Bakker, Sarah Aaltje, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. Melissa L. Caldwell
SARAH AALTJE BAKKER, then a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received a grant in May 2009, to aid research on 'Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. Melissa L. Caldwell. This dissertation research examines debates among Syriac Orthodox Christians living in the Netherlands about how to be religiously, culturally, and ethnically distinct despite the narrative binary of Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East that dominates the secular discourse of Dutch multiculturalism. This ethnographically based project focuses on Dutch-Syriac efforts to cultivate a distinct moral identity that encompasses both their religious commitment to an ancient, sacred past -- as well as their political aspirations to achieve recognition as an indigenous ethnic group in the Middle East -- through international diasporic activism. This identity is crafted and contested through the practice of liturgical song (the focal point of Syriac religious observance and cultural performance), and then deployed via political advocacy and activism in a broader global field. In this study, musical expression and moral identity emerge as distinct yet entangled threads from Syriac Orthodox Christian engagements with the Dutch multiculturalism debates and with international geopolitical conversations about secularism, political identity, and religious identity. Even as they negotiate persistent marginalization and misrecognition, Middle Eastern Christians unsettle the racial and religious categories undergirding the popular narrative of Judeo-Christian secular Europe, defining new conceptions of religious difference within a plural Europe.
Van Deusen Phillips, Sarah B., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Cultural Bodies: Language, Enactment and Performance of Value in Linguistically Isolated Deaf Children,' supervised by Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow
SARAH B. VAN DEUSEN PHILLIPS, while a student at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in December 2001 to aid research on language, enactment, and performance of value in linguistically isolated deaf children, under the supervision of Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow. It is widely accepted that engagement in narrative activities plays a key role in the socialization and maintenance of beliefs, values, and morality from one generation to the next. Therefore, telling stories is an important means by which children enter local meaning systems and encounter local versions of personhood. But an unspoken assumption in language socialization research is that children must share a language with their community in order to engage in and benefit from the socializing influence of narrative. Phillips's research represented one side of a comparative study focusing on populations of orally educated deaf children of hearing parents in the United States and Spain. Five Spanish deaf children, ages two to four years, and their families were the focus of ten months of interaction and observation using both ethnographic and experimental research methods. Phillips explore the ways in which these children learned to construct their contributions to local narrative discourse despite sharing no language in common with the hearing members of their communities. These profoundly deaf children had not been exposed to conventional sign language and instead communicated with the hearing members of their families using home sign, an idiosyncratic system of regularly ordered spontaneous gestures.
Lofink, Hayley Elizabeth, U. of Oxford, Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity in British Bangladeshi Adolescents, in East London,' supervised by Dr. Stanley J. Ulijaszek
HAYLEY ELIZABETH LOFINK, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity in British Bangladeshi Adolescents in East London,' supervised by Dr. Stanley J. Ulijaszek. Research on the health behavior of low-income, ethnic minorities has assumed that the poor are uneducated, and that if delivered the necessary knowledge, behavior will change. If poor nutrition and low levels of activity are attributed solely to individual-level decision making, it is unlikely that broader social and structural influences will be acknowledged. This research employed a biocultural framework to examine socio-cultural and political-economic factors influencing dietary and activity patterns and resulting underweight, overweight and obesity among British Bangladeshi adolescents (aged 11-14 years old) from low-income families in East London. Quantitative (anthropometry and survey data) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews and participant observation) methods were integrated to develop a nuanced understanding of adolescent weight, dietary and activity patterns, and the local level and larger scale processes influencing those patterns. Quantitative analysis will include multinomial logistic regression and other techniques to test the relative importance of a range of factors affecting weight status. Narrative analysis will be used to explain statistical results in order to move beyond a mere documentation of a relationship between poverty and obesity, and offer explanations of how local and broader level factors influence health inequalities in this context.
Cherkaev, Xenia Andrej, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'I Don't Know Why, but that One Wants Me: The Saturation of Use and the Agency of Things in Russia,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli
XENIA A. CHERKAEV, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'I Don't Know Why, but that One Wants Me: The Saturation of Use and the Agency of Things in Russia,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli. In 2011, Putin warned that the American-funded political opposition would falsify the election results' falsification, and might kill someone off, to blame the government. Attempting to write a history of this present, where universal corruption accusations blend easily into conspiracy theory, this project examines changing regimes of circulation, and the correlating changes in regimes of truth. It begins in late-Soviet Leningrad, asking how people made and obtained everyday things by using their positions in the centralized distribution system, their access to surplus material hoarded by enterprises, and the reified norms of State institutions - and how State Secrecy, permeating everyday life as another monolithic norm, guaranteed a truth, just out of reach: 'It irritated! There were certain things some idiot didn't want me to know!' It then asks how regimes of both truth and circulation changed with the post-Soviet transition, in which the sudden disclosure of previously unavailable materials correlated with widespread political discussion, extrasensory and religious activity, sharp commodity deficit, and new economic policies, which allowed people to make cash on State surplus and informal deals that 'took the country apart by the screws … swiped everything from precious metals to Arab horses... fantastic times!'
Murney, Maureen A., U. of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid 'Navigating Motherhood and Medicine: A Case Study of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Ukraine,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek
MAUREEN MURNEY, while a student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, received funding in September 2004 to aid research on the intersection of addiction, stigma, reproduction and healthcare in western Ukraine, while under the supervision of Dr. Michael Lambek. Specifically, Murney's research explores the relationship between discourses of normative behaviour, health-seeking practices within and outside official healthcare institutions, and the daily lived experiences of Ukrainian women who are addicted to alcohol, especially women of reproductive age. The project is based upon twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Ukraine with healthcare providers, development staff, social scientists, and women and men who self-identify as alcoholics; fieldwork began just prior to the Orange Revolution in 2004. Most of the research was conducted in large urban settings, though some attention was paid to the particular challenges faced by people living in rural villages. Fieldwork indicates that in western Ukraine, the traditional seat of Ukrainian nationalism and religion, the multiple discourses on values and social change emphasize references to the pagan goddess Berehynia and the Christian Virgin Mary, in order to characterize an explicitly anti-Soviet role for the 'authentic' Ukrainian woman as protector of family and nation. Accordingly, women who become addicted to alcohol are seen to have consciously rejected the essence of Ukrainian womanhood. As such, alcohol dependent women are far more reluctant than men to 'confess' and seek treatment, particularly in official healthcare institutions; alternative healing strategies are often considered to be more effective, modern, democratic, and/or confidential.
Erickson, Dr. Bradley Robert, Independent Scholar, Oakland, CA - To aid research on 'Convivència and Local Citizenship: A New Path for Islam in Europe?'
Preliminary Abstract: The project explores how Muslim communities grapple with isolation as they experiment with European plural modernity and novel forms of citizenship. This research centers on the region of Catalonia, Spain, where half of Spain's Muslims reside, and specifically, on the city of Vilanova i la Geltrú. The people of Vilanova--both hosts and immigrants--deploy the term convivència (engaged coexistence), as a discourse orienting ideals and practices of virtuous community life. Convivència constitutes a space of tension and negotiation that serves as a secular model for managing difference which has been embraced by the city's Muslim community. Convivència forms a new front of popular autonomy that is unmistakably both modern and sectarian, thereby assimilating religion and civil society. The key question is: how does convivència--a discourse with autochthonous Iberian roots and internationalist Islamic supports--conform to or challenge conventional understandings of citizenship and liberal pluralism? At a time of escalating tensions about Islam in Europe, this research contributes to our understanding of new possibilities of plural coexistence at the crossroads of ethics and politics.
Pettit, Matthew David, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'The Free Life: Healing the Alcoholic Self in Paris,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek
Preliminary abstract: A research project investigating Vie Libre, a mutual-aid association for alcoholics in Paris, France. Over 10 months, I will use participant observation to examine how the group's understanding of healing ('guérison') and the healed alcoholic ('buveur guéri') is changing through their increasing subjection to new social and material conditions. These include various forms of precariousness and isolation, the perceived decline of the public ethos of solidarity, as well as new patterns of alcohol consumption (e.g. binge drinking among the young, co-morbid dependencies). My focus is on concrete instances of self-definition and relation, particularly in their weekly 'talking groups,' but including outreach efforts at hospitals and schools and their participation in public events. This perspective will include the ways in which medical and psychological treatments and strategies enter into my informants' lives as core tools in their self-making. The research centres on the two Parisian chapters of the group, and combines person-centred approaches, namely, long-form interviews and participant-observation of the daily lives and organizational initiatives of the group members, with an analysis of broader social phenomena. These include the history and shifting role of 'associations' in French civic society, increasing material precariousness due to short-term contracts and unemployment, and the rhetorics that shape, sustain and limit demands on the state and its citizens.
Grill, Jan, U. of St. Andrews, Fife, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'On the Margins of the States: Contesting Roma Identifications and Belonging in the Slovak Borderlands,' supervised by Dr. Paloma Gay y Blasco
JAN GRILL, while a student at the University of St Andrews, Fife, United Kingdom, received a funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'On the Margins of the States: Contesting Roma Identifications and Belonging in the Slovak Borderlands,' supervised by Dr. Paloma Gay y Blasco. This project examined the making of Roma situated subjectivities at the margins of two states through ethnographic study of one village in eastern Slovakian borderlands and Roma labor migrants' networks in the industrial cities of Great Britain. By exploring Roma groups who find themselves largely excluded from the formal labor market and marginalized by the dominant societies, the research shows their migration mobility as a strategy enabling them to circumvent variously constraining social and symbolic orders, and to contest hegemonic racial and social categories historically placing them at the bottom of power hierarchies in the world defined by the dominant others. The research investigated how and to what extent various Roma actors and groupings embrace or resist the dominant public mis-representations of Gypsies and discourses of work ethic and morality interwoven within the imageries of 'proper' citizenship and sociality. The findings indicate how migrants reinvent the self's position through carving out a social space of their own by skilful maneuvering in between the two states' structures. The project ethnographically documents social conditions of migration and highlights the centrality of historically accumulated forms of capitals entrenched within the system of asymmetrical social differentiation both between the Roma and non-Roma, but also among the Roma themselves.
Roudakova, Natalia, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Property, Professionalism, Practice: 'Brownian Motion' in Post-Soviet Journalism,' supervised by Dr. Sylvia J. Yanagisako
NATALIA ROUDAKOVA, while a student at Stanford University in Stanford, California, was awarded funding in July 2001 to aid ethnographic research on media ownership and journalistic practice in post-Soviet Russia, under the supervision of Dr. Sylvia J. Yanagisako. Roudakova studied the transformation of Russian journalism during the country's highly contested shift toward capitalism. In particular, she explored whether and how new configurations of media ownership had created new editorial priorities and practices of news gathering, and whether and how these practices encouraged new professional identities among journalists. Data collected at three news outlets representing the major configurations of media ownership in postsocialist Russia demonstrated that journalists' identities varied significantly, depending on the routines of news gathering encouraged by the media outlet's property structure. Journalists for advertisement-driven publications saw themselves not as mediators in a democratic public forum but as business and consumer analysts servicing the needs of emerging financial, managerial, and other high-income groups. In news outlets sponsored by covert subsidies from political and financial elites, journalists focused on the accurate delivery of political messages to other members of the elite, developing castelike solidarity with their sponsors. Journalists for government-held newspapers viewed themselves as public mediators and educators for whom state subsidies enabled an absence of market pressures on their civic and intellectual expression. Focusing on the link between media ownership and journalists' subjectivities, Roudakova viewed property structures not as external constraints on journalists' intellectual production but as elements constitutive of the practice and understanding of modern journalism.
Hothi, Randeep S., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Sikhism Will Be Televised: Recognition and Religion-Making amongst British Sikhs,' supervised by Dr. Arvind-Pal Mandair
Preliminary abstract: The Sikh diaspora is currently undergoing rapid cultural transformation, which some scholars have likened to a 'renaissance'. Over the last fifteen years, various unexpected and creative forms of Sikh art and politics have proliferated, particularly in the UK. British Sikh television networks have been at the forefront of this movement. These community-sponsored, non-profit television networks are sites in which Sikh cultural producers come together and produce diverse programming that makes sense of the world while creatively engaging with Sikhism. I examine how British Sikh cultural producers make complicated decisions about how Sikhism should be publicly presented, which representations of Sikhism should be disseminated, and how they will address their audiences--Sikh and non-Sikh. This project uncovers the living debates, interests, and aspirations that shape British Sikh cultural production and the complicated ways that the notion of religion frames discourses about Sikhism. This research provides an opportunity to examine the wider ramifications of minority cultural production in secular societies, and the ways that minority groups articulate their own identities and socially situate themselves by addressing others.