Lynch, Jane Elizabeth, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Fashioning Value: Materiality, Cloth, and Political Economy in India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane
JANE E. LYNCH, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Fashioning Value: Materiality, Cloth, and Political Economy in India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane. This research examined the consequences and prospects of economic liberalization in contemporary India through a study of the handloom textile industry. Given its historical depth and institutional diversity -- ranging from cooperative societies and government corporations to private companies and self-help groups -- this industry and its politics offer unique perspectives on India's transition from state-led economic development to market liberalization. By focusing on the workings and institutional frictions of the commodity networks for cloth woven in the central Indian town of Chanderi, this study examined the social geographies, moral claims about production and consumption, and locally mediated conceptions of ownership and community that are navigated and produced in the commoditization of cloth. Ethnographic research undertaken in Chanderi as well as in the cities of Indore and Delhi, revealed a key effect of liberalization on this industry has been the heightened competition over intellectual property and rights to production, for example, in terms of branding. Extended fieldwork and document-based research showed that practices of branding are being defined not only in terms of consumer sentiment, but also through the efforts of institutions, collectivities, and individuals to delineated -- on moral grounds -- the ways in which cloth can be manufactured, valued, and owned.
Heimsath, Kabir Mansingh, Oxford U., Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Lhasa Contemporary: Urban Spaces and Tibetan Practices,' supervised by Dr. Marcus Banks
KABIR MANSINGH HEIMSATH, then a student at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Lhasa Contemporary: Urban Spaces and Tibetan Practices,' supervised by Dr. Marcus Banks. The tangible modernization of Lhasa, Tibet, has accelerated dramatically in the past decade. This research attempts to use the theoretical construction of space as a method for understanding Tibetan lives in a continually shifting urban landscape. Building on previous experiences residing and working in Lhasa, this fieldwork focused on people's interaction with the material and visual environment of the city. The project attempts to bring together ethnographic research methods with more geographic and architectural concerns of space, buildings, and the city. Fieldwork time was divided between different areas of the city as well as different modes of work, leisure, commerce, and home; while research questions focused on the inter-dependence of material, lived, and representative spaces in the city as they relate to the lives of individual Tibetans. The growing diversification of economies, homes, and professions leads to multifarious spaces in Lhasa, but this project also seeks to discover whether it is possible to discuss the city itself as a coherent place/space. Unexpected riots and crackdowns during fieldwork both complicate and emphasize the peculiar nature of urban topography and its significance for Tibetans today.
Cho, Sumi, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Multiculturalism, Okinawan Popular Culture and the Politics of Ethnicity in Osaka, Japan,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer E. Robertson
SUMI CHO, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Multiculturalism, Okinawan Popular Culture, and the Politics of Ethnicity in Osaka, Japan,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer E. Robertson. The project explored how the recent Okinawa Boom and multiculturalist trend influenced the practices of Okinawan popular music and dance in mainland Japan. For decades, Okinawan music and dance were shunned in Osaka, performed only by Okinawans, and only in private to avoid ethnic stigmatization (except for a few instances of cultural resistance against the dominant ideology of Japanese ethnic and cultural homogeneity). Now Okinawan music and dance genres are becoming increasingly an object of cultural appropriation by Japanese -- to watch, listen to, learn, and perform themselves. While such popularity among Japanese is publicly regarded as a welcome sign of recognition of Okinawan culture, some perceive Japanese appropriation of Okinawan music and dance as another form of Japan's cultural domination -- a threat to the authenticity of Okinawan music and dance, and to authenticity of Okinawan identity itself. However, the divisions between seemingly opposite aspects of Okinawan popular culture are neither clear-cut in practice, nor do they necessarily follow the ethnic lines between participants. As individuals with diverse interests intermingled through Okinawan dance and music performances, they created complex consequences to notions and practices of Okinawan music and dance, and by extension, to attitudes towards the politics of ethnicity in Japan.
Starkweather, Katherine Elizabeth, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO - To aid research on 'Merchant Mothers and Fisherman Fathers: Subsistence Work and Parental Investment among the Boat-dwelling Shodhagor,' supervised by Dr. Mark K. Shenk
Preliminary abstract: The nomadic Shodhagor live on small wooden boats, migrating through the rivers of rural Bangladesh while fishing and trading with the settled agricultural populations surrounding them. While they have much in common with other small-scale nomadic populations, they are highly unusual in the degree of variability in women's subsistence and parenting practices. In fact, women's strategies appear to vary more than men's, a pattern that has not been documented previously in groups of their size (i.e. Marlowe 2007; Hames 1988; Hewlett 1992; Winking et al 2011). This project will document and explain the variation in Shodhagor men's and women's subsistence and parenting practices by collecting detailed data using a mixed methods approach. Specifically, the project investigate how and why subsistence and parenting vary among the Shodhagor, as well as the outcomes of this variation. This research will make important contributions to optimal foraging theory and parental investment theory, and will contribute to the broader anthropological literature on small-scale, nomadic societies, subsistence, parenting, and South Asia.
Milne, Dr. Sarah, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research and writing on 'Saving Nature? The Politics and Practice of Internatinal Conservation in Cambodia' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: This project examines contemporary global efforts to 'save nature', as seen in the ideas and practices of big conservation organisations. It is important to study these organisations through a critical anthropological lens, because they now have significant influence over how natural resources are managed globally, and an ability to shape fundamentally the relationships between people and nature across the planet. Often their actions take place in tropical developing countries, where biodiversity is most abundant and threatened, and where human needs compete with the demands of conservation projects. The result is a complex, transnational and highly political realm of work; about which little in known. In addition, as environmental problems escalate, many conservation groups are increasingly turning to 'the market' as a tool for saving nature: this neoliberal strategy, with the potential to commodify nature, has unknown effects in practice. My research sheds light upon the nexus of all these issues. I conducted a ten-year study of a major US-based conservation group (2002-2012) and its attempts to implement a market-based conservation project in the remote Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia. Through a multi-sited 'insider ethnography', I reveal how policy ideas were created and implemented across scales; and how unintended consequences emerged when these 'global' ideas were transformed by the local Cambodian context, often in dangerous or damaging ways. Observing project dynamics closely, I saw the conservation organisation's inability/unwillingness to address the gaps between theory and practice. Rather, it focused on the image of success only; highlighting the grave consequences of 'corporate conservation' for people and nature.
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.
Thomson, William Brian, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Harmony under Construction: The Work of Building the Chinese Century,' supervised by Dr. Angela Zito
WILLIAM B. THOMSON, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Harmony under Construction: The Work of Building the Chinese Century,' supervised by Dr. Angela Zito. This research investigated how migrant construction workers in Xian, China, relate to the growing city that is being built through their labor. It explored how these workers negotiate the spatial and social gap between China's countryside and its cities, how their rural identities shape their prospects for work and life. This project documented how social, legal, and economic restrictions make it impossible for them to settle permanently in the cities, while at the same time foreclose the possibility of returning to farm work in the countryside. Some of the principal findings and directions that to be explored in the resulting dissertation include the masculine gender projects that motivate their sojourns in the cities, especially of material and social preparations for marriage, which include building or buying a house. The grantee is especially interested in how these attitudes are changed as younger generations spend more time in city environments and begin to cultivate different urban desires and urban pleasures than their parents' generation, and has focused research around the structure of the relationship between those who design and those who build the cities. The architectural industry relies on these very distinct and separate roles, and this research contends that understanding that relationship is a window into the way that new class divides are being structured in China along multiple axes of education, urban/rural identity and profession.
Osburg, John, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Engendering Wealth: China's New Rich and the Creation of an Elite Masculinity, 'supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
JOHN OSBURG, while a student at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in June 2004 to aid in research on changing ideologies of masculinity in urban China under the supervision of Dr. Susan Gal. This project investigated the consumption and leisure practices of newly rich male entrepreneurs in China, practices which are embedded in an emerging ideology of elite masculinity. The study was conducted in Chengdu, China among several intersecting networks of wealthy entrepreneurs. In addition to observation of this group's leisure and consumption practices, detailed interviews with a select group of informants were conducted focusing on transformations in their personal lives and relationships. While wealthy, male entrepreneurs were the main focus, research subjects included many who occupied marginal positions in the world of Chinese business, including female entrepreneurs and members of the criminal underworld. The study found that many features of subjects' lifestyles-their social networks, consumption practices, leisure activities, and sexualities-were deeply intertwined with and to some extent a product of their business rel