Zorbas, Konstantinos, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Interactions Between Shamans and Clients in a Siberian City,' supervised by Dr. Piers G. Vitebsky
KONSTANTINOS ZORBAS, while a student at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, was awarded a grant in March 2003 to aid research on interactions between shamans and clients in a Siberian city, under the supervision of Dr. Piers G. Vitebsky. Zorbas studied episodes of illness and performances of shamanic healing in the city Kyzyl, Republic of Tyva, Russia. Focusing principally on healing interactions between shamans and their clients, he found that occurrences of psychosomatic suffering were effectively managed by being explained as results of witchcraft or curses practiced by an enemy. Follow-up evaluations of patients' post-treatment conditions led to the conclusion that shamanic healing entailed therapeutic effects, even for clients who reported prior recourse to professional medical treatment with partial or no positive results. The efficacy of shamanic healing was seen to lie in the use of certain literal and metaphoric elements of ritual language that engaged both shaman and patient in a process of recollecting and restructuring traumatic memories. Similarities in the responses elicited from shamans and patients regarding their experiences of the therapeutic process suggested that the experience of healing was embodied through culturally mediated sensory modes of attention to the performance. Zorbas concluded that the meaning the experience of illness held for the patient derived from a psychologically embedded preoccupation with cursing and its implications. Shamanic healing went beyond the limits of the consultation to evoke an overall transformation in the patient's awareness of self.
Snellinger, Amanda Therese, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'The Transfiguration of Political Imaginary: Nepali Student Activism on the National and Transnational Level,' supervised by Dr. David Hines Holmberg
AMANDA SNELLINGER, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, was awarded a grant in May 2006 to aid research on 'The Transfiguration of Political Imaginary: Nepali Student Activism on the National and Transnational Level,' supervised by Dr. David Holmberg. This grant allowed the grantee to complete dissertation fieldwork researching Nepali student activists and student political organizations as a way to understand socialization in Nepali politics. The grantee traveled throughout Nepal attending student organizations' programs and conventions, meeting with students in the south who were agitating for Madheshi rights, and visiting active students outside the capital in order to understand the students' participation within the political landscape nationwide. In Delhi, India research was conducted at the National Archives and Jawalarhal Nehru University, as well as in Varanasi at Banaras Hindu University in order to understand the underground Nepali democratic struggle during the Rana and Panchayat eras (1940-1990) and the 2005 royal takeover. Targeted and informal interviews, archival research, and ethnographic observation focused on the following themes: political elite culture; cultural conceptions of youth and how they are deployed in Nepali politics; generational interaction through the view of mother organizations' (political parties) and sister (student) organizations' relationships; how the history of underground and educational experience in India has impacted activists' and politicians' approach to Nepali politics; how history is politically deployed; conceptual forms of democracy; internal institutional culture; and organizational theory, coalition building and factionalism.
Meari, Lena Mhammad, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Interrogating 'Painful' Encounters: The Interrogation-Encounter between Palestinian Political Activists and the Shabak,' supervised by Dr. Suad Joseph
LENA M. MEARI, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received a grant in 2008 to aid research on 'Interrogating 'Painful' Encounters: The Interrogation-Encounter between Palestinian Political Activists and the Shabak,' supervised by Dr. Suad Joseph. Ethnographic information was collected from two key locations: Jerusalem and Ramallah. From Jerusalem, the data collected include Israeli governmental reports, court decisions, human rights organizations' reports, newspaper articles, Shabak employees' memoires, and court cases. In addition participant observation within an Israeli human rights organization and in-depth interviews were conducted. The interviewees included human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists. These ethnographic information will be employed in order to explore Israeli conceptions of torture, pain, and ethics related to the interrogation-encounter, how this encounter had affected - and been affected by -- court decisions and governmental reports, and International and local human rights reports. In addition, the ethnographic information will be employed in order to investigate the relation between torture, pain, and liberal ethics. In Ramallah, in-depth interviews were conducted with Palestinian leaders and activists from five Palestinian political parties who experienced interrogation. Other research activities included participant observation within a Palestinian human rights organization and a Palestinian psychological organization, as well as participant observation and interviews with family members and friends of Palestinian prisoners. This ethnographic information will be employed in analyzing the various Palestinian conceptions of torture and pain and the practices exerted by them, in addition to the multiple Palestinian discourses that constitute the Palestinian activist.
Huang, Dr. Yu, Chinese U. of Hong Kong, Hong Kong - To aid engaged activities on 'Promoting Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture through Rural Co-operatives,' 2013, China
Preliminary abstract: Shrimp aquaculture was promoted in south China as a neoliberal development project where shrimp farmers were encouraged to become 'science-savvy' entrepreneurs for high-intensity farming. However, they inadvertently encounter the ecological risks of disease outbreak and food safety concerns, as well as economic risks of diminished return. This engagement project aims to introduce to the host community different models of rural co-operatives and explores ways of promoting ecological and economic sustainability in shrimp aquaculture. The exploration of ecological sustainability and collective economy will help farmers reflect on the relations between global capital, labor value, and knowledge-making.
Coleman, Leo C., Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Private Power: The Privatization of Electricity and Citizenship in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. Carol J. Greenhouse
LEO CHARLES COLEMAN, then a student at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in April 2005 to aid research on 'Private Power: The Privatization of Electricty and Citizenship in Delhi, India,' supervised by Dr. Carol J. Greenhouse. This project studied urban citizenship and the political and social consequences of privatization in Delhi, India, with an ethnographic focus on consumer and citizen mobilizations in response to the partial privatization of electricity provision in 2002. The research reveals the internal strains and external constraints on the development of a self-described 'middle-class' in Delhi today, and describes the recent emergence in Delhi of class-homogenous territorially- and residentially-based political groups. Alongside national transformations in economic governance, novel practices of citizenship and urban inclusion and exclusion have emerged in Delhi, expressed in mobilizations for better electricity service and fairer rates, and citizen demands for slum clearance, urban renewal, and expansion of urban services. The mobilizations studied agitated for local control of 'public' goods and were informed by an ideology of consumer-citizenship which equates democracy with transparency, and the latter with local territorial sovereignty. These are the unexpected consequences of a privatization process deeply imbued with the neo-liberal orthodoxy of absolute individual autonomy, but which has produced, ironically, new territorial collectivities. Through joint archival and ethnographic research, the project also traces the continued, albeit submerged, relevance for political action of long-standing foci of communal identification and urban division, including citizenship and caste.
Tacey, Ivan Charles, U. Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France - To aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia
IVAN C. TACEY, then a student at University Lumiere Lyon II, Lyon, France, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Transformations to Space and Place: A Case Study of the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia,' supervised by Dr. Lionel Obadia. This research examined place-making and processes of territorialization in contemporary Peninsular Malaysia among the Batek, an indigenous minority people. Research was also undertaken with government agents, NGOs, and lawyers working with indigenous peoples in Malaysia. Since the 1970s deforestation, tourism, mining, and illegal poaching have brought increasing numbers of outsiders into the Batek's world. Multi-sited fieldwork was undertaken to examine the complex interactions between the Batek and the wide array of actors who now move through their traditional territory. Methodologies used to gain data on how Batek links to landscape are made and transformed included: GPS mapping; the collection of historical and religious stories; ethnographic interviews; surveys; and participant observation. Initial research findings demonstrate how Batek society, religion, and connections to landscape are being radically altered by national and global pressures. The Batek are acutely aware of how landscape changes and intensification of transnational flows of people, objects, and ideas have transformed their environments and sacred places. This awareness has informed new figurations within their cosmology, social discourses, and symbolic worlds. A key research finding concerned the emergence of Batek topophobia and 'tropes of fear:' dynamic, figurative manifestations of collective anxieties about unrelenting and uncontrollable global processes.
Nayar, Anita, U. of Sussex, Brighton, UK - To aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead
ANITA NAYAR, then a student at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead. This research explored the subject as a process shaped by the momentum of growing consumer demand from within India and emerging markets in North America, the Gulf States, and Europe. Emphasis was given to the implications of these changing consumption patterns and related production process for the herb-gathering communities and the natural resource base upon which this transnational market economy depends. Specifically what is the impact of these processes on the social structure and political economy of herb-gathering communities? What are the implications for their access, control, and conservation of forest resources and related knowledge systems? How has it affected people's changing conceptualization of medicinal plants and their relation to them? These questions framed an anthropological study in several herb-gathering communities, the majority of which were adivasi (indigenous peoples), residing in or near the forest. The researcher accompanied adivasis during their forest work, walking from four to ten kilometers a day trekking through thorny forest, climbing hillsides, searching and digging for medicinal plants, helping them collect and sell their goods. The trade routes of several 'middlemen' traders were also studied, which involved travelling with the traded goods, following transactions at storage and transport depots, and tracing the various buyers involved. After 16 months of fieldwork the researcher emerged with an understanding of the political economy of medicinal plants, particularly how structural and systemic inequalities around the labor and knowledge of medicinal plant collectors have evolved and are being reproduced by state and private forces.
Kadirgamar, Ahilan Arasaratnam, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York NY - To aid research on 'Households, Caste, Class, Land and Post-war Reconstruction in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Michael Blim
Preliminary abstract: In May 2009, a three decade long civil war came to an end in Sri Lanka. Its war-torn areas are now under reconstruction; a process led by state infrastructure development. While the livelihoods of rural people of Jaffna, the war-torn, predominantly Tamil district in northern Sri Lanka, are mainly from agriculture, foreign remittances and the state sector also contribute to their household incomes. How is reconstruction shaping their relations to agriculture as a livelihood and land as a productive asset? What are the changes to labor, and how is that impacting class differentiation and caste stratification? This study will use both quantitative and qualitative approaches to analyze the sustainability of rural livelihoods in Jaffna. Through an analysis of rural livelihoods in war-torn Sri Lanka, it will address the dispossession of the peasantry, common to so many places in the global South going through armed conflicts and rapid global integration.
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.