Larchanche, Stephanie, Southern Methodist U., Dallas, TX - To aid research on 'The Cultural Politics of Immigrant Health: The Experience of West African Women in Paris, France,' supervised by Dr. Carolyn Sargent
STEPHANIE LARCHANCHE, then a student at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'The Cultural Politics of Immigrant health: The Experience of West African Women in Paris, France,' supervised by Dr. Carolyn Sargent. This research sought to critically evaluate the reciprocal interaction between France's immigration politics and the strategies employed by West African immigrant households in Paris, France, to negotiate state institutions, in particular, the social welfare and public health systems. The researcher studied grassroots social and healthcare services, as well as three 'specialized' mental healthcare centers that cater specifically to West African immigrants. Research findings establish that the incapacity of the French public health system and/or of social services to take care of immigrants -- thereby resulting in referrals to 'specialized' mental healthcare institutions -- generally stems from institutional resistance in accommodating the multilayered needs that immigrants have, and which are often hastily reduced as resulting from mental disorder or cultural misunderstanding. In the mental healthcare context, immigrants themselves question the limits of the public health system and of social services, precisely because their demands are rarely exclusively related to a mental disorder, but intricately linked to negotiations between immigrants and the referring institutions themselves, for additional social benefits such as State welfare and housing. This project thus questions the French institutional reframing of immigrants' socio-economic vulnerability as psychological and cultural in origin.
Buier, Natalia Cornelia, Central European U., Budapest, Hungary - To aid research on 'Past Remembered, Present Opposed: Historical Memory and Labor Contention in the Spanish Railway Sector,' supervised by Dr. Don Kalb
NATALIA C. BUIER, then a student at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, received a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Past Remembered, Present Opposed: Historical Memory and Labor Contention in the Spanish Railway Sector,' supervised by Dr. Don Kalb. The anthropology of memory has made essential contributions to the study of the plural experiences of the past and their cultural articulation. It has, however, encountered a limit in its focus on representation and discursive formations. This project contributes to the emerging field of anthropology of labor and memory through an investigation of the way in which historical representation enables and conditions collective organization in the railway sector and is a structuring force in debates over the public utility model. Using the strategic lens of the post-Francoist history of labor mobilization in the largest public company of Spain, the project argues that alternative development models are shaped by uneven access to instruments of historical representation. The ethnographic investigation follows three main topics: the making of narratives of progress and decline of the national railways; an account of the transformation of the field of organized labor and the role played by plural representations of the past in the process; and, finally, the relationship between historical memory, the moral economy of indebtedness and the unmaking of the labor force as a collective political subject.
Yanagisako, Dr. Sylvia Junko, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Made in Translation: Italian Family Firms in China'
DR. SYLVIA YANAGISAKO, Stanford University, Stanford, California, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Made in Translation: Italian Family Firms in China.' Ethnographic research on Italian family firms pursuing transnational business ventures in textile and clothing production in China shows that their transnational business projects are incited and shaped by kinship sentiments and commitments. Commitments to family firm continuity and intergenerational succession spur projects of transnational investment, expansion, and diversification and shape management strategies. At the same time, family members are reluctant to live in China. Thus, in contrast to the management of the firm in Italy, family members are not engaged in day-to-day decision-making in production and distribution in China. Instead they rely on hired managers who are not family members. This new generation of Italian transnational managers is developing local cultural knowledge that is becoming increasingly important as the portion of the firms' revenues derived from business activities in China and other Asian markets grows. Transnational expansion thus poses some crucial challenges to both the management structure and identity of Italian entrepreneurial families whose sense of distinction has derived from their location in the social landscape of Italy.
Mateescu, Oana M., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Memory, Proof, and Persuasion: Re-Creating Communal Ownership in Postsocialist Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
OANA M. MATEESCU, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in May 2005 to aid research on 'Memory, Proof, and Persuasion: Re-Creating Communal Ownership in Postsocialist Romania,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. Through archival research, interviews, and participant observation, this project studied four key historical events for the repertoire of knowledge practices they provide to current villagers of Vrancea region (Romania) involved in the reconstitution of communal ownership over forests. These are the successful reclaiming of forests in an 1816 lawsuit, the 1910 organization of forests according to the Forestry Code, the emergence of anthropology as a discipline in Romania through the study of Vrancea's communal ownership in the late 1920's and the failed uprising of hundreds of villagers upon the nationalization of forests in 1950. These events shape disputes over the present meaning of communal ownership and they inform the particular forms of claim making (lawsuits, complaints, humble appeals, the accumulation of evidence, and insurgency) villagers have at their disposal. Last, but not least, they serve as unique confirmations of the possibility for critique and effective intervention. Since 1816, proof-oriented actions such as the quest for documents, their secret keeping, forgery, loss, sale or destruction become inseparable from what it means to own the forests in Vrancea. The complex histories of such evidentiary objects as they shape ownership conflicts throughout the 20th century and come to haunt the current desires and strategies of villagers are central to this inquiry into the problematic of ownership, time, evidence and credibility.
Mattioli, Fabio, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Productive Debts: The Financialization of Urban Life and the Magic of Debts in Skopje, Macedonia,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
FABIO MATTIOLI, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Productive Debts: The Financialization of Urban Life and the Magic of Debts in Kopje, Macedonia,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. The research describes the emergence of a new political economy in Macedonia, focusing on the power hierarchies that shape the construction sector of the country's capital, Skopje. While official data show that the country has good levels of liquidity, most of the building companies contacted faced a disconcerting and chronic lack of money. Forced to build without cash, they had to revolutionize their building cycles, as well their internal relations; despite their efforts, the value of their work seemed to always 'magically' dissipate into thin air. But not every enterprise experiences precarity and economic losses; in recent years a conservative right wing party has colonized the state, syphoning Macedonian and international monetary investments towards the central government. Companies that are close to this new political formation get paid in cash. Enterprises that are not, have to rely on forms of in-kind transactions that leave them with unwanted goods that they cannot sell on the market. Getting to money becomes a real struggle that restructures labor and gender relations on the work sites. Through the case study of a small building company (which will be called 'Construx'), the research analyzes the precarity that results from Macedonia's arising political economy.
Diaz de Rada, Dr. Angel, U. Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, Madrid, Spain - To aid research on 'The Construction of Belonging: Expressive Practices and Identity Appropriations among 'Saami' and 'Norwegians' in Kautokeino'
DR. ANGEL DIAZ DE RADA, of the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in Madrid, Spain, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on expressive practices and identity appropriations among 'Saami' and 'Norwegians' in Kautokeino, Norway. Diaz de Rada's main contention was that construction of the multiple meanings of belonging in Guovdageaidnu-a small but central place in the Saami-Norwegian world-might be best understood as a fight for continuity. He proposed redefining belonging as continuity transferred to the spatial realm of a territory or to the social realm of a collectivity. Belonging is, in this context, a manageable category for the institutional rhetorics and processing of links and for ethnopolitical representation, because working for a place and working for a people are valued instrumental objectives (in contrast to working for the past or working for time continuities). Nevertheless, Diaz de Rada found a clear contrast between discourses and practices of identification in the sphere of the personal and presentative subjects, on one hand, and those in the sphere of the institutional and representative subjects, on the other. In the first case, identification was clearly stated as a set of time-binding operations; in the second, it was stated as a set of territorial, spatial, and demographic images. Place, territory, and people operated as concrete signifiers of time continuities, as tangible units for institutional mobilization and bureaucratic management. The ethnopolitical process itself arose as a special (and partial) dimension of the tension between fragmentation and continuity in this contemporary piece of society. This tension was not, as in the classic gesellschaft-gemeinschaft dichotomy, a matter of opposite modes of social linkage but a tensional processing of every social link.
Díaz de Rada, Ángel. 2004. El Sujeto en la Corriente. Reflexiones Sobre el Sujeto Social en Condiciones de Globalización. In El Nuevo Orden de Caos: Consecuencias Socioculturales de la 75 Globalización. Luis Díaz G. Viana, ed. Consejo Superior de investigaciones Científicas: Madrid.
Diaz de Rada, Angel. 2007. School Bureaucracy, Ethnography and Culture: Conceptual Obstacles to Doing Ethnography in Schools. Social Anthropology 15(2): 205-222
Diaz de Rada, Angel. 2007. Valer y Valor. Una Exhumacion de la Teoría del Valor para Reflexionar sobre la Desigualdad y Diferencia en Relación con la Escuela. Revista de Anthropología Social (16): 117-158
Paladi-Kovacs, Dr. Attila, Institute of Ethnology, Budapest, Hungary - To aid conference on times, places, passages: ethnological approaches in the new millennium, 2001, Institute of Ethnology, in collaboration with Dr. Peter Neidermuller
Funahashi, Daena Aki, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Social Order and its Borders: Exploring Depression in Finland,' supervised by Dr. Dominic C. Boyer
DAENA A. FUNAHASHI, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Social Order and its Borders: Exploring Depression in Finland,' supervised by Dr. Dominic C. Boyer. This study investigates the phenomenon of work-related depression and workplace burnout in Finland by looking at how this phenomenon is talked about, categorized, and institutionalized within three spheres: patients, the workplace, and treatment centers. This research examined the ways in which people from these three spheres interpreted depression and burnout. Depression meant different things to patients, employers, and clinicians. For some patients who worked in competitive offices it was a stigma-ridden category, and a risk to their professional life. For employers, it posed as an economic burden in terms of lost productivity and sick-leave. For those in healthcare, depressed patients were welcome clients for their services. The two categories of depression and burnout were closely related, depending on how the patient or company wanted to negotiate self-image and finances: depression was often diagnosed as burnout (a condition requiring shorter amounts of sick-leave), and burnout as depression. Three main trends in the explanation for the rise in burnout cases emerged: 1) an increasing demand for efficiency in the workplace; 2) anxiety over increasing opacity in the welfare system; and 3) increasing clash between the traditional valuation of hard work for its own sake and the market drive to maximize profit.
Funahashi, Daena Aki. 2013. Wrapped in Plastic: Transformation and Alienation in the New Finnish Economy. Cultural Anthropology 28(1):1-21.
Rees, Dr. Tobias, McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'The Plastic Brain: An Ethnography of the Emergence of Adult Cerebral Plasticity Research and its Impact on Neuroscience as We Knew it'
Preliminary abstract: For much of the twentieth century the human brain was viewed as a neurochemical machine organized in synaptic circuits, governed by synaptic communication. What led neuroscientists to assign the synapse such a privileged role were two nineteenth century observations -- that humans are born with a definite number of neurons and that, once development ended, the neuronal structure becomes essentially fixed. Synapses, specifically synaptic communication, appeared as the only dynamic element of an otherwise immutable brain and were henceforth seen as the key for understanding the nervous system. When, in the late 1990s, first reports on the massive birth of new neurons in the adult human brain were reported, the century old belief in adult cerebral fixity was profoundly shattered -- and the centrality of the synapse doubted.
In this project I ethnographically explore the most sweeping impact the rise of adult neurogenesis research has on neuroscientific understandings of the brain, its diseases, and its humans. I document the shift away from a thoroughly fixed to a profoundly plastic vision of homo cerebralis.
Heatherington, Dr. Tracey Lynne, U. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI - To aid research on 'The Lively Commons: Seed Banking and Adaptation to Climate Change'
Preliminary abstract: This ethnographic project tracks global gene banking initiatives across scales and networks of collaboration, connected through the node of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It will follow particular seeds, and the various meanings and values attached to them, through different physical, social, legal and institutional locations and mediations, mapping out the variety of partnerships and perspectives that materialize along the way. This research explores the social implications of initiatives involved with the Global Seed Vault, including efforts to assemble a comprehensive, global network of seed banks. Do they represent appropriate frameworks to manage a global commons of biodiversity? How can we describe the complex institutional context? What insight do these initiatives give us into evolving mechanisms of governance, and prospects for adaptation to global climate change? How should we evaluate their potential significance in terms of environmental justice? The project brings science studies and political ecology into articulation with the anthropology of transnational organizations and corporate forms engaged with human and food security. This case study evaluates alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the genetic resources being managed through gene banking, paying particular attention to evolving models of environmental governance and changing relationships amid public, private and civil society sectors.