Gonzalez Jimenez, Alejandra, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Volkswagen de Mexico: The Car as a National Fetish,' supervised by Dr. Valentina Napolitano
ALEJANDRA GONZALEZ, then a student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Volkswagen de Mexico: The Car as a National Fetish,' supervised by Dr. Valentina Napolitano. This dissertation ethnographically examines the socio-cultural reproduction of transnational corporations through the lens of Volkswagen de Mexico. As such, this project traces the different social worlds that are connected to the German car industry through the production and consumption of cars. Since its arrival in Puebla, Mexico, in 1967, Volkswagen de Mexico has been regarded as a key engine of the nation's progress, and for at least three generations, working for this auto-industry has signaled upward mobility and social capital. Historically, car production and driving a car have been considered central elements in the making of modern Mexico. The project draws on sixteen months of fieldwork (2010-12) that consisted of participant observation with Volkswagen workers and employees, engineering students sponsored by Volkswagen de Mexico, as well as Volkswagen car clubs and collectors. Through these worlds, the project elucidates the meanings and tensions, as well as contrasting articulations and visions that are embedded in Volkswagen de Mexico. Broadly, this project seeks to understand the power of transnational corporations to reproduce themselves through state violence and coercion and simultaneously through situated subject formation.
Lee, Courtney Anne, U. of Colorado, Denver, CO - To aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester
COURTNEY ANNE LEE, then a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester. Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork, this research explores the development of Costa Rica as a medical tourist destination for Americans seeking low cost, high quality medical care. This dissertation project seeks to understand the social, political, economic, and moral implications that the growth of medical tourism -- as a manifestation of larger neoliberal changes in Latin America -- has for the existing socialized health care system in Costa Rica, and the ways in which medical tourism affects how Costa Ricans think about health care delivery and state responsibility for health care. The global medical tourism industry represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about health care provision, and yet its impacts on local health care access remain virtually unexamined. This research addresses the ideological tensions and contradictions that surround medical tourism as the lines between conceptions of health care as local and global, socialist and capitalist, public and private blur to accommodate this emerging industry. This study is one of the first to take seriously local perceptions, understandings, and engagements with medical tourism. Grounded in the experiences of Costa Rican health care providers, educators, policy makers and locals, this paper tells the story of a system in flux.
Moran-Thomas, Dr. Amy, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid engaged activities on 'Experiences and Etiologies of Metabolic Disorders: Discussing Findings with Local Experts and Communities in Belize,' 2014, Belize
DR. AMY MORAN-THOMAS, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant in February 2014 to aid engaged activities on 'Experiences and Etiologies of Metabolic Disorders: Discussing Findings with Local Experts and Communities in Belize.' Earlier fieldwork, 'An Anthropological Study of the Experience of Diabetes and Parasitic Infections in Belize,' examined how people were negotiating treatment and refiguring causality amid an increasingly complex overlay of infectious and chronic diseases in the southern Stann Creek District. Diabetes has now become the leading cause of death nationwide in Belize, making its realities emblematic of a larger emerging epidemic of metabolic disorders in the world today. This Engaged Anthropology Grant allowed the grantee to return to Belize in the summer of 2014 for the first time since the dissertation fieldwork concluded in 2010, to share and discuss these ethnographic research findings with Belizean experts and communities who contributed to the project-including local patient groups, government doctors and policy makers, variously positioned caregivers, national intellectuals and advocates, and the patients and families who participated in the research. Alongside a series of smaller-scale conversations and exchanges, the keystone event of this trip involved organizing a public workshop in Dangriga-to create a community forum for interested people to offer suggestions and feedback that might deepen the value of ethnographic work, and to explore potential collaborations for making our collective reflections useful to those living with chronic conditions in real time.
Rodriguez, Dr. Leila, U. of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH - To aid workshop on 'Theory, Epistemology and Ethics of Anthropological Cultural Expertise in the Americas,' 2015, U. of Cincinnati
Preliminary abstract: As cultural anthropologists increasingly play a role in public policy, one of their proliferating participations is in the role of expert witness in legal cases. In the U.S., anthropologists have participated in a wide range of civil and criminal cases including asylum cases, indigenous land rights, and sexual abuse cases. Despite this important work, as a discipline there has been little collective discussion regarding its theoretical, epistemological and ethical considerations. By contrast, in Latin America this work is highly institutionalized and regulated. The aim of this workshop is to bring together cultural anthropologists who have served as expert witnesses to promote discussion on how our testimony functions as a dialogic relationship between the legal system and cultural diversity. The goal of the workshop is not applied: we will not discuss the specific procedures involved in this work, nor 'best practices' for 'doing' expert testimony. Rather, we seek to use our experiences to advance the field of legal anthropology and theoretical conceptualizations of what constitutes culture, cultural expertise, and how the legal system employs this work to be inclusive of cultural diversity. The workshop will last three days, during which participants will first generate discussion based on their experiences, and then will brainstorm the content of an edited book on this topic with the aim of producing a book manuscript and book proposal within the following year. The workshop will include Latin American anthropologists as well as U.S. anthropologists who have worked with primarily Latin American populations. Wenner-Gren funds are requested to enable the participation of the international scholars.
Allen, Karen Elizabeth, U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Sustainable Development in Costa Rica: Understanding Values, Land Use Decisions, and Market-based Mechanisms for Conservation,' supervised by Dr. Ted Gragson
Preliminary abstract: The goal of this study is to understand the diversity of values that influence private land-use decisions, and the implications of these decisions for the immediate social-ecological system. This research will take place in the Bellbird Biological Corridor in Costa Rica, a planning region designed to encourage sustainable development across a mixed-use landscape. This research will focus on how market-based mechanisms for conservation engage with landowner values, and how they operate across a diverse landscape. This research is grounded in work from anthropology that challenges the economic understanding of values that drive much of conservation. The research design integrates ethnographic data from semi-structured interviews, participant observation, unstructured interviews, and focus groups with ecological data to arrive at a holistic understanding of the relationship between landowner values, land-use decisions, and the landscape. Geographically weighted regression will be used to examine the relationship between land use decisions and biophysical and socioeconomic factors, and relate this information to sustainable development goals. Through examining variation in experiences of sustainable development in the wake of recent policy changes in Costa Rica involving market liberalization, this research will provide a case study on the various local responses to national and international policy trends.
Watson, Matthew Clay, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Assembling History: The Public Production and Dispersion of Maya Hieroglyphic Knowledges,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gillespie
MATTHEW CLAY WATSON, then a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Assembling History: The Public Production and Dispersion of Maya Hieroglyphic Knowledges,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gillespie. This dissertation investigates the formation of an ethic of collaboration among participants in Maya hieroglyphic decipherment. Through anthropology of science methodologies, the project explores how differentially interested workshop participants in Palenque (Mexico), Austin (Texas), and Antigua (Guatemala) collectively crafted representations of the ancient Maya. Funding enabled travel for interviews with Maya experts, Pan-Maya linguist-activists, and amateur epigraphers, as well as photographic documentation of letters that evidence collaboration. Analysis focuses on two processes: how social and material practices of witnessing and replicating decipherment in laboratory-like workshops created a shared imagining of ancient Maya life; and how the shifting form of media including drawings, letters, newsletters, and workbooks shapes the content of decipherments and sense of certainty that leads scholars to argue that they grasp the literal meanings of ancient Maya inscriptions. Through workshops and inscription practices, scholars' and lay participants' interests have embedded in Maya hieroglyphic studies' interpretations. These interests affect Maya cultural politics in Latin America, where historical narrative shapes the politics of populations racially marked by a colonial history. Ultimately, the project argues for the relevance of anthropology of science methodologies in tracing how Latin American historical narratives become publicly acknowledged as accurate accounts of the past.
Watson, Matthew C. 2012. Staged Discovery and the Politics of Maya Hieroglyphic Things. American Anthropology 114(2):282-296.
Green, Dr. Linda, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and Piedrasanta H., Dr. Ruth, Rafael Landivar U., Guatemala City, Guatemala; et al - To aid collaborative research on 'Impacts of 'Illegality:' Immigration Raids, Social Networks, Vulnerable Spaces'
Preliminary abstract: Immigration in the United States has been shaped in recent years by two relatively understudied phenomena. The first is what some scholars call the new geographies of immigration, involving both 'new' sending areas and 'new' receiving communities in the United States, such as the Deep South and the rural Midwest. The second involves stepped up governmental efforts at immigration enforcement, including not only heightened control at the US-Mexico border but increased immigration and law enforcement policing across the country. The largest workplace immigration raids in US history have taken place in the last few years in small urban centers, such as in Massachusetts and South Carolina and in rural towns in Iowa and Mississippi. These raids and large-scale deportations have had important, but not fully understood, effects on both sending and receiving communities. This multi-sited, interdisciplinary project takes seriously a recent call in North American anthropological circles for an ethnographic and theoretical investigation of 'removal' and specifically deportation. The project focuses on the cases of Postville, Iowa and Greenville, South Carolina, and their linked communities in Guatemala. We seek to understand how these large-scale raids and collective deportations have impacted migrant transnational networks as well as how they foster new alliances in receiving communities, reshaping politics and social imaginaries. The project builds upon pilot research in these sites, as well as many years of experience conducting fieldwork in rural Guatemala among the three co-PIs. It includes a training element to create a new university course in Guatemala on the anthropology of migration.
Leon, Andres, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Agrarian Conflict and the 2009 Honduras Coup d'état: Global Land Grabbing, Dispossession and Peasant Resistance in the Bajo Aguán,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman
ANDRES LEON, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Agrarian Conflict and the 2009 Honduras Coup d'état: Global Land Grabbing, Dispossession and Peasant Resistance in the Bajo Aguán,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman. The grantee investigated the relation between the current agrarian conflicts in the Aguan Valley in northern Honduras, and the 2009 coup d'etat that ousted democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. Research included extensive fieldwork in various peasant communities located in the valley and employing extended participant observation and oral history recuperation to document and reconstruct the history of the valley and the set of peasant cooperatives that were created during the 1970s. Based on fieldwork, interviews, archival and other documentary data, research investigated the process by which organized groups of peasants were brought to the deemed 'empty' Aguan Valley during the 1970s to form a set of cooperatives dedicated mainly to the production of African Palm. Based on this combination of ethnographic and historical research, the study argues that this case complicates the argument presented by most of the current literature on the global land grab that presents the African Palm boom as something relatively new, and as creating a conflict between palm-producing large landowners and subsistence-oriented poor peasants. In the Aguan Valley, the expansion of African Palm began in the 1970s and this expansion has been as much the result of increasing transnational investment through large landowners, as that of peasant cooperatives investing their meager resources into the production of the crop.