Dickinson, Maggie, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Re-calibrating the Welfare State: The Politics of Food Insecurity in New York City,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings
MAGGIE DICKINSON, 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 'Re-Calibrating the Welfare State: The Politics of Food Insecurity in New York City,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings. This ethnography of food insecurity in North Brooklyn found that, despite the growth of state and private charitable food aid, the resources that currently exist in this area are inadequate for preventing food insecurity, particularly for those families and individuals who are unemployed or marginally employed. The work-first orientation of welfare policy, codified in the 1996 welfare reform legislation, continues to impact people's abilities to access food aid, making it far more difficult for families and individuals who are unemployed or who rely on cash welfare benefits to maintain a Food Stamp case than for families where at least one household member is employed. These findings reflect a broader, neoliberal approach to urban poverty governance based on the idea that poverty should be dealt with by encouraging poor and working class people to participate in the labor market through a system of state-administered incentives and punishments. It finds that food aid programs based on this model are inadequate at preventing food insecurity for the poorest urban dwellers and that food program recipients, working with community-based organizations and anti-hunger advocates, have begun to challenge this approach to providing food aid.
Shubowitz, Devorah, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'The Effects of Liberal Jewish Women's Historically Newfound Sacred Text Study,' supervised by Dr. Sara Friedman
DEVORAH SHUBOWITZ, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'The Effects of Liberal Jewish Women's Historically Newfound Sacred Text Study,' supervised by Dr. Sara Friedman. Since the 1970s feminist movement and over the past forty years, gender egalitarian religious Jewish communities have flourished in the United States. In these communities, women study sacred texts and perform rituals that were historically male-only practices. Currently, in New York, women fill egalitarian rabbinic schools, adult education programs, and yeshivas to study male-authored religious law and hermeneutical texts. These biblical, talmudic, and Jewish legal writings describe, sexualize, and analogize women within moral-legal-godly frameworks as conceived by generations of males over thousands of years. Egalitarian institutions widely accept the male dominance of the texts as a historical reality while positioning the same texts and rituals as ideal 'gender-neutral' standards, instructing men and women alike to propel this canon into contemporary relevance. My project analyzes egalitarian interpretive practices in different educational contexts and women's interpretive processes in their study and daily lives. Understanding women's interpretive tensions and norms reveals how and why four generations of women who identify with liberal values of free choice, equal opportunity, and personal meaning shape their voices, embodiments, politics, relationships, and selves in dialogue with a canon that assumes and prescribes male dominance in religious, legal, and social life. Placing women's sacred text study in the context of the 1970s Jewish feminists' call for women's equal access to male religious practice reveals the 'gender trouble' that results from welding ideologies of unimpeded interpretive freedom with ideologies that assign a male-authored religious canon the status to speak for all.
Li, Janny, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Spectral Science: Into the Experimental World of Ghost Hunters,' supervised by Dr. George Marcus
JANNY LI, then a graduate student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Spectral Science: Into the Experimental World of Ghost Hunters,' supervised by Dr. George Marcus. In a 2004 National Science Foundation survey measuring public attitudes and understandings of science, 60 percent of Americans reported beliefs in the paranormal alongside a professed respect for science. This dissertation explicitly addresses the current skepticism of the American public toward explanations provided by the scientific community to the perennial question: Is there an afterlife? This dissertation engages with longstanding religion-science debates through an ethnographic study of paranormal researchers, popularly known as 'ghost hunters,' in New York City and Southern California. In particular, this dissertation connects paranormal research to growing moral and intellectual anxieties concerning the empirical status of religion and more broadly, ambivalence toward scientific explanations amongst larger societal uncertainties (e.g., global warming, vaccines, Darwinian evolution) in America. This dissertation is particularly relevant for understanding the wider US religion-science context because it illuminates the role of scientific explanation, not in scholarly practice, but in everyday lives and popular movements. Thus, it provides a grounded account of abstract religion-science debates and has the potential to shed insight upon other controversies deemed 'anti-scientific' or hostile to science, such as Intelligent Design and Creation Science, currently gaining traction within the United States.
Frolic, Andrea N., Rice U., Houston, TX - To aid research on 'Professional Ethics: An Ethnographic Study of Clinical Bioethics in the U.S.A. and Canada,' supervised by Dr. Eugenia Georges
ANDREA N. FROLIC, while a student at Rice University in Houston, Texas, received funding in December 2002 to aid ethnographic research on clinical bioethics in the United States and Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Eugenia Georges. Frolic investigated the ways in which transnational processes of professionalization play out in particular cultural contexts and the ways in which global discourses of bioethics are enacted in specific hospital settings. To collect phenomenological data on the work of clinical bioethicists, she conducted one in-depth case study of their practices in a large urban center in the United States and three additional case studies at urban and rural sites in Canada and a rural site in the United States. She held interviews with clinical bioethicists at each site and carried out participant observation of primary informants. In a second component of the research, Frolic tracked the parallel processes of professionalization undertaken by the associations of clinical bioethicists in the United States and Canada by attending key conferences and task-force meetings in each country. This participant observation was complemented by a project investigating the conflicts of interest encountered by clinical bioethicists in the course of discharging their duties, a project based on interviews with practicing bioethicists.
Tessier, Laurence Anne, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Localizing the Mind: An Ethnography of Alzheimer's Diagnosis in France and the United States,' supervised by Dr. Liu Xin
LAURENCE ANNE TESSIER, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Localizing the Mind: An Ethnography of Alzheimer's Diagnosis in France and the United States,' supervised by Dr. Liu Xin. This research is a comparative study of the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) in France and the United States. The one who diagnoses this neurodegenerative disease is positioned in a problematic borderline situation: between the organic cause of the disease assumed but not revealed until death and the psychic expression that the patient describes and suffers from during life. Thus the neuroscientists who diagnose AD and other neurodegenerative diseases, need to establish a relation between the mental, the social, and the cerebral. This study describes how this naturalist enterprise is carried on in the everyday clinical practices of neurologists, at two world-class centers for diagnosing dementia. It examines how this diagnosis is arrived at differently in both clinics. When the French neurologists rely on biological proofs to make their decision, the American neurologists trust their clinical intuition. A diagnosis 'by feeling' allows them to practice a 'phenomenology' of the disease. This project looks at the ways in which these different manners of making a diagnosis expose different set of moral judgments on patients in both countries. It then describes how these moral judgments impact the care of patients, inquiring into the mutually constitutive ties between epistemology, medicine and care.
Medhat, Katayoun T., U. College London, London, UK - To aid 'Bi-Cultural Discourse in Mental Healthcare: An Ethnography of Organizational Dynamics in Navajo Health Services,' supervised by Dr. Roland Littlewood
KATAYOUN T. MEDHAT, then a student at University College London, London, United Kingdom, received funding in August 2004 to aid 'Bi-Cultural Discourse in Mental Healthcare: An Ethnography of Organizational Dynamics in Navajo Health Services,' supervised by Dr. Roland Littlewood. Focusing on healthcare organizations as micro-cosmic representations of socio-cultural structure and ideation, this is a comparative ethnographic study of one community, and one hospital-based mental health service on the Navajo Nation. The study considers changes to administration and funding policy and their impact on service development and professional identity in the context of (post-) colonial discourse. The bureaucratization and hierarchization of the healing domain may be seen as a global phenomenon, where competition for scarce resources and third-party-issued guidelines increasingly define treatment process.
In the quest to commodify health-services, professional boundaries dissolve in a metamorphic exchange by which administrators become clinicians and clinicians become administrators. These developments lead to progressively standardized definitions of illness and treatment. Thus, paradoxically, while the importance of asserting and expressing (cultural) identity in a 'pluralistic' society is prominently acknowledged, difference in the context of healthcare -- be it in terms of symptomatology, professional credentials, or treatment approaches -- is systematically displaced.
Whereas culture as form may be tolerated and even promoted, culture as substance cannot be accommodated by a homogenized system seeking to establish its efficacy through economic viability. Discourse on change in this context is typically ambiguous: While the idea of 'progress' and 'integration' is perceived as seductive, challenging and finally as unavoidable by a majority, it is equally felt that 'progress' and 'traditional values' cannot co-exist peacefully, leading to the bitter-sweet realization that the inevitable process of change constitutes a protracted swan-song of a quasi-mythologized congruent cultural identity.
Greenfield, Dana Emily, U. of California, San Francisco, CA - To aid research on 'Crossing the 'Valley of Death': Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship in a Public University,' supervised by Dr. Vincanne Adams
Preliminary abstract: Since the 1980s, federal legislation has increasingly encouraged universities to capitalize on basic research through widening intellectual property regimes and industry partnerships, particularly in the biomedical sciences where new discoveries, drugs, and devices have recently been lagging. Concurrently, the transformation of biology into a science of engineering and the rise of venture capital, have encouraged scientists to become entrepreneurs and translate their academic research into their own start-up companies. The need to capitalize on academic research has intensified amidst current federal and local funding crises, raising questions about the future, direction and mission of public research universities, in particular. The proposed project is a year-long ethnographic study of a translational research institute at a public research university and medical center in California, with the mandate to transform scientists into entrepreneurs and the university into an engine of economic growth. This research aims to understand how the values and practices of market-driven medical innovation and entrepreneurship affect the trajectory, mission, and organization or research throughout the campus. My project will also trace what counts as 'innovation' in this context, asking what is possible and what is foreclosed at the current frontiers of medicine. This project will be based on participant-observation, interviews of entreprenuers, faculty, and staff, and analysis of published media. My research will contribute to a better understanding of how the funding of science relates to broader concerns over the role of the university and state in knowledge production, and the concrete impact of private capital on the contours, outcomes, and responsibilites of biomedical research.
Andrews, Dr. Tracy J., Central Washington U., Ellensburg, WA - To aid research on 'Culture, Health, and Childhood Illness: Hispanic Explanatory Frameworks and Treatment Behavior'
DR. TRACY J. ANDREWS, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington, received funding in November 2004, to aid research on 'Culture, Health, and Childhood Illness: Hispanic Explanatory Frameworks and Treatment Behavior.' This project documents beliefs among 36 Hispanic migrant, immigrant, and settled families in central Washington State about the etiology, symptomology, and appropriate treatments for their young children's diarrheal illnesses. Similar information about childhood diarrheal illnesses was gathered from 12 care providers at several area biomedical facilities. The project was developed in cooperation with a large community/migrant health center and four other local programs serving Hispanic immigrant and migrant farm workers. The data was gathered through predominantly qualitative, open-ended interviews with the goals of understanding: 1) how ethnomedical beliefs about, and perceptions of, illness causation affect family treatment choices; 2) what other factors, including health care access and affordability, affect treatment choices; 3) biomedical care providers knowledge of patient use of folk healing and patient opinions about cause of diarrheal illness; and 4) intra-cultural variation in use of folk healing and biomedical treatment among the recent Mexican immigrants, migrant workers from California and Texas, and settled-out family participants in this study. The research data will contribute to assessing how the families' ethnomedical explanatory frameworks overlap, or are discordant with, biomedical models and treatment goals for childhood diarrheal diseases.
Zlolniski, Dr. Christian, U. of Texas, Arlington, TX - To aid research on 'The Global Fresh-Produce Industry and the Settlement of Indigenous Workers in Baja California'
DR. CHRISTIAN ZLOLNISKI, University of Texas, Arlington, Texas, received funding in April 2008 to conduct research in the San Quintin Valley in Baja California, Mexico. His study examines how the growth of the export-oriented fresh-produce industry has affected the employment opportunities and labor migration patterns of indigenous farm laborers who come from southern Mexico. He conducted participant observation and household interviews with Mixtec, Triqui, and Zapotec workers and families. Preliminary results show that these families have improved their living conditions, have longer seasons of employment, and more stable income from agricultural jobs. Child labor has declined, while health, sanitary, and safety conditions have improved as a result of demanding regulations to export fresh produce. Yet, wages and employment benefits have not kept up with the growing productivity in agriculture, which have increased substantially due to new technologies such as greenhouse production. In contrast to the expectations of this neoliberal model of economic development, adult members are migrating to the United States to help offset the costs of settlement and housing. Perhaps the most damaging effect, however, has been a sharp decline in the quality and quantity of water resources fueled by the intensification of export agriculture and overexploitation of underground water resources, causing water insecurity, social unrest, and political protests in the Valley.
O'Brien, Cyrus James, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Carceral Conversions: Discipline and Religion in a 'Faith- and Character-Based' Prison,' supervised by Dr. Paul C. Johnson
Preliminary abstract: This project engages three persistent and overarching concerns within anthropology: how people are shaped by institutions, how people shape themselves through religious practices and discourses, and what it means to be a rational, self-regulated human-being. This research brings these concerns together in the study of a faith- and character-based prison in the United States, focusing on interactions that take place within religious and rehabilitative programs facilitated by community volunteers. It pays close attention to the practices by which people work to shape themselves within an institution known principally for its disciplining mechanisms, putting theories that posit the subject as a product of disciplinary technologies in conjunction with theories of the subject as a product of self-fashioning. I explore in ethnographic terms the types of personhood people in prison cultivate, the types of work they do to construct particular forms of subjectivity, and the extent to which their work on themselves is socially recognized. By following former prisoners and volunteers into social and institutional spaces beyond the prison, this research is an institutional ethnography that seeks to understand not only how the prison is shaped by its internal logics, but also how it is impacted by interactions and events that take place outside its boundaries. Through an examination of religious and rehabilitative programs that are developed and administered by prisoners and volunteers, this project seeks to make visible the requirements of citizenship in a society characterized by racialized mass incarceration.