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.
Chatterjee, Moyukh, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Legacies of Collective Violence: Survivors, NGOs, and the State in Gujarat, India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft
MOYUKH CHATTERJEE, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Legacies of Collective Violence: Survivors, NGOs, and the State in Gujarat, India,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Knauft. This project examines how mass violence unfolds across legal institutions of state redress and its implications for survivors and human-rights NGOs struggling for justice in India. Despite numerous official commissions of inquiry, human-rights activism, and civil society efforts, mass violence against minorities -- supported by state officials and militant rightwing organizations -- goes largely unpunished in India. By examining the production, circulation, and interpretation of police and legal documents within different state institutions, and victim and NGO efforts to challenge state impunity, this project examines state writing practices and its effects on legal accountability. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in lower courts, legal-aid NGOs, and survivors/complainants of the anti-Muslim violence in 2002, this project outlines how law courts obfuscate individual culpability, invalidate victims' testimony, and render sexual and gendered violence against minorities invisible. The study examines the role of legal and police documents in enabling the state apparatus to regulate what can be officially seen and said about public acts of mass violence involving ruling politicians and state officials, and its implications for survivors, human-rights activists, and NGOs fighting for legal justice.
Sen, Debarati, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on ''From Illegal to Organic': Fair Trade-Organic Tea Production and Women's Political Futures in Darjeeling, India,' supervised by Dr. Dorothy L. Hodgson
DEBARATI SEN, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'From Illegal to Organic: Fair Trade-Organic Tea Production and Women's Political Futures in Darjeeling, India,' supervised by Dr. Dorothy L. Hodgson. This comparative ethnography analyzes the circumstances under which two groups of women in the tea industry in Darjeeling, India, can exercise their autonomy and improve their livelihoods by engaging with the transnational Fair Trade movement. The dissertation addresses a central question: why, in spite of producing the same commodity -- Fair Trade organic tea -- do women tea farmers (independent farmers growing organic tea in their own land) tend to be more politically active than women plantation workers (wage laborers)? Based on intensive ethnographic fieldwork in two distinct communities (women tea farmers and women plantation workers), the research concludes that institutional structures of collective bargaining, existing gender ideologies of work and varying histories of political involvement in previous movements among women determine where they will be more successful in deriving benefits from the Fair Trade movement. This in-depth ethnographic research shows that women tea farmers are more effective in connecting their struggles against economic and cultural domination to the goals of the Fair Trade movement. In contrast, women plantation workers, many of whom were politically active in previous nationalist and labor movements, are relatively incapable of mobilizing the Fair Trade movement to their own benefit.
Maitra, Saikat, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Labouring to Create Magic: New Worker-subjectivity, State and Capital in Kolkata,' supervised by Dr. Kaushik Ghosh
SAIKAT MAITRA, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Laboring to Create Magic: New Worker-Subjectivity, State and Capital in Kolkata,' supervised by Dr. Kaushik Ghosh. The project investigates the formation of a new worker-subjectivity among youth populations employed in upscale retail spaces in Kolkata, India. Under the liberalizing effects of a formerly socialist government in Kolkata and private investments flowing into the organized retail sector of the city, a large number of jobs are being created in this sector. Most of the employees in the lower segments of this sector are from socially under-privileged backgrounds for whom jobs in such spaces offer them the thrills of participating in a global lifestyle of high-end consumption, otherwise unavailable to them. However, with the reluctance of the state to intervene in the protection of labor rights in private retail institutions, these young workers have to negotiate with increasingly precarious work environments demanding constant flexibility, pressures to maintain sales targets and the ever-present threat of job loss. The dissertation fieldwork focuses on the ways in which the subjectivity of these workers are being molded through negotiations between the institutional forces of the state and corporate capital trying to produce malleable and self-regulated workers and the employees' subjective desires for class mobility and better ways of inhabiting the urban space.
Hsieh, Jennifer Chia-Lynn, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Sound and Noise in the City: Public Sensibilities and Technocratic Translation in Taipei's Aural Cityscape,' supervised by Dr. Miyako Inoue
Preliminary abstract: For the last 30 years, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency has implemented noise control standards in efforts to reduce the noise level on the island. While their efforts have succeeded in lowering the decibel levels around the island, citizens perceive Taiwan as noisier than ever. This paradox illustrates that sound in the form of noise is a contentious topic and reflects political claims about one's self-identification as a modern, Taiwanese subject. I focus on the problem of noise in Taipei as a uniquely urban discourse. Through city efforts toward urban re-development and the influx of new migrants from rural Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Taipei is fast becoming an even more densely-populated, diverse space for a number of urban subjects. I argue that the governance of noise creates a new paradigm in the delineation of urban space that restructures the urban experience through ways of hearing. By situating an ethnographic project within both government agencies and individual communities in Taipei, I draw attention to the imbricate nature between the technocratic system that produces a set of noise control standards and the everyday practices of individuals who either react, circumvent, perpetuate, or manipulate such standards toward their own diverse set of interests.
Coelho, Dr. Karen, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid 'Of Engineers, Rationalities, and Rule: An Ethnography of Neoliberal Reform in an Urban Water Utility' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. KAREN COELHO, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in June 2005, to aid research and writing on 'Of Engineers, Rationalities, and Rule: An Ethnography of Neoliberal Reform in an Urban Water Utility.' During the fellowship year, the grantee produced two articles of very different character and style, and for very different audiences. One article was an analysis of the national trends in water sector reforms based on a case study of Chennai's water utility. A second published article explored collective, contentious and transgressive practices of urban citizenship as articulated in claims to water in the city of Chennai. The grantee was able to complete seven of eight chapters for a book manuscript and prospectus that will be sent to various publishing houses.
Coelho, Karen. 2005. The Political Economy of Public Sector Water Utilities Reform. Infochange Agenda, Issue 3. Center for Communication and Development Studies: Chennai.
Coelho, Karen. 2006. Tapping In: Leaky Sovereignties and Engineered Dis(order) in an Urban Water System. SARAI Reader 06. Center for the Study of Developing Societies: New Delhi.
Zhao, Jianhua, U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'Fashioning Change: The Political Economy of Clothing in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Nicole Constable
JIANHUA ZHAO, then a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Fashioning Change: The Political Economy of Clothing in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Nicole Constable. This project combined interpretive anthropology and political economy to examine the changes in Chinese clothing fashions and their social and cultural meanings, and the influence of local and global processes on China's clothing and apparel industry since the post-Mao economic reforms began in 1978. During the field research, the researcher gathered historical data in order to show the changes in clothing fashions and China's textile and apparel industries. By working with fashion professionals, including designers, executives, and journalists, the researcher also collected ethnographic data to illustrate the relationship between clothing and the state in China, to explicate how the Chinese clothing system works as a cultural system, and to elucidate the interconnectedness between the global and local processes in the production and consumption of clothing and fashion. This study contributes to an ethnographic understanding of clothing, to the study of the social and cultural impact of the economic reforms in post-Mao China, to the wider study of post-socialist societies in which the reconfiguration of the state and society articulates in the production and consumption of fashion and clothing, and to the anthropological critiques of 'globalization' as a simple and unidirectional economic process of 'westernization,' cultural imperialism, or cultural homogenization.
Solomon, Harris Scott, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Diagnosing India: Food, the Body, and the Healthy Economy in Mumbai,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Lutz
HARRIS S. SOLOMON, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Diagnosing India: Food, the Body, and the Healthy Economy in Mumbai,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Lutz. This study examines the rise of obesity in urban India to understand the lived experiences of simultaneous scarcity and excess. In Mumbai, public health officials estimate that one third of the population is overweight. Debates about obesity traffic in concepts like 'globesity' and 'affluenza,' contemporary genetic logics, and critiques of middle-class consumerism. Although obesity symbolizes a national threat, it also creates a tension between consumptive capability and the national promise of urban, middle-class modernity. Fieldwork tracked this tension across multiple sites, and observed food preparation and consumption in a seaside fishing neighborhood, and the medicalization of these practices at a metabolic disorders clinic. The grantee explored the commercialization of eating and dieting at street food stalls, and the regulation of nutrition by government officials. Findings detail two broad developments. First, the home kitchen has become a laboratory for the prevention of weight gain and for the commodification of food rituals. Second, a fluid language of biomedical standards now structures expressions of aesthetics and desire linked to food, effectively blurring moral, medical, and consumer choices. In this context, consumerism works as both the germ and the antidote for urban modernity's ill effects that materialize in aggregate as obesity.
Mojaddedi, Fatima, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The War Bubble: Kabul's Shifting Warscape and Afghan-American Community,' supervised by Dr. Rosalind Carmel Morris
FATIMA MOJADDEDI, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'The War Bubble: Kabul's Shifting Warscape and Afghan-American Community, ' supervised by Dr. Rosalind C. Morris. This dissertation is based on multi-site ethnographic fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Kabul, Afghanistan. The research situates socio-cultural and economic transformations in Kabul within a trans-national framework that takes as its starting point the assertion that culture and economy are the primary mediums of warfare. The grantee examines the socio-cultural ramifications of the current war and Afghanistan's integration into an international war economy that demands a commodification of land, language, and culture alongside a devastating counterinsurgency, illustrating how an international web of social and economic relations shape both the city of Kabul and its massive green zone. Moreover, the dissertation illustrates a crucial transition from an urban economy of war to one of shared fantasies based on a future mining industry. This is inextricable from how the future is being re-imagined among both Afghans and Afghan-Americans as the notion of invisible treasure is fantasized as existing underground, shifting the site of surplus value from a tumultuous green zone economy and speculative real estate market to its new subterranean home, buttressing the belief that peace can only occur alongside an extractive industry and illustrating the crucial link between new forms of war profiteering and older logics of imperial violence.