Buswala, Bhawani, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Untouchable Butchers: Caste, Gender, and Occupation in India,' supervised by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti
BHAWANI BUSWALA, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Untouchable Butchers: Caste, Gender, and Occupation in India,' supervised by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti. The social life of caste in contemporary India creates precarious conditions for the 'untouchables' to carry out their everyday lives. They continue to negotiate different caste practices, varying from daily subtle discriminations to extreme forms of physical violence. Focusing on a butcher caste in north India, this dissertation project examines how a low caste negotiates its untouchable status through everyday practices. A caste's relation with its conventional occupation in a changing politico-economic context is analyzed through different symbolic and material values attached to the occupation, contests around these values, and practical implications of these on daily conduct and community relations. Changing occupational possibilities for the women of this caste are examined for their role in status negotiations. Inter-caste relations with reference to similar ranking lower status castes are also examined to understand the collaborating and competing conditions that shape the local socio-political relations. Taking untouchable occupation as a site for caste and gender formations, and based on ethnographic data collected through participant observations and informal interviews, this project studies how everyday struggles by the untouchables create possibilities for resisting caste marginality, the forms and the limits of these struggles, and how they may relate to broader political actions.
Wind, Steven, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'A Reconsideration of Child Labor in the Contexts of Household Economics and Community Norms,' supervised by Dr. Mark A. Nichter
STEVEN WIND, while a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'A Reconsideration of Child Labor in the Contexts of Household Economics and Community Norms,' supervised by Dr. Mark A. Nichter. The research examined household and community perspectives on child labor in Mysore, India. A sample of households having working children was visited over a one-year period and interviewed on a range of subjects including children's work, health, education, risk, and community problems. Although in some cases children's economic contributions were found to be vital to household survival, the reasons for children's initiation into paid labor often transcended mere economic rationalism with complex roots in community social problems, government policies, and local cultural values. Parents' narratives of why their children had begun working commonly included accounts of poor quality primary education, corporal punishment in classrooms, extended periods of cutting classes, the bad influence of anti-social peers, and the serious illness or death of a breadwinner. Parents and working boys saw risk as inherent in many kinds of work and gave more importance to whether an occupation offered a good future. In the case of girls, cultural moral prescriptions continue to motivate some parents to withdraw their daughters from school at menarche and limit them to work that is done in or near the home, ends at a reasonable hour, and has a safe moral environment. Parents, NODs, and government servants charged with eradicating child labor were in general agreement regarding children's right to attend school rather than work. However, many poor parents were against the government's strong eradication approach unless the families of working children are provided economic aid and other programs to help them survive without their children's income.
Sargent, Adam Carl, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Building Capitalism: The Cultural Politics of Construction in North India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
ADAM C. SARGENT, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Building Capitalism: The Cultural Politics of Construction in North India,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal. Research was conducted for seven months on a residential condominium construction project in Gurgaon, India. The construction industry is held out, by industry organizations, as having the potential to not only develop the necessary infrastructure for India but also to bring a largely rural workforce into modern forms of capitalist employment. That this has not happened is often blamed on an incomplete process of modernization. The persistence of recruitment along kinship, caste and village networks is pointed to as evidence of this failure to modernize. Close observation of work practices and interactions between managers and workers on the site produced a more nuanced approach. Rather than posing a barrier to developing modern workers, kinship and village networks were mobilized to provide the necessary social structure to support modes of flexible employment. Thus family members were preferred hired because their extra-economic relationships meant that they could be more easily put to work when needed and sent home when work on the site was slow. In this way seemingly 'traditional' forms of work organization were actually supporting what are taken to be 'modern' forms of work organization (piece-rate contracts, etc.).
Luthra, Aman, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Modernity's Garb(age): A Political Ecology of Municipal Solid Waste in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Erica Schoenberger
AMAN LUTHRA, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Modernity's Garb(age): A Political Ecology of Municipal Solid Waste in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Erica Schoenberger. Cities hold a promise of modernity, even as their underbellies (particularly garbage and its management) expose the ideological and material contradictions therein. Using the lens of garbage, this study explores relations within and between classes, the state, and private capital in the process of urbanization in Delhi. This research relies on: a year-long period of field research involving participant observation at an NGO, an association of waste pickers, and at various industry and events; semi-structured interviews and group discussions with a range of informants including waste pickers, activists, academics, government officials, and waste industry representatives; and a survey of households eliciting their attitudes towards waste management practices. Using the concepts of capital, labor, value, and ideology as focal points, this research will expose the underlying interests that produce and maintain certain conceptual binaries-public/private, formal/informal, waste/resource, property/commons-that are fundamental to struggles over waste.
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.
Yuan, Xiao-bo, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Constituting the Three-Self Church: Official Christianity, the State, and Subjectivity in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar
Abstract: XIAO-BO YUAN, while a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Constituting the Three-Self Church: Official Christianity, The State and Subjectivity in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar. The resulting dissertation, 'Reform and Purification: The Politics and Practices of Ethical Cultivation in Chinese Christianities,' examined regimes of moral reformation and purification in Chinese Protestant churches through an ethnographic study of two different types of churches in metropolitan Nanjing: the state-authorized Three-Self Church (sanzi jiaohui) and the unauthorized 'urban underground church' (chengshi dixia jiaohui). These two types of churches have an antagonistic relationship and seemingly opposite orientations to the nation-state: the Three-Self professes to make Christianity Chinese, and the urban underground church movement aims to Christianize China. In tracing how Christians seek to reform their own and others' life-ways, the resulting dissertation explores how ordinary ethical practices produce different political imaginations, how Christianity can and should transform the nation-state, and concurrently analyzes how circulating assumptions about state interventions into religious activity, in the form of surveillance or coercion, shape various possibilities for ethical life. Through a comparative ethnography of above- and underground churches, the research shows how Christian groups are caught in a particular set of tensions with the state, in which vulnerabilities to state interference are unevenly and sometimes unexpectedly distributed.
Shneiderman, Dr. Sara Beth, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Restructuring Life: Citizenship, Territory and Religiosity in Nepal's State of Transition'
Preliminary abstract: How do we imagine the ideal state that we aspire to live in? I address this question in anthropological terms through a multi-sited ethnography of state restructuring in Nepal since 2006. In the wake of a decade-long civil conflict between Maoist and state forces in this erstwhile unitary Himalayan kingdom turned secular democratic federal republic of nearly 30 million, I transpose Victor Turner's long-standing 'invitation to investigators of ritual to focus their attention on the phenomena and processes of mid-transition' (1967: 110) to the political realm. Despite a 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, a new constitution has yet to be promulgated, making 2014 the eighth year of Nepal's 'mid-transition'. I ask: In this temporally protracted liminal state, how do discourses and practices of restructuring articulated at the national and global level work to produce affective experiences of transformation for ordinary citizens in a range of locales outside the political center of Kathmandu? How do these experiences of transformation shape the political consciousness and aspirations of individuals and collectivities? How are such aspirations expressed in discursive and material terms, and what do they tell us about the structural and functional dimensions of the imagined state of the future? Finally, how do such localized imaginaries of ideal state structure intersect with national and transnational visions of order as articulated by both Nepali and international institutional actors? I address these questions through a focus on the domains of citizenship, territory and religiosity as spaces within which imaginaries of the state's functions and structures in transition are revealed in both material and discursive terms.
Michaels, Ben Justin, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Team Tibet: Soccer as the Performance of Human Rights in the Transnational Tibetan Exile Community,' supervised by Dr. Marvin Sterling
BEN J. MICHAELS, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Team Tibet: Soccer as the Performance of Human Rights in the Transnational Tibetan Exile Community,' supervised by Dr. Marvin Sterling. For this phase of research, ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in Dharamsala/Mcleod Ganj, India, which is the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the major hub of Tibetan exile life. 2011 became a historic year for the transnational Tibetan exile community as the Dalai Lama announced his retirement from political life and handed over leadership of the Tibetan Government in Exile to an elected prime minister. This marked the next major step in the materialization of his long-envisioned process of Tibetan democratization and emboldened a new generation of politically active Tibetans to embrace their democratic right to disagree with their leaders. Acknowledging dissent as an essential element of the democratic process, this study examines the social mechanisms by which dissenting opinions are either muted at the local level or propagated and allowed to evolve into transnational social movements able to transcend spatial and political boundaries. At the same time, this research highlights some of the generational gaps in social and political views as young Tibetans, raised and educated in exile, use the emergence of new and globally accessible communicative media to express and circulate new ideas throughout the Tibetan world.
Ikeuchi, Suma, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Brazilian Birth, Japanese Blood, and Transnational God: Identity and Resilience among Pentecostal Brazilians in Japan,' supervised by Dr. Chikako Ozawa-de Silva
Preliminary abstract: This study engages Brazilian migrants in Japan, both Pentecostal and non-religious, and asks the following question: Can religious networks, practices, and commitments promote a more resilient sense of self by resolving the ambiguity of multiple ethnic identities and national belonging? The majority of Brazilians in Japan hold 'long-term resident' visas, which are available only to Japanese emigrants and their second- and third- generation descendants. Although the legal structure regards them as at least partially Japanese based on descent, the Japanese majority typically does not view them as fully or authentically Japanese. This is because the society tends to define national belonging as the complete convergence of Japanese blood, culture, and language. In this context, many are converting to Pentecostal Christianity in Japan. This project focuses on the religious participation of such converts through the conceptual lens of resilience. The ability to resist stress and overcome adversity, or resilience, is a solid construct in psychological and medical anthropology. I will conduct seven months of fieldwork in Toyota City, Japan. The methods will include participant-observation, questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and open interviews. Particular effort will be made to observe and record emic idioms of resilience, on which later data analysis will be based.