Willson, Dr. Margaret Elizabeth, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Turning the Tide: Gender, Seafaring, and Notions of Risk in Iceland'
DR. MARGARET E. WILLSON, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Turning the Tide: Gender, Seafaring, and Notions of Risk in Iceland.' This project explored male and female notions of risk in Iceland, particularly as related to fishing practice. One aim was to learn how these notions of risk might have contributed to Iceland's economic collapse. The investigator found that although Icelandic notions of risk vary between men and women as regards concepts of investment, they do not vary dramatically as regards their relationship to hazards of the land, sea and weather. An emergent focus of the research was on sea women. The traditional way Iceland gendered work is described as that women worked on land while the men worked at sea. However, this research found that a small but significant number of women have worked at sea from the earliest times to the present. These women also hold, and have held, positions at all levels of the fishing industry and, it appears, in all areas of the country. Thus, these women represent a thin slice of experience and knowledge that runs through the entire industry. This research will change the literature regarding women and fishing in Iceland. It also gained insight into how notions of risk are gendered and explored new ways of considering gendered models of development and access to power.
Marquez, Jr., Arturo, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'A Senegalese Odyssey: Migration and Mental Health in Catalonia, Spain,' supervised by Dr. Rebecca A. Seligman
ARTURO MARQUEZ, JR., then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'A Senegalese Odyssey: Migration and Mental Health in Catalonia, Spain,' supervised by Dr. Rebecca A. Seligman. This dissertation research provides an ethnographic study of the production, circulation, and recontextualization of humanitarian discourse in local institutions working with undocumented and tenuously documented West African residents in the province of Barcelona. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork, this study demonstrates the ways in which institutional discourse anchored in psychiatric and humanitarian registers enables forms of recognition according to broader subject formation processes and subsumes West Africans' lived experience within a distinct model of institutional personhood. Fieldwork was conducted in two main institutions and in multiple non-institutional contexts. With unemployment at record high levels, many West Africans have relied on 'occupied' industrial buildings and complexes as strategic spaces for housing, work, and transnational social relations. Local groups have made human rights claims on behalf of migrants, but in mobilizing public support they have relied on language that reifies the figure of the 'humanitarian subject' embedded in state governmentality. The struggles of West Africans, specifically from Senegal, align with an alternative model of personhood and a distinct transnational morality, which are ultimately obfuscated in the odyssey to remain in Spain.
Deoanca, Adrian, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'De-railed: Infrastructure, Politics, and Postsocialist Imaginaries in Romania,' supervised by Dr. Krisztina Fehervary
Preliminary abstract: This project will investigate the relationship between the technical and socio-political dimensions of railways in postsocialist Romania. During socialism, rails have been chief material and ideological vectors of state-sponsored social modernization. Twenty-five years after the end of socialism, the infrastructure that once signified the state's capacity to deliver progress now stands for desolation and backwardness. The transformation of a system deeply imbued with socialist modernist ideology raises questions about the impact of postsocialist reform policies on the legitimacy of the state, the everyday lives, and the political imaginaries of its subjects. Premised on the dual nature of infrastructures as technological and symbolic objects, I will examine how disruptions in the functioning of the railways produce affective responses among their users, and inspire political narratives. Informed by a synthesis of actor-network theory and Peircean semiotics, I will gather the data I need through participant-observation, interviews, mobile ethnography, time-space diaries, and archival research in and around two industrial towns impacted differently by rail reform. By answering these research questions, I will contribute to theorizing about the materially-mediated relationship between the technical function and the meaning of infrastructure, and produce new insights into the role of materiality in the affective enactment of the state.
Osterweil, Michal, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Theoretical Practice and the Remaking of the Political: An Ethnography of Italy's 'movimento dei movimenti',' supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar
MICHAL OSTERWEIL, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Theoretical Practice and the Remaking of the Political: An Ethnography of Italy's 'Movimento dei Movimenti',' supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar. This dissertation research investigates the sites, practices, and technologies whereby new or different imaginaries and understandings of politics (and movements' roles within politics) are created, contested, and modified within Italian activist networks. These networks are comprised of individuals, collectives, and larger organizations directly or discursively affiliated with, and/or inspired by the cultural politics of the Zapatistas, as well as the broader 'global justice movement.' The research included ongoing participant observation in movement spaces -- mostly social and media centers in Bologna and Milan -- as well as several large protests and meetings throughout Italy, as well as in Germany and Mexico, and more informal spaces including cafes, bookfairs and bookstores, piazzas and home-kitchens where theoretico-political discourses and narratives were developed, debated, elaborated, and employed. In addition, the research was based on semi-structured and life-history interviews, as well as textual analysis of hundreds of movement texts ranging from books and journals to Internet discussions. By placing these theoretical and narrative practices at the center of sustained ethnographic attention, this project offers important insights on the political effects of movements; the messy relationship between knowledge-production and social change, as well as the utility of an anthropological approach in apprehending these.
Fox, Samantha Maurer, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'EisenhüttenSTADT IM UMBAU: Imagining New Futures in a Post-Socialist City,' supervised by Dr. Brian Larkin
Preliminary abstract: Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany has been a city defined by a series of imagined futures since it was founded in 1950. Originally called Stalinstadt, it was conceived as the East German state's socialist utopia. Today it is a key site in the German government's push to transform post-industrial cities in the former East Germany into icons of green urbanism, most notably via the consolidation of sparsely populated urban areas and a rapid, often disruptive push to rely on renewable energy sources. My dissertation investigates the role that housing and electricity play in the transformation of Eisenhüttenstadt. I examine how residents interact with and talk about the transformations in their cityscape, and how such engagements fulfill or subvert planners' expectations. I also examine the ideologies of state socialism that lay behind the city's planning and investigate how such ideologies were manifested and experienced. Considering that the same built space has come to serve as a model for strikingly different conceptions of society and urbanization, Eisenhüttenstadt is an ideal site in which to investigate fundamental claims in anthropology about how built space produces social subjects and collectivities, as well as how new urban futures are established and enacted.
Rakopoulos, Theodoros, U. of London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Anti-Mafia Livelihoods: Work and Social Change in Sicilian Agrarian Cooperatives,' supervised by Dr. Victoria Goddard
THEODOROS RAKOPOULOS, then a student at University of London, London, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'Anti-Mafia Livelihoods: Work and Social Change in Sicilian Agrarian Cooperatives,' supervised by Dr. Victoria Goddard. The grantee conducted ethnographic fieldwork amongst people working in cooperatives that make use of assets the State confiscated from 'the mafia' in Alto Belice (western Sicily). Research focuses on the livelihoods of people connected to the 'antimafia' microoeconomy based in these cooperatives. Paying attention to local moralities of labor and politics, the grantee conducted participant observation in workers' everyday life to understand the range of accounts regarding 'antimafia' values, how they connect to social relations, and the extent to which they reflect or contradict legalistic discourses promoted within 'civil society.' Attentive to networks supporting this micro-economy, the project analyzes people's entanglements with the authorities (often patronage-based), discussing how State functionaries contribute to consolidating an 'antimafia gift-economy.' Specifically, research participants organize production relations across reciprocity chains connected to the State's 'gift:' the confiscated assets offered to them. The work presents an ethnographic account of responses to social changes triggered by State intervention in redistributing resources on claims to 'legality' basis. Investigating what mafiosi activity implies, the research contributes a dynamic, relational analysis of mafia/antimafia. Tracing people's discourses and experiences, the research locates 'mafia' in everyday activity and explores contradictions that confront individuals and collectives regarding claims to legality and commitments to moralities of kinship and friendship.
Scaramelli, Caterina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Swamps Into Wetlands: Water, Conservation Science and Nationhood in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Stefan Helmreich
Preliminary abstract: How have wetlands, previously 'swamps' to be drained and reclaimed, become sites of ecological value in Turkey, starting with its participation to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1994? I argue that Turkish wetlands are becoming 'ecological objects' through which debates unfold about national water conservation practices; arenas in which scientists, birders, and citizens work through the relation of human and non-human phenomena in Turkish 'nature'; and venues through which such actors position regional dynamics within national narratives, international politics, and transnational scientific economies. I will conduct fieldwork in two delta wetlands of 'international importance'-- Gediz on the Aegean Sea, and Kizilirmak on the Mediterranean -- with wetland scientists, ornithologists, residents, visitors, and state officials. I will interview older wetland protection advocates as well, and will conduct archival research to track how wetlands have been operationalized in Turkey's scientific and policy circles. Wetlands are becoming novel sites through which national and transnational differences -- religious, ethnic, gender, economic-- as well as matters of international positioning are now negotiated; whether Turkey looks to Europe, the Middle East, or Asia is very much in the making, I suggest, in the wetlands. My project also complicates the anthropological questions of water's materiality and agency, treating it neither as essential to the material form of water itself nor as obviously the result of the underdetermination of material form. I ask, rather: Who decides what constitutes water in the wetland, and through which forms of knowledge and scientific techniques? Which sociotechnical worlds and infrastructures make it flow and how, and make materiality matter or not?