Hale, Dr. Charles, U. of Texas, Austin, TX; and Velasquez Nimatuj, Dr. Irma, Independent scholar, Guatemala - To aid collaborative research on "When Rights Ring Hollow: Racism and Anti-racist Horizons in the Americas"
Preliminary abstract: This proposal supports two research teams (in Guatemala and Brazil) that form part of a six-country study of indigenous and afro-descendant peoples, as they confront challenges rooted in ongoing social inequality, racial discrimination and limits to participation in their respective national political systems. The research emerges from three year's work with organizations in all six countries, which belong to a hemispheric network of "observatories on racism." Periodic meetings of this network yielded a central empirical observation: throughout the region,
Montesi, Laura, U. of Kent, Canterbury, UK - To aid research on 'Making Sense of Diabetes Among the Indigenous Huave People of San Dionisio del Mar, Oax., Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Anna Waldstein
Preliminary abstract: This research project explores whether and how, among the indigenous Huave (Ikojts) people of San Dionisio del Mar - a municipality located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca - type 2 diabetes provides a specific idiom that enables them to express bodily experiences, embodied memories, and concerns about the structurally violent circumstances that threaten their community. The recent widespread growth of type 2 (or adult onset) diabetes, a 'without borders' epidemic (Ferzacca 2012: 416), has highlighted how accelerated socio-economic changes (such as urbanization, dietary transition, sedentary life-styles) are the main contributors to the disease. Despite this acknowledgment, biomedicine tends to deal with diabetes in an individualized and medicalized way, locating the disease in the body of the affected person and making the individual responsible for both the causation and treatment of the pathology. My research takes issue with this reductionist approach and, by focusing on the dietary transition, seeks to understand how people perceive and make sense of 'change', how they select and construct past food-memories in order to explain their present condition. I contend that food symbolism and narration are important vehicles for the articulation of both the diabetic and the Ikojts identity, and that diabetes should be reframed as the metabolic outcome of a wider political pathogenic system. The experiences of people with diabetes will be explored through a qualitative analysis based on: unstructured and semi-structured interviews; participant observation of the ways in which disease and well-being are conceptualized and enacted in different places and by different actors; collection of life histories integrated by a study of the Ikojts sensorium and of the sensorium of people with diabetes.
Rayner, Jeremy Christopher, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on ''The ICE is not for Sale': Property, Value and Telecommunications Privatization in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. David W. Harvey
JEREMY RAYNER, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'The ICE is not for Sale': Property, Value and Telecommunications Privatization in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. David W. Harvey. The grantee investigated the recent upsurge in contention over liberalization in Costa Rica, and the central role played by telecommunications privatization in that process. He conducted extensive fieldwork with the network of Comités Patrióticos that arose to advocate against approval of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), employing extended participant observation to document the evolution of this movement's organization and priorities. Based on fieldwork, interview, archival, and other documentary data, the study investigated the changing political role of the state electricity and telecommunications monopoly, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), during longer periods of expansion and retrenchment of the welfare state, as well as over the course of the most recent protest cycle from 2000 to today. Based on this combination of ethnographic and historical research, findings argue that the recent centrality of the ICE and telecommunications privatization to Costa Rican politics is based not only on its material importance, but also on the ICE's status as 'emblematic' of contending visions of the meaning of national community. By explicating how this emblematic status has been created, employed, and transformed over time, this research contributes to understanding of the cultural processes involved in changing formations of property and the state.
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.
Unidad Academia de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
October 19, 2007
Daltabuit, Magali, Unidad Academica de Ciencias Sociales, Merida, Mexico & Geddes, H., U. of Mass., Amherst, et al.- To aid collaborative research on 'Environmental Discourses and the Production of Ideologies in the Tourism Economy of Tulum. Qunitana Roo'
Daltabuit Godas, Magali. 2012. El Movimiento Ambientalista de Quintana Roo. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México: Cuernavaca.
Garcia, David Ricardo, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Disputing Land Rights, Contesting the Community: Reconfiguration of Social Structures in Rural Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Allan F. Burns
DAVID RICARDO GARCIA, then a student at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, was awarded funding in May 2009, to aid research on 'Disputing Land Rights, Contesting the Community: Reconfiguration of Social Structures in Rural Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Allan F. Burns. Neoliberal land policies and local beliefs and practices regarding land transform not only the landscape but also the social relations in communities of small-holders. Through a mixed-methods approach the research examined how the contentions and cooperation over land ownership reconfigure the social ordering of rural communities, shift social support patterns, and shape beliefs and practices regarding land. The project was undertaken in Chisec, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, where differently positioned households within the social structure of Q'eqchi'-Maya communities both contest and conform to the legal procedures set forth by state-driven programs and policies. The study also engaged broader social practices by inquiring how lacunae in the state's legal procedures of land titling enable households, state officials, and other actors to reinterpret, resist, and reproduce desires, norms and regimes of land tenure. Social network data was gathered in two communities and probed the effects of distinct levels of land privatization on their social structures and social support. Through ethnographic interviewing and participant observation in the aforementioned communities and in the town of Chisec, different processes were captured inter alia land inheritance, individual land titling, and the application of technologies on land and community planning.
Lagos, Ingrid, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'The Migration of Biopolitics: Citizenship and Health in El Salvador,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena
INGRID LAGOS, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'The Migration of Biopolitics: Citizenship and Health in El Salvador,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena. Funding supported research to understand the ways remittances and migration form and transform healthcare networks, medical practices, and state policy in El Salvador. The study narrowed its focus on transnational medical phone consultations, and public/private health services targeting Salvadorans abroad. Salvadoran migrants living in cities in the US are calling rural doctors in El Salvador when they are sick. They call because in many instances they do not have access to care, but they also call because they find medical treatments and practices in the US incommensurable with those they are used to or are expecting. These transnational medical calls challenge the homogeneity assumed in biomedical practices, disturb their natural relationship to technology and progress, and de-center North-South assumptions of healthcare distribution. Furthermore, in this diagnosis process, devoid of a physical body and its representation (e.g. X-rays), a medical body emerges through relations, experience, and history, defying common sense notions of the medical encounter. The study shows how remittances and medical needs of Salvadorans in the US are linked to increased presence of private medicine in rural El Salvador, and how private and public interests attempt to 'capture' the economic gains thought to exist in medical remittance networks.
Mora, Mariana, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Contentious Governance: Zapatista Indigenous Juntas de Buen Gobierno and State Multiculturalism in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Charles R. Hale
MARIANA MORA, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in January 2005 to aid research on 'Contentious Governance: Zapatista Indigenous Juntas de Buen Gobierno and State Multiculturalism in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Charles R. Hale. Dissertation fieldwork, conducted from January 2005 to August 2006, examined the cultural politics of the Zapatista indigenous autonomy movement after a decade of social struggle for indigenous rights claims and for resource redistribution in Chiapas, Mexico. Research sought, firstly, to identify the extent to which Zapatista practices of autonomy effect material practices and indigenous identity formation in ways that differ from those practices of a neoliberal multicultural Mexican state; and secondly, to map how Zapatista cultural politics shape the production of subaltern indigenous political subjectivities. Contrary to the majority of largely text-based research on Zapatista politics, ethnographic data collected suggests that the practices and meaning of Zapatista indigenous autonomy are an effect of current state governing techniques, but also pose a challenge to state forces by generating decolonizing self-making practices. Both state policies targeting Mexican indigenous populations and practices of Zapatista autonomy encourage social actors to take responsibility for insuring their well-being. Similarly, expressions of Zapatista resistance and hegemonic forces struggle over the (re)production of social life, where the political is inseparable from socio-economic and cultural elements. However, research demonstrates that Zapatista political practices destabilize: the current ethnic-racial ordering of the Mexican nation-state; relationships between current capitalist logics and definitions of democracy; and how gendered constructs reproduce dichotomous understandings of indigenous and non-indigenous 'traditions.'
Mora, Mariana. 2007. Zapatista Anticapitalist Politcs and the 'Other Campaign': Learning from the Struggle for Indigenous Rights and Autonomy. Latin American Perspectives 34(2):64-77.
Roberts, Dr. Elizabeth Frances S., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Mexican Exposures: An Experimental Method for a Bio-Ethnography of Urban Working Class Families'
Preliminary abstract: I am proposing a year-long ethnographic study of six families in two working-class neighborhoods in Mexico City. My ethnographic observations of these families will form the basis for an experimental method that interlinks ethnography with biological data collected from these families by environmental health scientists from the United States over the last two decades as part of a project called ELEMENT. Following my fieldwork, and in cooperation with these scientists, I will link my ethnographic observations of these six families in their specific material, chemical and relational environments, with data derived from their biological samples. The objective of this method is to produce a bio-ethnography, a more robust account of these families' lives than would be possible through either ethnographic or biological data alone. My central goal is 1) to explore what bio-ethnography might tell us about specific life circumstances in regard to ill health and inequality. Additionally, I will use my ethnographic observations of these families, and my longer-term study of the ELEMENT project as a whole, 2) to trace how the ontologically specific bodies and lives of these Mexican study participants serve to make universalizing scientific knowledge that shapes environmental and global health policy that is then directed back at different bodies in other environments, and 3) to reflect critically on my own efforts to link two kinds of data that exemplify the nature/culture divide so central to twentieth-century American anthropology.
Abarbanell, Linda Beth, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Spatial Language and Reasoning in Tseltal Mayans'
DR. LINDA BETH ABARBANELL, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Spatial Language and Reasoning in Tseltal Mayans.' Does language shape speakers' experiences and perceptions? Some of the strongest yet most controversial claims for linguistic relativity concern the frames of reference speakers use to talk about locations and directions. English speakers use an egocentric perspective (e.g., left/right), where speakers of other languages use fixed aspects of their geocentric environment. In Tseltal (Mayan, Mexico), the language studied in this project, speakers use the uphill/downhill slope of their terrain. These differences are argued to affect the availability of each system for nonlinguistic thought; however, the experimental evidence has yielded conflicting results. The present research brings more systematic data to the table by: 1) replicating and extending previous studies in order to reconcile conflicting results obtained from different tasks and comparison groups; and 2) using linguistic variations within a single community to minimize environmental and educational differences across language groups while exploring speakers' ability to use both egocentric and geocentric representations. The results argue that language may help speakers encode non-salient relationships, such as non-egocentric left/right, and develop more complex and accurate mental maps of their environment; however, it does not fundamentally restructure spatial cognition. Rather, task-specific constraints may override linguistic preferences to determine which system is easier to use.