Mahmud, Lilith, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Seeking Sisterhood: Elite Constructions of Gender in the Italian Freemasonry,' supervised by Dr. Michael F. Herzfeld
LILITH MAHMUD, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in June 2005 to aid research on 'Seeking Sisterhood: Elite Constructions of Gender in the Italian Freemasonry,' supervised by Dr. Michael F. Herzfeld. This project examined the making of gender in elite circles through the ethnographic study of Masonic Lodges in Italy. Through participant observation and in-depth interviews, the grantee studied the everyday lives of upper-class men and women members of four different Masonic Orders, providing an ethnographic account of this (in)famous esoteric organization -formerly a secret society for men only- that continues to operate in Italy among widespread conspiracy theories. Paying close attention to performances of intellectualism and 'high' culture, exclusionary politics, and both esoteric and social activities throughout the research, this study examined the role of secrecy in the establishment of relative power within an elite group, and the gendering of particular forms of femininities and masculinities among the upper classes of society. Findings emerging from research undertaken under this grant highlight the complexity and contingency of gender as a category, and the significance of cultural and social capital, in addition to financial resources, for the making of European elites.
Mahmud, Lilith. 2012. 'The World is a Forest of Symbols': Italian Freemasonry and the Practice of Discretion. American Ethnologist 39(2):425-438.
Cole, Dr. Jennifer, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Not Peasants into Frenchmen but Frenchmen into Globals? Malagasy Marriage Migrants in France'
DR. JENNIFER COLE, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Not Peasants into Frenchmen but Frenchmen into Globals? Malagasy Marriage Migrants in France.' This research explored the complex dynamics of bi-national, cross-cultural marriage between women from the African island of Madagascar and men in rural and semi-rural areas of southwestern France. It has long been noted that one category of French citizens who did not benefit from the rapid modernization and accumulation of wealth that took place in mid-twentieth century France were peasants. Instead, these men found themselves comparatively 'left behind' in rural areas as their female peers moved to the cities and larger towns. However, since at least the 1980s, and accelerating in the 1990s, these men and have sometimes married women from Madagascar. The research examined how such marriages, and the complex networks of exchange and kinship created in their wake, contribute to new patterns of exclusion and belonging both in France and Madagascar. In contrast to most research on migration to France, which focuses on the question of Islam and is conducted in the peri-urban areas, this research focused on a distinctive pattern of migration into the countryside. It examined how couples and their family members engage in the translation of social, cultural and material forms of value between Madagascar and France.
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?
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,