Kortright, Christopher Michael, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Experimental Fields and Biotech Futures: The Politics and Histories of Scientific Rice Research,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit
CHRISTOPHER M. KORTRIGHT, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Experimental Fields and Biotech Futures: The Politics and Histories of Scientific Rice Research,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit. Through ethnographic fieldwork at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), this research focuses on how scientific research on rice has been motivated by scientists' assumptions about population growth and consumption, and how these motivations have changed with the advent of genetically modified (GM) rice. This research illustrates the ways in which experimental practices are shaped by scientists' 'visions of the future'-specifically overpopulation and agricultural underproduction. These future visions are historically located within the political economy and agricultural science. This research is a product of the archival collection of oral histories and scientific papers of researchers working on rice research and the production of 'new plant types' at IRRI. Alongside these oral histories, research focused on the study of one specific GM rice project called C4 Rice. The ethnographic research on the C4 Rice Project was conducted both in the laboratory and the experimental fields at IRRI while two large-scale experiments were under way, and the ethnographer accompanied C4 Rice researchers to scientific conferences, funding meetings, and presentations introducing GM science to the general public. Tracing out this specific scientific network of GM rice researchers, this project sheds light on an international science collaboration as it is manifested and articulated at a historically and politically controversial research locality. This research adds to the anthropological literatures on agriculture, science, political economy and futures. Alongside these contributions to the anthropological literature, this research opens up larger discourses on food and food security, specifically in the domain of genetically modified crops.
Kortright, Chris. 2013. On Labor and Creative Transformations in the Experimental Fields of the Philippines. East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 7(4):557-578.
Park, Choong-Hwan, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Serving Peasant Family Meals to Beijing Urbanites: The City and the Country in Post-Mao China,' supervised by Dr. Mayfair Yang
CHOONG-HWAN PARK, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, received funding in December 2005 to aid research on 'Serving Peasant Family Meals to Beijing Urbanites: The City and the Country in Post-Mao China,' supervised by Dr. Mayfair Yang. Over the last two decades China has witnessed a unique form of countryside tourism called nongjiale (peasant family delights) in which Chinese urban middle-classes travel down to rural villages and consume rustic meals in farm guesthouses run by peasant families. This dissertation fieldwork explored: 1) what socio-economic implications nongjiale tourism has for China's rural village life and development; 2) how and in what politico-economic and cultural conditions nongjiale has become a locus of authenticity and nostalgia in the imagination of Chinese urban middle-classes; and 3) the broader social-historical context of post-Mao China in which nongjiale has become a socially meaningful and economically lucrative tourism commodity. The research finding is that nongjiale is not simply a symptom of 'the tourist gaze' looking for authenticity and escape from urban drudgeries but also a crucial marker of the emergence of a new cultural-political regime in post Mao China, a regime that can be conceptualized in terms of the contrast between Maoist China's emphasis on production and asceticism and post-Mao China's promotion of consumption and hedonism. This post-Mao regime of 'leisure and pleasure' not only informs the desire and fantasy of the Chinese people today but also shapes the discursive formation of rural-urban fault-lines and identities central to forging the cultural hierarchy and power structure in post-Mao China.
Kunen, Dr. Julie L., Northern Arizona U., Flagstaff, AZ - To aid research on 'Ritual Technology and Resource Management in Tropical States'
DR. JULIE L. KUNEN, of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, received funding in November 2002 to aid research on ritual technology and resource management in tropical states. Kunen conducted six months of research in the anthropological literature on this topic, studying ancestor veneration and land and water management practices among the early states of Southeast Asia and comparing them with similar practices in the Maya lowlands. She identified a widespread pattern in mainland Southeast Asia in which a dual practice of ancestor veneration and spirit cult worship combined to give village groups claims to particular territories. In certain places, this practice was manifested in stelae and shrines similar to Maya ones. As a result, Kunen proposed to further study Maya ritual practices from a perspective informed by this cross-cultural research. Among the topics she planned to investigate was the possibility that Maya stelae were cadastral-that is, that they denoted ownership of valuable natural resources or marked boundary lines on the landscape. In addition, she intended to pursue collaborative research with the Greater Angkor Project in Cambodia on ritual and water management in early Khmer villages.
Pham, Yamoi, Binghamton U., Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'The Value of Spit: The Natural and Social Life of Edible Birds' Nests,' supervised by Dr. Shelley Feldman
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the social life of edible swiftlet nests in their transformation from a centuries-old foraged commodity into a high-tech product of avicultural mass production. Originating as a tributary gift to Chinese emperors from Southeast Asia, the nests remain a highly praised commodity across the Chinese-speaking world. In the late 1990s, a new industry based on the semi-domestication of the swiftlets and the construction of special birdhouses has thrived to satisfy the appetite of China's burgeoning middle class. Through conducting a year-long ethnographic study of swiftlet farming in Malaysia, I trace the commodity career of the nests as entangled in the Southeast Asian socio-ecological environment, overseas Chinese trading networks, and Chinese medicinal beliefs about exotic ingredients. I am curious about a) the role of modern sciences, technology and practical forms of knowledge in this process of taming nature in production, b) how the new swiftlet farming industry reshapes the existing social-economic relations of trade and circulation and c) how traditional practices of consumption are sustained and transformed through commercialization. By examining the process of the diverse agents/actants who create, circulate and consume value through swiftlet nests, I ultimately hope to engage the anthropological theory of value to understand the socio-ecologically constituted process of valuation and the complexity of sources and forms of value.
Ramachandran, Vibhuti, New York U., New York, NY, - To aid research on 'Producing 'Trafficked' Victims: Protection and Prosecution in Neoliberal India,' supervised by Dr. Sally Engle Merry
VIBHUTI RAMACHANDRAN, then a graduate student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Producing 'Trafficked' Victims: Protection and Prosecution in Neoliberal India,' supervised by Dr. Sally E. Merry. This project explored how global humanitarian agendas shape the Indian legal system's current responses to prostitution, and how women rescued from brothels (some of whom are trafficked) experience anti-trafficking interventions. Framed by policy concerns in the global North, anti-trafficking interventions focus on rescuing women from brothels, placing them in protective custody, and prosecuting traffickers. With the US actively seeking to strengthen responses to sex trafficking in the global South, donor agencies are funding NGOs to improve the rate at which traffickers are convicted. This project studied how NGOs and global donors are increasingly involved in trying to 'fix' the legal system in postcolonial India by foregrounding the figure of the vulnerable victim. Law (as legislation, law enforcement, criminal justice, and state protective custody) was a central theme structuring this study of how the issue of sex trafficking is being constructed and addressed in India. Courts and shelters were key sites where women's complex lives collided with the ways they were 'managed.' The grantee found that the perceived unpredictability of rescued women's statements in court, assumptions about their unreliability as witnesses, and suspicions about their capacity or willingness to tell the 'truth,' further complicate the vulnerable victim figure upon which anti-trafficking interventions are predicated.
Deomampo, Daisy Faye, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'The New Global 'Division of Labor': Reproductive Tourism in Mumbai, India,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings
DAISY FAYE DEOMAMPO, then a student at the City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'The New Global 'Division of Labor': Reproductive Tourism in Mumbai, India,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings. This research examines the social, cultural, and policy implications of 'reproductive tourism,' briefly defined as the movement of people across national borders for assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). In recent years, India has emerged as a global 'hub' for this kind of medical travel, in part because of lower costs but also due to minimal regulatory frameworks for the provision of ARTs. This research considers medical travel for reproductive health care as a critical case study for understanding the procreative process in transnational contexts, as human reproduction increasingly involves collaborating actors in the lab, clinic, travel agency, and courtroom. At the same time, grounded in Mumbai, this project provides an important opportunity to examine how policy and legislation relate to the increasing numbers of couples -- from the United States and around the world -- traveling to India for ARTs. By studying 'on-the-ground' the diverse motivations and experiences of key actors involved in reproductive tourism, research findings reveal how the practice of transnational surrogacy both challenges and reinforces notions of kinship, family and parenthood in both Indian and Western contexts. In so doing, it offers an important empirical contribution to our understanding of assisted reproduction law and policy from a social science perspective.
McCabe, Carl Wesley, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Informal Institutions and Cooperative Behavior: Motivations for Prosociality by Marketplace Vendors in Beijing, China,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Paul Winterhalder
CARL WESLEY MCCABE, then a student at the University of California, Davis, California, to aid research on 'Informal Institutions and Cooperative Behavior: Motivations for Prosociality by Marketplace Vendors in Beijing, China,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Winterhalder. The grantee conducted nearly a year of ethnographic fieldwork in an open-air marketplace in Beijing, China. During this period, research followed the activities of many of the market's vendors from the time the market opened in the morning until it closed in the evening. Beyond that, the project followed vendors as they conducted many other activities in their daily lives, including leisure and business-related activities. The grantee was able to collect several forms of datasets on individuals in the market, from market-wide surveys, to interviews focused on subsets of the market, to a suite of experimental games. The data collected will contribute to the grantee's investigation of prosocial behavior and models of salient economic, evolutionary biological, and cultural influences.
Bauer, Kenneth M., Oxford U., Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Land Use Change and Socio-Economic Transformations among Nomads in Porong, Central Tibet,' supervised by Dr. Laura M. Rival
KENNETH M. BAUER, then a student at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in September 2003 to aid research on 'Land Use Change and Socio-Economic Transformations among Nomads in Porong, Central Tibet,' supervised by Dr. Laura M. Rival. This field research investigated land use change and the impacts of government development policies among Tibetan pastoralists during the second half of the twentieth century. This work describes and analyzes the rhetoric and implementation of development policies by the Chinese government in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). This history of land use dynamics, socio-economic change, and policy phases, is grounded in a case study of Porong Township (Nyelam County, Shigatse Prefecture, TAR, PRC). The grantee gathered several kinds of evidence, which will be interpreted using a multi-disciplinary approach. Support enabled the grantee to collect and translate historical texts describing land use and to interview pastoralists, government agents, and NGO workers, as well as work with local pastoralists to map historical and contemporary pasture boundaries.
Naidu, Prashanthan, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Placing Smell: Sensing Hydrocarbon Encroachment on the Timorese Coast,' supervised by Dr. Stuart Kirsch
Preliminary abstract: How can the constitution of place be better understood through a more carefully honed attention to the sense of smell? This project investigates the relationship between the sense of smell and perceptions of place among the Mambai of East Timor, especially in relation to recent land expropriation. Since 2009, the East Timorese state and the hydrocarbon industry have encroached upon Mambai land for oil and gas extraction. The industry justifies its territorial expansion into Mambai land through the use of visually oriented technologies such as maps, property documents, and geographic information systems (GIS), that render perceptible the intangible profits available to the industry. Extractive activities also pollute the atmosphere and environment, thereby disrupting Mambai peoples' sense of place, which is primarily conceived through smell. Through eighteen months of ethnographic research in Betano district, I explore the significance of olfaction in Mambai perception of place. In my research I examine how olfactory pollution alters the local smellscape for the Mambai, and affects subsistence activities, and the way they relate to their territory. Through a triangulation of methods that include smell diaries, participant observation, and shadowing industry personnel, I will assess how the use of senses informs the ways that Mambai and the industry conceive of place. This project thus contributes to an anthropology of the senses by showing how places are imagined, lived, and contested.