Szenassy, Edit, Charles U., Prague, Czech Republic - To aid research on 'Governing Romani Women's Bodies: Between Everyday Reproductive Decisions and Population Politics in Slovakia,' supervised by Dr. Jaroslav Skupnik
EDIT SZENASSY, then a student at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Governing Romani Women's Bodies: Between Everyday Reproductive Decisions and Population Politics in Slovakia,' supervised by Dr. Jaroslav Skupnik. High fetility rates of Romani/Gypsy women are portrayed by some public actors in Slovakia as a burden on society or welfare system. Facing diverse forms of discrimination and violence including impeded access to healthcare, Romani women's wombs have historically been of grave concern to state power, and continue being regarded as a 'time bomb' bound to explode as presently Romani births outnumber those of the Slovak majority. Between 1977 and 1991, special benefits were granted in return for Romani women's voluntary sterilization, however, recent scandals indicate that many of the operations during this period were neither voluntary, nor performed with due consent. The results of this fieldwork research indicate that the coerced sterilization of Romani women continued into the mid-2000s. This project examined Romani women's reproductive decision-making and its tensions with Slovak population politics. Its central focus was an ethnographic research based on participant observation into current reproductive practices among Romani women in a poor segregated Roma slum in East Slovakia. It explored the intricate positions women, their kinship networks, health professionals, and authorities take, with the aim of revealing and understanding their potentially conflicting interests. The ethnographer was situated in a politically and ethically loaded field, as she attempted to analyze the ramifications intertwining the state, nationalism, and the politics and poetics of reproduction.
Koch, Insa Lee, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on ''Anti-Social Behaviour': Law and Order in the British Working Class,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner
INSA LEE KOCH, then a student at the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on ''Anti-Social Behavior': Law and Order in the British Working Class,' supervised by Dr. David Gellner. This research investigated the role of the state in the life of white working class people on a post-industrial council estate in England. As geographically demarcated areas of government-built housing, often characterized by a strong involvement of state authorities and high degrees of welfare dependency, council estates can be seen as primary instances of state-building projects. Based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted on one of Britain's largest council estates, this research investigated how its local people come to imagine and make use of the state in their everyday lives. It found that people often treat the state as a personalized resource to rely upon to upset, modify, and generate intimate social relationships that otherwise exist beyond the domain of official state intervention. In a context characterized by intra-community divisions and enmities, an array of state actors -- such as the police, social services and council officers -- then become potential allies to mobilize in one's pursuit of reputation, recognition and justice. Looking at the state, not as a distinct entity on its own, but as an intimate extension of people's social lives, this research offered insights into the sociality of British working-class communities, as well as into broader anthropological discussions of the state, citizenship, and democratic politics.
Ayuandina, Sherria Puteri, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Restoring Virginity: Hymenoplasty, Value Negotiations, and Sexual Knowledge among Migrant Muslim Women in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. John R. Bowen
Preliminary abstract: In many societies, unmarried women must negotiate the tension between premarital sexual desires and social expectations to maintain virginity before marriage (Eich 2010, Buskens 1999, Parla 2001). With recent developments in medical technology and the rise of opportunities for premarital sexual behavior, young women who believe that they no longer possess an intact hymen can now undergo hymenoplasty surgery, which alters the hymen ring to minimize the aperture. While hymenoplasty draws its significance from socially-constructed values of virginity, there is a lack of ethnographic exploration of the phenomenon. Studies on hymenoplasty to date have been primarily conducted by medical researchers who focus on the surgical procedure and doctors' ethical dilemmas. They often assume that the desire for this surgery is evidence of women's oppression. Most ignore the social motivations of the female patients, the intergenerational networks among women of migrant background, and the 'migrant-native' dynamics between the patient and the doctors (Bhugra 1998, Parla 2001). I will investigate the complicated and contradictory social aspects of hymenoplasty as experienced and negotiated by Muslim women patients from migrant background in the Netherlands. The surgery will provide a site to observe the negotiation of sexual values surrounding female virginity between the young women and other members of the community of her background, between the patients, the family, and the doctors, as well as among the doctors themselves, and thereby explore the negotiation of values and of control of sexuality in a pluralistic setting.
Putz, Gudrun A., U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - To aid research on 'Migration, Power, and Community: Former Soviet Migrant Sex Workers in the Netherlands and Latvia,' supervised by Dr. Florence E. Babb
GUDRUN A. PUTZ, while a student at University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, was awarded a grant in May 2002 to aid research on 'Migration, Power, and Community: Former Soviet Migrant Sex Workers in the Netherlands and Latvia,' supervised by Dr. Florence E. Babb. The research conducted for this project resulted in quite fruitful, if unexpected, material. Legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands in 1999, international calls for the eradication of trafficking, expansion of the European Union into Eastern Europe, a worsening Dutch economy, and intensification of anti-immigration sentiments all resulted in Dutch government crackdowns on 'Eastern-European' sex workers and their subsequent movement underground. This environment and the disappearance of one of the two main populations of the research -- the Russian-speaking sex workers -- then became project's new focus. Interviews were conducted with Amsterdam government officials, police, and business-owners around the Red Light District. Newspaper articles and scholarly writing about Eastern-European sex workers and Eastern Europeans in general were collected. In addition, interviews and participant observation were conducted with non-governmental organizations working with migrants and sex workers. Consequently, the second research population of former-soviet street sellers featured more significantly within the general study of Russian speakers in Amsterdam, who were all concerned in one way or another with views about them as 'foreigners' and their relationship with Dutch society. Interviews and participant observation were conducted with former-Soviets on the streets, in their homes, and also during a month spent in Latvia and Lithuania with four of them. The researcher approached other Russian speakers for interviews in the main Amsterdam Russian Orthodox church, Russian stores, and on Russian-migrant websites. The result is an examination of the continuing importance of Cold-War ideas and stereotypes, European social and economic consolidation, and the effect this has had (both positive and negative) on former-Soviet migrants.
Luibheid, Dr. Eithne, Bowling Green State U., Bowling Green, OH - To aid research on 'Babies of Convenience? African Asylum Seekers and Childbearing in Ireland'
DR. EITHNE LUIBHEID, of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, was awarded a grant in May 2002 to aid research on African asylum seekers and childbearing in Ireland. In the 1990s, Ireland was transformed from an emigrant nation into a destination eagerly sought by migrants from around the world, both immigrant workers and asylum seekers. Luibheid analyzed the Irish government's and public's responses to the most controversial of all newcomers-childbearing African asylum seekers-in order to theorize the relationship between national and supranational (e.g., European Union) identities, imaginaries, and governance structures as these were negotiated, contested, and transformed. The questions that guided the research included, How can feminist anthropological scholarship be extended in order to understand struggles for control over asylum seekers' childbearing as a mechanism for rearticulating the link between the national and the supranational? In what ways do these struggles draw migrant women's reproductive capacities into new circuits of commodification within a global system while also providing new opportunities for agency? How do these struggles reveal the refashioning of gender and racial relations in national and EU contexts? Luibheid's preliminary findings included the observation that controversies over asylum seekers' childbearing had given the state a means to reconstitute a notion of the sovereign Irish nation, despite globalization. Moreover, the controversies used women's bodies as a terrain for installing new racial distinctions and rearticulating older ones-distinctions that now structure everyday life in Ireland. The controversies have materially affected asylum-seeking women's possibilities for being recognized as full members of the Irish polity, in terms of both accessing rights and engaging in practices of democratic citizenship.
Luibhéid, Eithne. 2004. Childbearing Against the State? Asylum Seeker Women in the Irish Republic. Women?s Studies International Forum 27:335-349.
Luibheid, Eithne. 2006. Sexual Regimes and Migration Controls: Reproducing the Irish Nation-State in Transnational Contexts. Feminist Review 83:60-78.
Cherkaev, Xenia Andrej, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'I Don't Know Why, but that One Wants Me: The Saturation of Use and the Agency of Things in Russia,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli
XENIA A. CHERKAEV, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'I Don't Know Why, but that One Wants Me: The Saturation of Use and the Agency of Things in Russia,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli. In 2011, Putin warned that the American-funded political opposition would falsify the election results' falsification, and might kill someone off, to blame the government. Attempting to write a history of this present, where universal corruption accusations blend easily into conspiracy theory, this project examines changing regimes of circulation, and the correlating changes in regimes of truth. It begins in late-Soviet Leningrad, asking how people made and obtained everyday things by using their positions in the centralized distribution system, their access to surplus material hoarded by enterprises, and the reified norms of State institutions - and how State Secrecy, permeating everyday life as another monolithic norm, guaranteed a truth, just out of reach: 'It irritated! There were certain things some idiot didn't want me to know!' It then asks how regimes of both truth and circulation changed with the post-Soviet transition, in which the sudden disclosure of previously unavailable materials correlated with widespread political discussion, extrasensory and religious activity, sharp commodity deficit, and new economic policies, which allowed people to make cash on State surplus and informal deals that 'took the country apart by the screws ? swiped everything from precious metals to Arab horses... fantastic times!'
Nicewonger, Todd Evans, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Intellectuals, Material Culture, & Flemish Fashion Design as an Economy of Innovation,' supervised by Dr. Lambros Comitas
TODD E. NICEWONGER, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in July 2007 to support research on 'Intellectuals, Material Culture & Flemish Fashion as an Economy of Innovation,' supervised by Dr. Lambros Comitas. The project was conducted at a Fashion Design Academy where the grantee examined the social organization of the institution and the communicative practices used among student designers. Building on contemporary research into the cultural production of aesthetics, embodiment, and apprenticeship, this study investigated how certain virtues associated with an avant-garde movement in fashion converged into what eventually became recognized as the Flemish fashion aesthetic. This effort was characterized by novel modes of production and ideas about what it means to be a 'good and creative' fashion designer. Fundamental to these beliefs were social ideals arguing that fashion mediates the re-orientation of knowledge and stimulates new ways of imagining lived reality. As such, artisans are believed to embody an intellectual responsibility: one that can craft embodied notions of doubt, joy, and-central to this investigation-possibility. By illuminating how notions of the future are imagined, translated into design concepts, and then technically produced, this study conceptualizes the creative practice of design as hope.
Fernandez Garcia, Sandra, UNED, Madrid, Spain - To aid research on 'Meanings and Senses in Process: An Ethnography of Emerging Practices of Artistic-technological Production in Urban Contexts,' supervised by Dr. Angel Diaz de Rada Brun
PROVIDE A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PROJECT IN PLAIN ENGLISH (UNFORMATTED -- WITHOUT BULLETS OR NUMBERED LISTS -- 200 WORD MAXIMUM).
My research deals with the processes of artistic production in liminal places with diffuse borders between different areas of knowledge such as science, technology, and art, on one hand and, on the other, forms of action and social organization that generate work dynamics based on shared meanings. There is a series of public and private, fixed and itinerant spaces that make up a network that is dynamic, changing, and superimposed on other networks, through which people and objects circulate. Medialab-Prado, Tabakalera or Hangar, are examples of the places in Spain in which groups of people who develop practices of production and learning in very specific ways converge. These practices are generally influenced by the ways free software programming is organized and by the idea of 'commons' or public utility. These network relationships, in which the focus is moved away from the artistic object and onto the process, involve a kind of artistic generation that has a very marked political focus, and this provides the opportunity to investigate the spaces of culture as political spaces. My research focuses on an ethnographic analysis of the practical construction of this concrete form of what we call artistic objects in our contemporary urban society. The objective is to understand the relationship of this kind of object and the practices that produce and distribute it with the model of social relations in which it is inserted, as well as the production of political (urban activism) meaning that this relationship generates.
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?