Perkins, Alisa Marlene, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Making Muslim Space in Arab Detroit: Religious Identity, Gender and the Emergence of Difference,' supervised by Dr. Kamran A. Ali
ALISA M. PERKINS, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'Making Muslim Space in Arab Detroit: Religious Identity, Gender and the Emergence of Difference,' supervised by Dr. Kamran A. Ali. This project is an ethnographic study of how the Muslim populations of Hamtramck, Michigan are impacting public space and political life of the city. Hamtramck is a densely populated city of 23,000 residents packed into 2.1 square miles, with a 40% Muslim population made up of Yemenis, Bangladeshis, Bosnians and African Americans living alongside Polish Catholic and African American Baptist residents. The research centers on how Muslim community members are bringing their religious values into the public sphere by forming mosques and other organizations and by engaging as religious actors in debates over policy-making on the municipal level in two Muslim-led, interfaith activist movements. The first movement (2004) concerns supporting the city's regulation of the call to prayer (adhan); and the second (2008) concerns opposing the city's proposal to offer greater protections for homosexual and transgender residents. The grantee's work focuses on understanding how these movements are shaping Hamtramck public life and perceptions about Muslim minority religious identity. The project also investigates the prominent role that interfaith organizing has played within these campaigns. Finally, the study explores how Muslim women in Hamtramck are participating in various forms of religiously defined social and political activism in Hamtramck.
Heuson, Jennifer Lynn, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Sounding Western: Producing National Sensory Heritage through Sound in South Dakota's Black Hills,' supervised by Dr. Marita Sturken
JENNIFER L. HEUSON, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Sounding Western: Producing National Sensory Heritage through Sound in South Dakota's Black Hills,' supervised by Dr. Marita Sturken. This dissertation explores how and why sound is used to produce national heritage in a popular, yet contested, tourist region in South Dakota: the Black Hills. It argues that the Black Hills is an important geopolitical space not only because of its history of 'native elimination' and resource extraction, but because of how this history is taught, preserved, and celebrated through popular culture and tourist events. Specifically, it examines how sonic experiences in the Black Hills produce the region as an experiential artifact of frontier mythologies that include manifest destiny, rugged individualism, and salvage ethnography. It outlines frontier aurality as crucial conceptual frame for understanding how past conquest shapes both present and future through the subtle modes of sensing enacted at heritage venues and offers both a highly contested example of the 'colonized ear' and an instance of the relationship of this ear to something that could be called 'the colonization of experience.' Through ethnographic observations and recordings, historical and cultural analyses, and interviews with heritage producers, this research hopes to expose the role of aurality in heritage production and in the continued subjugation of native peoples and places.
Brooks, Andrew Timothy, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Uncommon Wealth: Fracking and the Dynamics of Social Structure in Rural Pennsylvania,' supervised by Dr. Michael Blim
Preliminary abstract: Hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', is a contested form of natural gas extraction advancing expeditiously across the United States and in nations around the world. Amidst a climate of global geopolitical uncertainty and increasing environmental change, fracking is both championed as a key to U.S. energy independence and economic prosperity, and criticized as a threat to local ecology. Scholarly research is underway concerning the economic and ecological impacts of this burgeoning industry, yet scarce attention has been paid to the socio-cultural dimensions of this extractive practice. A massive regional gas basin, coupled with favorable local political conditions have made Pennsylvania home to some of the most intensive land leasing and drilling activity in the world. My twelve-month ethnographic research of Ligonier Valley, a region of great social and economic disparity in the southwestern corner of the state, will contribute a much needed cultural perspective on the industry by exploring the influence of fracking on property relations, people's perceptions of their environment and concepts of rurality. In performing a class-based analysis, my research will examine affective and attitudinal differences in worldviews that emerge from living with particular levels of material wealth and the impact that divergent ethos have on opinions about extraction.
Jung, Dr. Yuson, Wayne State U., Detroit, MI - To aid research on 'Just Food for Detroit: Groceries, Ethics, and Governance in the Resilient City'
Preliminary abstract: For the proposed study, 'Just Food for Detroit: Groceries, Ethics, and Governance in the Resilient City', Yuson Jung and Andrew Newman will investigate emergent forms of urban governance and the role of diverse social actors in articulating new ideals of 'alternative' political practices and ideologies in Detroit. In particular, this study examines competing moral claims and practices related to 'just' and 'ethical' food evoked by the first national chain grocery store to return to Detroit after a period of severe capital flight in the 2000s. The arrival of Whole Foods Market (known for high quality natural and organic foods), has become a lightning rod for divergent visions of urban governance for a city in the grips of fiscal crisis. It has also challenged assumptions about the needs of Detroiters whose landscape is often associated with 'urban food deserts.' Detroit is an ideal ethnographic site because it is host to a globally prominent alternative food movement which has re-appropriated the post-industrial landscape for urban agriculture and played an important role in the resilience of economically distressed neighborhoods. Alternative food movements, alongside corporate actors such as Whole Foods, play an increasingly significant material and moral role in governing the city, and in promoting self-governance among citizens. This proposed study will examine the cultural, political, and personal meanings of food provisioning and alternative food movements as an entry into fundamental tensions shaping inequality and urban governance. In doing so, the project will interrogate competing claims for dominance over the moral economy of contemporary cities. The research team will employ several qualitative research methods: ethnographic participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, life-history interviews, and textual analysis of archived media sources.
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.
Sharp, Dr. Lesley A., Barnard College, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Human Hybridity: An Ethnographic Investigation of Scientific Desire in Xenotransplantation Research'
DR. LESLEY A. SHARP, Barnard College, New York, New York, received funding in May 2003 to aid research on 'Human Hybridity: An Ethnographic Investigation of Scientific Desire in Xenotransplantation Research.' Xenotransplantation, which involves the development of hybrid animal species as sources for human organ replacement, defines a highly experimental domain within the realm of organ transplantation in the U.S. and beyond. Within this country in particular, transplant medicine might well be viewed as a victim of its own success, for today patients awaiting transplants far outnumber those who qualify as organ donors. This disparity only continues to grow, generating widespread anxieties over organ scarcity. Currently (and especially where hearts, livers, and lungs are concerned) the source of organs is usually the cadaveric (generally brain-dead) donor. As a result, many organ recipients (and even at times the professionals who treat them) are plagued by a strong sense of guilt and remorse because they sense that someone had to die so that they could live. Xenotransplantation, then, defines a focus of pronounced longing among professionals and, to a lesser extent, among organ recipients, too. The research project, which was ethnographic in focus, explored the notion of scientific desire specifically in reference to hybrid animals. The researcher also made brief forays, for comparative purposes, into competing experimental research domains where parts of mechanical and other organs are likewise being developed as a means to solve the problem of organ scarcity. All experimental research domains generate important questions about body integrity, and the effects of biomedical research in reshaping definitions of what it means to be fully human.
Sharp, Lesley A. 2006. Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self.
University of California Press: Berkeley.
Sharp, Lesley A. 2007 Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies: Death, Mourning, and Scientific Desire in the Realm of Human Organ Transfer. Columbia University Press: New York.
Lange, Dr. Patricia Fogelman, Santa Fe, NM - To aid preparation of the personal research materials of Charles H. Lange for archival deposit with the Museum of New Mexico's Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe
Dincer, Evren Mehmet, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'The Reindustrialization of the U.S.: An Ethnography of Auto Workers in the American Rust Belt,' supervised by Dr. Shelley Feldman
Preliminary abstract: My research is about the transformations to working conditions and working class subjectivity in the automotive industry of Rust Belt America, in the wake of the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s, and, more recently, in the context of the government bailout of the U.S. auto industry. By focusing specifically on the emerging context after the bailout of the industry, I will explore the impact of this governmental economic intervention on three different but interrelated levels: a) shop floor relations; b) perceptions of community and solidarity; and c) working class subjectivity. Through one year of fieldwork focused on the GM auto plant outside of Buffalo, NY, I will use ethnographic research approach combining participant observation, oral history in conversation with archival materials to examine the consequences of economic crisis and government intervention from the perspective of the material and meaningful practices of workers. in sum, I will engage this ethnographic approach to explore the radical restructuring of work taking place in the contxt of deindustrialization.