Quest, Mary Nell, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Renewing the Port, Rethinking Space: Experiences of Urban Renewal in Marseille,' supervised by Dr. Frances E. Mascia-Lees
MARY NELL QUEST, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in April 2008 to aid research on 'Renewing the Port, Rethinking Space: Experiences of Urban Renewal in Marseille, France' supervised by Dr. Frances Mascia-Lees. This project explored people's sensory experiences of urban renewal projects currently underway in Marseille, France. These urban projects are reconstructing the city's infrastructure and refining its image: as France's port city on the Mediterranean, the city played an important role in colonialism before falling into economic decline and becoming associated with criminality and inassimilable immigration. However, current urban renewal efforts are recasting this image, and positing the city as central in changing relations between France, Europe, and the other side of the Mediterranean. The central research question asked in this project was as follows: Within this changing urban context, how do diverse social actors, through their embodied, sensory experience, sense belonging to the city, the nation, the Mediterranean region, and to Europe more broadly? With Foundation support, fieldwork was conducted among residents from various Marseille neighborhoods, urban planners, architects, government officials, social workers, association leaders, and activists. Methodologically, the approach combined archival research, participant observation, sensory recordings, participatory walking tours, and ethnographic interviews. The dissertation will contribute to scholarly work in the anthropology of immigration, urban anthropology of globalization, embodiment studies, and science studies.
Halawa, Mateusz Pawel, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Inhabiting Postsocialism: The Rise of Mortgages in Poland,' supervised by Dr. Ann Laura Stoler
Preliminary abstract: In the recent years mortgages, newly introduced in Poland, have been contributing to the rearranging of property relations, stimulating construction, and enabling middle class aspirations in this postsocialist society. There are more than 1.5 million active contracts today, and there exists no significant group of people who have completed their payments. The typical horizon of household indebtedness reaches more years into the future than the memory of market economy into the past. Half of those contracts are adjustable rate mortgages denominated in Swiss francs, leveraging low interest rates and currency exchange fluctuations. They draw mortgage households into the networks of global finance, enabling people to enjoy the benefits of speculation, but also subjecting them to unprecedented risks and uncertainties. This project engages the anthropology of credit and debt as well as the anthropology of finance in tracking the work of mortgages in enabling new forms of life and wealth in Poland after socialism. It offers an ethnography of financial instruments that forge differences between people through credit, debt, and scoring; enroll households into the markets in property, currency, and capital; and give rhythm and horizon to everyday life 'on one's own.' The research is guided by three questions: (1) What market devices, currencies, laws, people, institutions, and places need to come together in the design of the mortgages in Poland to make them efficacious? (2) How do mortgages work to rearrange the practices of everyday life and domestic economies of Polish households? (3) In what ways do mortgages become associated with shifts in social organization mediated by property in Poland 20 years after the fall of socialism?
Santha, Dr. Istvan, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary; and Ssorin-Chaikov, Dr. Nikolai, Cambridge U., Cambridge, UK - To aid collaborative research on 'Power, 'Authorities', and Emotions in Post-Socialist Russia'
Preliminary abstract: The project aims to study the emotional experiences of people involved in hierarchical relationships, that have to participate in performances of power, such as celebrations of national and regional leaders. The researchers plan to study the phenomena of public celebrations from the new perspective with the focus on emotional experiences of the participants, their emotional involvement and control of expressions. This new approach is a result of critical attention toward premises of western tradition of thought that tends to separate private emotional phenomenon from public performativity. The previous fieldwork experiences of collaborators showed that even the most formal patterns of behavior in Russia (such as official celebrations at the Houses of Culture or highly formalized celebrations of birthdays of national leaders with presenting of gifts) arouse the emotions of quite a wide range, from excitement too cynicism. The project is planned to become comparative. The fieldworks in two field sites (Moscow and Ulan-Ude) at one time will help to compare the patterns that evolve in the center and periphery. This comparison will help to analyze the phenomenon of power performances in different contexts.
Jaroka, Livia, U. College of London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Ethnic Relations and the Management of Everyday Life among Hungarian-Speaking Urban Roma in Postcommunist Hungary,' supervised by Dr. Michael S. Stewart
LIVIA JAROKA, while a student at University College of London in London, England, received funding in January 2002 to aid research on ethnic relations and the management of everyday life among Hungarian-speaking urban Roma in post-communist Hungary, under the supervision of Dr. Michael S. Stewart. Jaroka's fieldwork was focused on Roma living in the Jozsefvaros, an area in the Eighth District of Budapest. Data were gathered on Roma social organization, status, and experiences of and responses to social, cultural, economic, political, and human rights conditions since the political-system change in 1989. Special emphasis was placed on factors encouraging or discouraging assimilation or the continued classification of others as Roma. The data showed how the Roma-most of whom had lost economic security after the change of the political system-had failed to be absorbed into Hungarian society, mainly because the non-Roma population appeared to accept unrealistic, exotic stereotypes of Roma and to be unwilling to accept the integration attempts of aspiring Roma. The everyday experiences of informants showed that integration attempts were rejected by majority Hungarians even while the Roma were constantly blamed for 'not being able and willing to integrate.' The discriminative attitude among the majority was the main reason for seeking assimilation, yet many Roma, especially younger people, chose a more nationalistic Roma attitude, often antagonistic to non-Roma.
National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest
April 27, 2007
Tesar, Catalina Constantina, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania - To aid training in social anthropology at U. College London, United Kingdom, Supervised by Michael Sinclair Stewart
Krause, Dr. Elizabeth Louise, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; and Bressan, Dr. Massimo, U. of Florence, Florence, Italy - To aid collaborative research on 'Tight Knit: Familistic Encounters in a Transnational Fast Fashion District'
Preliminary abstract: The intensely globalized Province of Prato serves as an ethnographic laboratory for investigating the conditions of fast fashion. Here, a historic textile district known for its MADE IN ITALY 'brand' has earned the distinction of having Europe's largest Chinese community. Most of these transnational migrants produce low-cost items for the fast-fashion industry. Historically, the success of the MADE IN ITALY 'brand' was attributed to small family firms lauded for their flexibility for meeting work demands. Less celebrated is the long history of an informal economy characterized by family arrangements tied to unwritten contracts, clandestine work, and old-world sensibilities of reciprocity. Many of these longstanding practices persist, yet the status quo has changed. Workers have intensified their ways of being flexible, and the state has deepened its mechanisms of control. Primary targets are transnational family firms and workers. What family arrangements does this economy require, repel, or generate? How do family members cope with über-flexible lives? Finally, what cultural logics and values emerge from encounters between fast-fashion workers and state institutions? Substantive contributions to anthropology are made in two primary areas: economic anthropology and critical embodiment studies. An innovative encounter ethnography approach locates places where fast-fashion workers and state institutions encounter one another. Collaboration occurs at all levels of the project: research design, data collection, data analysis, training, writing, and policy-making. A training component focuses on developing systematic approaches to qualitative data analysis to enhance the relevance of anthropology for graduate students interested in addressing social challenges in transnational encounter zones.
Balasescu, Alexandru, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Democratic Inclusivity and the Commodification of Islamic Dress in France: Unveiling Modernity in the New Europe?,' supervised by Dr. William Maurer
ALEXANDRU BALASESCU, while a student at the University of California in Berkeley, California, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on democratic inclusivity and the commodification of Islamic dress in France, under the supervision of Dr. William Maurer. Conducting 10 months of fieldwork in Paris and 2 months in Tehran, Balasescu sought to identify characteristics of the commodification of 'Islamic' clothing as fashion and to explore its social implications. Data collection resulted in 40 hours of recorded interviews, 6 unrecorded interviews, participant observation in fashion design and sales in both Paris and Tehran, and bibliographic and archival study in Paris, the Artdeco Library, the Yves Saint Laurent Center for Research, and the Center of Study of Intellectual Property at the Paris Chamber of Commerce. Participant observation included, but was not limited to, assisting in designing and creating clothing, participating in sales at fashion salons, and assisting at photo sessions for fashion journals. The interviews focused on fashion professionals and their clients. Access was sometimes problematic, revealing the secretive character of this industry and pointing to the issues of intellectual property involved in the creation of new kinds of fashionable value.
Balasescu, Alec H. 2005. The Veil and Fashion Catwalks in Paris. ISIM Review 15:20.
Balasescu, Alec H. 2005. After Authors: Sign(ify)ing Fashion from Paris to Tehran. Journal of Material Culture 10(3):289-310.
Balasescu, Alec. 2005. L?Etat Esthetique: La Republique Islamique d?Iran et la Question de la Mode. L?Ara: Association Rhone D. Anthropologie, 55: 20-24.
Balasescu, Alexandru. 2007. Paris Chic, Tehran Thrills: Aesthetic Bodies, Political Subjects. Zeta Book Series in Anthropology and Sociology.
Balasescu, Alexandru. 2007. Haute Couture in Tehran: Two Faces of an Emerging Fashion Scene. Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body, and Culture 11(2-3):299-317
Witeska, Anna Dominika, U. College London, London, UK - To aid research on 'Making Political Subjects in Post-Socialist Poland: Memory Workings among 'Veterans' and 'Victims of Oppression'', supervised by Dr. Michael Sinclair Stewart
ANNA WITESKA, then a student at University College London, London, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Making Political Subjects in Post-Socialist Poland: Memory Workings among 'Veterans' and 'Victims of Opression,'' supervised by Dr. Michael Sinclair Stewart. Research focused on the local performances of national memory politics in the aftermath of the communist regime in Poland. Looking at the processes of objectification of the communist past taking place in the authoritative settings (courtrooms, the Institute of National Remembrance, exhibition halls, official commemorative rituals, unveiling of monuments) she searched for discursive and symbolic patterns of inclusion and exclusion of political subjects into/from the commemorative landscape of the Polish historidzed state. The grantee worked mainly with two broadly defined categories of people who got politically engaged during communism: the ex-officers of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the anti-communist activists. Combining participant observation in various institutional settings with archival work, discourse analysis, and in-depth interviews with individuals, the project tackled the mediating role that the state-institutions, their agents, and representations produced by them, have played in individual processes of remembering, commemorating, and recalling. Research findings deal with ways in which overlapping ideologically loaded notions of state, nation, sacrifice, duty, authority, democracy, Catholicism and justice become differently reconfigured in individual actions concerning the communist past. This research points towards the ambiguities of the Polish allusive model of retroactive justice and their consequences for the homo politicus of the past political era.
Witeska-Mlynarczyk, Anna. 2007. Proces W Transkrypcji. (Op.Cit.,) 3(36):41-46
Marchesi, Milena, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Remaking Subjects: Cultural Politics, Practices, and Technologies of Fertility in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Louise Krause
MILENA MARCHESI, then a student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Remaking Subjects: Cultural Politics, Practices, and Technologies of Fertility in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth L. Krause. Through multi-sited research that included participant observation and volunteering in a family planning clinic, feminist organizations, immigrant associations, and the training of cultural mediators, the grantee traced the intensifying politics and discourses of reproduction in contemporary Italy, which include anxieties over immigration and over low fertility rates among native Italian women. This dissertation project aimed to answer the following question: How do contested and contradictory politics of reproduction materialize and contribute to remaking new and old reproductive subjects in Italy? Participant observation and interviews with Italian native women and immigrant women engaged in cultural mediation and immigrant activism shed light on the intersections of the projects of 'integration' of difference. The reordering of social reproduction in contemporary Italy engenders resistance among those who recognize themselves as targets of re/integration and its inevitable corollary of exclusion: most obviously immigrants, but also those who do not fit into the heteronormative and reproductive family model. In foregrounding the narratives and practices of those identified as a threat to cohesive social reproduction, this research sheds light on the effects of political attempts at coherence-making.
Colleran, Heidi, U. College London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Kin and Social Influences on Reproductive Norms and Decision-Making in Rural Poland,' supervised by Dr. Ruth Mace
HEIDI COLLERAN, then a student at University College London, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in May 2010, to aid research on 'Kin and Social Influences on Reproductive Norms and Decision-Making in Rural Poland,' supervised by Dr. Ruth Mace. Women reproduce within complex socio-economic and cultural contexts; as a result reproductive outcomes are influenced both by the people we rely on for social support and wider societal norms. Explaining the 'demographic transition' from high to low fertility -- a common population-level feature across the developed world -- is problematic for evolutionists, who must explain how 'evolved psychologies' can lead to such apparently maladaptive behavior. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, this project tested two evolutionary theories proposed to explain the transition to low fertility in an area of rural Poland where fertility and contraceptive use are strikingly varied, and where the traditions of small-scale subsistence farming are being eroded by 'modernization.' By examining both group- and individual-level variation in a wide variety of dimensions, this project explores how mechanisms for fertility control are learned and diffused among individuals, and ultimately whether reproduction is strategic or influenced. The grantee evaluates whether kin or non-kin disproportionately influence reproductive outcomes, and whether changes in social networks or socioeconomic factors provide the impetus for fertility change. The project builds on theoretical and empirical research on reproductive decision-making by both evolutionary and sociocultural anthropologists, incorporating the work of other social scientists in demography, sociology, social psychology and economics.