Papageorgiou, Kyriaki, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid 'Seeds of Doubt: An Ethnographic Investigation of Biosafety in Contemporary Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Susan Greenhalgh
KYRIAKI PAPGEORGIOU, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded a grant in January 2004 to aid research on 'Seeds of Doubt: An Ethnographic Investigation of Biosafety in Contemporary Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Susan Greenhalgh. The study of biosafety in Egypt illustrates the complex interplay of knowledge and power enacted in the new spaces of scientific negotiation that have opened up by genetic research. The recent World Trade Organization case over GMOs, in which the Egypt was inadvertently entangled, is particularly evocative of the political and epistemic conundrums of biotechnology. This case demonstrates the growing global knowledge disparities and accentuates the problems of science and expertise halting Egypt's biosafety framework. While in 2004 the commercialization of biotechnology was put on hold, biodynamics, a peculiar version of organic agriculture, was burgeoning in Egypt. Based on Goethe's scientific paradigm articulated through Rudolph Steiner, biodynamics takes as its starting point the idea that that living organisms do not react in predictable ways and that they can only be known in fragments when using modern science. Rather than positing the relationship of biotechnology and biodynamics as one of opposition, the dissertation considers how the transatlantic quarrels over the status of genetically modified food are tied to the politics of alterative agricultural practices; how interlocking narratives about nature and society are articulated in the juxtaposition; and how facticity and claims about life are organized, institutionalized, and marked as different kinds of knowledge.
Borneman, Dr. John W., Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'The Transformation of Identification and Secular Authority in Aleppo, Syria'
DR. JOHN W. BORNEMAN, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, received funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'The Transformation of Identification and Secular Authority in Aleppo, Syria. This project investigated transformations in identification with authority in Aleppo, Syria, focusing on changes in the filial relations of fathers to sons. The fieldwork was carried out at a time when the United States was actively seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the Syrian state, ruled by a secular dynasty. Since the researcher is American, his transferential relation to informants was a central concern in his interactions. This entailed both the way in which he was identified as an American (with the source of authority seeking to undermine the authority of the state) and as a potential or alternative father in relations with young Syrians (hence part of the relationship he was studying). The Souk al-Atarin in Aleppo was one site for ethnographic encounters (where he lived), chosen because of its reputation as a commercial center that cultivates the traditional, a center of secular activity but also dominated by majority Sunni (meaning orthodox) Muslims -- a place that theoretically should be both pragmatic and conservative. The other site was the University of Aleppo, where the researcher had worked with a mixed group of students for a semester as a Fulbright scholar. The larger and timely intellectual question raised in this study is how to anticipate possible scenarios of regime change in Syria, and how to explore this question through a methodological stance of 'anticipatory reflection.' How, from top to bottom and bottom to top, do different levels of authority interact and how are they changing in the secular Syrian state?
Sen, Neslihan, U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Vaginismus: Embodiment of Modernity and Negotiations with Biomedical Authority in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Gayatri Reddy
NESLIHAN SEN, then a student at University of Illinois , Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Vaginismus: The Embodiment of Modernity and Negotiations with Biomedical Authority in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Gayatri Reddy. The research was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, from August 2011 to August 2012 with women diagnosed with vaginismus, a specific sexual disorder, and health care professionals who work on the issue. Furthermore, additional data was collected through archival and media research as well as participant observation in women's houses, the waiting rooms of the hospitals and private clinics and three different feminist organizations in Istanbul. The study analyzes the ways in which women's bodies and sexualities are perceived and politicized in Turkey. By including both ends of the biomedical spectrum, this study addresses the structures of the state, biomedicine and ideologies of patriarchy as well as negotiations with these structures to better understand the complex, shifting constructions of women's bodies and sexualities.
Duruiz, Deniz, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Embodiment of Labor and Migration: Kurdish Migrant Farm Workers in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Nadia Abu El-Haj
Preliminary abstract: Every spring more than one million Kurds migrate from the Kurdish region to different provinces of Turkey to work as seasonal farm laborers for three to six months. This project explores the structures of power and economy that enable this form of labor and migration; the changes in Turkey's socio-political and economic landscape introduced by this labor migration; and the ways in which farmworkers' lives are shaped by these practices. My proposed project is to do ethnographic fieldwork by living with several groups of Kurdish farm workers, following their paths of migration and homecoming for a year. With a focus on the embodiment of labor and on the affective and material worlds that labor and migration generate, this study aims to bring to the fore out how these practices of labor and migration transform rural Turkey and the Kurdish workers' lives. Also, most significant for a so-called informal labor practice is that the Turkish state actively organizes this labor migration, by replacing legal regulation of labor with ad hoc acts of administrative regulations such as manipulation of their routes of migration, surveillance of labor camps and arbitrating the disputes between employers and farm workers. So my study will also focus on the role of the neoliberal Turkish state in capitalist agricultural production and what the Kurdish workers learn about it by participating in these practices of labor and migration.
Weiss, Erica, Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Conscience: The Case of Israeli Refuseniks,' supervised by Dr. Abdellah Hammoudi
ERICA WEISS, then a student at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'The Social Life of Conscience: The Case of Israeli Refuseniks,' supervised by Dr. Abdellah Hammoudi. Fieldwork was done with conscientious objectors in Israel, following how they encountered, socially and legally, the Israeli military and society. Conscientious objectors, also known as 'refuseniks', refuse to take part in the military and its operations for reasons of conscience, most often because of moral objections to the occupation of the Palestinians, though sometimes for religious or feminist reasons. This refusal to participate in the military is seen as an affront to a basic moral good in Israeli culture, and the central organizing institution of secular Israeli life. This might suggest that conscientious objectors would be summarily ostracized, however, at the same time, Jewish tradition and Israeli culture holds respect and value for the obligations of conscience, even when it speaks against authority. Therefore, there is the possibility for discussion. This research project investigated the places and contexts where this discussion coalesces, and the way that disparities in understanding and belief with regard to fundamental notions such as community and the proverbial 'neighbor,' the obligations of sacrifice, and the articulation of the self that are revealed. The results of this fieldwork also provided rich ethnographic data with regard to the place of sacrifice through military service in Israeli society.
Weiss, Erica. 2012. Principle or Pathology? Adjudicating the Right to Conscience in the Israeli Military. American Anthropologist 114(1):81-94.
Hart, Brendan Gerard, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Translating Autism: Knowledge Transfer, Expertise, and Therapeutics of the Self in Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Lesley A. Sharp
BRENDAN G. HART, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Translating Autism: Knowledge Transfer, Expertise, and Therapeutics of the Self in Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Lesley A. Sharp. This dissertation examines the introduction and reworking of the category autism in urban Morocco. Drawing on studies of linguistic anthropology and science, technology and society (STS), the project develops a new approach to studying the relationship between clinical classifications and the sociocultural and institutional contexts of their application. With support from Wenner-Gren, the student researcher conducted twelve months of intensive fieldwork across a range of sites in Morocco: four family homes, the nation's first child psychiatry department, an 'integration' classroom for adolescents with disabilities, and at numerous sites of religious healing. It also included in-depth life history interviews with parents, extended interviews with experts, and extended visits to seventeen autism organizations in twelve different cities. Ongoing data analysis examines the impact and transformation of knowledge and practices associated with autism in Morocco. It analyzes shifts in understandings, meanings, and enactments of autism in the context of competing forms of expertise, especially French psychoanalysis and American behaviorism, and the recent rise of transnational and domestic parent activism. Drawing on the fine-grained details of ethnography, it also tracks the real-world consequences of such experiments in autism activism and expertise for people with autism and their families and caregivers.
Kocer, Suncem, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Media, Performance and Cultural Politics: Kurdish Culture Production in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Jane E. Goodman
SUNCEM KOCER, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'Media, Performance and Cultural Politics: Kurdish Culture Production in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Jane E. Goodman. This study investigates the Kurdish identity movement in Turkey and shows that media and performance production has become an important means of Kurdish culture production, and thus constitutes not only a significant battleground for national and transnational visibility for Kurds but also an important vantage point for observing the contradictions and tensions inherent in culture-making. Research focused on the production aspect of Kurdish media and performance events, such as documentary films, TV programs, and culture festivals, from the initial phases of brainstorming and fundraising to circulation and exhibition. Multi-sited ethnographic research was further conducted in order to collect information about circulation and exhibition processes of cultural displays in local, national, and international settings. The primary research sites were the cinema unit of a Kurdish culture center in Istanbul, the Kurdish culture festivals in Diyarbakir and Tunceli, television stations that broadcast programming in Kurdish, and several film festivals in Turkey and Europe. The research findings indicate that culture production is a process through which contradictions, conflicts, and cracks within the Kurdish identity movement surface.
Kocer, Suncem. 2013. Making Transnational Publics: Circuits of Censorship and Technologies of Publicity in Kurdish Media Circulation. American Ethnologist 40(4):721-733.
Moumtaz, Nada, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Piety in Markets of Inalienable Property: An Anthropology of Waqf, Beirut 1826 - present,' supervised by Dr. David W. Harvey
NADA MOUMTAZ, then a student at The City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received a grant in September 2007 to aid research on 'Piety in Markets of Inalienable Property: An Anthropology of Waqf, Beirut 1826-Present,' supervised by Prof. David Harvey. Waqf is one of the most enduring economic and religious institutions in the Muslim world. Dominant until the 19th century, waqf was discarded as inalienable (and hence 'precapitalist') during the property reforms of the first half of the 20th century. Since the 1990s and coinciding with the Islamic Revival and its emphasis on pious Muslim subjects, inalienable waqf is undergoing a revival. For 16 months, the researcher carried out ethnographic and archival research to investigate how inalienables (here waqfs), and the regime of value they embody, intersect with a private property regime. The grantee collected founding documents, accounting, appointments, and disputes around waqfs in 19th-century Beirut. She also recorded oral histories of three waqfs, and interviewed contemporary waqf makers. Evidence confirms that inalienables are not eliminated with the passage to market economies and private-property regimes, questioning the depiction of capitalism as a commodity economy and transition to capitalism as a withering of gift economies. Results indicate that inalienables are disciplined according to the moral order of the new property regime -- as well as to the characteristics of the moral subject, her/his duties, and the sites of morality -- without nonetheless eradicating the old moral order.
Paz, Alejandro I., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Emergence of Latinos in Israel: Migration, Forms of Contact, and Discursive Transformation,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
ALEJANDRO I. PAZ, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in August 2004 to aid research on 'The emergence of Latinos in Israel: Migration, Forms of Contact, and Discursive Transformation,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein. Mostly due to mass deportations and anxiety-ridden flight in the last three years, Latinos in Israel have become a declining ethnic group, whose major ordering organizations have substantially changed. Churches and soccer leagues, which used to function as both meeting points for networks of friends as well as ritual centers for the celebration of Latino ethnic qualities in relation to Israel, have been decimated, and less formal organizations of households and friends have taken their place as the major sites for maintaining a sense of Latino ethno-linguistic identity. Latinos are conscious of their difference because of the fragility of their undocumented status, the work they do, the language they speak, the friendship networks which hold them together, and the set of holidays they celebrate separately from the Jewish nation. Especially among the youth, they and the NGOs that mediate their voice in the public sphere would have that difference recognized as a typical ethnicity comparable to any Jewish immigrant group. The differences that mark this group are, as expected, found in both their speech and their consciousness of speech. While for them, Israelis speak impatiently and often too aggressively, Latin Americans speak alegre, happily, and with more ritual. Although many adults are irritated by Israeli lack of manners, they have adjusted and many favor Israelis' more 'liberal' and 'modern' mores in comparison to Latin American 'conservatism' and 'underdevelopment'. There is then, a dialectic, often played out between parents and their children, where Latinos find themselves adopting apparent Israeli speech even as they preserve Latin American speech norms as part of their children's education.
Bou Akar, Dr. Hiba, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA - To aid engaged activities on 'Talking Sectarianism: Community Workshops on Urban Planning, the Built Environment, and the Fear of the Religious Other in Beirut's Suburbs,' 2014, Beirut, Lebanon
Preliminary abstract: Beirut, between 1975 and 1990, endured a long civil war where sectarian divisions among Christians, Shiite, Sunnis, and Druze played a major role. After the peaceful period of reconstruction in the 1990s, violence returned to the city in 2005 and 2008 with fear of sectarian violence in Beirut's peripheries. My dissertation research exposed how Beirut's post civil war peripheries, previously conceived as poor and informal, have been transformed into contested frontiers mired in new forms of sectarian conflict led by religious political organizations. Funds from the Engaged Anthropology Grant will support community engagement initiatives to improve these neighborhoods' deteriorating living conditions. These initiatives include Host and Academic Community workshops that aim to bring people together around discussions of their rights to demand better living conditions. Host Community workshops aim to open a dialogue between residents, officials, party members, and planners on issues of planning, sectarianism, militarization, and violence. Academic Community workshops provide a medium to brainstorm how to create tolerant and habitable built environment within the political confines of the Lebanese context. These workshops aim to shift in an established 'common sense' through which people understand issues of sectarianism and the built environment, resulting in environmental degradation, displacement, and violence.