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
SAHANA GHOSH, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in May 2014 to aid research on 'Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan. This project studies the working lives of rural Bengali men and women on both sides of the increasingly militarized India-Bangladesh border, focusing on borderland residents' struggle to maintain transborder family relationships and their daily spatial practices along and across the border. The grantee conducted fieldwork in the border district of Coochbehar in eastern India and the adjacent border districts of Lalmonirhat and Kurigram in northern Bangladesh. In addition to this, archival research was conducted in New Delhi, Kolkata, Siliguri, Coochbehar (India) and Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dhaka (Bangladesh). Tracing the family histories and networks of borderland residents spread across the region, this project constructs a people's biography of this border through multiple migrations across it in both directions, since its violent institution in 1947. With India's construction of a fence to seal all forms of porosity at this border, there has been an increasing security apparatus on both sides (relatively smaller in Bangladesh). This project examines civil-military relations at the border and what it means for lived practices of citizenship, routine incidents of violence, and the gendered labor that comprises national security. Belonging to the agrarian poor, Bengali residents of the Indian and Bangladeshi borderlands, both Muslims and Hindus, embody a courageous form of transnational living, their daily lives, necessarily involving complex moral negotiations with 'the law,' state power, and the politics of dis/emplacement.
Bovensiepen, Judith, London School of Economics, London, UK - To aid research on 'Tracing Fragmented Paths: Memories of Violence in the Reconstruction of East Timor,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Engelke
JUDITH BOVENSIEPEN, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Tracing Fragmented Paths: Memories o Violence in the Reconstruction of East Timor,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Engelke. The research project consists of an ethnographic study of a remote mountain village in the central highlands of East Timor and is based on fieldwork that was carried out between November 2005 and August 2007. It is the first long-term anthropological study in this region and one of the first to be carried out in East Timor since independence. The primary focus is on the way local people have made sense of and have situated themselves towards various colonial intrusions (Portuguese colonialism and the Indonesian occupation) and the dramatic political changes at the national level, such as the recent internal conflict. The main goal of the research is an exploration of the interface between personal memories and collective representations and historical narratives. Historical memories and spiritual forces are considered to be embodied in physical objects and the study examines how the threat of losing these objects represents both a local mechanism of power and people's fear of further loss and exploitation.
Bovensiepen, Judith. 2014. Words of the Ancestors: Disembodied Knowledge and Secrecy in East Timor. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20(1):56-73.
Tidwell, Tawni Lynn, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Transmitting Diagnostic Skills in Tibetan Medicine: Embodied Practices for Indigenous Categories of Cancer,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman
TAWNI L. TIDWELL, then a graduate student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Transmitting Diagnostic Skills in Tibetan Medicine: Embodied Practices for Indigenous Categories of Cancer,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman. This research engaged the diagnostic learning processes central to Tibetan medical pedagogy for diagnosing indigenous categories of cancer. It systematically tracked and recorded learning processes in the classroom as well as mentoring sessions in the clinic. It also linked Tibetan medical diagnostics (pulse, urine, tongue, symptomology) with biomedical diagnostics (blood, urine, imaging technology) for over 500 patient cases of indigenous cancer to illuminate synergies with and distinctions from Western biomedical cancer. The current research showed that learning to diagnose such subtle and complex illnesses such as indigenous categories of cancer in Tibetan medicine requires sophisticated sensory entrainment that produces the Tibetan physician as embodied diagnostic tool. Thousands of hours of memorization and oral recitation of root canonical texts written in poetic, metaphorical, and trickster modalities entrains the physician's conceptual, perceptual, and embodied understandings of Tibetan medical theory and practices linked to experiential understandings of the natural world. With clinical engagement and medicinal plant collection and formulation, the macro- and micro-cycles of one's body, bodies of others, and the ecological and social web of relations are tracked, intimately engaged, and allow the Tibetan physician to recognize novel knowledge sets of the body including the development of indigenous types of cancer.
Prasad, Srirupa, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Gender Construction at Crossroads of Colonialism, Nationalism and Health: A Case Study of Colonial Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Winifred R. Poster
SRIRUPA PRASAD, while a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, received funding in December 2001 to aid research on gender construction, colonialism, nationalism, and health in Bengal, India, under the supervision of Dr. Winifred R. Poster. Prasad looked at the history and trajectory of medical practice in late colonial Bengal (1885-1935), addressing the absence of the home or household in the literature on the history of medicine in India and arguing that the household was a critical unit of analysis for understanding the history of medical practices in modern societies. In colonial India, ideas about disease, good health, sanitation, diet, cleanliness, and therapeutics were important means through which bodies were controlled and disciplined. They were a part of the nationalist discourse, too, behind which lay a zeal to regenerate the nation through healthy bodies and healthy minds that gave rise to a complex politics between Western and existing traditions of knowledge. Everyday prescriptions for health were also implicated in the construction of gender. Culturally nuanced and traditionally Indian notions of health, disease, and therapeutics played a crucial role in the techniques of bodily discipline, making disciplinary regimes in India different from those in the West at the same time. Prasad found that domesticity and the Indian household were indispensable for understanding anticolonial political nationalism in India and argued that the domain of the political should be extended to include the social forms of bodily disciplining that took place in the private domains of Hindu Bengali society.
Hamada, Shingo, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Network, Biotechnology, and Cultural Consensus in Conservation Projects in Coastal Fishing Communities in Northern Japan,' supervised by Dr. Richard R. Wilk
SHINGO HAMADA, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Network, Biotechnology, and Cultural Consensus in Conservation Projects in Coastal Fishing Communities in Northern Japan,' supervised by Dr. Richard R. Wilk. Examining herring restoration efforts in northern Japan as a case study, this research focuses on consensus and variation in the perceptions and practices concerning conservation. Sea ranching projects, fisheries scientific researches, and community-based reforestation efforts for ecosystem recovery have developed in coastal fishing communities in the last two decades, despite the economic and ecological uncertainty of harvests from restoration projects. This ethnographic research describes under what conditions humans engage in conservationist behaviors after experiencing a crisis in coastal common pool resources. This research applied Actor-Network Theory to navigate in and not through a priori defined 'fishing communities,' and it examines how inshore fishers, fisheries managers, fisheries scientists, and seafood buyers interpret local resource issues and restoration and values of conservation. The researcher used qualitative text analysis and questionnaires to understand how fishery techno-sciences influence actors' decision-making processes concerning fisheries management. Ultimately, this research explores how the acts of cultivating seascape through transplanting fish species blurs the boundary between the natural and cultural while becoming an anti-politics machine that blurs locations of environmental stewardships among different social groups.
Chen, Junjie, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'When the State Claims the Intimate: Population Control and Constructions of Rural Identity in China,' supervised by Dr. Alma Gottlieb
JUNJIE CHEN, then a student at University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, received funding in June 2004 to aid research on 'When the State Claims the Intimate: Population Control and Constructions of Rural Identity in China,' supervised by Dr. Alma Gottlieb. This dissertation fieldwork project explores how a prolonged series of discursive constructions of peasants as 'backward' subjects by the Chinese government has served to legitimize the state's sustained intrusion into the seemingly private event of reproduction in rural China, and in turn how rural residents respond to and interpret this intrusion. The fieldwork was conducted in and around a multi-ethnic Manchu-Han village in northeastern China from July 2004 to August 2005. Data was collected mainly through intensive interviews, participant observation, and household surveys. Reading villagers' subjective experiences of reproduction against the state's hegemonic claims in shaping rural lives, this project aims to chart how rural citizens think about, talk about, and manage their fertility strategies and habits in the face of the state's continuing claims on their most intimate practices. In so doing, this project further explores complex situations and predicaments that both Manchu and Han peasants have faced, and continue to face, due to the state's sustained intrusion into the private event of reproduction at the intersection of gender, class, ethnicity, and urban-rural spaces over the past three decades.
Wang, Jing, Rice U., Houston, TX - To aid research on 'Reimagining the Silk Road: Muslim Minorities at the Limits of Multiculturalism in Xi'an, China,' supervised by Dr. Dominic Boyer
Preliminary abstract: This project focuses on the Chinese state's ongoing promotion of domestic multiculturalist policies through exploring the way it mobilizes cosmopolitan imaginaries of the 'New Silk Road.' Particularly, I will look at how these emerging imaginaries and forms of multicultural governance intersect with the new ways the Chinese government recognizes and locates as relevant its Muslim minorities in the city of Xi'an, which is strategically branded as the starting point of the New Silk Road. Despite their relatively small population size (compared to the Han Chinese), Muslims in Xi'an have become hailed by Chinese political and cultural elites as the embodiment of the city's complex mosaic of Islamic culture. However, it remains unclear the extent to which the official discourse of multiculturalist cosmopolitanism really supports ethno-religious diversity at both the local and national scales, given Beijing's growing nationalist aspirations and its anti-separatist campaigns on the national borders. On the micro level, my project also attends to how local Muslim subjects construct their own cultural expressions and actively navigate the state interventions in their lives as well as the constraints of authoritarian forms of recognition. Through careful analysis of official statements and media reports, close observations of institutional structures and practices, and sustained interactions with my Muslim informants in Xi'an, this project ultimately asks: what are the limits of the recognition of diversity in a globally ambitious authoritarian state that is trying to simultaneously be economically liberal and politically unified? My ultimate aim is to contribute to ongoing anthropological engagements with the politics of recognition in both liberal and authoritarian states.
Rinck, Jacob Emanuel, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Political Competition in Nepal's Tarai: Between Regionalism, Labor Migration, and Patronage,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How does patronage-based politics operate in 21st century state formation? This study of everyday politics in southern Nepal asks how patronage as cultural form is refashioned in its engagement with changing economic opportunities, even as renewed development efforts preach its end. Remittances from short-term labor migration to Malaysia and the Gulf now account for close to a third of Nepal's GDP. Most of the migrants are from rural backgrounds, where until recently unequal agrarian relations and elite control over developmental resources formed the basis for political authority, even after Nepal's democratic transition in 1990. How do the new flows of money change the ways in which people imagine and engage these modes of politics, and how do political elites respond? This project uses the competition between established political elites and their lower class, lower-caste challengers as empirical ground for pursuing this question. During 18 months of multi-sited ethnographic research between Kathmandu and a district in the southern plains, I will trace how national level politicians, their constituents, and other political actors, including aid donors and development projects, connect through their historically informed aspirations and everyday politics. Thus, my study foregrounds intertwined processes of contesting meanings and making alliances within, across, and against formal state institutions. Through this anthropology of politics, it clarifies the relationship between everyday politics, contending modernities, and the imagination of material resources, and conceptualizes state formation as continuous process of mutual disruptions.
Lohokare, Madhura, Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Seeking Just Spaces: Conversations on City, Masculinity and Gender,' 2016, India
Preliminary abstract: My engagement project aims to initiate conversations and discussions around how cities shape the lives and gendered identities of women and men and how processes of social exclusion operate through the spaces of the city. To this end my project will conduct day-long workshops on the themes of urban space, gender and masculinity with a wide range of audience including Marathi (native language spoken in Pune)college students, university students, academic scholars and interested publics affiliated to art and culture forums and book reading clubs in the city. I aim to experiment with different kinds of contents for these workshops, including group exercises, films, field trips, reflective writing, reading fiction, poetry and non-fiction. My engagement project will also work towards enabling a group of young researchers from a low caste, working class neighborhood in the city, to undertake a short neighborhood mapping exercise, which will hopefully help in generating a sense of value about their 'place' in the city and create confidence in their ability to produce knowledge about the city for these youth. My larger aim is to facilitate the entry of critical academic insights on urban space and gender in public discourse and to create a much wider 'publics' with whom my research themes would be able to resonate.