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.
DR. JESSICA BARNES, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in August 2012 to aid engaged activities on 'Engaging Egypt's Water Publics: Research Dissemination at a Time of Political Transition,' Cairo and Fayoum, Egypt. This engagement project allowed the grantee to return to her field site to present findings from the resultant book, 'Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt' (Duke University Press, 2014). The grantee arranged a series of three events in Cairo and in the rural province where fieldwork was conducted, with diverse audiences of civil society, farmers, engineers, donors, and academics. In each event the grantee presented the book's central argument: to understand Nile water politics, one must look at the everyday practices of blocking, releasing, channeling, and diverting water, which take place on a range of scalar levels, and which ultimately control where the water flows and what it becomes in the process. In each case, the presentation was followed by vibrant and fascinating discussions between the grantee and people who are also interested in the Nile but approach this issue from quite different perspectives.
Rotem, Zohar, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Becoming Jews and Arabs: Children and the Making of Ethno-national Distinctions in Israel,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence A. Hirschfeld
ZOHAR ROTEM, then a student at the New School for Social Research, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'Becoming Jews and Arabs: Children and the Making of Ethno-National Distinctions in Israel,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence A. Hirschfeld. This ethnography of a bilingual (Hebrew-Arabic) school in Israel analyzes the formation of ethno-national and ethno-linguistic difference in a country dedicated to values of equality and inclusion under the rule of law, but where a large population of Arabic-speaking Palestinians is nevertheless marginalized. Using an analytic double lens, it alternately takes a broad view at the school's successes and failings, and then narrows in to examine the lives of young children as they make sense of the categorical distinction -- between 'Jews' and 'Arabs' -- that they are called on to inhabit. Adults' fears of assimilation and desires for upward mobility make visible the societal that maintain de-facto segregation in a country that is legally democratic and explicitly liberal. And the young children -- who are left to make sense of their ethno-linguistic identities based on piecemeal information in their environment and an innate commitment to essentialism -- see language as the primary determinant of difference, and demand that a bilingual person (speaking both Arabic and Hebrew) should be deemed both Jewish and Arab. The erasure of this possibility by adults (and to some extent by children themselves) illuminates adults' commitment to difference as much as the essentialist structure of the child's mind.
Day, John William, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Peace through Prosperity: Capital Investment, Entrepreneurship, and the 'Kurdish Problem' in Southeastern Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Steven Charles Caton
WILL DAY, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received a grant in April 2008 to aid research on PPeace through Prosperity: Capital Investment, Entrepreneurship, and the 'Kurdish Problem' in Southeastern Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Steven Charles Caton. Research focused on urban poverty, post-conflict economic assistance and economic reconstruction projects, and claims making in the city of Diyarbakir in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast. Set in the context of the violent upheaval of the countryside and the acts of military-led forced displacement and rural dispossession that have remade country and city in that region since the 1980s and 1990s, this ethnographic study examines the ongoing consequences of this transformation. It centers on families cut off from rural subsistence solidarities and working to rebuild lives and livelihoods in a stagnant urban economy, and on the web of relations joining their social worlds with a heterogeneous and deeply divided field of poverty knowledge, assistance, and war-loss compensation. Through 26 months of fieldwork that moved back and forth between the sites of poverty knowledge production and economic policy (national and Kurdish local governmental institutions, various NGOs) and the meaningful practices of memory, claim making for state accountability and economic justice, storytelling, the researcher explore the generation of new forms of belonging and citizenship from within the contradictions and tensions of contemporary economy and politics in a city in flux.
Wellman, Rose Edith, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Blood, Food, and Sociality in Iran,' supervised by Dr. Susan McKinnon
ROSE EDITH WELLMAN, then a student at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Blood, Food, and Sociality in Iran,' supervised by Dr. Susan McKinnon. This research investigates kinship and nation-making in post-revolutionary Iran. Drawing on ten months of ethnographic research in a small Iranian town and two months of popular media and archival research, it explores how Iranian kinship is created through the dynamic interaction of inheritable substances such as blood, acts of feeding and cooking, and Shi'i Islamic blessing -- here described as 'kindred Islamic spirit.' In addition, this research suggests that an understanding of Iranian kinship is critical to comprehending Iranian ideas about national sociality, which is similarly organized by the interaction of inheritable substance (e.g., martyr's blood), public and pious food sharing, and Islamic blessing. The researcher further addresses the hierarchical relationship of blood and food and the unique ability of each to channel blessing and shape moral kin and citizens. This research builds on recent theoretical and ethnographic work on the interrelationship between kinship and nation, and it provides a much-needed portrait of contemporary post-Revolutionary Iranian sociality.
Grabiner Keinan, Adi, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Producing Change on the Ground: Israeli Leftist Groups against the Occupation,' supervised by Dr. Magnus Fiskesjo
ADI GRABINER KEINAN, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Producing Change on the Ground: Israeli Leftist Groups against the Occupation,' supervised by Dr. Magnus Fiskesjo. In the last few years, several Israeli leftist groups opposing Israel's occupation in the Palestinian Territories have introduced new forms of protest, aiming to address rapid transformations that enable Israel's regime of occupation. Their members oppose the perception of the occupation as a merely political issue that should be solved through negotiations, and attempt to challenge both the conditions and the effects of the occupation on the ground. Focusing on an ongoing process of protest in East Jerusalem, in which different political movements and activists took part, this study seeks to understand the dialectical relationships between human agency, subjectivity, and socio-cultural structures. Engaging with studies of social movements, broader debates on agency and subjectivity, and scholarship on state formation processes, the first line of inquiry of this research investigates the conditions produced within the framework of the occupation that enable such activism and the forms of agency and subjectivity associated with it; the second focuses on the complex, sometimes contradicting, effects of these forms of activism. Data collected through ethnographic, online, and archival research has the capacity to open new ways for understanding the relationship between political agency, subjectivity, and socio-cultural frameworks, in the case of Israel, and beyond.
Kassamali, Sumayya, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Death, Disappearance, Martyrdom: Warscapes of Contemporary Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick
Preliminary abstract: In a region long marked by experiences of political insecurity and militarized conflict, the tiny Middle Eastern country of Lebanon stands out for the seemingly endless cycle of violence that characterizes its recent history. From the Civil War of 1975-1991 and the Israeli invasions of 1982 and 2006, to its current imbrication in the conflict in Syria, Lebanon is a country layered by war. This experience of war has shaped two concurrent discourses: one that accuses the Lebanese public of opting for collective amnesia for the sake of national reconciliation, and another that sees in post-war reconstruction the possibility of cultural and collective renewal. Yet between unease at an apparent forgetting evidenced by a lack of memorialization in monuments or public discourse, and excitement at urban innovation as a form of national healing, lies the ongoing persistence of the dead. Bringing together stories about those who disappeared during the Civil War and those killed as a result of the current Syrian conflict, my dissertation project examines the afterlife of war outside the formal mechanisms of memorialization (or their absence). How are the overlapping layers of war in Lebanon narrated and lived with? How are the dead laid to rest, and how might some persist, making demands on those left behind, actively participating in the various communities of sect, religion, and nation? Through extended fieldwork in and around Beirut, I will examine forms of private grief versus public mourning, rituals that surround the naming and commemorating of martyrs, and campaigns drawing attention to the disappeared as attempts to put the not-quite-dead to rest. My project builds on a longstanding cross-disciplinary interest in how societies experience collective tragedy and intimate loss, turning to ethnography to intervene in a broader set of debates about war, mourning, and social transformation in the modern Middle East.
Mikdashi, Maya, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Conversion, the Politics of Secularism, and the Personal Status System in Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Povinelli
Preliminary abstract: Conversion is usually understood as an act of faith. In Lebanon, the right to 'change religions' is protected by the state, and citizens can and do convert their personal status in order to change the rights pertaining to their 'private lives.' For example, in particular circumstances, citizens will 'convert' in order to fall under the purview of a different divorce or inheritance law. Secular activists often read this practice of conversion as an injury to religious subjectivity, even though it might not always be experienced as such by 'converts.' Through twelve months of ethnographic and archival research in Beirut I will study the Lebanese personal status system in two contexts: this mechanism of conversion, and a political movement that seeks to add a 'secular' personal status law. By studying these Lebanese 'conversions,' the religious and secular legal discourses addressing them, and the institutional terrains of the personal status system, I will enrich theoretical debates on secularism, religion and their Lebanese articulation, political sectarianism.
Ozgen, Zeynep, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Schooling, Islamization, and Religious Mobilization in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Rogers Brubaker
ZYNEP OZGEN, then a student at University of California, Los Angeles, California, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Schooling, Islamization, and Religious Mobilization in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Rogers Brubacker. This ethnographic and historical project analyzes the relationship between rapidly growing religious education sites and mobilization efforts by Islamic movements in Turkey. The dissertation concentrates on the period from Turkey's 1980 military coup through the present to explain how Islamic movements have appropriated the secular vision of social engineering through education to reach, recruit, and organize followers. It also explores the consequences of a renewed emphasis on religious education for the perception and practice of Islam in everyday life. Through a combination of ethnographic field notes, interviews with key local and national actors, and analysis of archival documents the dissertation traces how religious education becomes the focal point of local and national struggles to inspire mobilization and advance an agenda of sociocultural Islamization.
Ozgul, Dr. Ceren, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research and writing on 'Converting Back to Armenianness: Normalization, Tolerance and Secularism in Turkey' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: My book, 'Converting Back to Armenianness: Normalization, Tolerance and Secularism in Turkey,' engages the religious, political and legal processes around Armenian return conversions in Turkey. The research that forms the basis of this application is my dissertation fieldwork, conducted in 18 consecutive months in Turkey, on the recent cases of conversion from Islam to Christianity in Turkey by individuals who trace their ancestry to Christian Ottoman Armenians and who once adopted Islam in the context of massacres culminating in the genocide of 1915. Accordingly, it draws critical attention to the diverse processes of formation of religious and secular subjectivities through 'double conversion': first, conversion from Islam to Christianity and second, conversion from a majority status to that of a religious minority. While focusing on return conversions in Turkey, the book aims to develop more general insights regarding secularism and ethno-religious difference, both in Turkey and within the broader scholarship on Muslim and post-colonial contexts. It also aims to contribute to recent anthropological efforts to interrogate how religious freedom is constituted in the greater context of academic scholarship and bring ethnographic insights to bear directly on some of the most pressing issues within democratic practice today.
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 scarcity; 2) management of excess water through drainage; 3) participatory water management; and 4) the diversion of water to irrigate newly reclaimed desert lands. Through participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, this research follows the flows of water across time and space, highlighting the points of friction where the water does not flow. The research builds on the anthropological literature on irrigation, extending it in new ways through bringing in insights from science and technology studies and embedding the study of local irrigation practices within the broader context of national and international, political and economic transitions.