Johari, Radhika, York U, Toronto, Canada -To aid research on 'Endangered Forests, Enterprising Women: The Politics of Conservation and Livelihoods Development Programs in Himachal, India,' supervised by Dr. Shubhra Gururani
RADHIKA JOHARI, then a student at York University, Toronto, Canada, was awarded funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Endangered Forests, Enterprising Women: The Politics of Conservation and Livelihoods Development Programs in Himachal, India,' supervised by Dr. Shubhra Gururani. This doctoral research critically examined how environmental perceptions and practices have been shaped at the interface of past and current paradigms of conservation and resource-based livelihoods development within the recently concluded Indo-German Changar Eco-Development Project in Himachal, India. Adopting a multi-sited ethnographic approach, it has contextualized these articulations of environment and enterprise building within a wider framework of historical and current resource rights and property regimes. It has demonstrated how an increasingly influential paradigm of neoliberal market-centered development has structured project interventions, and how in turn these interventions have been refracted by a deeply entrenched and intersecting politics of knowledge, identity and place. The research identified and explored these points of refraction, for example, within project discourses and practices of knowledge production and valuation and in plantation and livelihoods development strategies. In doing so, it revealed how environmental and entrepreneurial knowledges and practices have intersected with existing social, economic, and political relations, as well as property relations, in ways that have significantly shaped perceptions, norms, and practices around environmental resources. In sum, the research provides a grounded critique of prevailing efforts to converge conservation and resource-based livelihoods and the reasons for their disjunctures in practice.
Dennis, Dannah Karlynn, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Re-Imagining the Nation: Citizens in the New Nepal,' supervised b Dr. Allison Alexy
Preliminary abstract: How do people envision and enact citizenship when the social and legal foundations of their nation-state are called into question? This doctoral research explores how citizens in contemporary Nepal are re-imagining their nation in the midst of an ongoing transition from Hindu monarchy to secular democracy. This turbulent process requires the citizens of Nepal to fundamentally re-conceptualize Nepali national identity, which has historically been defined in terms of three key elements: the Shah monarchy, state Hinduism, and the Nepali language. Because the Shah monarchy and state Hinduism have both been removed from the structure of government in recent years, and given that less than 50% of the country's population speaks Nepali as a first language, the continued existence of a unified Nepali state is contested. My research analyzes the ways in which Nepali people who oppose the division of the country along ethnic and religious lines are attempting to re-imagine Nepal as a coherent, unified nation-state and themselves as citizens of that nation-state. I focus on three main arenas in which Nepali citizens are working to concretize their ideas about the nation: 1) the education of children, 2) religious demonstrations in public life, and 3) everyday interactions between neighbors of different backgrounds.
Swart, Patricia L., New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Film Practices, Globalization, and the Public Sphere in Kerala, India,' supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp
PATRICIA L. SWART, while a student at New School University in New York, New York, was granted an award in December 2002 to aid research on film practices, globalization, and the public sphere in the state of Kerala, India, under the supervision of Dr. Rayna Rapp. Swart examined the ways in which globalization processes had transformed the portrayal of women in popular and art films and women's spectatorship of films in Kerala. Changes in film texts and spectatorship were found to be linked to shifts in gender identity, concepts of citizenship, and the shaping of the public sphere-all unique reactions to globalization in Kerala. Although the state had a long history of global trade and cultural assimilation, the newest wave of globalization had inspired violent protests and demonstrations. The Malayalam-language cinema of Kerala responded to global changes by making films that reverted from formerly more liberal and enlightened portrayals of women to a kind of traditionalism that glorified patriarchal behaviors and attitudes. Swart conducted fieldwork in several primary areas: spectatorship practices, film institutions, and film texts. Interviews, participant observation, and a study of archival sources indicated that despite Kerala's reputation as a model of development, women in the state were subjected to increasing restrictions on their mobility and participation in public events and to increasing violence and sexual harassment. Research on film and gender showed the links between globalization, inequality, and repression by revealing some of the tensions extant in Kerala, including high unemployment, increasing consumerism, and a high rate of suicide among women.
Ornellas, Melody Li, U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'Negotiating Citizenship: Cross-border Marriages and Collective Actions in Hong Kong,' supervised by Dr. Nicole Constable
MELODY LI ORNELLAS, then a student at University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Negotiating Citizenship: Cross-Border Marriages and Collective Actions in Hong Kong,' supervised by Dr. Nicole Constable. This research investigated contemporary Hong Kong/China cross-border marriages and the complexity of politics, power, and agency involved in mainland Chinese migrant wives' experiences in negotiating their immigration, citizenship, and adaptation to life in Hong Kong. Specifically, it focused on the rise of collective struggles among a group of 'visiting wives' who are only allowed to live temporarily in Hong Kong by utilizing a family visit permit, which must be periodically renewed in the mainland. Based on fieldwork conducted in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province in China, this research explored the wives' cross-border living conditions, difficulties they face during permit renewal, impacts of a non-local/visitor immigration status on their experience of living in Hong Kong, and how this situation prompts them and their Hong Kong husbands and families to engage in political activism to claim rights. This project demonstrates that citizenship is best understood as a negotiated process. In contrast to the state's formalistic definitions of local vs. visitor, 'visiting wives' and their families strive to redefine such meanings in their own terms by emphasizing the wives' familial relationships and significant participation in a range of social activities through which their 'local' status and ties to Hong Kong are substantively expressed.
Kendall, Dr. Laurel, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY; and Nguyen, Dr. Van Huy, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, Vietnam - To aid collaborative research on the sacred life of material goods: museum objects revisited, 2004
DR. LAUREL KENDALL, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, and DR. VAN HUY NGUYEN, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, Vietnam, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in June 2004 to aid collaboration on 'The Sacred Life of Material Goods: Museum Objects Revisited.' This project wed material culture studies to the anthropology of religion, the practical work of museums to the ethnography of popular religion and magic. It qualified the vague and problematic concept of a 'sacred object' with several ethnographically contingent understandings of how material things become and how they cease to be sacred in different communities of religious practice, demonstrating the utility of Alfred Gell's notion that relationships between people and things can be studied much as anthropologists study relationships between people. The original donors, members of their communities, ritual specialists, and artisans described how six objects in the collection of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (VME) -- votive statues and amulets (Kinh majority), diviners' bundles (Tai minority), a shaman's stringed instrument (Tay minority), and a ritual tree (Tai minority) -- and others like them were produced, what powers were imputed to them, and how human users properly interact with these things in their sacred, potentially sacred, and no longer sacred states. In the new market economy, the relationship between production technology and magical power has been modified and practitioners make ritual improvisations when they bring sacred material into new contexts such as secular performance and museum collections.
Fiol, Stefan P., U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'The Politics of Performance and Place among Pahari Musicians in Uttaranchal,' supervised by Dr. Charles Capwell
STEFAN P. FIOL, then a student at University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, received funding in October 2004 to aid research on 'The Politics of Performance and Place among Pahari Musicians in Uttaranchal,' supervised by Dr. Charles Capwell. The dissertation research carried out in Uttaranchal, North India, from November 2004 through September 2005 focused on the formation of a regional music industry, and the influence this has on local musical practices. The nature of my subject matter led me to explore different kinds of contexts in which music is produced, distributed, and consumed, thus necessitating a multi-sited research methodology. I traced the paths of musical consumption, distribution, and production through various villages, hill towns, and plains cities, exploring the historical and social processes through which the regional music of Uttaranchal (Garhwal and Kumaon) becomes codified and reinterpreted by various actors. I hope that this dissertation will be of use to scholars, policy-makers, and artists interested in understanding how commercialization transforms the landscape of musical life in the conext of this newly-formed hill state.
Fiol, Stefan. 2010. Dual Framing: Locating Authenticities in the Music Vide3os of Himalayan Possession Rituals. Ethnomusicology 54(1):28-53.
Anand, Nikhil, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Water: The Limits of the Commodity and its Neoliberal State,' supervised by Dr. Akhil Gupta
NIKHIL ANAND, then a student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'The Social Life of Water: The Limits of the Commodity and its Neoliberal State,' supervised by Dr. Akhil Gupta. The research focuses on the political ecology of urban infrastructures, and the social and material relations that they entail. Through an ethnography of 'The Social Life of Water' in one of Mumbai's many informal settlements, the grantee follows the anxious arrangements that informal residents made to get water, and the tenuous ways in which they established themselves as deserving urban citizens. Through eighteen months of fieldwork, Nikhil situated himself in one of Mumbai's many informal settlements to learn of the diverse social arrangements that residents made to get water. He also worked with city water engineers to understand the ways in which state functionaries responded to the petitions of the poor. Through conversations, interviews, and site visits, he learned of the ways in which they see themselves and the work of water supply. This research urges an attention to the ways in which informal residents petition and request community volunteers to mobilize the city's water department to carry out public works. Mobilizing social relations, the poor have made some measured urban gains over the last two decades. Such political practices are not those of rights-bearing citizens, but instead of a very personal, compromised politics that have been enabled by representational democracy and its leaky state.
Tsigkas, Alexios, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'A Commodity of a Certain Taste: An Ethnography of the Ceylon Tea Industry,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles
Preliminary abstract: While studies have looked at 'taste,' its composition and social effects, in the context of the circulation and consumption of goods, this project seeks to locate taste within the production process of Sri Lanka's national commodity: Ceylon tea is a brand name of immense export value, of historical, financial and symbolic significance to the island. However, while tea enjoys growing global popularity, demand for the high quality but costly Ceylon brew is in decline. While individual stakeholders stand divided on how to address this conundrum, the industry persists in its longstanding practice of laboriously carving and safeguarding a niche-like brand identity around the so-called 'purity' and 'superior taste' of Ceylon tea, despite the fact that the latter remains a widely circulating, mass-produced commodity. This project theorizes taste as a value creating entity, the effects of which are central to the production of commodities, rather than solely to their consumption and in doing so rethinks the commodity form. Furthermore, it posits that the analytic of taste can enrich our knowledge and understanding of the Ceylon tea industry, and by extension contemporary capitalism and the location of Sri Lanka therein. At the same time, it interrogates the very nature of taste making itself as a labor of collaboration and negotiation between different groups of actors. Ethnographic research will integrate the various sites that comprise the Ceylon Tea industry as a whole while attending to the diverse individuals that animate them, extending a novel approach to the study of commodities as ethnographic objects. Fieldwork will be conducted within two tea estates, the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the Colombo Auction House, the Tea Research Institute, as well as a small number of export companies.
Porter, Natalie Hannah, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Threatening Lives: Controlling Avian Flu in Vietnam's Poultry Economy,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Ann Bowie
NATALIE H. PORTER, then a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, received funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Threatening Lives: Controlling Avian Flu in Vietnam's Poultry Economy,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Ann Bowie. This project uses comparative ethnographic research at three sites of avian influenza management in Vietnam to explore how expanding global health efforts against avian influenza alter Vietnamese poultry economies in ways that create new and contested boundaries between humans and animals. Participant-observation of two avian influenza interventions in Hanoi reveals how global health experts, state agents, and non-governmental workers construct bird flu risks according to varying political and economic positions, in which controlling disease emerges as one of several objects of concern. Further, ethnographic research in two socioeconomically distinct communities demonstrates how poultry producers reformulate official risk constructs according to distinct knowledge systems, which are based primarily upon interpersonal networks, kin hierarchies, and phenomenological experience. Central to the diverse understandings of bird flu risks in both global health arenas and in rural farming communities are contestations over the appropriate role of animals in human socioeconomic systems, and conflicts over the value of agricultural livelihoods in a standardizing, market-oriented economy.
Porter, Natalie. 2013. Bird Flu Biopower:Strategies for Multispecies Coexistence in Viet Nam. American Ethnologist 40(1):132-148.
Kortright, Christopher Michael, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Experimental Fields and Biotech Futures: The Politics and Histories of Scientific Rice Research,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit
CHRISTOPHER M. KORTRIGHT, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Experimental Fields and Biotech Futures: The Politics and Histories of Scientific Rice Research,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit. Through ethnographic fieldwork at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), this research focuses on how scientific research on rice has been motivated by scientists' assumptions about population growth and consumption, and how these motivations have changed with the advent of genetically modified (GM) rice. This research illustrates the ways in which experimental practices are shaped by scientists' 'visions of the future'-specifically overpopulation and agricultural underproduction. These future visions are historically located within the political economy and agricultural science. This research is a product of the archival collection of oral histories and scientific papers of researchers working on rice research and the production of 'new plant types' at IRRI. Alongside these oral histories, research focused on the study of one specific GM rice project called C4 Rice. The ethnographic research on the C4 Rice Project was conducted both in the laboratory and the experimental fields at IRRI while two large-scale experiments were under way, and the ethnographer accompanied C4 Rice researchers to scientific conferences, funding meetings, and presentations introducing GM science to the general public. Tracing out this specific scientific network of GM rice researchers, this project sheds light on an international science collaboration as it is manifested and articulated at a historically and politically controversial research locality. This research adds to the anthropological literatures on agriculture, science, political economy and futures. Alongside these contributions to the anthropological literature, this research opens up larger discourses on food and food security, specifically in the domain of genetically modified crops.
Kortright, Chris. 2013. On Labor and Creative Transformations in the Experimental Fields of the Philippines. East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 7(4):557-578.