliative Caregiving Networks in Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Byron J. Good. In northern Thailand, the government, the private sector, and civil society alike are increasingly promoting home-based care models for the elderly. Therein, family members and community volunteers face the challenges of carework amidst a web of social caregiving norms challenged by economic and demographic changes, international elder care initiatives, and the daily grind of providing physical care. This research explores caregiver subjectivity and emergent social networks related to the shifting landscape of care for dependent elderly and those nearing death in this setting. The resulting dissertation theorizes a distinctly Thai logic of psychological support and emphasizes Thai attention to and care of the social body as key to understanding the influence (and limitations) of larger-scale elder care reform efforts. Care for the elderly thus offers a glimpse of life in the shadows of institutions: where traditions are calibrated and embodied, where global ideals are carried out or countered, and where communities of like-mindedness emerge and grow.
Wind, Steven, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'A Reconsideration of Child Labor in the Contexts of Household Economics and Community Norms,' supervised by Dr. Mark A. Nichter
STEVEN WIND, while a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'A Reconsideration of Child Labor in the Contexts of Household Economics and Community Norms,' supervised by Dr. Mark A. Nichter. The research examined household and community perspectives on child labor in Mysore, India. A sample of households having working children was visited over a one-year period and interviewed on a range of subjects including children's work, health, education, risk, and community problems. Although in some cases children's economic contributions were found to be vital to household survival, the reasons for children's initiation into paid labor often transcended mere economic rationalism with complex roots in community social problems, government policies, and local cultural values. Parents' narratives of why their children had begun working commonly included accounts of poor quality primary education, corporal punishment in classrooms, extended periods of cutting classes, the bad influence of anti-social peers, and the serious illness or death of a breadwinner. Parents and working boys saw risk as inherent in many kinds of work and gave more importance to whether an occupation offered a good future. In the case of girls, cultural moral prescriptions continue to motivate some parents to withdraw their daughters from school at menarche and limit them to work that is done in or near the home, ends at a reasonable hour, and has a safe moral environment. Parents, NODs, and government servants charged with eradicating child labor were in general agreement regarding children's right to attend school rather than work. However, many poor parents were against the government's strong eradication approach unless the families of working children are provided economic aid and other programs to help them survive without their children's income.