Steele, Ian Emmet, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Gifts with the State: Reciprocity, Solidarity and Corruption in Egypt's Province of the Presidents,' supervised by Dr. Charles Hirschkind
Preliminary abstract: Since Egypt's 2011 revolution, scholars have noted the seeming paradox between revolt against state corruption and adulation of elements of Egypt's 'deep state' through slogans like, 'The people, the army, and the police are one hand.' Rather than assuming an opposition between revolution and panegyric, this research project will investigate the cultivation solidarity with the Egyptian state through the very corruptions criticized by revolutionaries. Situated in a rural Nile Delta province infamous for receiving patronage because of its close relationship to Egypt's deep state, this twelve month ethnographic project will ask how exchange of favors through connections, or 'wasta,' binds and subordinates Egyptians to state authorities, drawing on and advancing anthropological literatures on reciprocity and obligation, solidarity and authority, and corruption. Most recent ethnographies of Egypt have focused on Cairo to the detriment of rural provinces where most Egyptians live, but by focusing on micropractices of nepotism at a local level, this study will help reveal the affective infrastructures that support the Egyptian state.
Fuchs, Ofira, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Reforming the State:Orthodoxy and Change in Jewish Religious Activism in Israel,' supervised by Dr. Virginia Dominguez
Preliminary abstract: In recent years, moderate Orthodox Jews in Israel have become increasingly involved in political and religious initiatives that aim to challenge, and pose alternatives to, the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, Israel's Jewish religious institution. This new development in the battle over the public role of Judaism in Israel is the focus of this study. In my dissertation research I ask, how do Orthodox activists promote social and political changes --including a more pluralistic religious institution and greater religious agency for women --while still attempting to remain within the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism? By studying Orthodox activists who oppose the Rabbinate, I aim to investigate the dynamics within Orthodoxy in the struggle over redefining Israel's public religiosity. I will conduct fieldwork in nongovernmental organizations and religious congregations that advocate for greater participation of women, non-Orthodox and secular actors in the shaping of Israel's religious sphere. Their organized activity is part of a broader movement for social change and it is rooted in community life. By studying this movement in the context of nongovernmental politics and by tracing its relations with American Jewish immigration to Israel, my research will situate religion at the intersections of state politics and everyday life, diaspora and homeland.
Yildiz, Emrah, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA- To aid research on 'Traffic in Value: A Road Ethnography of Pilgrimage, Contraband Commerce, and Border-Crossing Across Eastern Borders of Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Steven C. Caton
EMRAH YILDIZ, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received a grant in October 2011 to aid research on 'Traffic in Value: A Road Ethnography of Pilgrimage, Contraband Commerce, and Border-Crossing across Eastern Borders of Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Steven C. Caton. The phase of research covered by the grant involved conducting crucial ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and archival research on the Hajj-e Fuqara ('pilgrimage of the humble') route between Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The route emerged during the Iran-Iraq war as an alternative for Shi'a Iranians' pilgrimage to prominent sites in Iraq as well as to Mecca. The dissertation research examines the changing nexus of state sovereignty, religious pilgrimage, and informal economies along the Hajj-e Fuqara route. In the following two decades, this bus route shuttled Iranian pilgrims to the Sayyida Zainab shrine near Damascus, as well as contraband goods between Iran, Turkey and Syria. The Syrian civil war brought an end to pilgrimage and restructured the transnational contraband networks that the route had previously facilitated. By chronicling the transformations of this border landscape on the transnational fringes the Middle East, this dissertation aims to recover the arresting of traffic in people and goods as a moment in legal construction and social praxis of cross-border commercial labor, which the growing historical and anthropological scholarship on transnational mobility has often neglected in favor of historical continuity and geographical contiguity.
Hirsch, Dr. Dafna Rona, Open U., Tel Aviv, Israel - To aid workshop on 'Encounters between Anthropology and History - Studying the Israeli-Palestinian Space,' 2012, Zohar Badesheh, Kibbutz Dalia, Israel.
Preliminary abstract: The workshop will be the culmination of two years research by a group dedicated to developing research tools for studying the social, cultural and political history of the Israeli-Palestinian space, based on the encounter between anthropology and history. The group is composed of Israeli Arab and Jewish scholars in the early stages of their careers (some of whom are working or studying in academic institutions abroad) -- anthropologists, sociologists and historians. Our aim is to develop a cross-disciplinary approach that promotes listening to life stories, pays attention to everyday practices and to relationships between communities and people, and seeks to understand the different and changing ways in which they understand and produce reality in the framework of ongoing negotiations with the state and its agents. The two day workshop will be devoted to discussing the final drafts of the papers based on group members' research projects, which are intended to appear in an edited volume, as well as the introduction to the volume and its structure. Through the workshop we intend to make the work of editing a truly shared venture.
Lindbekk, Monika, U. of Oslo, Oslo, Norway - To aid workshop on 'Women Judges in the Muslim World,' 2013, U. of Oslo, in collaboration with Dr. Nadia Sonneveld
'Women Judges in the Muslim World'
December 17-18, 2012, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Organizers: Monika Lindbekk (U. Oslo) and Nadia Sonneveld (U. Nijmegen)
The workshop brought together scholars from different countries in order to address a hitherto unexplored aspect of sharia in practice, namely women's participation in judicial decision making processes. During the last decades the number of female judges in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East and South-Asia has increased. This increase, however, has not been reflected in legal-anthropological court studies that deal with sharia as a lived reality and where the perspective of women judges is almost completely lacking. The workshop filled a gap in academic scholarship by investigating the situation of female judges in Muslim majority countries, and the relationship between the introduction of female judges and women's access to justice. This was done by creating an international platform for discussion and debate between scholars who have extensive knowledge on the subject matter in the Western world and outstanding academics on 'sharia in practice' in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The workshop also had as its targeted goal the publication of a book.
Newman, Jessica Marie, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Abortion, Negotiation, and Activism in Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Marcia C. Inhorn
Preliminary abstract: Global health campaigns targeting reproductive and maternal health consider access to medical abortions to be intrinsically linked to lower maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Yet in contexts where abortion is illegal, public health projects targeting the reduction of 'unsafe abortion' have been unsuccessful. This project seeks to understand the ways that everyday actors draw on religious and human rights discourses to understand their bodies, their behaviors, and their rights. Specifically, this research will examine how the intersection of juridical practices that criminalize abortion, and human rights and global health frameworks structure women's access to abortions in Morocco. The Maliki school of Islam, to which Morocco belongs, disallows abortion after 40 days of gestation and Morocco's criminal code outlaws both abortion and premarital sexuality. Attempts to contest these laws therefore challenge religious and state authority, which are entwined in the Moroccan state apparatus. Despite proscriptions against abortion in Morocco, high rates of abortion bespeak the myriad ways in which women negotiate access to abortive care in cases of unplanned pregnancy. This project examines women's therapeutic itineraries in contexts of constraint, while questioning how normative medical, religious, and feminist discourses influence individuals' understandings of their own opinions about and experiences with abortion.
Al-Mohammad, Dr. Hayder, U. of Southampton, Southampton, UK - To aid research and writing on 'The Precariousness of Dwelling: Entangled Lives and Ethics In Post-Invasion Iraq' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. HAYDER AL-MOHAMMAD, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2012 to aid research and writing on 'The Precariousness of Dwelling: Entangled Lives and Ethics in Post-Invasion Iraq.' 'Rough Ground,' the resulting book project, seeks to ambiguate the stories of devastation and moral uncertainty in Iraq's recent history by giving more complex accounts of the connections, relations, and the entanglements of lives, which are named in forms such as friendship and family, and modes of comporting to others such as care, and even love, which have yet to become part of how one thinks and writes about life after the invasion of 2003. It is this picture of the lives of Iraqis as not merely caught in tribal tensions and obligations, sectarianism, war and occupation, and the violence and destruction of terror, but in the rough ground of mundane affairs and encounters, which clears a space to think of the care and ethics of daily life in Iraq. Such a narrative, however, does not do away with the politics, suffering, and history of the country; it indicates, rather, the thinness of thinking only of the unravelling of life in Iraq without also accounting for its entanglements as well-entanglements which are not merely counterpoised to violence and suffering, but emerge from, through, and even against them.
Ran-Rubin, Michal, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Nature of Citizenship: Cultivating Political Subjects in Israel-Palestine,' supervised by Dr. John L. Comaroff
MICHAL RAN-RUBIN, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'The Nature of Citizenship: Cultivating Political Subjects in Israel-Palestine,' supervised by Dr. John L. Comaroff. This research explores the use of visual, material, and spatial practices involved in fashioning alternative geographic imaginaries in Palestine-Israel. Ethnographic fieldwork included eighteen months of multi-sited research with ecologists, urban planners, architects, NGOs, secondary schools, and three youth groups in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Research was conducted in two distinct parts. Phase one investigated the rise of environmental discourses and pedagogies in Palestinian schools. Intensive classroom observation at two, mid-size public schools demonstrated that, although the curriculum did not succeed in its objective of honing a depoliticized ethic of individual conservation, it did provide students with novel visual strategies for conceptualizing the larger political forces that structure their access to nature and public resources. This research elucidates the importance of graphic technologies in enabling individuals to visualize their relationship to water, land, and space, as a means for orienting them within the broader political landscape. Phase two focused on a variety of explicitly political, civil-society organizations pursuing spatial strategies for commemorating the 1948 Nakba and planning for the return of Palestinian refugees. Ethnographic fieldwork at architectural offices, participatory mapping workshops, public planning sessions, commemoration events as well as tours of destroyed Palestinian villages yielded a wealth of data about the significance of spatial and architectural interventions in shaping individual perceptions of politics, the state, and the built environment. Combined, these two phases of research elucidate the role of visual, material, and sensorial politics in generating awareness of state violence and producing alternative geographic imaginaries in Palestine-Israel.
Carney, Joshua Luke, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Storms Through the Valley: Fact, Fiction and the US Image in Turkish Popular Media,' supervised by Dr. Ilana Miriam Gershon
JOSHUA L. CARNEY, then a student at University of Indiana, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Storms through the Valley: Fact, Fiction, and the US Image in Turkish Popular Media,' supervised by Dr. Ilana M. Gershon. Research examined the publics and discourses emerging around two immensely influential Turkish TV dramas ('dizi' in Turkish). The contemporary mafia drama, Valley of the Wolves, and the Ottoman costume drama, Magnificent Century, relate disparate periods and cater to very different audiences, but both have set the political and social agendas in Turkey due to the uneasy blend of fact and fiction in their plots. The project focuses on the increasing relevance of screen culture in the Turkish milieux through an ethnographic engagement with the publics generated by these shows, touching on conspiracy theory and nostalgia as strategies for coping in an era of multiple modernities, the creation and maintenance of gendered and national identities, and the political implications of the international distribution of these shows.
Stein, Dr. Rebecca, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Digital Occupation: Social Media and the Israeli Occupation'
DR. REBECCA L. STEIN, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Digital Occupations: Social Media and the Israeli Occupation.' This project studied the ways that Israel's military occupation has been transformed in the age of social media and new digital communications technologies. Through ethnographic work with a variety of Israeli state institutions involved in the management and implementation of Israel's occupation, with Israeli human rights bodies working to document and educate about the violence of military rule, and with everyday Israeli civilians whose experience of occupation is increasingly meditated by online tools, the grantee tracked the ways that an increasing reliance on such digital tools, platforms, languages, and aptitudes has changed both the everyday terms of military rule in the occupied territories, and the Israeli struggle against it. The ways that Israeli civilian populations-highly literate in digital tools-are being recruited into the work of sustaining and supporting the occupation through ordinary social media processes, platforms, and practices were also considered. The research concluded that the evolving terms of social media usage are heavily impacting and shaping Israeli militarism, while shifts in Israeli militarization are dramatically altering the social media field itself-a phenomenon this study terms 'digital militarism.'