Van Deusen Phillips, Sarah B., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Cultural Bodies: Language, Enactment and Performance of Value in Linguistically Isolated Deaf Children,' supervised by Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow
SARAH B. VAN DEUSEN PHILLIPS, while a student at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in December 2001 to aid research on language, enactment, and performance of value in linguistically isolated deaf children, under the supervision of Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow. It is widely accepted that engagement in narrative activities plays a key role in the socialization and maintenance of beliefs, values, and morality from one generation to the next. Therefore, telling stories is an important means by which children enter local meaning systems and encounter local versions of personhood. But an unspoken assumption in language socialization research is that children must share a language with their community in order to engage in and benefit from the socializing influence of narrative. Phillips's research represented one side of a comparative study focusing on populations of orally educated deaf children of hearing parents in the United States and Spain. Five Spanish deaf children, ages two to four years, and their families were the focus of ten months of interaction and observation using both ethnographic and experimental research methods. Phillips explore the ways in which these children learned to construct their contributions to local narrative discourse despite sharing no language in common with the hearing members of their communities. These profoundly deaf children had not been exposed to conventional sign language and instead communicated with the hearing members of their families using home sign, an idiosyncratic system of regularly ordered spontaneous gestures.
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.
Deoanca, Adrian, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'De-railed: Infrastructure, Politics, and Postsocialist Imaginaries in Romania,' supervised by Dr. Krisztina Fehervary
Preliminary abstract: This project will investigate the relationship between the technical and socio-political dimensions of railways in postsocialist Romania. During socialism, rails have been chief material and ideological vectors of state-sponsored social modernization. Twenty-five years after the end of socialism, the infrastructure that once signified the state's capacity to deliver progress now stands for desolation and backwardness. The transformation of a system deeply imbued with socialist modernist ideology raises questions about the impact of postsocialist reform policies on the legitimacy of the state, the everyday lives, and the political imaginaries of its subjects. Premised on the dual nature of infrastructures as technological and symbolic objects, I will examine how disruptions in the functioning of the railways produce affective responses among their users, and inspire political narratives. Informed by a synthesis of actor-network theory and Peircean semiotics, I will gather the data I need through participant-observation, interviews, mobile ethnography, time-space diaries, and archival research in and around two industrial towns impacted differently by rail reform. By answering these research questions, I will contribute to theorizing about the materially-mediated relationship between the technical function and the meaning of infrastructure, and produce new insights into the role of materiality in the affective enactment of the state.
Nakhshina, Maria, Aberdeen U., Aberdeen, UK - To aid research on 'Making Sense of Home: Movement and Metaphor among Villagers and Townspeople in the Kola Peninsula,' supervised by Dr. Tim Ingold
MARIA NAKHSHINA, then a student at Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, Scotland, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Making Sense of Home: Movement and Metaphor among Villagers and Townspeople in the Kola Peninsula,' supervised by Dr. Tim Ingold. In the year 2006-2007 fieldwork was carried out in the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia. Half the year was spent in the village of Kuzomen and half in three urban locations: Kandalaksha, Murmansk, and Umba. The idea was to observe people in both rural and urban environments, including permanent residents of the village, those who moved to the town and those who came to the village only in summer, and to trace how their perception of 'home' varied across different contexts. In order to understand the role of the senses and emotions in home attachment, attention was focused on metaphor, metonymy, and automatic movements. The research has shown that metaphor and metonymy both epitomize and elaborate on people's emotional and sensory experience of a home place. Applied in different contexts, the same trope connects people on a meta-level of emotions and sensations. It appears that automatic movements are the most direct register of a person's emotions, since the latter regulate the selection of actual movements. Routine sensual experiences generate correspondingly automatic responses. Sensory experiences accompany quotidian emotions and both play a prominent role in a person's identification with a home place.
Fomina, Victoria, Central European U., Budapest, Hungary - To aid research on 'Martyrdom as a Moral Model in Modernity: The Neo-Martyrs' Veneration in Present-Day Cyprus and Russia,' supervised by Vlad Naumescu
Preliminary abstract: This research explores the significance of neo-martyrdom in contemporary Christian Orthodox societies through following the emerging cult of new martyr Yevgeny Rodionov -- a Russian soldier killed in Chechen captivity in 1996 for his refusal to convert to Islam. Tragic death at the hands of the enemy turned an ordinary soldier into an object of popular veneration and inspired many Orthodox believers throughout the world to paint icons of him, compose hagiographic narratives of his life, devote him songs and poems and pray to him in hope of intercession. Through a comparative analysis of martyrological representations of Yevgeny in Russia and Cyprus this research will inquire into the meaning of martyrdom as an ethical model for contemporary Orthodox communities, which find themselves in the areas with clearly manifest Christian-Islamic opposition. I will argue that the context of inter-religious conflict provokes Orthodox believers on the one hand to search for their own heroes to match up against Islamic martyrs and assert the value of Orthodox faith and on the other -- produces a lot of anxiety about separating 'proper' martyrdom from the acts of religious fanaticism often ascribed to Islamic 'shahids'. By exploring how the soldier's image is mobilized by different groups to index Orthodox identity on local, national, and transnational scales as well as to construct the image of Islamic 'Other' I will seek to identify the multiplex forms in which neo-martyrologies function in contemporary societies. The proposed research will contribute both to the understanding of the state of Orthodox tradition, the challenges it faces and transformations it undergoes in modernity as well as to the theorization of the ethics of self-sacrifice within Orthodox Christian and secular nationalist contexts.
Praspaliauskiene, Rima, U. of California Davis, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Thank You, Doctor: Informed Patients, Healthcare, and Ethics in Post-Socialist Lithuania,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit
RIMA PRASPALIAUSKIENE, then a student at the University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in May 2010, to aid research on 'Thank You, Doctor: Informed Patients, Healthcare, and Ethics in Post-Socialist Lithuania,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit. This project explored how in informal economy illness is experienced and how health is managed. By examining one of the components of health practice -- informal payments -- this project looks at the configuration of the concept of health itself, as it currently emerges at the historical intersection of socialist state practices and liberal technologies of government. And it asks: How did the socialist state provision of health-its practices and technologies-contribute to a definition of health during its heyday? How is this definition of health being rearticulated by the neo-liberal state and how do informal payments interfere with it? What is it like to be a patient or a healthcare provider at these historical crossroads? This research approaches the narratives coalescing illness and told by patients, their relatives and doctors as 'envelope narratives.' The envelope here is not solely a metaphor for a monetary transaction that comes up in the narratives, but a metaphor and a concept that encapsulates the linkages between notion of health, belief, hope, and political economy in contemporary Lithuania. Findings suggest that the interconnectedness of both therapeutic systems and social networks is rendered in the envelope narratives, where illness, hope and social networks are bundled.
Halili, Rigels, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland - To aid research on 'Oral Epic Poetry in Kosovo and Sandzak Nowadays,' supervised by Dr. Andrzej Mencwel
RIGELS HALILI, then a student at Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Oral Epic Poetry in Kosovo and Sandzak Nowadays,' supervised by Dr. Andrzej Mencwel. This research project realized from July 2006 to February 2007, aimed to inquire into the presence, function and role that oral epic poetry plays nowadays in the regions of Sandžak and Kosovo. Several singers have learned their songs from other members of their families or neighbors; in other words through an oral transmission. But others admitted that they have learned songs from different songbooks or tapes of other singers. Textual analysis of recorded songs showed that only among Kosovo singers is there still a strong presence of formulaic character of singing. The traditional way of singing is becoming more and more a professional and commercial activity. In Sanžak, but increasingly in Kosovo as well, epic songs rarely appear in public places that are not in connection with commercial activities. But they are still present in many spheres of private life, especially weddings. Moreover, the number of active singers is decreasing. All singers emphasized that the young generation is not interested in learning old songs, while they prefer newly composed popular songs, especially those broadcasted in the media or distributed on the internet. However, oral forms did not disappear entirely, but were transformed, while functioning in new communicative conditions.
Roy, Arpita, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Particle Physics and the Anthropology of Right and Left,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow
ARPITA ROY, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Particle Physics and the Anthropology of Right and Left,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow. In November 2009, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland, is slated to start high-energy proton collisions as a probe into the structure of matter and forces of nature. The research project inquires into modern cosmology through a specific and concrete concept -- chirality or handedness -- with the underlying question, 'What does physics admit of orientation?' If physics presupposes a separation of mind and matter, or subject and object, then how can it base a physical universe with a preferred orientation? If it does not, then what is the relevance of handedness in its discourse? As an object of study in symbolic classification, handedness has a rich genealogy in anthropological thought. The project draws upon and integrates classical anthropological themes with ongoing fieldwork experience at CERN to establish how the concept acquires its present rationality in the framework of relativistic quantum mechanics and symmetries of space-time. Not only are particular concepts (of physics) like momentum, velocity or spin implicated in the study of chirality, but also other abstract ones of space, substance, relation, and form. It is to this discussion that the research makes a contribution. The research is timely both for what it says about the substantive nature of physics and about collaborative practices more generally.
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?
Ambikaipaker, Mohan, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Antiracist Activism and the Decline of Multiculturalism in East London,' supervised by Dr. Joao Costa Vargas
MOHAN AMBIKAIPAKER, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Anti-racist Activism and the Decline of Multiculturalism in East London,' supervised by Dr. João Costa Vargas. Funding enabled extensive ethnographic research to be carried out on how Black and South Asian communities in East London struggle against different but interrelated forms of racism. The British state has consolidated a shift from the earlier anti-racist and anti-discriminatory objectives of multiculturalism by reformulating contemporary multicultural policy and practices as tools to ensure national security instead. The official focus has shifted the spotlight towards British Muslims, who are constructed as the likely and potential source of cultural clashes, religious extremism, and domestic terrorism. Anti-terror and national security policies and practices are generated through an emergent common sense that shifts the meaning of official multiculturalism away the struggle to accord recognition and rights for minorities and steers it towards a repressive notion of multiculturalism aimed at regulating ethnic identities in compliance primarily with counter-terrorism's logic. This change in multiculturalism forces the development of new forms of anti-racist social movements that have to negotiate a range of identities produced by defensive racial and ethnic responses to the new multicultural regime. There is a conceptual space for these movements that mediate between abstract universal goals of social justice and the necessarily defensive postures of identities subject to the processes of racialization and social exclusion engendered by repressive multiculturalism. The research findings argue against any form of settled position concerning the debate on the effectiveness of identity politics, preferring instead an ethnographic presentation that examines how an ideologically ambiguous terrain accomplishes much of the everyday work of antiracism in Britain.