Ozkan, Nazli, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Producing State Power Through Media: Contested Definitions of Alevism in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Jessica Vinegar
Preliminary abstract: My project explores media, religious minorities, and the state in Turkey by examining the contests over how to define Alevism. Alevis are a religious minority who are excluded by the hegemony of Sunni Islam. In the 2000s, the government initiated a new secular politics of respecting religious freedoms, which allowed Alevis to gain a new media visibility through debates over what Alevism is. Various answers simultaneously defined it as an Islamic sect, a syncretistic religion, and a 'secular' culture. My preliminary fieldwork revealed that during this process, state actors used media to appropriate such contests and to promote an official definition of Alevism, which justifies Alevi discrimination. In response, Alevis began to use news media to challenge state by defining Alevism in their terms. By exploring this media field, I answer two questions: 1) How do state actors use media to manage the debates about Alevism and its oppression by constructing an official Alevism that maintains the hegemony of Sunni Islam? 2) How do Alevi media makers and ordinary Alevis challenge/negotiate/reproduce official management by promoting their own definitions? My study will therefore show how media contests become a means for both producing and challenging state power and discrimination.
Barnes, Dr. Jessica, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid engaged activites on 'Engaging Egypt's Water Publics: Research Dissemination at a Time of Political Transition,' 2013, Cairo and Fayoum, Egypt.
Preliminary abstract: This engagement project takes advantage of the new space for dialog that has been opened up within Egypt by the profound political transition that has taken place since I conducted my research on water politics in 2007-8. The current moment presents a unique opportunity for me to share my research findings, which speak to issues at the heart of contemporary debates on poverty, livelihoods, and governance of Egypt's resources. Through a series of events with different water publics (civil society, farmers, engineers, donors, and academics) in Cairo and a rural province, I will present a novel approach to the politics of water, which will inform these groups' efforts to improve the efficiency and equity of Egypt's water management system.
Saleh, Zainab, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'On Exclusion and Authenticity: National Self-Fashioning and State-Building in Iraq,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick
ZAINAB SALEH, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2005 to aid research on 'On Exclusion and Authenticity: National Self-Fashioning and State-Building in Iraq,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick. This grant made possible ethnographic and archival research on state-building, nationalism and national identity in Iraq. The project focuses on what has been known as 'Iraqis of Iranian origin,' Shia Arabs and Kurds, who sought asylum in the United Kingdom after expulsion or flight from Iraq during the Baath regime in the 1970s and 1980s. This work considers the decisive role of British colonial rule in the formation of the Iraqi state, and explores how subsequent Arab nationalistic rhetoric and practices of the Iraqi state have been based on exclusion since their inception, emphasizing the institutionalization of these acts of exclusion through law that divided Iraqis into citizens of authentic and inauthentic status. Ethnographically this project seeks to understand Iraqis' contemporary experiences of expulsion and flight, their fantasies of an eventual return to Iraq, feelings of social belonging after years of exile, religious practice and self-identification, and Iraqi exile views of the nationalistic discourse in Iraq. This project engages with a wide sampling of the diverse Iraqi community in London, focusing on those persons who fled Iraq because of their political activities and opposition to the Baath regime, in order to ultimately grapple with the different imaginations of Iraq as a horizon within which distinct histories and desires are ongoingly negotiated.
De Cesari, Chiara, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Cultural Heritage Beyond the 'State'/Palestinian Heritage between Nationalism and Transnationalism,' supervised by Dr. Ian R. Hodder
CHIARA DE CESARI, while a student at Stanford University, California, received funding in January 2006 to aid research on 'Cultural Heritage Beyond the 'State'/Palestinian Heritage Between Nationalism and Transnationalism,' supervised by Dr. Ian Hodder. This research focuses on the relationship between patrimonialization processes and the new forms of governmentality that have emerged during the past decade in the West Bank and Gaza Strip - a political (dis)order characterized by the coexistence of novel forms of Israeli colonial rule, a quasi-state, the Palestinian Authority, as well as the significant presence of international and donor agencies. Taking as starting point the activism of Palestinian civil society organizations, and the relevance of material remains of the past as sites of high discursive density, the research explored heritage discourses and practices, the conditions of their emergence, and the effects of heritage projects on affected local communities. During tenure of the Wenner-Gren grant, the researcher carried out ethnographic fieldwork chiefly within UNESCO and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, a Palestinian semi-governmental organization responsible for a major urban rehabilitation project in the old city of Hebron, as well as in the old city itself. Fieldwork indicates the proliferation of different cultures of memory/heritage in the lacerated space of Palestine, rooted in a desire for continuity and roots against dispossession and displacement. While global languages of heritage are appropriated by local actors in the making of a relived Palestinian past, the politics of donors' aid tend to direct flows of monies to restricted, accessible areas, thus reinforcing the current process of bantustanization of the Occupied Territories.
De Cesari, Chiara. 2010. Creative Heritage: Palestinian Heritage NGOs and Defiant Arts of Government. American Anthropologist 112(4):625-637
Vinea, Ana Maria, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Between the Psyche and the Soul: Mental Disorders, Quranic Healing and Psychiatry in Contemporary Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Talal Asad
ANA VINEA, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Between the Psyche and the Soul: Mental Disorders, Quranic Healing and Psychiatry in Contemporary Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Talal Asad. This project explored questions of affliction and well-being, as well of the relation between science and religion as they are configured in the contemporary Egyptian field of 'mental disorders.' It has ethnographically examined two therapeutic practices - biomedical psychiatry and Quranic healing, both employed by suffering Egyptians. It has also analyzed the debates between these two groups of practitioners. Approaching these therapeutic practices as forms of knowledge about the human, the researcher investigated the techniques employed by psychiatrists and Quranic healers to construct their knowledge, as well as the concepts of affliction, causality, and reality articulated and enacted in their practices. She also examined the styles of reasoning and ways of invoking authority used by psychiatrists and Quranic healers. The evidence collected shows that in contemporary Egypt psychiatry gains authority by its state-authorization as the only legitimate way of treating mental disorders and by its 'scientific' status. However, psychiatry's etiology, diagnostic categories and treatment methods are contested by Quranic healers' practices. These practices, while themselves partly reconfigured by the encounter with psychiatry, continue to argumentatively engage with the Islamic tradition, providing different ways of understanding affliction and of being in the world.
Hakyemez, Serra M., Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'The Double Side of Law: Minority Cultural Rights and Anti-Terror Laws in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
Preliminary abstract: Two sets of legal reforms enacted in the 2000s in Turkey have changed the way the state deals with Kurdish minorities significantly. The new legislation on minority rights allows Kurds to exercise some of their formerly prohibited linguistic and cultural rights. The enactment of the new anti-terror law, however, has simultaneously expanded the scope of prosecutable acts of terrorism and enhanced the state's capacity to control Kurdish political dissent. These two series of legal provisions have produced a paradoxical effect of rendering Kurdish subjects vulnerable to the charges of terrorism when they exercise their newly granted cultural rights. By conducting an ethnographic study of the open court trials of anti-terrorism cases and the circulation of stories about those very trials in the Kurdish community in Diyarbakir, I will examine how legal processes validate or unsettle the conceptual distinction between permissible cultural expressions and criminal acts of terrorism. This research aims to understand, first, how the law is used to both express the legitimacy of cultural rights for minorities and contain such expressions through the discourse of security; and second, how minority groups give voice to their own struggle with the law within the rubric of the Turkish state.
Khayyat, Munira, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'State of War: Violence, Uncertainty and Survival in Southern Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Michael Taussig
MUNIRA KHAYYAT, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'State of War: Violence, Uncertainty and Survival in Southern Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Michael Taussig. The dissertation project looks at how war comes to be 'naturalized' in a place where it has been an often-recurrent reality or at least potentiality for more than 60 years. A central thesis is that war, when protracted and persistent, is better understood as a social structuring force, and not just as a singular, exceptional, destructive event. This funding enabled twelve months of research along the southern border of Lebanon -- a poor and neglected rural periphery and a front-line of warfare, whose inhabitants depend on agriculture for subsistence, and the cultivation of tobacco and olives for income. To the inhabitants of this borderland, the pursuit of daily living necessarily intersects with the deadly objects that remain in the soil (such as mines and cluster bombs) and the wartime realities that visibly and invisibly structure the militarized border area. Thus, research examined the casual intertwining of war-related realities with the necessities of everyday living especially those relating to cultivating the land and the rebuilding of homes destroyed during the 'July War' of 2006. Fieldwork involved interviews and discussions with the inhabitants of several villages along the militarized border around the everyday themes of cultivation and construction, as well as the daily observation of village life across the different seasons in several villages along the border.
Mittermaier, Dr. Amira Susanne, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'The Ethics of Giving: Islamic Charity in Neoliberal Egypt'
Dr. AMIRA MITTERMAIER, University of Toronto, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'An Ethics of Giving: Islamic Charity in Neoliberal Egypt.' Whereas many NGOs in Egypt have shifted their focus from handouts to development, this project examines distributive forms of charity that are often quickly dismissed as 'ineffective' and 'outdated.' Fieldwork was conducted at large-scale charity organizations that collect and distribute obligatory and voluntary alms; among believers who prefer giving food or money directly to the poor; and in religious spaces of food distribution, such as Sufi khidmas and Ramadan tables (mawa'id al-rahman). Through in-depth fieldwork this project traces varied, shifting, and conflicting understandings of Muslims' religious-ethical responsibilities toward Others in need. Against the backdrop of the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the project pays particularly close attention to overlaps, tensions, and interplays between political calls for 'social justice' and everyday acts of giving. It aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of intersections between religious practices, politics, ethics, and economics.
Mittermaier, Amira. 2012. Invisible Armies: Reflections on Egyptian Dreams of War. Comparative Studies in Society and History 54(2):392-417.
Mittermaier, Amira. 2012. Dreams from Elsewhere: Muslim Subjectivities beyond the Trope of Self-Cultivation. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(2):247-265.
Ozsoy, Hisyar, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Between Revolution and Democracy: Renegotiating Kurdish Identities,' supervised by Dr. Kamran A. Ali
HISYAR OZSOY, while a student at The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in November 2005 to aid research titled, 'Between Revolution and Democracy: The Renegotiation of Kurdish Political Identities in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Ali. Ozsoy investigated the renegotiations of Kurdish political in the context of the ongoing transformation of Kurdish politics away from the goal of revolution and independence towards integration through multicultural democracy in Turkey. He researched, on the one hand, the changing content and structure of state-Kurdish relations in this process and the implications of these with regard to political identity among Kurds. On the other hand, he focused on how the politics of multicultural democracy has transformed Kurdish politics internally, detailing on the reconfiguration of class and gender relations and memory formation processes that underwrite political identities. Research findings indicate that the shift in Kurdish politics is accompanied by a complex process of redistribution of power and authority among multiply situated Kurds, which has fueled up contradictions within the Kurdish community and resulted in significant demobilization, existential disillusionment and political alienation. This deepening fragmentation and increasing politicization of internal contradictions carve up new fields of power, identity and struggle within the Kurdish community and besides their ongoing struggle with the Turkish state for recognition and power. This research is based on archival, ethnographic and collaborative research with Kurdish men and women from different power positions, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds in the adjacent Ofis and Baglar districts of Diyarbakir, Turkey.
Barnes, Jessica Emily, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West
JESSICA BARNES, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West. This research asks how farmers' everyday practices of water use in the Fayoum, Egypt, are affected by changes in the national and international context in which they make their decisions, and how farmers' decisions, in turn, shape this context. The research explores the relationship between government policy shifts, international donors' agendas, and farmers' decision-making on water management through analysis of four central themes: 1) water scarci