Fjelstad, Karen, San Jose State U., Scotts Valley, CA and Nguyen, Hien Thi, Institute of Culture & Information Studies, Hanoi, Vietnam- To aid collaborative research on 'Len Dong: A Transnational Ritual'
DR. KAREN FJELSTAD, San Jose State University, Scotts Valley, California, and DR. HIEN THI NGUYEN, Institute of Culture & Information Studies, Hanoi, Vietnam, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in October 2007, to aid collaborative research on 'Len Dong: A Transnational Ritual.' The len dong spirit possession ritual traveled to the U.S. with Vietnamese refugees during the 1980s, but spirit mediums on both sides of the Pacific were prohibited from meeting with each other until after 1986. Recently, a number of US mediums have initiated ritual relations with their Vietnamese counterparts, resulting in the formation of transnational ties. This research traced an emerging relationship between mediums at two temples, one in northern California and the other in northern Vietnam. Transnational ritual relations were stressful and problematic because the mediums were former 'enemies' during the American-Vietnam war and they had significant cultural, linguistic, and ritual differences. However, they overcame difference by focusing on a shared spirituality, recounting narratives of transformation, and relying on help from certain youthful spirits who could easily cross social and cultural borders. The initial transnational event centered on initiation rituals involving the massive exchange of information and goods, but these flows subsided over time. Whereas some of the US mediums wanted to maintain long-term relations with their Vietnamese master, others wanted to focus on developing their own 'American' style. However, rituals in both the US and Vietnam temple were ultimately changed as a consequence of these interactions.
Arnavas, Ms. Chiara, London School of Economics, London, UK - To aid research on 'What is in a Land Right?,' supervised by Dr. Laura Bear
Preliminary abstract: The aim of my project is to advance the anthropology of citizenship through a study of a social movement for land rights among a peri-urban migrant community in Rajarhat, in the north-eastern periphery of Kolkata, India. This community of East Bengali origins has been dispossessed from houses and land to make way for a new modern high-tech township for commercial and residential use. By exploring the emergence of an anti-dispossession movement among this community, my research will explore concepts of rights within this movement, how they emerge and their consequences for engagements with the state. My research will focus on idioms of rights, practices of claim-making, and self-representations among the community. Using theoretical insights from recent work in the anthropology of politics and citizenship in neoliberalism, I will examine how rights to land are a contested and historically constituted social field. Moreover, I hope to show how, for refugees, land entitlements from the state can foster connections to the site of resettlement, which can become a place of refuge, of belonging, of political and social engagement. Therefore, focusing on this community's struggle against dispossession, I will examine to what extent citizen's concepts of land rights challenge the stability and inequality of neo-liberal notions of rights.
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.
Gibbings, Sheri Lynn, U. of Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid research on 'Building a Street, Building a Nation: Architecture, Urban Space, and National Belonging on Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Tania Murray Li
SHERI GIBBINGS, then a student at University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, received funding in October 2006 to investigate 'Building a Street, Building a Nation: Architecture, Urban Space and National Belonging on Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Tania Li. This research examines street vendors and their relationship to the state in three sites of conflict, which are differently invested with meaning. Research activities included participant observation, interviews, and archival research among street vendors, their organizations, as well with government officials. Ethnographic fieldwork was carried out for sixteen months between 2006 and 2008. Findings reveal that the street vendors, on one hand, stand for failed modernity but on the other hand, they comment upon and critique the fantasy of modernity and development that pervades city planning. Street vendors have also become increasingly a site of government concern, which has made them the object of an increasing number of projects to control, discipline, and monitor their activities. Findings indicate that street vendors are involved in a larger set of contestations: political battles over urban planning; debates over modernity; and the struggle to solidify budding radical politics.
Berthin, Michael Edwin, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'An Ethnographic Examination of Social Robots in Japan,' supervised by Dr. Rita Astuti
MICHAEL BERTHIN, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'An Ethnographic Examination of Social Robots in Japan,' supervised by Dr. Rita Astuti. This research project examined social robots in Japan. The question for this project was simply to ask, 'Can a robot be social?' This question is intended to be not only about robots themselves but also about the fundamental meaning of 'social.' First, fieldwork at robotics research laboratories showed that the motivations for roboticists usually fit into three broad categories: science for those who want to do basic research about topics such as human cognition or emotions; engineering for those who are interested in directly making practical and useful devices; and the 'cool factor' for those who are simply fascinated by robots or technology in and of themselves. Second, ethnographic research was done with people in wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are not like social robots in that people don't have dialogues with them, but they are also intimate machines in the sense that people rely on them and spend all their time in them. Further, people at the center rely heavily on helpers who assist in most daily tasks. This is a role roboticists envision for high-end social robots. The result of this research shows the relation between abstract reasoning in the lab and day-to-day life for people in wheelchairs.
Roman, Camilla M., U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Weaving of Patterns and Patterns of Weaving: Learning to Work in a Silk Cluster,' supervised by Dr. Barbara Harriss-White
CAMILLA ROMAN, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, England, was awarded a grant in September 2005 to aid research on 'Weaving of Patterns and Patterns of Weaving: Learning to Work in a Silk Cluster,' supervised by Dr. Barbara Harriss-White. The main findings from field research in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh unravel the complex mechanisms of learning and knowledge transformation in a silk cluster, and highlight their implications for silk workers and for the survival of their livelihoods. In particular it emerged that learning arrangements and apprenticeship modes can severely restrict routes to employment, and perpetuate caste-based occupational structures. Gender norms were also discovered to play an important role in determining access to knowledge resources, and yet such norms can be moulded and transformed by social actors in actual practices. In-depth analysis of social relations and values points out that space in clusters is socially constructed and segmented, and that knowledge flows through specific spatialized channels available only to certain groups. Once learning and innovation are contextualised, elements often underestimated appear to be crucial factors behind innovative behaviour. A high degree of participation in a variety of associations and networks, and physical movement across distant places can partly explain why certain entrepreneurs innovate more extensively than others. This is due to their ability to bridge and combine knowledge from different domains - such as knowledge of saree production that takes place in their homes being combined with knowledge of fashion trends in metropolitan centres.
Lee, Dr. AnRu, California State U., Sacramento, CA - To aid research and writing on 'In the Name of Harmony and Prosperity: Labor and Gender Politics in Taiwan's Economic Restructuring' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. ANRU LEE, of California State University in Sacramento, California, received a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in June 2002 to aid research and writing on labor and gender politics in Taiwan's recent economy. Since the 1980s, Taiwan has grown into a global manufacturing powerhouse, a model of success that has inspired emulation throughout the developing world. Yet at the very peak of this expansion, Taiwan began to feel squeezed by changes both domestic and international. Lee's book, In the Name of Harmony and Prosperity: Labor and Gender Politics in Taiwan's Economic Restructuring, examines Taiwan's economic restructuring since the late 1980s. In it Lee discusses the latest phase of Taiwan's socioeconomic development-most importantly, the dialectical relationship between its export-oriented industrialization, changes in production processes, discourses on work ethics, and the subject formation of women workers-as it relates to conditions in the global economy. At the center of the study is the process by which labor-capital relations become fair and legitimate. The study contributes to the understanding of Asian capitalism and its role in the world economy.