Verkaaik, Dr. Oskar, U. of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands - To aid workshop on 'Religion and Sexuality in Post-Colonial Europe: Between Categorization and Transcendence,' 2009, Amsterdam
'Religion and Sexuality in Post-Colonial Europe: Between Categorization and Transcendence'
January 29-30, 2009, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Organizer: Oskar Verkaaik (University of Amsterdam)
On the one hand, religion and sexuality are core markers in identity politics and the culturalization of citizenship, especially, but not only, in Europe today; on the other hand, religion and sexuality have the potential to transcend these very normative and cultural boundaries. This workshop explored this paradox in an ethnographic, sociological and historical way. Two main themes of the workshop were the construction of discourses on religion and sexuality in today?s new nationalisms, and the way groups of people appropriate and experience sexuality and religion against the background of the nationalist
projects. The discussions centered on how religion and sexuality are at the heart of postcolonial processes of 'othering' and sources of the authentic, subjective and sublime. The discussion focused partly on secularization and its religious -- more precisely, Christian -- genealogy. Participants explored the notion of a secular sexuality as public norm and as a
source of authenticity for both pious believers and secularists. These 'sexular' practices of self-understanding and authentification are experienced through the body. Therefore, the body became an important concept participants used to think with in their debates about the intersection of religion and sexuality.
Livni, Eran, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Democracy Without Civil Society? Chalga Music and the Ambivalent Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union,' supervised by Dr. Richard Bauman
ERAN LIVNI, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'Democracy without Civil Society? Chalga Music and the Ambivalent Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union,' supervised by Dr. Richard Bauman. This fieldwork investigated chalga music as a site of ambivalence toward Bulgaria's integration in the political framework of the European Union: democracy that is sustained by pluralist civil society. Chalga is a commercial form that fuses global and Balkan pop musics. The publics constituting chalga's social life are extraordinarily diverse, including people from the margins. However, the emphasis of this music on social and musical heterogeneity does not lead Bulgarians to embrace chalga as a grassroots democratic culture. On the contrary, Bulgarians from all groups discuss chalga's openness as an indication that, in Bulgaria, pluralism leads to balkanization rather than to civil society. The question this research addressed was 'If chalga is construed as crude and antithetic to civil society, why does the genre not only enjoy wide popularity but also offer Bulgarians ways to contest EU democracy?' The fieldwork findings indicate that it is through a Western gaze that Bulgarians apprehend the image of their home landscape -- the Balkans -- as the foil of Europe. That is, the people of the southeastern margins of 'modern civility' are 'backward' and, hence, cannot generate civil society. Thus Bulgarians would disclaim chalga in order to show that they are possessed of the thought and behavior of 'civilized Europe.' In the same breath, however, they would embrace chalga because nothing else could affirm like it did that, as a nation, Bulgarians were not passive subjects of Europe's standards of integration, but rather self-consciously 'backward Balkanites:' inferior but not submissive.
Carlson, Jennifer Douglass, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart
JENNIFER D. CARLSON, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart. This project employed participant observation, interviews, and archival research to explore practices of speculation that have arisen with the advent of renewable energy in rural northern Germany. The spread of wind turbines, solar panels, and bio-gas plants across Ostfriesland, Lower Saxony, as well as an influx of jobs in the environmental sector, have led villagers to see themselves as speculators with an unforeclosed future, in contrast to the rigid caste system that once held sway over their communities. In an atmosphere of development driven by environmental concerns, the possibility of capital gain is twinned with the threat of catastrophe in the public consciousness. Data collected over a year of fieldwork suggest that everyday talk in Ostfriesland is a social poetics where even the most mundane conversations may hold consequences for capital gain and wider economic and environmental stability. Here speculation is the ground of belonging in a world where fortunes, daily routines, social distinctions, and the built environment are in a state of constant flux. This case sheds light on the cultural generativity of renewable energy, with an eye to the social repercussions of eco-capitalist development in formerly preindustrial societies.
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.
Dvorakova, Tereza, Charles U., Prague, Czech Republic - To aid research on 'Between Practice and Purpose: The Money of Unemployed Roma and the Czech Welfare System,' supervised by Dr. Yasar Abu Ghosh
TEREZA DVORAKOVA, then a student at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Between Practice and Purpose: The Money of Unemployed Roma and the Czech Welfare System,' supervised by Dr. Yasar Abu Ghosh. This project examined the ways welfare providers established relations of inequality among the poor and ways Romani women defended these relations in context of Czech welfare politics. Its focus was an ethnographic research based on participant observation of the morally loaded field of welfare policy. The grantee examined the politics of welfare from different settings and conducted a long-term observation of welfare providers' decision-making on 'deserving poor' in the context of welfare changes toward moral individualism. Research documented the current experience and economic practices of Romani women and the ways by which they challenged the individualist understanding of poverty. The project explored the intricate positions of women and their kinship networks -- as well as welfare providers -- take with the aim of understanding their positions and 'earmarking' (Zelizer) for benefit money. The findings indicate how welfare providers frame a category of 'deserving' poor by using social relations of claimants, visibility of material hardship consumption strategies, homelessness, and nationality in order not to 'spend money on the undeserving' and 'save states' money.' The findings show how Roma women symbolically perform their moral position as 'deserving' and distinguish themselves from white (homeless) people devalued as 'undeserving' but for all that still get benefits.
Pine, Jason A., U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'La Sceneggiata: A Neapolitan Popular Song Genre, the Melodramatic Aesthetic and Its Moral/Political Economy,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart
JASON A. PINE, while a student at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, received funding in November 2002 to aid research on the moral and political economy of Naples, Italy, as seen through a popular song genre called the sceneggiata, under the supervision of Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart. The objective was to understand the role of emotion and aesthetics in a shadow economy dominated by organized crime. This melodramatic genre was found to be linked to organized crime in three ways: its lyrical content treated themes associated with organized crime, the circuit in which it was produced and performed was crosscut with organized criminal activities, and its primary consumers were crime families. The protagonists of the sceneggiata industry participated, to varying degrees, in organized crime, negotiating the moral valence of their choices according to context. Pine's goal was to understand the role emotions and aesthetics played in such negotiations. The guiding research questions were: In what practices did Neapolitans engage on the sceneggiata music scene and in other sectors of the shadow economy? What could individual life stories reveal about peoples' decisions to engage in the sceneggiata music industry and, by extension, in organized crime? How did singers and fans evaluate sceneggiata performances, and what made the melodramatic aesthetic significant for Neapolitans? Preliminary analysis revealed that in Naples, emotions and aesthetics dominated communication, social, musical, and economic practices because they enabled people to simultaneously respect and circumvent prohibitive expectations of secrecy in an environment of limited resources, volatile power balances, and fear of violence.
Grama, Emanuela, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Europeanizing Labor, Rethinking Belonging: Romanian-German Relations in Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
EMANUELA GRAMA, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in April 2005 to aid research on 'Europeanizing Labor, Rethinking Belonging: Romanian-German Relations in Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. In the multiethnic city of Sibiu, located in the center of Transylvania region of Romania, research focused on practices of community work. More specifically, it investigated current phenomena of volunteering and social work performed mostly by different groups of young foreigners, mostly coming from German-speaking lands to help the Saxon community. Members of the community explain the volunteering by setting it within a historical context in which community work was intimately linked to the Saxon ethnic group. Results suggest that such arguments, which stress the moral and social value of community work, help the currently small group of Saxons (1.5 percent of the city's population) present itself as unique and thus maintain its historically grounded social and political prestige within the symbolical geography of the city and the whole region. Such practices of work are employed as key markers of ethnic boundaries and thus help, to a certain extent, to reinforce interethnic symbolic hierarchies even when done outside the boundaries of the group (for instance, in the reconstruction project of the historical center of the city, built by the Saxons in 12th century, but where now few Saxons still live).
Roy, Arpita, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Particle Physics and the Anthropology of Right and Left,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow
ARPITA ROY, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Particle Physics and the Anthropology of Right and Left,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow. In November 2009, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland, is slated to start high-energy proton collisions as a probe into the structure of matter and forces of nature. The research project inquires into modern cosmology through a specific and concrete concept -- chirality or handedness -- with the underlying question, 'What does physics admit of orientation?' If physics presupposes a separation of mind and matter, or subject and object, then how can it base a physical universe with a preferred orientation? If it does not, then what is the relevance of handedness in its discourse? As an object of study in symbolic classification, handedness has a rich genealogy in anthropological thought. The project draws upon and integrates classical anthropological themes with ongoing fieldwork experience at CERN to establish how the concept acquires its present rationality in the framework of relativistic quantum mechanics and symmetries of space-time. Not only are particular concepts (of physics) like momentum, velocity or spin implicated in the study of chirality, but also other abstract ones of space, substance, relation, and form. It is to this discussion that the research makes a contribution. The research is timely both for what it says about the substantive nature of physics and about collaborative practices more generally.
Horne, Brian Arthur, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on ''Save Our Souls': Russian Bards and the Sound of State Transformation,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
BRIAN A. HORNE, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on ''Save Our Souls:' Russian Bards and the Sound of State Transformation,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal. This research project examines how Russian bardic song (bardovskaia pesnia), a formerly censored and unofficial cultural phenomenon of the late Soviet period, figures in the expression and contestation of different political histories and anxieties about changing sociopolitical conditions in Moscow. By examining the private commoditization, public memorialization and official valorization of bardic music today in public and private institutional sites of bardic music performance and commemoration, this research illuminates the often subtle ways in which personal and institutional positions about generational, social and political change are negotiated, experienced and reinscribed at the level of music, aesthetics, and affect. As formerly contraband music that circulated through underground exchange networks during the Soviet era, this genre now serves as a touchstone for interpersonal and national political understandings and arguments about the nature of the relationship between the Russian present, past and future, and broader discourses about the state and fate of Russia.
Stankiewicz, Damien Edam, New York U., New York, NY- To aid research on 'The Negotiation of National and Trans-National Identities at the European Television Station 'ARTE',' supervised by Dr. Susan Carol Rogers
DAMIEN EDAM STANKIEWICZ, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2008 to aid research on 'The Negotiation of National and Trans-National Identities at the European Television Station 'ARTE,'' supervised by Dr. Susan Carol Rogers. Fifteen months of fieldwork at the television channel ARTE -- one of the world's first examples of truly transnational media -- allowed for insight into the construction of transnational 'imagined communities,' elucidating the complex imbrications of national, cross-national, and global aesthetic sensibilities and identities that cut across transnational programming and daily production work. Television production work at ARTE is defined by several key tensions: ARTE has a mandate to produce transnational and European programming but is largely funded by French and German national governments; ARTE producers and programmers strive to challenge national sensibilities but find that audiences dislike subtitled programming and tend to think that programs explicitly about Europe are boring; and while ARTE's staff at its headquarters in Strasbourg claim that they alone truly understand French and German cultures well enough to program for both countries' audiences, ARTE's national offices disparage Strasbourg as too removed from national television production hubs. ARTE staff must thus negotiate and construct a programming line-up and editorial lines that draw upon, in often complex and self-conscious combinations, what they understand to be national, transnational, and supra-national or 'European' narratives and themes, employing production strategies that allow audiences to engage with familiar narratives and genres while also challenging or reframing these in subtle ways -- by focusing, for example, on the mutual devastation wrought by World War II. In ARTE's hallways and cafeterias, ARTE staff themselves must also, on a daily basis, negotiate multiple identities and loyalties. German staff complain about French staff's lack of willingness to speak German; French staff complain about Germans' overzealous adherence to meeting agendas and protocol; and each complains about the other as being 'too authoritarian.' Yet the trafficking of stereotype may render complex cultural negotiations more predictable, and many who work at ARTE identify as 'ARTE-siens' -- neither fully French nor German, but an amalgam of both, and as often, too, as European.