Kleyna, Mark A., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Spectacles of the Modern: Technology, Development, and the Imagination of the Indian Nation, 1947-1965,' supervised by Dr. Nicholas B. Dirks
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.
Brainer, Amy, U. of Michigan, Dearborn, MI - To aid engaged activities on 'Reimagining LGBT Family Issues,' 2015, Taiwan
AMY BRAINER. University of Michigan, Dearborn, Michigan, was awarded a grant in September 2014 to aid engaged activities on 'Reimagining LGBT Family Issues in Taiwan.' In October 2015, the grantee conducted parent workshops and a symposium around the theme 'Reimagining LGBT Family Issues' in Kaohsiung and Taipei. Building on previous fieldwork with queer people and their families of origin throughout Taiwan, the grant activities sought to open a dialogue about sexuality, gender, and family change, in ways that would be relevant to Taiwanese queer activists, practitioners, and families themselves. The grantee arranged the symposium to coincide with the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Asia conference in Taipei, opening up a regional conversation that was particularly generative. Participants shared about their work in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Singapore. Many of the questions and comments drew comparisons among diverse Asian contexts. Largely through the generous spirit of hosts and participants alike, the grant activities met larger goal of nurturing collaborative relationships not only across geographic regions, but also across the borders that often separate research from activism.
Tilche, Alice, U. of London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Broken Frames? Adivasi Museums, Representation and Marginality in Contemporary India,' supervised by Dr. Edward Simpson
ALICE TILCHE, then a student at University of London, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in October 2008 to aid research on 'Broken Frames? Adivasi Museums, Representation and Marginality in Contemporary India,' supervised by Dr. Edward Simpson. This research focused on Adivasis' ('Tribal') struggle for identity and recognition in contemporary India. It particularly examined the development of an Adivasi Museum of Voice in rural Gujarat, and its role in transforming historically rooted forms of marginalization. Adivasi identity emerged as extremely fragmented, at the core of contested projects of modernity, development, and nation building. Interrelated processes of dispossession, resistance to extractive industries, and enrollment within a 'Hindu Nation' were turning Adivasi areas into sites of intensifying conflict and political concern. In this context, the Museum of Voice aimed to generate an Adivasi counter-culture as a tool to redefine terms of inclusion. While young Adivasis were its curators, the museum was also centered within wider transnational networks of trade, social movements, and indigenous people. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork as participant and collaborator within this nexus, the research accounted for the daily work of cultural/political negotiation, and the complex dilemmas of representations involved in museum work. It examined how, while building something new, Adivasis continuously contended with the objectification of others as 'exotic Tribals,' as well as with 'internal' hierarchies and diverse aspiration for change within the community. In this last aspect, the research considered the creation of this new cultural space as a moment of contestation, where different projects of 'modernity' came together.
Prasse-Freeman, Elliott Edward, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Resistance to Rights? Political Ontologies and Modes of Governmentality in a Rapidly Evolving Burma,' supervised by Dr. Erik Harms
Preliminary abstract: While Burmese dissident elites and external observers have typically characterized Burmese societal opposition to Burma's long-ruling military-state in terms of people fighting for their rights, my preliminary research suggests that many Burmese social movement actors mobilizing to address issues pertaining to health, education, clean water, etc often have used different idioms to motivate their appeals and actions. While these uses may merely reflect instrumentally strategic choices, my research also suggests that some Burmese actors ascribe entirely different meanings to the concept of 'rights'. Instead of rights securing inalienable standards which citizens can expect by dint of their membership in the polity, 'rights' in Burmese language is often synonymous with opportunities, suggesting that rights are not perceived as existing without opportunities to realize them. Fieldwork with an NGO that defends social movement leaders and particularly marginalized groups will allow me to identify a range of Burmese experiences with power. I will explore how social actors ground political claims and mobilize for them, even whilst lacking rights to anchor and sustain such collective actions, asking: How are claims made, and on what alternative political values are they based? Given the current changes occurring in the Burmese state, understanding the values that ground the Burmese 'politics of the daily' are potentially theoretically productive. Indeed, as state elites have declared an intention to both create a 'rights' regime and 'governmentalize' Burma into a nascent welfare-state regulating population groups, social movements may be implicitly suggesting that formal 'rights' do not exist unless the system is changed such that rights can actually be realized.
Hampel, Amir, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Changing Selves in a Transforming Society: How Shy Chinese Learn the Virtues of Self Assertion,' supervised by Dr. Richard Allan Shweder
AMIR HAMPEL, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2012 to aid research on 'Changing Selves in a Transforming Society: How Shy Chinese Learn the Virtues of Self Assertion,' supervised by Dr. Richard A. Shweder. Over the past few years, psychological discourses have permeated popular media and daily life in China. The current research has discovered that psychologists and other actors use psychology to critique Chinese culture's perceived effacing of the individual, while establishing communication and self-actualization as important values. These values are influencing how young Chinese people evaluate themselves, and are leading many of them on projects to remodel their personalities and their lives. Participation in personal growth seminars in Beijing and analysis of self-help literature has revealed much about who people wish to become. Many ambitious young professionals are eager to use the tools of self-help to develop confident, resolute, and extroverted personalities. These characteristics are presented as effective tools for achieving material success, but they are also felt to signal health and potent vitality. In a middle class exploring widening horizons, under the pressures of intensely competitive labor and marriage markets, the longing to be a stronger person fuses with a desire to realize one's dreams. By cultivating the confident and extroverted personalities they idealize, people hope to attract attention and financial opportunity; at the same time, they are also searching for a way past psychological limitations, to personal fulfillment and self-actualization.
Chen, Junjie, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'When the State Claims the Intimate: Population Control and Constructions of Rural Identity in China,' supervised by Dr. Alma Gottlieb
JUNJIE CHEN, then a student at University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, received funding in June 2004 to aid research on 'When the State Claims the Intimate: Population Control and Constructions of Rural Identity in China,' supervised by Dr. Alma Gottlieb. This dissertation fieldwork project explores how a prolonged series of discursive constructions of peasants as 'backward' subjects by the Chinese government has served to legitimize the state's sustained intrusion into the seemingly private event of reproduction in rural China, and in turn how rural residents respond to and interpret this intrusion. The fieldwork was conducted in and around a multi-ethnic Manchu-Han village in northeastern China from July 2004 to August 2005. Data was collected mainly through intensive interviews, participant observation, and household surveys. Reading villagers' subjective experiences of reproduction against the state's hegemonic claims in shaping rural lives, this project aims to chart how rural citizens think about, talk about, and manage their fertility strategies and habits in the face of the state's continuing claims on their most intimate practices. In so doing, this project further explores complex situations and predicaments that both Manchu and Han peasants have faced, and continue to face, due to the state's sustained intrusion into the private event of reproduction at the intersection of gender, class, ethnicity, and urban-rural spaces over the past three decades.
Wang, Jing, Rice U., Houston, TX - To aid research on 'Reimagining the Silk Road: Muslim Minorities at the Limits of Multiculturalism in Xi'an, China,' supervised by Dr. Dominic Boyer
Preliminary abstract: This project focuses on the Chinese state's ongoing promotion of domestic multiculturalist policies through exploring the way it mobilizes cosmopolitan imaginaries of the 'New Silk Road.' Particularly, I will look at how these emerging imaginaries and forms of multicultural governance intersect with the new ways the Chinese government recognizes and locates as relevant its Muslim minorities in the city of Xi'an, which is strategically branded as the starting point of the New Silk Road. Despite their relatively small population size (compared to the Han Chinese), Muslims in Xi'an have become hailed by Chinese political and cultural elites as the embodiment of the city's complex mosaic of Islamic culture. However, it remains unclear the extent to which the official discourse of multiculturalist cosmopolitanism really supports ethno-religious diversity at both the local and national scales, given Beijing's growing nationalist aspirations and its anti-separatist campaigns on the national borders. On the micro level, my project also attends to how local Muslim subjects construct their own cultural expressions and actively navigate the state interventions in their lives as well as the constraints of authoritarian forms of recognition. Through careful analysis of official statements and media reports, close observations of institutional structures and practices, and sustained interactions with my Muslim informants in Xi'an, this project ultimately asks: what are the limits of the recognition of diversity in a globally ambitious authoritarian state that is trying to simultaneously be economically liberal and politically unified? My ultimate aim is to contribute to ongoing anthropological engagements with the politics of recognition in both liberal and authoritarian states.