Nunez Vega, Jorge Oswaldo, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Financial Nationalism: Imagining Catalonia through the Banking System,' supervised by Dr. Alan Klima
JORGE NUÑEZ, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Financial Nationalism: Imagining Catalonia through the Banking System,' supervised by Dr. Alan Klima. This ethnography is about the ethics and aesthetics of personal savings in Catalonia with a focus on investment and speculation. It documents the allocation of public debt amongst citizens, the purchase of toxic assets by ill-advised bank customers, and the everyday life of non-professional online traders. At the same time, it is a study of money cultures based on notions of citizenship, consumption, and technology. Its hypothesis suggests that after the housing bubble, a sizeable number of low and middle-income savers became a ready-made source of liquidity for both the Catalan government and the Spanish stock exchange system. This happened through the retailing of billions of Euros in patriotic bonds, preferred shares and subordinated debt, and financial derivatives to everyday citizens, triggering a cultural conflict between preexisting local moralities of savings and emerging global notions of investment and speculation. The main argument the study develops emerges out of a dialogue with individual savers about the morality of money. However, it also takes into account the point of view of several other key actors in the word of finance such as bankers, account managers, brokers, traders, public servants, consumer associations, financial journalists, public relation experts, activists, politicians, and online forum users.
Field, Amy Leigh, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Capital, Creatures, and Care: Farm Animal Protection Law and Human-Animal Relationships in Eastern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Sally Engle Merry
Preliminary abstract: Animal protection regulations have produced tremendous change in practices of farm animal care in Germany. Since the nineteenth century, urbanization has created a base of consumers who are distant from the work of animal care, yet desire its reform. Farmers are the targets of this pressure, and local agricultural officials must oversee the implementation of these reforms. Eastern Germany, unlike Western Germany, has only had these laws since the Berlin Wall fell. This project investigates how the introduction of animal protection law shapes human relationships with farm animals in eastern Germany. It will be conducted in Thuringia, an eastern German state which is the site of an intense new focus on reforming animal farming. With methodologies including participant-observation, life history interviews, document analysis, and analysis of discourse practices in both formal and informal sites of interaction between farmers, consumers, officials, and animals, I ask how farmers and officials understand the new laws, mobilizing their understandings of animals' needs, and those of the consuming public. My analysis takes neither humans nor animals for granted as categories, but instead investigates the mechanisms by which participants talk about and imagine the contradictory nature of animals as both commodities and living beings.
Radeva, Mariya Ivanova, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Frontiers of Progress, Landscapes of Enchantment: Sustainable Development in Postsocialist Europe,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
MARIYA I. RADEVA, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Frontiers of Progress, Landscapes of Enchantment: Sustainable Development in Postsocialist Europe,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. This dissertation project focused on one territorially exceptional space -- Strandzha Nature Park in Bulgaria -- in order to ask how the creation of 'sustainable' public goods such as nature parks since the 1990s has commodified previously non-commodified objects and how this process is resisted or contested. Data collected through interviews with experts, archival research, and participant observation suggest an uneven temporality of the process, beginning in late socialism and continuing today. Yet a critical transformation of value occurred in the 1990s, when aid from foreign development agencies was made conditional upon nature conservation. Swapping differently valued objects in the then expanding green market altered the macroeconomic terrain. Different mechanisms were used to disburse large amounts of project funding to reform land tenure, build civil society, and preserve the environment. While never a singular force, investing new value in nature has had fascinating effects. A coalition of green NGOs emerged, who vie for legislative power and manifest as a civic social movement. The localities cut out for conservation experienced dramatic change because devalued socialist assets have been revalued as natural and cultural heritage. Such revaluation articulated with the creation of new forms of global intangible commodities in UNESCO's world heritage preservation.
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?
Jent, Karen Ingeborg, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK - To aid research on 'Growing Organs, Extending Lives: Regenerative Medicine and the Localization of Aging in Scotland,' supervised by Dr. Sarah Franklin
Preliminary abstract: This project explores the work of stem cell scientists in Scotland who are attempting to grow replacement organs in vitro as part of a publicly funded regenerative medicine research initiative. Studying the effects of biological aging, stem cell scientists track the elderly's rising sensitivity to influenza and other pathogenic exposures to a specific gland within the immune system. By localizing aging to the thymus gland, the Scottish laboratory hopes to more pointedly interrupt, and reverse engineer biological aging processes by transplanting laboratory-grown versions of the gland. Focused on this research of artificial thymus growth, my project asks how various notions of aging might be enacted in daily research practices of stem cell scientists. The regrowth of organs seems both to impact and be impacted by growing national concern about an aging population and increasing national emphasis on translational medicine. In Scotland, where the socio-economic challenges of an aging society occupy national concern, translational medicine and applicable science are deemed especially fitting ways to deal with demographic pressures. This project addresses the possibility that ethical emphasis on 'good' or applicable science, as well as anxieties about longevity and health, might be built into organs themselves, manifesting the national preoccupation with healthy aging in the emblematic practice of growing artificial organs in vitro. How might the highly technical and time consuming practices involved in growing organs be shaped by the institutional and national contexts which present aging as degeneration, and stem cell science as an extension of gerontology?
Johnson, Alix Barrie, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'From Financial Hub to Information Haven: Icelandic Information Economies, Technofutures and National Dreams,' supervised by Dr. Lisa Rofel
Preliminary abstract: The financial crisis of 2008 devastated Iceland's economy and destabilized its sense of identity: having quickly become one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it suddenly looked powerless and peripheral again. Projects of economic recovery, then, also require national re-imagining. This project asks how Icelanders are re-making senses of self, place, and future in the wake of the crisis, by following one major project of national and economic revival: an effort to make Iceland an 'information haven'. By building data centers, founding start-ups, and passing 'information-friendly' legislation, Icelanders hope to carve out a new niche and attract global data to Iceland's shores. The project has sparked discussion and debate on what kind of place Iceland is and will be: a connected, cosmopolitan and tech-savvy data center? Or once again an outpost, the digital equivalent of an offshore bank? By following the process of re-inventing Iceland as an 'information haven,' I trace these national imaginaries as they are materially made.
National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest
July 22, 2010
Tesar, Catalina Constantina, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania - To aid dissertation write-up in social-cultural anthropology at U. College London, London, England, supervised by Michael Sinclair Stewart
Krause, Dr. Elizabeth L. Krause, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research and writing on 'Fertile Protest: Memory, Demographic Decline and Economic Angst in Italy' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. ELIZABETH L. KRAUSE, University of Massachusetts Amherst, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in January 2005 to aid research and writing on 'Fertile Protest: Memory, Demographic Decline and Economic Angst in Italy.' The interdisciplinary project resulted in a series of publications that answer, What do subjugated memories and quotidian practices reveal about Italy's demographic 'decline'? The project traced the cultural politics of family-making in Italy, where women in the 1990s reached record-low fertility rates and where pronatalist urgency exists. The project also explored popular memory, globalization and identity formation. Three publications resulted, with a fourth under review, and a book-length manuscript near completion. The first article theorizes ethnographic method as structured spontaneity and argues that memories of the peasant past work to redefine masculinity and shape fertility practices (American Ethnologist, 2005). A second publication sets forth an ethnographic research agenda for modern Italy (Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 2006). A third essay delineates how demographic alarmism enables racism (The Corner House, 2006). A fourth manuscript (under review) investigates the delicacy of adopting pronatalism as a public position in Italy, revealing concern with social cohesion, modernity and boundaries. Separate from these articles is a book-length manuscript, 'Unraveled: A Weaver's Tale of Life Gone Modern,' which exposes the cultural roots beneath the demographic transition as intricately linked to transformative hidden economies as well as traumatic political processes.
Krause, Elizabeth L. 2005. Encounters with the 'Peasant': Memory Work, Masculinity, and Low Fertility in Italy. American Ethnologist 32(4):593-617.
Krause, Elizabeth L., and Milena Marchesi. 2007. Fertility Politics as 'Social Viagra': Reproducing Boundaries, Social Cohesion, and Modernity in Italy. American Anthropologist 109(2):350-362.
Ballinger, Dr. Pamela, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME - To aid research on 'Selling Croatia: Paradoxes of Post-Socialist Tourism'
DR. PAMELA BALLINGER, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, was awarded funding in June 2002 to aid research on 'Selling Croatia: Paradoxes of Post-Socialist Tourism.' This project examined privatization of large-scal