Fox, Samantha Maurer, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'EisenhüttenSTADT IM UMBAU: Imagining New Futures in a Post-Socialist City,' supervised by Dr. Brian Larkin
Preliminary abstract: Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany has been a city defined by a series of imagined futures since it was founded in 1950. Originally called Stalinstadt, it was conceived as the East German state's socialist utopia. Today it is a key site in the German government's push to transform post-industrial cities in the former East Germany into icons of green urbanism, most notably via the consolidation of sparsely populated urban areas and a rapid, often disruptive push to rely on renewable energy sources. My dissertation investigates the role that housing and electricity play in the transformation of Eisenhüttenstadt. I examine how residents interact with and talk about the transformations in their cityscape, and how such engagements fulfill or subvert planners' expectations. I also examine the ideologies of state socialism that lay behind the city's planning and investigate how such ideologies were manifested and experienced. Considering that the same built space has come to serve as a model for strikingly different conceptions of society and urbanization, Eisenhüttenstadt is an ideal site in which to investigate fundamental claims in anthropology about how built space produces social subjects and collectivities, as well as how new urban futures are established and enacted.
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.
Sokol, Grzegorz Stanislaw, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Medicalization of Affect in Post-Socialist Poland,' supervised by Dr. Anne L. Stoler
GRZEGORZ S. SOKOL, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'The Medicalization of Affect in Post-Socialist Poland,' supervised by Dr. Anne L. Stoler. This project is situated in the context of the increase in, and greater attention given to, mood disorders following the transformation from real socialism to market democracy in Poland. Broadening diagnostic definitions, raised awareness, as well as psychopharmaceuticals and forms of therapy unevenly available to people diagnosed with afflictions of affect are here situated in relationship to the larger process, in which new models of personhood are brought into social practice. This ethnographic research and archival study charts the different forms of medicalization of affect and follows 'depression' across different settings: from an in-patient psychiatric ward, to an outpatient clinic and psychotherapy center, to the meetings of a twelve-step program. The analytic focus is on how treatments of mood disorders are sites where one acquires a new understanding of one's self, relationships, body, history, and relation to society. Especially the psychotherapeutic and twelve-step conception of emotionality enables redefinitions of personhood and gender models. Further, learning a different way of being a person often centers on questions of agency that appear as problems of possibility vs. necessity, expectations, immaturity, demanding attitude, and helplessness. In the process, the individual is put in relation to the broader narrative of postsocialist transformation.
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.
Carlson, Jennifer Douglass, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart
JENNIFER D. CARLSON, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart. This project employed participant observation, interviews, and archival research to explore practices of speculation that have arisen with the advent of renewable energy in rural northern Germany. The spread of wind turbines, solar panels, and bio-gas plants across Ostfriesland, Lower Saxony, as well as an influx of jobs in the environmental sector, have led villagers to see themselves as speculators with an unforeclosed future, in contrast to the rigid caste system that once held sway over their communities. In an atmosphere of development driven by environmental concerns, the possibility of capital gain is twinned with the threat of catastrophe in the public consciousness. Data collected over a year of fieldwork suggest that everyday talk in Ostfriesland is a social poetics where even the most mundane conversations may hold consequences for capital gain and wider economic and environmental stability. Here speculation is the ground of belonging in a world where fortunes, daily routines, social distinctions, and the built environment are in a state of constant flux. This case sheds light on the cultural generativity of renewable energy, with an eye to the social repercussions of eco-capitalist development in formerly preindustrial societies.