Menon, Dr. Kalyani Devaki, DePaul University, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Making Place for Muslims: Religious Practice and Placemaking in Contemporary India'
Preliminary abstract: This project will explore how religious practice enables Muslims residing in Old Delhi to construct identity, community, and national belonging in contemporary India. Exclusionary constructions of religion and identity have enabled extreme violence against Indian Muslims, and have resulted in their political and economic marginalization in the country. Living amidst such inequalities, exclusion, and violence, how do people construct alternative imaginaries that bridge difference and facilitate coexistence? Drawing on data gathered over eight months of fieldwork amongst Muslims who inhabit the religiously plural spaces of Old Delhi, I will explore how religious practice enables alternative and inclusive constructions of community in the face of violent assertions of exclusion in contemporary India. In exploring this question, my project speaks to broader anxieties generated by the pluralism that marks the contemporary moment and challenges constructions of Muslim difference that animate Islamophobia, thus making a significant contribution to scholarship on the place of religion in the modern world. In focusing on how individuals build communities across axes of difference, my project underscores the importance of studying identity, and indeed religion itself, not in isolation, but rather as always in relation to others and inflected by the pluralism that marks our world.
Idrus, Rusaslina, Harvard U., Cambridge MA - To aid research on 'Native State, Transnational Indigenes: Strategies in the Era of International Accountability,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
RUSASLINA IDRUS, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2005 to aid research on 'Native State, Transnational Indigenes: Strategies in the Era of International Accountability,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho. At the international level, the legal realm is an emerging space of resistance for indigenous movements. There has been a significant increase in the number of court cases involving tribal communities successfully suing state governments for land and resource rights world wide. This project seeks to understand the larger implications of this strategy. How has this changed the relationship and dynamics between marginalized groups and the nation state? How has the state responded? How are transnational discourses such as 'human rights' and 'cultural rights' influencing these cases? How do ideas of international accountability and the global audience play into this? This project will examine the questions above by focusing on the relationship between the Malaysian State and the aboriginal people of Peninsular Malaysia, the Orang Asli.
Danusiri, Aryo, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Sufi Bikers and Arab Saints: Islam, Media, and Mobility in Urban Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Mary Steedly
Preliminary abstract: A striking new phenomenon in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto (1998) is the heightened public visibility of different Islamic groups, which vie with each other in the national capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere for attention. This project focuses on the Sufi-inspired voluntary study groups led by scholars of Arab Hadrami descent. The groups' weekly multimedia performances, which started in 2003, unfold in Jakarta's streets, taking advantage of the perpetual traffic jams by engaging passers-by and halted cars. These motorcades move across and around Jakarta's streets, parks, and other public places, attracting ten of thousands of young adherents. The followers of this movement are highly mobile, using motorbikes and Internet and mobile communication technologies. Remarkably, these weekly events celebrate the Maulid or birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, which until recently, was an annual event sponsored by the State as well as celebrated through a range of vernacular religious rituals. I examine the link between mobility and the formation of (1) an emerging Islamic public; (2) religiously coded public spaces; (3) and urban vernacular networks. I ask the following questions in this project: how do these practices of circulation shape religious experience and address the political interests of the participants? What tactics do study groups utilize to navigate the spatial, social, and political landscapes of Jakarta? What kind of local, national and transnational networks do they have to support this strategy of preaching? By focusing on the mobility of mawlid's people, media, and commodities, I am reinstating the centrality of media and the materiality of religious practices in the process of community making -- something that has been overlooked in the study of religion and media.
Sugimoto, Tomonori, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Urban Indigeneity: A Contestation Over Indigenous Squatter Settlements in Urban Taiwan,' supervised by Dr. Miyako Inoue
Preliminary abstract: In Taiwan, close to 50% of its Austronesian indigenous people have become urban dwellers. Set in Taipei's suburban municipality of New Taipei City, my research investigates debates on urban indigenous rights, cultures, and livelihoods arising out of a contestation over indigenous squatter communities. In the past few decades, the municipal government, indigenous squatters, and other actors have disagreed over whether and how to relocate squatter settlements built by indigenous migrants from Eastern Taiwan on state-owned riverbanks. In 2014, the municipal government announced an experimental project to build new 'indigenous cultural park areas' for these indigenous squatters so that they can build a new urban homeland and lead a livelihood informed by indigenous traditions. Despite the city government's enthusiasm, my preliminary research reveals ambivalence and skepticism about this project among indigenous squatters and their supporters. By observing this project and contestation, I will examine how different actors are grappling with the question of what kinds of indigeneity should be protected, promoted, and aspired to in a highly urbanized context. As the majority of indigenous populations have become city dwellers in many other countries, this research has relevance beyond the context of Taiwan.
Nayar, Anita, U. of Sussex, Brighton, UK - To aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead
ANITA NAYAR, then a student at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'The Social and Ecological Consequences of the Commercialization of Ayurveda, India's Foremost Indigenous Plant-Based Medicine,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead. This research explored the subject as a process shaped by the momentum of growing consumer demand from within India and emerging markets in North America, the Gulf States, and Europe. Emphasis was given to the implications of these changing consumption patterns and related production process for the herb-gathering communities and the natural resource base upon which this transnational market economy depends. Specifically what is the impact of these processes on the social structure and political economy of herb-gathering communities? What are the implications for their access, control, and conservation of forest resources and related knowledge systems? How has it affected people's changing conceptualization of medicinal plants and their relation to them? These questions framed an anthropological study in several herb-gathering communities, the majority of which were adivasi (indigenous peoples), residing in or near the forest. The researcher accompanied adivasis during their forest work, walking from four to ten kilometers a day trekking through thorny forest, climbing hillsides, searching and digging for medicinal plants, helping them collect and sell their goods. The trade routes of several 'middlemen' traders were also studied, which involved travelling with the traded goods, following transactions at storage and transport depots, and tracing the various buyers involved. After 16 months of fieldwork the researcher emerged with an understanding of the political economy of medicinal plants, particularly how structural and systemic inequalities around the labor and knowledge of medicinal plant collectors have evolved and are being reproduced by state and private forces.
Karis, Timothy Daniel, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Home and Hanoi: Migration, Native-place, and Urban Citizenship in the Red River Delta,' supervised by Dr. Suzanne A. Brenner
TIMOTHY KARIS, then a student at the University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, received funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Home and Hanoi: Migration, Native-Place, and Urban Citizenship in the Red River Delta,' supervised by Dr. Suzanne A. Brenner. This research aimed to explore the economic, social, and symbolic connections maintained by Hanoians to native-places (que huong) in the Red River Delta, targeting: 1) the roles of native-place networks in supporting urban migration among citizens lacking legal rights in the city; 2) the operations of 'hometown associations' (hoi dong huong) currently proliferating in Hanoi; and 3) practices of 'returning home' to native villages for events, holidays, and ceremonies. Based on formal and informal interviews and travels between city and countryside, findings demonstrate the substantial and ongoing importance of native-places among both 'unofficial' urban migrants trying to access the necessities of urban life (work, housing, education) absent state support, as well as long-term residents of Hanoi interested in maintaining ancestral identities. Findings also show how native-place relationships change over time: recent migrants reported more material interdependence with rural villages and networks of kin and friends in Hanoi, while established urbanites reported more symbolic relationships based on ritual obligations and organized forms of benefaction.
Fan, Elsa Lai, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Opportunistic Infections: The Governance of HIV/AIDS in China,' supervised by Dr. Tom Boellstorff
ELSA LAI FAN, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Opportunistic Infections: The Governance of HIV/AIDS in China,' supervised by Dr. Tom Boellstorff. This research explores how HIV/AIDS interventions are increasingly determined by market logics rather than public health models. Underscored by the principles of the free market, competition and value, the response to the epidemic in China has shifted away from prevention and treatment, and towards market-oriented approaches that commodify HIV testing. These approaches focus on creating markets to sell testing as a product, and cultivating consumers among men who have sex with men (MSM). In part, these markets are a response to epidemiological trends that highlight the increasing rates of infection among MSM. These trends have generated a public health crisis around this population, placing them at the crux of interventions. On the other hand, such approaches are mobilized under the impetus of international institutions, namely the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. In effect, a new kind of AIDS industry is emerging, one that invokes a domestic market that profits from the epidemic and its potential crisis. At the same time, the grantee questions how these market opportunities conflict with the fundamental goal of ending the epidemic.
Aga, Aniket Pankaj, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Genetically Modified Politics: Transgenic Agriculture, Contested Knowledge, and Democratic Practice in India,' supervised by Dr. K. Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: At the intersection of democracy at work and science in action, I will follow the life of a specific public policy controversy in Indian agriculture - whether to allow the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) or transgenic food crops - that may well transform agriculture and food irreversibly. India is one of the most important countries for the global transgenics debate: It has one of the largest populations of small farmers in the world who may adopt transgenic food crops. Empirically, my research will trace the controversy over GM vegetables from corporate seed laboratories to the farm through government offices and anti-GM NGOs. It will examine how dynamic processes, such as farmers choosing seeds, capital making investments, activists making claims, and bureaucratic regulation, enable and transform democratic politics. I will focus on how decision-making, across levels and sectors of government and society, meshes with political and scientific contingencies to produce policy outcomes which affect national anxieties and local lives. Thus, my study foregrounds uncertainty in order to trace decision-making, structured by contentious sciences, across the interlocking gears of the democratic machine. In this way, the study clarifies the relationship between science and politics in a democracy of the global South.
Thufail, Fadjar I., U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Confusion, Conversion, and Riot: Religious Anxiety and Mass Violence in Urban Indonesia, 1998,' supervised by Dr. Kenneth M. George
FADJAR I. THUFAIL, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, was awarded funding in July 2001 to aid research on religious anxiety and mass violence in urban Indonesia in 1998, under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth M. George. Three central questions guided the field research: What conditions and forces prompted people to get involved in-or avoid-the Indonesian riots of May 1998 that led to President Suharto's resignation? How did perpetrators, victims, and witnesses differently understand these riots in light of contemporary political crises, talk about conversion to Christianity, and past events of anti-Chinese violence? And in what ways did the verbal and visual signs evoked during the rioting and in subsequent public discourse reflect the certainties and uncertainties of religious, ethnic, racial, and national identity? Thufail also devoted attention to representations of the riot and its political contestation. Some preliminary findings: Most respondents denied that the riots were religiously motivated. The absence of religious issues suggested that among certain groups of narrators, changes had taken place in the narrative appropriation of violence. Moreover, different state agents produced their own narratives. The official Fact Finding Team's narrative served as the higher-order narrative that shaped other narratives. Besides state agents, media institutions also shaped the ways in which people told their stories of the riots. As a consequence, the strong institutional agenda found in the riot narratives had overwhelmed most attempts to represent the narratives as stories of experience.
Park, Seo Young, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Making Time in the 24-hour City: Gender, Labor, and Experiment in Seoul's Dongdaemun Market,' supervise by Dr. William Michael Maurer
SEO YOUNG PARK, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in October 2008 to aid research on 'Making Time in the 24-hour City: Gender, Labor, and Experiment in Seoul's Dongdaemun Market,' supervise by Dr. William Maurer. This project investigates the ways in which time is experienced and produced by differently positioned subjects in the Dongdaemun Market in Seoul. By exploring the place-making and market-making practices that 'speed up' and also 'slow down' the time in the Market, this research aims to understand the contested emergence of 24-hour cities in Korea. A sprawling complex that encompasses assembly plants, wholesale stores, retail shopping malls, and entertainment centers, dongdaemun exemplifies the rapid transformation of Seoul. Once viewed as a place of arduous manual labor, Dongdaemun is now imagined as an attractive 24-hour operating space, where high-speed transnational production and consumption take place simultaneously. The grantee conducted 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Seoul, working with the market-making agents of Dongdaemun: factory laborers, designers, entrepreneurs, and NGO workers. By investigating their practices in and narratives of Dongdaemun, this study analyzes how intimate circuits unfold in their struggles over time, their working spaces, and their own creativity in various registers of garment making. The project suggests that it is not only the workers' intensive labor but also their bodily presence and intimate engagement with the clothes, people, and skills that materialize the 'speed' of production and circulation and yet contest the abstract notion of speed.