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.
Kunen, Dr. Julie L., Northern Arizona U., Flagstaff, AZ - To aid research on 'Ritual Technology and Resource Management in Tropical States'
DR. JULIE L. KUNEN, of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, received funding in November 2002 to aid research on ritual technology and resource management in tropical states. Kunen conducted six months of research in the anthropological literature on this topic, studying ancestor veneration and land and water management practices among the early states of Southeast Asia and comparing them with similar practices in the Maya lowlands. She identified a widespread pattern in mainland Southeast Asia in which a dual practice of ancestor veneration and spirit cult worship combined to give village groups claims to particular territories. In certain places, this practice was manifested in stelae and shrines similar to Maya ones. As a result, Kunen proposed to further study Maya ritual practices from a perspective informed by this cross-cultural research. Among the topics she planned to investigate was the possibility that Maya stelae were cadastral-that is, that they denoted ownership of valuable natural resources or marked boundary lines on the landscape. In addition, she intended to pursue collaborative research with the Greater Angkor Project in Cambodia on ritual and water management in early Khmer villages.
Ghosh, Sahana, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How are borderlands produced in the intersection of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through sixteen months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in their everyday lives as a part of the political economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations, moralities and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.
Sargent, Adam Carl, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Building Capitalism: The Cultural Politics of Construction in North India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
ADAM C. SARGENT, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Building Capitalism: The Cultural Politics of Construction in North India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal. Research was conducted for seven months on a residential condominium construction project in Gurgaon, India. The construction industry is held out, by industry organizations, as having the potential to not only develop the necessary infrastructure for India but also to bring a largely rural workforce into modern forms of capitalist employment. That this has not happened is often blamed on an incomplete process of modernization. The persistence of recruitment along kinship, caste and village networks is pointed to as evidence of this failure to modernize. Close observation of work practices and interactions between managers and workers on the site produced a more nuanced approach. Rather than posing a barrier to developing modern workers, kinship and village networks were mobilized to provide the necessary social structure to support modes of flexible employment. Thus family members were preferred hired because their extra-economic relationships meant that they could be more easily put to work when needed and sent home when work on the site was slow. In this way seemingly 'traditional' forms of work organization were actually supporting what are taken to be 'modern' forms of work organization (piece-rate contracts, etc.).
Lee, Seung-Cheol, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Financialized Ethics: Governing Individual Bankruptcy in South Korea,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Povinelli
Preliminary abstract: In the wake of the 1997 financial crisis, South Korea quickly moved from being a nation of notoriously high savers to a country with one of the highest ratios of household debt to disposable income. By illuminating this process in the context of financial neoliberalization and the fall of the developmental state, my project will explore South Korea's governance of personal bankruptcy in order to understand the profound transformations in social, subjective, and ethical life that have attended and underwritten this transition. By excavating multi-layered and even contradictory features of neoliberalization, my research will examine the emergence of new forms of governing power that now surround bankrupt individuals, which can be called 'financialized ethics' or 'moral neoliberalism' based on the grafting of ethics onto economy. First, my research will trace how individual bankruptcy is problematized as a 'moral/ethical' issue and thus how the bankrupt are constructed as an object of 'moral' government. Second, I will investigate how the bankrupt are trained and disciplined to embody the ideal of 'ethical entrepreneurship' during the rehabilitation process. Third, this project examines how present-day governing practices produce depoliticized effects by mobilizing morality as the antidote to a crisis that requires political/economic solutions. As it achieves these goals, my research will challenge the conventional understanding of neoliberalism that equates it with the domination of market and calculative rationality and instead illuminate how new forms of ethicality and sociality are intrinsically linked to the intensification of financial neoliberalism.
Hampel, Amir, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Changing Selves in a Transforming Society: How Shy Chinese Learn the Virtues of Self Assertion,' supervised by Dr. Richard Allan Shweder
Preliminary abstract: Recent reports from China suggest that shy and reserved behavior, which used to be accepted and even encouraged, is increasingly regarded as an undesirable obstacle to personal advancement. Books, websites, and seminars teaching people how to become more assertive and outgoing have become extremely popular. Relating new norms of behavior to changes in economic, social, and moral life, I will study how shy students and alumni from universities in Beijing understand themselves and the social world and how self-confidence training groups and psychological education classes in schools promote the virtues of self-assertion. In a society built around enduring social bonds, shy and reserved behavior was interpreted as an intelligently cautious and commendably selfless social strategy. However, following the collapse of traditional society and the communist economy, individuals have been largely disentangled from collective ties to the family and the work unit. In the new market economy, people are forced to compete for their livelihoods, and new opportunities for consumption and modes of interaction force people to define their style and their social identity and to pursue their desires. To understand these social changes, this study will examine how Chinese people are learning that shyness and reserve are problematic.
Chattaraj, Durba, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Between the City and the Sea:Transport and Connectivity in West Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Blom Hansen
DR. PARTH R. CHAUHAN, Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Indiana, received a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'Palaeoanthropological Surveys and GIS Mapping in the Narmada Basin, Central India.' Due to future extensive submergence from large-dams in the Narmada Basin, the project's goal was to carry out a systematic survey for palaeoanthropological occurrences in stratified contexts and also create multi-layer GIS maps of known and new find-spots, sites, and localities, and associated stratigraphic sections in relation to geological formations of the valley. The field strategy involved locating, mapping and documenting as many sites as possible within an area of 60 sq-km, between the Tawa and Sher tributaries. Using multidisciplinary data, the research team constructed models of land-use patterns during the Paleolithic. For example, the Early Acheulean and Late Acheulean and Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic are geographically separate, despite shared raw material preference and locations (fine-grained Vindhyan quartzite). Additional work involved preliminary test-excavations or test-trenching at promising sites to understand the stratigraphic context of the associated material (e.g. lithics, fossils, geological features) and absolute dating possibilities. The most significant discoveries include: 1) high density of artifacts at Dhansi (the oldest-known site in the Basin and possibly in India); 2) Late Acheulean artifacts associated with an extensive paleochannel; 3) rare stratified Early Acheulean occurrences; 4) and the most complete Late Pleistocene elephant recovered in buried context.