Pant, Ketaki, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Homes of Capital: Merchants and Mobility in the Indian Ocean,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
Preliminary abstract: This dissertation project is concerned with the long history of Gujarati merchant mobility in the Indian Ocean. While scholars of globalization have considered the movement of global capital as a new phenomenon, this project studies the itinerant merchant--historically engaged in the long-distance oriented textile trade--as an early iteration of the global capitalist. Merchant homes, which also function as warehouses, workshops and offices, are central to these networks, and historically connected the textile trade from its point of origin in the interior to the shores of the Indian Ocean. These homes, and descendents of merchant families within them, continue to exist today and allow me to ethnographically study how a history of merchant mobility, coordinated through the home, continues to persist in contemporary society. In studying Gujarati merchant networks from its interiors, this project analyzes how kinship and religious networks, routed through the home, are central to capital mobility. I am concerned therefore with how a seemingly stationary space--the home--helps us to understand the flow of capital across an oceanic space. In analyzing this dynamic of enclosed mobility this project seeks to demonstrate that unlike the contemporary multinational corporation, which though independent of, operates under the umbrella of imperial states and their mobile armies, Gujarati merchants, through a long history, have protected capital without the use of force and the help of a strong state.
Pant, Ketaki. 2014. Gujarat's 'Rangoon Wallas.' Himal Southasian. Published online.
Buyandelgeriyn, Dr. Manduhai, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Election Campaigns: Women’s Engagement in Neoliberal State Formation in Mongolia'
DR. MANDUHAI BUYANDELGERIYN, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Election Campaigns: Women's Engagement in Neoliberal State Formation in Mongolia.' This research was conducted during Mongolia's parliamentary elections of 2008 and explored the circumstances and experiences of female candidates' advancement from local-level nominations to the parliament as a lens through which to investigate the structures of the glass ceiling, the populace's understanding of gender, and women's maneuvering within the male-dominated election campaigns. Despite women constituting more than half of the university-educated population and dominating in mid- and upper-mid level positions in most professions, there has been an escalation in discrimination against women in all spheres, and in their exclusion from decision-making posts. The campaigns of thirteen female candidates from five different organizations were studied in the city of Ulaanbaatar and other provinces using participant observation, in-depth interviews, and discourse and cultural analysis. A broader study of media, advocacy cells, polling stations, and other venues provides context for understanding the gendered politics of elections. In addition to tangible circumstances (such as the repealing of a quota for female candidates prior to the campaigns and the implementation of new electoral structures and rules), the project traces the nuanced, less visible, day-to-day activities and systems that facilitate the uses of women's expertise, but without empowering them in the same way as it does men.
Duthie, Laurie M., U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'White-Collar China: Professionalism and the Making of the New Middle-Class in Shanghai,' supervised by Dr. Yunxiang Yan
LAURIE M. DUTHIE, then a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, California, was awarded a grant in January 2005 to aid research on 'White Collar China: Professionalism and the Making of the New Middle-Class in Shanghai,' supervised by Dr. Yunxiang Yan. This project sought to understand the meaning of professionalism for white collar executives employed by foreign-invested corporations in Shanghai, China. Research activities included participant-observation with two foreign-invested corporations, extensive interviews with business professionals, and participant-observation at various business association events. The results of this research highlight the multi-scalar process of identity formation under global capitalism. White collar executives understand their social position through comparison to both their compatriots working for state-owned corporations and also their corporate colleagues from other countries. On a national level, the values of professionalism and essentially 'the meaning of work' is understood in contrast to the state-owned business sector. On a global level, Chinese business professionals are marginalized and face glass ceilings within the global corporations. The reasons for this glass ceiling include geopolitical factors, regional economic trends, as well as the positioning of China as a new and emerging market. From a more qualitative perspective, there is not only a glass ceiling, but moreover a glass wall between Chinese business professionals and their foreign colleagues created through a mutual lack of cultural understanding. To date, this research has resulted in two conference papers, two seminar talks, and a published journal article.
Li, Jin, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Reassembling Religion: Tibetan Buddhism in Post-Communist China,' supervised by Dr. Erik Mueggler
Preliminary abstract: Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists have formed a new network centered in a Nyingma monastery in eastern Tibet, called Larung. This encounter invites us to examine the formation and transformation of religious subjectivity: Why have Tibetan monks included Han Chinese in their revival of Buddhism? Why have so many urban Chinese abandoned the secularist worldview cultivated by the state to convert to Tibetan Buddhism? I address the questions by looking into a tradition in the Nyingma sect, known as gter, or ¡°excavation of hidden treasures.¡± In 1986, the founder of Larung, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, discovered as a ¡°hidden treasure¡± an old gazetteer about Mount Wutai, a Chinese Buddhist mountain sacred to both Tibetans and Chinese. In his eyes, this object was a revelation that Padmasambhava, the Indian master who introduced tantric Buddhism to Tibet, buried treasures to allow Tibetan monks to reconstruct ties with the Chinese. This episode shows how treasure hunting articulates the regimes of landscape, materiality, human wayfaring and religious interpretation. It reveals the two theoretical explorations of my research: First, the research takes issue with the anthropological convention that looks at the religious domain with a panoptic view, and sees the religious domain that has been revived by treasure hunting as an assembly. This assembly gradually comes into being, through encounters between people and things. Second, the research asks how religious subjects are created through their wayfaring encounters with the assembly. This will help engage into Joel Robbins¡¯s (2007) provocative question¡ªHow can anthropology anchored in ¡°continuity thinking¡± explain radical changes in human subjectivity, such as conversion?
Zee, Jerry Chuang-Hwa, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Zones of Experimentation: Science and Ecological Governance in Northern China,' supervised by Dr. Aihw Ong
JERRY CHUANG-HWA ZEE, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Zones of Experimentation: Science and Ecological Governance in Northern China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong. Environmental problems, like desertification, which now afflicts more than a quarter of China's territory, have stood as a powerful site for the discussion of the consequences of the breakneck pace of Chinese development. China's rise has, in recent years, been understood not merely as a challenge to the international economic and geopolitical status quo, but as an ominous ecological threat to the planet itself. The threat of environmental degradation has challenged the Chinese state to take on the management and maintenance of sustainable environments as part of its governmental purview, and this new demand for the state to manage nature itself has showed the limits to existing techniques of governance when presented with this new task. In China, as the effects of 'socialist marketization' -- environmental disaster, social instability -- continue to surface, a confluence of political events and environmental disasters has seen a shift in state rhetoric toward 'sustainable development' and 'scientific' governance. This project explores how, in the PRC, programs to combat massive desertification, have made desertified regions zones of experimentation, where ecological research is applied to social-environmental governing. In so doing, it is argued, places zoned as environmental problem areas have seen local governments operating with reference to concepts derived from the ecological sciences, increasingly casting the task of government as the creation and management of ecological relations. This has transmuted the Maoist task of ideological transformation and mass organization into a matter of 'adjusting human and environmental relations' -- social management is framed as an ecological-governmental process by local governments, and informed by new research from the ecological sciences. This reframes how the state enacts relations with minority pastoralists, coal and commercial interests, and territory. Ongoing research tracks how local governments experiment with 'ecological' governance, and how manipulation of markets in land and employment are re-figured as techniques for creating new physical environments.
Ibrahim, Nur Amali, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Producing Believers, Contesting Islam: Conservative and Liberal Youths in Post-New Order Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gilsenan
NUR AMALI IBRAHIM, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'Producing Believers, Contesting Islam: Conservative and Liberal Youths in Post-New Order Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gilsenan. This project examines the religious socialization of young believers in Indonesia in a context of competing religious ideologies. During the course of research, the grantee uncovered the beliefs of both groups, their intellectual influences, the history of their emergence, and the sociopolitical networks to which they belong. The research found that conservative Islam thrives in secular campuses, while liberalism flourishes in Islamic campuses. This counter-intuitive situation reflects a trend where 'born-again' Muslims from secular backgrounds are more easily persuaded to conservatism, whereas Muslims long exposed to Islamic education are more aware of nuances in religion that they become tolerant and plural. Comparing the socialization practices in both groups, the grantee discovered that conservatives have a systematic process to disseminate their ideology as they organized their members in small and tightly controlled cell groups. Liberals in contrast have a loosely organized structure, relying on debates and discussions rather than religious instruction. Conservatives and liberals compete fiercely to stamp their prominence on campus; this rivalry puts them in a dialectical relationship, such that each makes adjustments in response to the other's actions. Encountering dissatisfactions with their religious orientations, young people may eventually alter their stances, suggesting that conservatives and liberals can be transient identities rather than permanent.
Coelho, Dr. Karen, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid 'Of Engineers, Rationalities, and Rule: An Ethnography of Neoliberal Reform in an Urban Water Utility' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. KAREN COELHO, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in June 2005, to aid research and writing on 'Of Engineers, Rationalities, and Rule: An Ethnography of Neoliberal Reform in an Urban Water Utility.' During the fellowship year, the grantee produced two articles of very different character and style, and for very different audiences. One article was an analysis of the national trends in water sector reforms based on a case study of Chennai's water utility. A second published article explored collective, contentious and transgressive practices of urban citizenship as articulated in claims to water in the city of Chennai. The grantee was able to complete seven of eight chapters for a book manuscript and prospectus that will be sent to various publishing houses.
Coelho, Karen. 2005. The Political Economy of Public Sector Water Utilities Reform. Infochange Agenda, Issue 3. Center for Communication and Development Studies: Chennai.
Coelho, Karen. 2006. Tapping In: Leaky Sovereignties and Engineered Dis(order) in an Urban Water System. SARAI Reader 06. Center for the Study of Developing Societies: New Delhi.
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.
Saini, Shashank, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Urbanity and its Discontents: Violence, Masculinity and Dispossession in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Thomas
Preliminary abstract: The recent discourse about sexual violence in Delhi is masking deeper material transformations occurring in the region. Agricultural lands in peri-urban Delhi--which currently constitutes two-thirds of Delhi--are being acquired at a fast pace per the state's mandate to double the urbanized area of Delhi by 2021. As shopping malls and gated communities are being erected on village lands, rural men from urban villages are being considered a threat to urban modernity as the incidents of sexual violence in which rural men are perpetrators are being selectively highlighted in newspaper reports. These discursive developments and material transformations have produced an exceptionally precarious state for young males from urban villages who are being forced to confront a service industry economy, a mode of production for which they possess neither the habitus, nor the education. My dissertation project will explore the emergent processes of subject-making of these male youth from urban villages, and particularly their notions and practices of masculinity, within the context of a fast changing political economy in Delhi characterized by transformations in modes of production and relationships to land, the emergence of new class and status groups, and the influx of new patterns of consumerism.