Gupta, Hemangini, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'After-Work: Class, Gender and Public Culture in Neoliberal Bangalore, India,' supervised by Dr. Carla Freeman
HEMANGINI GUPTA, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'After-Work: Class, Gender and Public Culture in Neoliberal Bangalore, India,' supervised by Dr. Carla Freeman. This project examines how the turn to neoliberal market privatization is produced and shaped by local understandings of class and gender in India. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted for fifteen months in Bangalore, India's 'Information Technology' capital, now an emergent center of flexible start-up businesses. Drawing from participant-observation and in-depth interviews at diverse sites of the new economy, and immersive fieldwork at a particular entrepreneurial site, this project shows how widespread neoliberal approaches to global business premised on notions of risk and flexibility are interpreted and experienced through everyday understandings of gender, class, and caste. The project traces how professionalizing women embody and creatively employ neoliberal approaches to labor by drawing on an analysis of their labor practices, urban circulation, and after-work lives. While middle-class women in India have typically marked their class belonging by remaining in the domestic sphere, the country's turn to neoliberal market privatization in the 1990s produced a large new middle class of professionals. The project shows how employment in the new entrepreneurial economy infuses a spirit of neoliberal risk-taking into everyday life-across labor and leisure-challenging what it has historically meant to be a middle-class woman in India. In turn local and shifting understandings of class and gender norms in this postcolonial context offer an understanding of neoliberalism very different from the advanced economies in which it has typically been analyzed.
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.
Wind, Steven, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'A Reconsideration of Child Labor in the Contexts of Household Economics and Community Norms,' supervised by Dr. Mark A. Nichter
STEVEN WIND, while a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'A Reconsideration of Child Labor in the Contexts of Household Economics and Community Norms,' supervised by Dr. Mark A. Nichter. The research examined household and community perspectives on child labor in Mysore, India. A sample of households having working children was visited over a one-year period and interviewed on a range of subjects including children's work, health, education, risk, and community problems. Although in some cases children's economic contributions were found to be vital to household survival, the reasons for children's initiation into paid labor often transcended mere economic rationalism with complex roots in community social problems, government policies, and local cultural values. Parents' narratives of why their children had begun working commonly included accounts of poor quality primary education, corporal punishment in classrooms, extended periods of cutting classes, the bad influence of anti-social peers, and the serious illness or death of a breadwinner. Parents and working boys saw risk as inherent in many kinds of work and gave more importance to whether an occupation offered a good future. In the case of girls, cultural moral prescriptions continue to motivate some parents to withdraw their daughters from school at menarche and limit them to work that is done in or near the home, ends at a reasonable hour, and has a safe moral environment. Parents, NODs, and government servants charged with eradicating child labor were in general agreement regarding children's right to attend school rather than work. However, many poor parents were against the government's strong eradication approach unless the families of working children are provided economic aid and other programs to help them survive without their children's income.
Saria, Vaibhav, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'The Lives of Orgasms: Sex, Intimacy and Carnality among the Hijras in Rural Orissa,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
VAIBHAV SARIA, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Lives of Orgasms: Sex, Intimacy and Carnality among the Hijras in Rural Orissa,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. The grantee conducted fieldwork in rural Orissa in the districts of Bhadrak and Kalahandi among the hijras, investigating the various ways in which same-sex intimacy and desire is imagined outside the city, and what were the freedom and restraints offered to this population now labeled as a sexual minority, by the globalizing of categories, narratives and desire through the AIDS International. The grantee collected narratives not only of desire, love, sex, intimacy, seduction, and flirtation to see how actions, aspirations and failures of the hijra are organized, but also collected data related to their work -- which involves, begging, prostitution, dancing and singing -- to see how the relationship between poverty and sexual desire are configured and how the carnality of both gain expression in the hijra body. These questions were studied by conducting fieldwork on different various sites -- a local NGO, mosques, the natal family in which some hijra reside, and in trains and train stations. The grantee participated in religious festivals and accompanied hijras as they performed on the occasions of birth and marriage and also as they were recruited to act in music videos and films. The grantee collected narratives about fields where sexual relations occur for pleasure and money, outside the ordered domains of family and village, and was thus able to systematically investigate the relationship between poverty and sexual desire. Given the agenda of a global program to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has brought anal sex into such scrutiny while also trying to legitimize its existence, this research addresses the contradictions that redraw the erogenous zones of the hijra through the traffic between global categories and locally embedded practices.
Lynch, Damon Frederick, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN - To aid research on 'Time Frameworks and Peacebuilding in Tajikistan, ' supervised by Dr. William O. Beeman
Preliminary abstract: My anthropological research is on the time frameworks Tajiks use as they build peace after the 1992-97 civil war in Tajikistan. War typically forcefully penetrates subjective time imaginaries and experiences, affecting what people do long after the physical violence has ended. Who among a postwar population use which time frameworks? Surprisingly little is known about this. Scholars have identified time frameworks prevalent during and after war, but what we do not know are the ways in which these and other time frameworks occur within a postwar population. Can we identify any patterns? For example, are non-combatant widows more likely to use a particular framework compared to ex-combatants? Theoretically I combine cutting-edge research on spatial time concepts from cognitive science with a concept of self found across the social sciences dating back to William James that distinguishes between I and Me. This combination is innovative, and is likely genuinely unique among contemporary approaches to the anthropology of time. My research has implications for our understanding of conflict transformation and peacebuilding, trauma, memory, and the anthropology of violence. It also promises new directions in the study of time in the social sciences.
Henry, Eric, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Speaking English in China: Second Language Learning and the Construction of Cosmopolitan Identities,' supervised by Dr. P. Steven Sangren
ERIC HENRY, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received a grant in January 2005 to aid research on 'Speaking English in China: Second Language Learning and the Construction of Cosmopolitan Identities,' supervised by Dr. P. Steven Sangren. One question that seems to aggravate foreign English teachers and linguists in China is why educational institutions and students seem uninterested in a 'proper' way to teach English. Their resistance has been attributed to everything from Confucianism to plain stubbornness. The grantee conducted a year of fieldwork in the northeastern city of Shenyang to examine the social and cultural contexts in which English-language learning takes place, and the structures and processes in which English is embedded in Chinese society. In other words, the research attempts to redirect the question from 'Why do English learners not listen to experts?' to 'What are Chinese learners attempting to accomplish through their study of English?' Data gathered through interviews with language learners, school administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders located English-language learning within a set of self-fashioning technologies that are designed to advance alternative notions of identity in a globalizing medium of social relations. Knowledge of English allowed proficient learners to participate as dominant partners in what Bourdieu has called a 'language market.' The research also served to highlight affinities between the processes of English-language learning and specific local concerns, such as the status of the local dialect and fears of being cheated in relations with others.
Chuang, Julia, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Scandals of the Absent: Migration, Village, and Homecoming in Rural China,' supervised by Dr. Michael Burawoy
JULIA CHUANG, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Scandals of the Absent: Migration, Village, and Homecoming in Rural China,' supervised by Dr. Michael Burawoy. As the Chinese state shifts from treating the vast hinterland as a source of deployable labor to seeing it as a site of convertible land, the hinterland becomes a site of exodus. Welfare reforms facilitate rural departures by linking normative forms of mobility to distinct visions of rural modernity. This dissertation compares divergent departures in rural Sichuan -labor migration and marital endogamy in Shixi Town (where land underwrites subsistence) and urban relocation and exogamy in Julong Town (where evictions encroach), and argues that in both sites, the local stigmatization of discrepant mobilities, enacted by wayward Shixi wives and immobile Julong bachelors, enables the extraction of labor and land for development through the respective preservation and erosion of agrarian society.
Yuan, Xiao-bo, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Constituting the Three-Self Church: Official Christianity, the State, and Subjectivity in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar
Abstract: XIAO-BO YUAN, while a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Constituting the Three-Self Church: Official Christianity, The State and Subjectivity in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar. The resulting dissertation, 'Reform and Purification: The Politics and Practices of Ethical Cultivation in Chinese Christianities,' examined regimes of moral reformation and purification in Chinese Protestant churches through an ethnographic study of two different types of churches in metropolitan Nanjing: the state-authorized Three-Self Church (sanzi jiaohui) and the unauthorized 'urban underground church' (chengshi dixia jiaohui). These two types of churches have an antagonistic relationship and seemingly opposite orientations to the nation-state: the Three-Self professes to make Christianity Chinese, and the urban underground church movement aims to Christianize China. In tracing how Christians seek to reform their own and others' life-ways, the resulting dissertation explores how ordinary ethical practices produce different political imaginations, how Christianity can and should transform the nation-state, and concurrently analyzes how circulating assumptions about state interventions into religious activity, in the form of surveillance or coercion, shape various possibilities for ethical life. Through a comparative ethnography of above- and underground churches, the research shows how Christian groups are caught in a particular set of tensions with the state, in which vulnerabilities to state interference are unevenly and sometimes unexpectedly distributed.
Shneiderman, Dr. Sara Beth, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Restructuring Life: Citizenship, Territory and Religiosity in Nepal's State of Transition'
Preliminary abstract: How do we imagine the ideal state that we aspire to live in? I address this question in anthropological terms through a multi-sited ethnography of state restructuring in Nepal since 2006. In the wake of a decade-long civil conflict between Maoist and state forces in this erstwhile unitary Himalayan kingdom turned secular democratic federal republic of nearly 30 million, I transpose Victor Turner's long-standing 'invitation to investigators of ritual to focus their attention on the phenomena and processes of mid-transition' (1967: 110) to the political realm. Despite a 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, a new constitution has yet to be promulgated, making 2014 the eighth year of Nepal's 'mid-transition'. I ask: In this temporally protracted liminal state, how do discourses and practices of restructuring articulated at the national and global level work to produce affective experiences of transformation for ordinary citizens in a range of locales outside the political center of Kathmandu? How do these experiences of transformation shape the political consciousness and aspirations of individuals and collectivities? How are such aspirations expressed in discursive and material terms, and what do they tell us about the structural and functional dimensions of the imagined state of the future? Finally, how do such localized imaginaries of ideal state structure intersect with national and transnational visions of order as articulated by both Nepali and international institutional actors? I address these questions through a focus on the domains of citizenship, territory and religiosity as spaces within which imaginaries of the state's functions and structures in transition are revealed in both material and discursive terms.