Osburg, John, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Engendering Wealth: China's New Rich and the Creation of an Elite Masculinity, 'supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
JOHN OSBURG, while a student at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in June 2004 to aid in research on changing ideologies of masculinity in urban China under the supervision of Dr. Susan Gal. This project investigated the consumption and leisure practices of newly rich male entrepreneurs in China, practices which are embedded in an emerging ideology of elite masculinity. The study was conducted in Chengdu, China among several intersecting networks of wealthy entrepreneurs. In addition to observation of this group's leisure and consumption practices, detailed interviews with a select group of informants were conducted focusing on transformations in their personal lives and relationships. While wealthy, male entrepreneurs were the main focus, research subjects included many who occupied marginal positions in the world of Chinese business, including female entrepreneurs and members of the criminal underworld. The study found that many features of subjects' lifestyles-their social networks, consumption practices, leisure activities, and sexualities-were deeply intertwined with and to some extent a product of their business relationships. Many subjects participated in various elite recreational activities in order to cultivate relationships with clients, potential business partners, and government officials, relationships which were essential to their financial success. Young women were a constant presence during these activities serving as mediators in relationships between men. This project analyzed the relationship between the Chinese state and private business, changing configurations of romance, marriage, and sexuality, and the rise of new forms of consumption and leisure from the perspective of changing ideologies of gender. More generally, it is hoped that this study will help account for the rise of a 'masculinized' sphere of private business in China.
Khan, Arsalan Khalid, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Performing Ummah: Practice, Piety, and Moral Order among the Tablighi Jama'at in Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Richard Handler
ARSALAN KHALID KHAN, then a student at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, received funding in May 2010, to aid 'Performing Ummah: Practice, Piety, and Moral Order among the Tablighi Jama'at in Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Richard Handler. This research investigates how Pakistani Tablighis (practitioners of the Tablighi Jama'at), a transnational Islamic preaching movement, actualize Islamic ideals in the space of the preaching movement. Tablighis state that preaching (dawat/tabligh) is completely different from giving 'speeches' or 'mere talk.' It is, they say, a 'ritual practice' (amaal), which, if done according to the method established by the Prophet, cultivates the moral and ethical sensibilities necessary for the Pakistani nation (millat) and the global Islamic community (ummah). Drawing on twelve months of ethnographic research based in Karachi, the research explores the significance Tablighis place on preaching, and their distinct ideas about the power of ritual speech to transform speakers and listeners, turning them into moral persons. Furthermore, the research explores how these ideas about ritual speech help organize a hierarchical form of sociality that Tablighis see as distinctly Islamic, a feature that differentiates them from other Islamic groups and movements in Pakistan. This research contributes to growing body of literature on the Islamic revival and religious revivals more generally as well as to scholarship that addresses the relationship between speech, religion and morality in various religious traditions.
Fish, Allison Elizabeth, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Michael Maurer
ALLISON E. FISH, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Maurer. Research related to this project took place primarily in Bangalore, Dehli, and California. What the grantee terms 'transnational yoga' is an example of the rapid transformation that forms of traditional cultural knowledge undergo as they are increasingly offered in commoditized form to consumers in affluent and cosmopolitan markets. The research takes two US federal district court cases, Bikram v. Schreiber-Morrison et al. and Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram as a starting point. These suits served as the catalyst triggering open conflict concerning the proprietary nature of yogic knowledge. In researching the resulting dispute, the grantee attends to two sets of reactions. The first is that of the Indian state, which is concerned with what it perceives to be the on-going piracy of its national-cultural heritage. The study focuses upon the state's own claim to yoga and its attempt to protect this claim through the construction of a traditional knowledge digital library. Secondly, the research examines the reactions of select yoga organizations, which have also adopted intellectual property claims. In tracing these relationships the grantee shows how not only yoga, but also other cultural objects (such as intellectual property) are contested and reconfigured. In doing this, the project contributes to a re-examination of the tradition-modernity binary.
Aragon, Dr. Lorraine V., East Carolina U., Greenville, NC - To aid research on 'State Policies, Religious Narratives, and Multiculturalism: Addressing the Communal Conflicts of Post-Suharto Indonesia'
DR. LORRAINE V. ARAGON, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received a grant in May 2002 to aid ethnographic research on the religiously polarized communal conflicts that began in Indonesia after President Suharto's resignation in 1998. One of Aragon's objectives was to examine how state policies and the activities of state agents interacted with local community networks to foster regional disharmony between ethnic groups that were divided as Muslim and Christian. The most detrimental policies related to migration, ethnoreligious discrimination, bureaucratic corruption, the promotion of cash cropping, and land commodification. A comparison of conflicts in Maluku, central Sulawesi, and Kalimantan indicated that violence became religiously polarized where Christian and Muslim identities heavily overlapped local categories of 'indigenous' versus 'migrant' and did not crosscut significant ethnic boundaries. Aragon also investigated Muslims' and Christians' experiences of the violence and explored their divergent understandings of why the conflict began, who suffered most, and when violence was justified. Mass media also proved to be implicated in the religious polarization and escalation of conflict. Media narratives in a wide variety of formats framed conflicts in terms of a Muslim-Christian 'holy war' or religious aggression, which helped transform local, national, and transnational interpretations and actions.
Aragon, Lorraine V. 2005. Mass Media Fragmentation and Narratives of Violent Action in Sulawesi’s Poso Conflict. Indonesia, Vol. 79:1-55.
Vaidya, Anand Prabhakar, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'The Origin of Forests, Private Property, and the State: The Life of India's Forest Rights Act,' supervised by Dr. Ajantha Subramanian
ANAND P. VAIDYA, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Origin of Forests, Private Property, and the State: The Life of India's Forest Rights Act,' supervised by Dr. Ajantha Subramanian. This project tracked the creation and implementation of India's 2006 Forest Rights Act, a landmark law that for the first time grants land rights to the millions who live without them in the roughly 23 percent of India's land area that is public forest land. This project followed the national movement for forest rights (which was critical in lobbying for and drafting the act) and the struggle led by a group affiliated with the movement to implement the law in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh. This project asks how the ongoing contestations over the text and meaning of the law have shaped the claims to property and authority that are made through it, and found that the law is in fact deeply ambiguous and its meaning has yet to be established in practice. Conflicts over who should be entitled by the law in its lobbying and drafting were translated in the law's text into contradictory potential readings of the law. These contradictory potential readings have, in the Forest Rights Act's implementation, been taken up by caste and class groupings that have been in long violent conflict over forest land, turning a long violent conflict into a legal one.
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.
Kudlu, Chithprabha, Washington U., University City, MO - To aid research on 'Journey from Plant to Medicine: A Study of Ayurvedic Commodity Chains in Kerala,' supervised by Dr. Glenn Davis Stone
CHITHPRABHA KUDLU, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'Journey from Plant to Medicine: A Study of Ayurvedic Commodity Chains in Kerala,' supervised by Dr. Glenn Stone. The study investigates current developments in commodification of Ayurvedic medicine in Kerala, India, and their effects on knowledge and livelihood of actors in the commodity chain for Ayurvedic herbs. Fieldwork has allowed identification of key nodes in the commodity chain and has revealed changes ranging from the routine to the transformative. On one hand, increased commodification has caused predictable shifts in the nature of knowledge contributions and livelihood outcomes for actors at the manufacturing, consuming, and practitioner nodes. On the other, developments associated with globalization, health tourism, and changing demands of domestic consumers have contributed to a dynamic new climate of commodification. The entry of non-traditional stakeholders is causing new paths and diversion for Ayurvedic commodities, sometimes threatening commodity boundaries and causing conflict between the old and new value systems. The industry's interest in globalizing Ayurveda has also brought in pressures of regulation and standardization that sometimes conflict with traditional practices. Although the dynamisms do not extend to the upstream supply, chain which continues to depend on a gathering economy, fledgling developments in farming and industrial cluster projects portend future potentials and constraints. The study examines the responses of various respondents in this context with special attention to changes in the roles and contributions of nodal actors; changes in power relationships between different stakeholders; changes in consumption patterns; and changes in the medicine commodity itself.
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'.
Bernstein, Anna, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Transformations in Siberian Buddhism: Mobility, Visuality, and Piety in Buryat Worlds,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Grant
ANNA BERNSTEIN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2007 to aid 'Transformations in Siberian Buddhism: Mobility, Visuality, and Piety in Buryat Worlds,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Grant. This project explores the renovation of Siberian Buryat Buddhist practices through transnational, post-Soviet ties. It brings together field and archival study to bear upon three fields of inquiry: 1) the ethnography of Siberia; 2) cosmopolitan, transnational religious forms; and 3) material culture. In contrast to some scholars who have seen Buryats purely as 'native,' 'indigenous,' or even as a 'fourth-world' people, many Buryats have long viewed themselves as cosmopolitans who consider Buddhism as one of the most prominent markers of southern Siberia's expansive histories since its arrival in approximately the eighteenth century. Many today ask: Should Buryat Buddhism be understood as adhering to a 'Tibetan model,' one most recently advanced through pilgrimages by monks and well-funded lay persons to Tibetan monasteries in India? Or, as nationalists argue, should it downplay its international ties to assert itself as a truly independent 'national' religion? This project argues that the ways in which Buryats transform older cosmopolitanisms into contemporary socio-religious movements are key for understanding new geopolitical forms of consciousness, as long-held Eurasian ties are now being revived in the wake of Soviet rule. Based on twelve months of field research, this project tracks these issues ethnographically through a study of two Buryat monastic and lay religious communities located in Russia and in India. The focus on material culture engages specific case studies of how various material objects -- such as relics of famous monks, auspicious images found on rocks, and ritual implements buried underground during Soviet times -- are reinterpreted to create new sacred geographies, historiographies, and modes of religiosity.
Bernstein, Anya. 2011. The Post-Soviet Treasure Hunt: Time, Space, and Necropolitics in Siberian Buddhism. Comparative Studies in Society and History 53(3):623-653.