Sekine, Emily Laura, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Unsteady Earth: Predicting Nature's Uncertainties in Post 3.11 Japan,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles
Preliminary abstract: The Japanese archipelago stretches across four major tectonic plates, making it one of the most earthquake-prone areas of the world. But even in a place where tremors are commonplace, the massive 9.0 quake that struck the Tohoku region in March 2011 -- stirring a tsunami and unleashing a nuclear meltdown -- came as a stark reminder of the tremendous capabilities of earthquakes to surprise, to undo previous assumptions, and to destroy and remake worlds. The failure of seismologists to predict this devastating quake has added fuel to long-standing international debates over the possibilities and limits of seismological knowledge. This ethnographic and historical study explores how the uncertainty surrounding earthquakes has made seismology into a field that is remarkably -- if at times begrudgingly -- open to unconventional explanations, methods, and types of evidence. Furthermore, the study considers how people understand earthquakes not only through science, but also through folklore, history, spirituality, public education, popular culture, and observations of strange weather and animal behavior. By asking how earthquake science accommodates everyday knowledge, as well as how non-scientists draw upon various knowledge traditions to make sense of a volatile and inscrutable earth, this research sheds light on how people in Japan actually live with and interpret nature?s uncertainties. Centrally, the project inquires into how the physical instability of the earth might compel and reconfigure practices of observing, sensing, and knowing 'nature' itself. This effort will significantly contribute to anthropological studies of the environment/human-nature relations, as well as studies of Japan, which rarely attend closely to geophysical activity and how it permeates everyday life.
Lin, Emily Xi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Disability's Star-Children: Autism and the Remaking of Urban China's Moral Order,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich
Preliminary abstract: This project examines how autism has emerged in contemporary China after 1978, moving from being a disorder with no indigenous counterpart, to a disorder, translated as guduzheng or zibizheng, now fairly ubiquitous in urban China. Through my fieldwork with the help of psychiatrists, nongovernmental organizations, parents and other professional caregivers, Beijing, Handan and Shenzhen, I hope to test out my hypothesis that the a 'moral crisis' is a necessity condition for the successful uptake of a foreign disorder. Beyond the comparative value it holds for the social analysis of autism cross-culturally, my study also intervene in anthropological concerns with human kind-making, the influence of culture on psychopathology, and the use of disease classifications in the production of citizen and nation-state.
Zukosky, Michael L., Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Transforming Environmentality: Subjectivity and Development in China's Altai Mountains, 'supervised by Dr. Sydney D. White
MICHAEL L. ZUKOSKY, then a student at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in May 2004 to aid research on 'Transforming Environmentality: Subjectivity and Development in China's Altai Mountains,' supervised by Dr. Sydney D. White. This research project, through participant observation with Kazakh pastoralists and the collection of various official and expert narratives of grassland science and pastoral development, demonstrated the way that a local political context transformed the efforts of grassland science experts to create viable political subjects. This knowledge did not always contribute to the state's vision of social order, as internally its own incongruities complicated its efforts and as experts interacted with other actors and the improvised political needs of the moment demanded other kinds of solutions. As a point of contrast, this knowledge was successful in creating subjects of 'settlement,' as it linked groups of actors and resources together, but the outcomes differed significantly from what experts had imagined, as pastoralists used 'settlement' in their own ways.
Solomon, Daniel Allen, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Coexistence and Conflict: Associative Techniques of Humans and Rhesus Macaques in Northern India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Friend Harding
DANIEL A. SOLOMON, then a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received a grant in October 2008 to aid research on 'Coexistence and Conflict: Associative Techniques of Humans and Rhesus Macaques in Northern India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Harding. This research focused on the often problematic relationships between humans and rhesus macaques in and around 'monkey temples' in Delhi and Shimla, India. The project had two focuses: first, the ways in which humans and rhesus monkeys associated with one another in everyday contexts; and second, how monkeys were talked about in media and political narratives about problems like monkey attacks and crop destruction. Urban macaques make their livings on handouts from devotees of the monkey-like god Hanuman and on the edible refuse left behind by dense urban crowds and patchy waste-handling infrastructure. So as monkey management programs have begun to take off in earnest, questions around waste management and the distribution of public resources have been highlighted. Debates about what to do with problematic monkeys have often taken the form of a critique of Indian modernization and government competence in general, but these debates have also provided spaces for re-evaluating governmental and religious protections afforded to animals vis-à-vis the travails of underserved classes of people. These particular issues offer urban Indians spaces for experimenting with different techniques for mitigating the most adverse effects of coexistence between social species, and for re-imagining the ethics of social protections and resource distribution.
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.
Huang, Yu, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Cultivating 'Science-Savvy' Citizens: Empowerment and Risk in Shrimp Aquaculture Development in China,' supervised by Dr. Ann Anagnost
YU HUANG, then a student at University of Washington, Seattle Washington, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Cultivating 'Science-Savvy' Citizens: Empowerment and Risk in Shrimp Aquaculture Development in China,' supervised by Dr. Ann Anagnost. This research seeks to investigate how, in the context of China's economic reforms, aquaculture has become a site where the state engineers new forms of citizenship to fit the demands of the global economy, and how new forms of subjectivity around empowerment and risk emerge in tension with state projects. While slogans of 'scientific aquaculture' hailed farmers' pursuit of unprecedented high-yields in the 1990s, recently, the focus of science extension has shifted to the promotion of 'healthy aquaculture.' This research traces how scientific aquaculture was produced 'in action' as a result of friction between the state's neoliberal policies, scientists' social aspirations, and farmers' conceptualization of risks. Research sites include stationary sites such as a village dominated by small family farms and a large state-owned collective farm, as well as mobile sites such as science extension activities including fish veterinary training workshops and food safety inspection trips. In addition, the researcher rented a shrimp farm to conduct experimental shrimp farming. Evidence from this project will not only help facilitate more conversations between fishery managers and shrimp farmers, but it will collaborate with both experts and lay people to speculate on the possibilities of new forms of agency in a globalized economy.