Posecznick, Alex, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Recruiting Through Open Doors: On the (Im-)Possibility of College Admission in America,' supervised by Dr. Herve Varenne
ALEX POSECZNICK, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on Recruiting through Open Doors: On the (Im-)Possibility of College Admission in America,' supervised by Dr. Herve Varenne. This project examined the ways that college policies, practices, and talk about college admission shapes the admission at a non-elite post-secondary institution. Although elite universities are clearly involved in the construction of meritocracy, this research examined how it is mediated through neoliberal bureaucracies at all levels of life in America. Having survived a series of enrollment 'crises' that led to the layoffs of over 100 staff, the college in which this research took place was instructive in the examination of enrollment trends in competitive landscapes. The grantee spent twelve months in participant observation in recruitment, open houses, interviewing, application reviews, marketing meetings, and event management at a small, non-elite, private college's Office of Admission, and drew upon archival and visual methods in the analysis of nearly 3500 pages of documents. The grantee interviewed great numbers of informants, including Admission staff, executives, Board members, faculty, Deans, program directors, and stakeholders about the many and various interpretations of the college, its history, and its current state. Ethnographic examination of an office of admission demonstrated the ways that massive and powerful bureaucracies, policies, and institutions hegemonically interpret, evaluate, and act upon persons in America, producing and reproducing measurable differences that reinforce neoliberal, meritocratic models of the individual. The research emphasized the complex and contested understandings of students and bureaucratic processes. As the students at the college in which this research took place were overwhelmingly people of color, this study further reveals how kinds of diversity were displayed in order to be meaningful to a bureaucracy and with what consequences.
Johnson, Jessica Ann, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'The Same-Sex Marriage Debate in Washington State,' supervised by Dr. Ann Anagnost
JESSICA ANN JOHNSON, then a student at University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'The Same-Sex Marriage Debate in Washington State,' supervised by Dr. Ann Anagnost. The research questions central to this dissertation project on same-sex marriage politics in Washington State are: How are moral and family 'values' deployed by both sides of marriage equality debates? How is the 'culture war' constructed by the media and identity-based activism? What do representations of a partisan divide elide concerning relationships between cultural politics and neoliberal transformations in the U.S. political economy? This year-long ethnographic investigation troubles accounts of an incommensurable ideological conflict over the legalization of gay marriage. Fieldwork in Seattle, Washington entailed conversations with leaders and members of gay rights activist groups, conservative evangelical churches, and progressive religious organizations. Through visits to church services and seminars on topics pertaining to gender and sexuality, interviews with lawyers and activists on both 'sides' of the issue, and textual analysis of legal discourse in conversation with neoliberal reforms, this investigation examined how seemingly polarized communities are mutually constituted through negotiations of intimacy, nation, and citizenship. Finally, this study explored how an overlapping domain of political value shaping and shaped by marriage equality debates indexes links in practices of U.S. identity politics, shifts in neoliberal forms of governance, and domestic 'threats' to national security producing the 'war on terror.'
Chia, Aleena Leng An, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on ''You are all Citizens of the Universe': Corporate Governance and Civic Subjectivity in Virtual World Gaming,' supervised by Dr. Mary L. Gray
ALEEN L. CHIA, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on ''You are All Citizens of the Universe:' Corporate Governance and Civic Subjectivity in Virtual World Gaming,' supervised by Dr. Mary L. Gray. This research addresses negotiations between collectivities of gamers and developers in virtual world-building as a way to assess modes of engagement based on commodity exchange, as well as complementarity and mutual obligation in transmedia configurations under post-Fordist frameworks of productivity. Funding supported participant observation in live-action and video gaming events in Boston, Atlanta, and Reykjavik, with players in the 'Mind's Eye Society,' a non-profit organization that adapted a horror-themed transmedia gaming property -- within the terms of a licensing agreement -- into a collaborative narrative performance of national reach, over a five-year timeframe. This research suggests that in comparison to more architecturally and technically based systems for processing user productivity, the administratively based system of intellectual property driven communities of practice cobble together administrative techniques and online tools into a flexible and volatile communicative infrastructure that has affordances for relatively delayed modulation, distributed and opaque information processing, and sharing of media purchases. Crucially for scholarly conversations about post-Fordist frameworks of productivity, this research suggests that inefficiency within such administratively based systems is a useful social mechanism for distributed decision making in relation to the social relations of labor.
Safransky, Sara, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid engaged activities on 'Detroit People's Atlas,' 2015, Detroit, MI
Preliminary abstract: A Wenner-Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant would support the completion of the Detroit People's Atlas, a publication to include writing, maps, and art by scholars, activists, and community members. During my dissertation research, I became actively involved in the United Detroiters Project, a collaborative effort based on the idea that collective research and reflection are important for creating a more just and equitable city. This type of engaged research is even more critical today, due to the Michigan state takeover of the Detroit government via an emergency manager and the city's subsequent declaration of bankruptcy. We envision the Atlas as a community-centered writing and mapping project that will connect life histories and everyday urban experiences with political-economic reconfigurations in the city (e.g., state takeover, bankruptcy, austerity, rightsizing) with histories of racialized dispossession and broader structural changes taking place in other cities across the country and globe. The Atlas is designed to take stock of social justice work happening across Detroit and build movement networks in the process. Through these visions and stories we will counter blank slate narrative about the city often portrayed by the corporate media and many of our politicians. The Atlas will be written for the broadest public.
Koehler, Catherine Marie, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Death of a Thousand Cuts: Union Corporate Campaigns, RICO Litigation, and the Struggle to Define Economic Rights in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Vilma Santiago-Irizarry
CATHERINE KOEHLER, then a student at Cornell University, received funding in October 2009, to aid research on ''Death By a Thousand Cuts:' Union Corporate Campaigns, RICO Litigation, and the Struggle to Define Economic Rights in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Vilma Santiago-Irizarry. This research sought to ethnographically situate unfolding, disputed and sometimes conflicting struggles to define collective economic rights in the United States, asking: How are collective economic rights variably constituted? What are the meaningful divergences in these constitutions? And, finally, What are the consequences of these divergences? This was contextualized within the reformulation of rights under neoliberalism, where class-based rights claims are both structurally and ideologically foreclosed. Towards these ends, the grantee conducted extensive participant observation with both unionized corrections workers and incarcerated men at a maximum security prison in Central New York. This primary research was augmented by archival research, ethnographic interviews, and collected material sources (media, legal decisions, legislative documents, union memoranda, etc.). Preliminary findings suggest that a central tension emerges from the doubling of the prison as both a worksite (for corrections workers and the incarcerated, who are paid for their labor within the facility) and a site of confinement. Economic rights, then, were constituted in moments of dissonance and discord between corrections staff and the incarcerated over the relations of work performed within a carceral context. Moreover, this dissonance was articulated through highly racialized idioms, where 'honest work' against criminality intersects with 'slave labor' for the state. Ultimately, this divergent constitution of rights served to de/legitimize confinement as a mechanism of both punishment and reform.
Dennison, Jean, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Reforming a Nation: Citizenship, Government and the Osage People,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt
JEAN DENNISON, then a student at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, was awarded funding in November 2005, to aid research on ''Reforming a Nation: Citizenship, Government and the Osage People,' supervised by Dr. Peter R. Schmidt. This research examined the mapping of Osage identity within the context of their 2004-2006 citizenship and government reform process. It investigated three primary areas: first, how the colonial situation created certain limitations on and possibilities for Osage citizenship and governmental formation; second, the ways in which the desires surrounding 'Osageness' were created and changed through the reform process; and third, how the writers of the 2006 Osage Constitution navigated the conflicts arising from these histories and desires in order to create this governing document. In order to investigate these concerns a wide range of evidence was collected, including archival documents, interviews, recorded community and business meetings, and informal conversations. Using this evidence, this dissertation will investigate how colonial policies, local histories, authorized and unauthorized stories about the reform process, biological 'facts,' desires, fears and personal experiences were all hardened into the 2006 Osage constitution.
Shimmin, Jessica Ann, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'A Safe Place: Gender, Safety, and Place Making in a Shelter for Battered Women,' supervised by Dr. Bambi B. Schieffelin
JESSICA SHIMMIN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'A Safe Place: Gender, Safety, and Place Making in a Shelter for Battered Women,' supervised by Dr. Bambi Schieffelin. This research investigates the production of culturally legible safe space for battered women and children. Using ethnographic data gathered from Massachusetts' human service systems and shelter network, the grantee analyzes and compares the ideological, material, and systemic architectures domestic-violence professionals construct to create security. Funding supported the second phase of this research including: participant observation at a shelter campus operated at a published location; interviews with domestic-violence experts and building professionals; and participation in workshops and public awareness events, as well as tours and photography in emergency shelters. This line of inquiry uncovered an engagement with space shared by professionals across the spectrum of domestic-violence intervention. Strong beliefs and differences of opinion highlighted a semiotics of women's safety that emphasizes personal interiors, domestic routines, and familial intimacy. By mapping the social resources professionals use to sustain emergency-shelter programs, this study situates emergency shelters in a bureaucratic network that enables and regulates victims' access to services as well as their success or failure. Emphasizing the cultural and institutional framework of emergency shelters, this dissertation will contribute an empirical analysis of the gendered space of personal safety, as well as of the transition domestic-violence professionals make available to abused women and children.
Lewis, Elizabeth Martha, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'The Everyday Intimacy of Difference: A Biography of the Deafblind Spectrum,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen Stewart
Preliminary abstract: Deafblindness changed dramatically in recent decades, expanding its parameters to include individuals with a spectrum of both auditory and visual impairments, who often have additional disabilities. Through this process, many people who would previously have been labeled as 'multiple handicapped' acquired a new diagnosis: they became deafblind. My project examines the local contours of deafblindness in contemporary Texas as a case study of this shift to the deafblind spectrum. I pay particular attention to this complex diagnostic as it unfolds across three registers: everyday life on the border; statewide politics and activism; and cutting-edge biomedical technologies. The broadening of the spectrum has combined with on-the-ground advocacy efforts, as well as new educational, biomedical, and support services, enabling children to begin emerging from society's shadows in previously unimagined ways. I focus on deafblindness in family life and the everyday to illuminate how this diagnostic reconfiguration unfolds locally, and I will compose a biography of the deafblind spectrum itself within these contexts. My analysis will illuminate connections between bodies, affect, and disability, yielding insights into the entangled realities of deafblindness in my fieldsites and beyond. Furthermore, this biographical approach to deafblindness will open new methodological and conceptual avenues for theorizing disability.
Fowler, Dr. Loretta, U. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK - To aid research on 'Indigenous Movements Compared: Regionalism and American Indian Sovereignty'
DR. LORETTA FOWLER, of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, received funding in January 2004 to aid comparative research on American Indian sovereignty. The tribal sovereignty movement has taken hold in all High Plains communities, yet 'sovereignty' does not have the same meaning everywhere. Fowler's objective was to identify and account for the range of variation in the application of sovereignty rights to specific community problems and goals and in the ways tribally administered self-determination programs did or did not reflect cultural rights issues. She collected archival data on tribal income and budgets, legal codes and cases, and sovereignty discourses for 16 tribes. For all of them, 'sovereignty' was based on treaty guarantees that applied to a specific land base. Fowler learned that a general demand existed for the exercise of legal jurisdiction on land within the boundaries of the original reservation and for cultural independence, that is, the right to apply 'traditional' solutions to everyday problems and goals. The specific demands, the emphases, and the level of commitment to these goals varied according to the historical context in which the sovereignty movement developed. Sovereignty demands and level of commitment were found not to be directly related to tribal income but were related to the level of intracommunity conflict and the level of non-Indian on Indian violence. Moreover, the sovereignty movement was found to have generated a grassroots commitment to mitigating power differentials between tribal officials and constituents.
Fowler, Loretta, 2007. Tribal Sovereignty Movements Compared: The Plains Region. In Beyond Red Power: American Indian Politics and Activism since 1900. Cobb and Fowler, eds. School of Advanced Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Takamine, Linda Hiromi, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Alcoholism and Recovery as Everyday Practice,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
LINDA H. TAKAMINE, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Alcoholism and Recovery as Everyday Practice,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. How do some alcoholics manage to stop drinking? This research focuses on participants in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in a metropolitan area in Texas. This project approaches sobriety from alcoholism as an ongoing practice in which recovering alcoholics cultivate a virtuous disposition, or a sensitivity as to how to act in an ethical manner in day-to-day life. Through interactions with other AA members, alcoholics learn to recognize their thoughts, emotions, and actions as signs of either 'character defects' indicative of alcoholism (such as self-will) or of 'virtues' indicative of sobriety (such as honesty). Sobriety entails a fundamental and pervasive reworking of their lives, including family, sexual relationships, and work, among other things. The researcher observed practical activities in everyday settings, conducted semi-structured interviews, and analyzed face-to-face interactions to explore three research areas: 1) the extent to which alcohol use was intertwined with practices in multiple domains of everyday life;