Horner Brackett, Rachel Anne, U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - To aid research on ''Eat it to Save it': Risk and the Slow Food Movement,' supervised by Dr. Erica Stephanie Prussing
RACHEL A. HORNER BRACKETT, then a student at University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on ''Eat It to Save It:' Risk and the Slow Food Movement,' supervised by Dr. Erica Prussing. The Slow Food Movement outlines the risks of 'fast' food and living, targeting issues such as sustainability, loss of culinary traditions, unethical rural development, and vanishing biodiversity. How are the discourses of risks described by this movement translated by and through a milieu of diverse local histories and locally defined values surrounding food? To answer this question, research was conducted with Slow Food groups in Tuscany and Iowa from September 2008 to September 2009. This research was comprised of two related but distinct efforts: 1) a critical discourse analysis of Slow Food's stated missions, through evaluations of the media, public relations efforts, publications, and Slow Food events; and 2) the ethnographic study of local efforts to address food risks by Slow Food chapters and related organizations. Risk to place and tradition is emphasized in Italy, where breeds like the Cinta Senese pig are highlighted by Slow Food because they are symbolic of disappearing cultural landscapes and cultural knowledge. In the U.S., where the bureaucratization of a corporate food chain is seen as a major threat, Slow Food groups engage in overtly political contexts. Actors in both countries hold values that promote local activism aiming to redress 'external' threats.
Smith, Alexander T.T., U. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Apprehending the (Scottish) State: Devolution, Nationalism and the Politics of Rural Development,' supervised by Dr. Anthony P. Cohen
ALEXANDER T. T. SMITH, while a student at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland, received funding in May 2001 to aid research on devolution, nationalism, and the politics of rural development in Scotland, under the supervision of Dr. Anthony P. Cohen. Contemporary Scotland presents a unique opportunity for anthropologists and other social scientists to explore, in a Western setting, the processes by which a new parliament is created and its effects on other state agencies. Smith investigated the processes by which the authority of the Scottish Parliament was being negotiated and established through a nexus of institutions concerned with 'rural development' in Dumfries and Galloway. On the basis of ethnographic research conducted between the devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the region in 2001 and elections to the local council and Scottish Parliament in May 2003, Smith addressed the following questions: How is authority and legitimacy constructed by governing institutions in Scotland? What legitimating role will discourses relating to rural development and the land play in constructing political authority in postdevolution Scotland? And how do these discourses contribute to the formation of national identity?
Smith, Alexander. 2011. Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives: Banal Activism, Electioneering and the Politics of Irrelevance. Manchester University Press: Manchester and New York.
Kideckel, Dr. D., Central CT St. U., New Britain, CT; and Mihailescu, Dr. Vintila, Nat'l School for Political & Admin. Studies, Bucuresti, Romania - To aid collaborative research on 'Citizenship & Changing Political Identity In Two Globalizing Societies'
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.
Van Den Bos, Dr. Matthijs, Birkbeck College, U. of London, London, UK - To aid research on 'European Shi'ism: Peripheral Networks and Religious Renewal'
DR. MATTHIJS VAN DEN BOS, Birkbeck College, University of London, London, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in May 2007, to aid research on 'European Shi'ism: Peripheral Networks and Religious Renewal.' The research has explored networks and religiosity of Shiites in Europe to answer the question of what comprises European Shiism. It was hypothesised that Shiism in Europe occupies a peripheral position, enhancing autonomous 'European (Shiite) Islam' through context sensitive lay religious exegeses and the adoption of reformist thought that decenters clerical jurisprudence. These issues were investigated through a database of approximately 300 Dutch and British organizations, and key French and German organizations, which listed their board members and ethnic affiliations; approximately thirty interviews with representative Shiites in Britain, the Netherlands and Iran; exploring Shiite publications; and observing Shiite communal life in Britain. Core findings refuted the premises. Many key organizations were related to global Shiite authority; Shiites' formal organizational life in Europe did not cohere cross-ethnically and transnationally, but was nationally and ethnically fragmented. Thus, European Shiism did not constitute a particular, peripheral space. The research identified both indicators of European Shiism, lay readings and decentering jurisprudence, but did not find them to define European Shiism. Ideational lines in major lay organizations derived from clerical statements; a non-jurisprudential focus was experimented with at relatively low levels in an hierarchy of knowledge where provision at Iranian (and Iraqi) seminaries ranked supreme.
van den Bos, Matthijs. 2012. European Shiism? Counterpoints from Shiites' Organization in Britain and the Netherlands. Ethnicities 12(5):556-580.
van den Bos, Matthijs. 2012. 'European Islam' in the Iranian Ettehadiyeh. In Shi'I Islam and Identity: Religion Politics and Change in the Global Muslim Community. L. Ridgeon, ed. Routledge: London.
Livni, Eran, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Democracy Without Civil Society? Chalga Music and the Ambivalent Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union,' supervised by Dr. Richard Bauman
ERAN LIVNI, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'Democracy without Civil Society? Chalga Music and the Ambivalent Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union,' supervised by Dr. Richard Bauman. This fieldwork investigated chalga music as a site of ambivalence toward Bulgaria's integration in the political framework of the European Union: democracy that is sustained by pluralist civil society. Chalga is a commercial form that fuses global and Balkan pop musics. The publics constituting chalga's social life are extraordinarily diverse, including people from the margins. However, the emphasis of this music on social and musical heterogeneity does not lead Bulgarians to embrace chalga as a grassroots democratic culture. On the contrary, Bulgarians from all groups discuss chalga's openness as an indication that, in Bulgaria, pluralism leads to balkanization rather than to civil society. The question this research addressed was 'If chalga is construed as crude and antithetic to civil society, why does the genre not only enjoy wide popularity but also offer Bulgarians ways to contest EU democracy?' The fieldwork findings indicate that it is through a Western gaze that Bulgarians apprehend the image of their home landscape -- the Balkans -- as the foil of Europe. That is, the people of the southeastern margins of 'modern civility' are 'backward' and, hence, cannot generate civil society. Thus Bulgarians would disclaim chalga in order to show that they are possessed of the thought and behavior of 'civilized Europe.' In the same breath, however, they would embrace chalga because nothing else could affirm like it did that, as a nation, Bulgarians were not passive subjects of Europe's standards of integration, but rather self-consciously 'backward Balkanites:' inferior but not submissive.
Casas-Cortes, Maria Isabel, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'Expertise from Below: The Cultural Politics of Knowledge, Globalization and the Activist Research Movement in Spain, supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar
MARIA ISABEL CASAS-CORTES, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Expertise from Below: The Cultural Politics of Knowledge, Globalization and the Activist Research Movement in Spain,' supervised by Dr. Arturo Escobar. This dissertation deals with the production of systematic knowledge and expertise from below, by exploring the growing phenomenon of 'activist research,' a form of 'in-house' investigation conducted by social movements as a venue for political activism. As fieldwork has indicated, activist research is usually conducted by non-accredited experts, and aims to produce a kind of knowledge that is both rigorous and oriented towards social justice. The focus is on a prolific 'activist research' community based in Madrid, Spain. The group, Precarias a la Deriva, was identified as a promising dissertation topic due to their innovative work and broader influence. This women's collective is conducting an extensive research project on global processes of economic flexibilization, and their effects on women's everyday lives. Through feminist research expeditions in the metropolis of Madrid, this women's activist research community attempts to develop innovative political actions appropriate to current transformations. Through the exploration of such 'dissenting expertise', this ethnographic study brings different scholarly literatures together, such as the growing field of Anthropology of Social Movements, Anthropology of Knowledge, Globalization Studies as well as the long standing tradition of Action Research.
Muehlebach, Dr. Andrea Karin, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Water, Politics, and the Democratic Imagination in Europe'
Preliminary abstract: This project traces the rise of water as a vehicle through which novel experiments in citizenship, democratic participation, and resource management are coming to life. It does so through an ethnographic investigation of how three European cities have recently begun to re-municipalize their water supply systems after years, sometimes decades, of privatization. As nodes in a wider struggle against the commodification of water, I propose to explore the cities of Naples, Paris, and Berlin in order to track new forms of political imagination that are taking root as municipalities and citizens (re)claim ownership over water. I ask how water, conceptualized as a right and 'commons,' has come to exist in tension with dominant ideologies of the propertied individual. How has water become a vehicle for Europeans to propose designs for a better life? How do the meanings and materialities of water impact not only its management and distribution, but the very horizons of political and environmental possibility? This project weds the study of new forms of political imagination and mobilization to the cultural politics of natural resources, and, more specifically, to the ways in which humans are grappling with the precarity and finitude of water. By asking how some of Europe's citizens are engaging in the building of new horizons of political and environmental possibility, this project aims to contribute as much to an anthropology of resource management and sustainability as it offers insight into the political and economic 'otherwise.' It does so at a moment where the interlocking crises of capitalism, democracy, and the environment have become more apparent than ever before.