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.
Stavrianakis, Dr. Anthony, EHESS, Paris France - To aid research on 'Freedom and Death: Modality and Value in Swiss Assisted Suicide'
Preliminary abstract: In Switzerland euthanasia is not permitted. In 1982, however, several organizations emerged to aid persons in a 'voluntary death,' once they had reached a limit to their suffering. The Swiss case is unique, one in which has developed a political form for assisted dying that exists in a 'para'-medical and 'para'-legal zone between a citizen's personal liberty, the care of another citizen and the recourse to a doctor's medical expertise and authority in order to provide a person with 'humane' means to end their own life. Through an ethnography based at a Swiss (Romande) right to die organization, this project describes how an individual's demand for assistance to end their life is mediated through a range of medical, ethical and political configurations, people and things, whose actions and positions are multiple: doctors' diagnostic and prognostic claims, psychological evaluations, biomedical techniques and molecules, 'accompaniers' from the assisted suicide organization, family members, as well as the action of specific illnesses (somatic and psychological), which all mediate a person's request for assistance in ending their life. This project, moreover, situates assisted suicide in the context of the specific cultural conditions of Swiss liberal political governance and ethical values.
Kilshaw, Dr. Susie, U. College London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research and writing on 'Friendly Fire: An Anthropological Account of Gulf War Syndrome' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. SUSIE KILSHAW, University College London, London, United Kingdom, received a Hunt Fellowship in October 2007 to aid research and writing about the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) community in the UK. She prepared a book that conveyed a new complexity to understanding this and other emerging illnesses. Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Masculinity and Vulnerability (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009) examines GWS as an illness of its time, revealing its similarity to other contested illnesses and they way it is shaped by wider cultural anxieties. However, the work also shows the illness to be an expression of distress that is unique to a particular group of people. By looking at the narratives that surround GWS, insight is gained into the social and cultural dimensions of the illness and in what ways this has influenced sufferers' understandings. GWS symptom reporting can be interpreted as a vehicle to draw attention to and a means to communicate concerns of the people it affects; issues such as trust, life within a dramatically changing military, gender roles, and toxicity. Revealing how an anthropological approach is necessary to better understanding the condition, the book challenges biomedicine's interpretation of GWS as a psychiatric and somatizing condition. Biomedicine has a rigid, limited view of illness and suffering that is unhelpful and obscures our understanding of illnesses such as GWS. Modernity and increasing individualism as well as the anxieties of (post)modernity are topics of great interest to anthropology and this book contributes to this ongoing discourse.
Kilshaw, Susie. 2009. Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Vulnerability and Masculinity.
Berghahn Press: New York, Oxford.
Kilshaw, Susie. 2009. Obligations to Veteran Informants: Contentious Research and Stakeholder Engagement. Anthropology News 50 (5):28-29.
Allison, Jill D., Memorial U., St. John's, Canada - To aid research on '(In) Fertile Ground: Contradictory Conceptions in Assisted Reproduction in Ireland,' supervised by Dr. Robin G. Whitaker
JILL D. ALLISON, then a student at Memorial University, St. John's, Canada, was awarded a grant in January 2005 to aid research on '(In) Fertile Ground: Contradictory Conceptions in Assisted Reproduction in Ireland,' supervised by Dr. Robin G. Whitaker. This research examined the social challenges and paradoxes that surround infertility and its treatment in relation to rapid and recent social and economic change in the Republic of Ireland. Recent changes include economic growth, new economic and political links with the European Union, and declining public confidence in social power of the Roman Catholic Church within Ireland. Less overt factors in the infertility experience emerge from debates around the traditional definition of family and its significance to Irish political identity, the long-standing issue of abortion politics, and the meaning of the constitutionally protected 'right to life of the unborn' in relation to increasingly available assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in Ireland. Based on in-depth interviews with people who have experienced difficulty conceiving, the researcher explored the way they contend with moral and ethical challenges posed by technological innovations in infertility treatment, how they make decisions between medical or social options that may or may not be available, and the impact of infertility itself in a climate of changing social values. In spite of continuing emphasis on the traditional family as the site of social, moral, and political stability in Ireland, the research suggests that women dealing with infertility are challenging the institutionally and discursively constituted meanings of motherhood, conception, and fertility that have been the cornerstones of their subjective identities.
Vilageliu, Dr. Roger Canals, U. of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain - To aid filmmaking on 'Afro-Venezuelan Rituals in Barcelona: A Comparative Study of Religious Nomadism through Film' - Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: 'Gods in motion' is a film about the practice of Afro-Venezuelan religious rituals in Barcelona (Spain). The project focuses on the cult of María Lionza, a highly popular Afro-American ritual in Venezuela in which episodes of spirit possession are common. At the same time, the film will show how the celebration in honor of San Juan Batista is introduced in Barcelona, combining with the Catalan celebration of Sant Joan, and will demonstrate the practice of the cult of the Virgin of Chiquinquirá, patron saint of the region of Maracaibo. All three cults are closely related and mutually complement each other. By following a group of believers and a cult groups made up of both Catalans and Venezuelans, the film will show how these religions are adapted to a new cultural context, being modified and incorporating elements of local culture. The film aims to contribute significantly to current debates about diaspora, religion and transnationalism. 'Gods in Motion' is an innovative film which combines images filmed in Venezuela with others filmed in Barcelona. Through this 'transcultural montage', the film aims to show the continuities and discontinuities which emerge from a religious practice when this takes on a transnational dimension.
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.