Zogas, Anna Baker, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on ''Invisible Injury': Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Disability Compensation in the U.S. Military Healthcare System,' supervised by Dr. Lorna A. Rhodes
Preliminary abstract: Since 2001, two million members of the United States' armed services have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to wage the country's two most recent and protracted wars. Mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI), also known as concussion, is one of the most common injuries sustained by these troops and it has become known as one of the 'signature wounds' of the two post-9/11 wars. The etiology and the long-term effects of the injury are poorly defined, but mild TBI seems to be an emerging vocabulary the post-combat symptoms that some service members experience, and perhaps for 'invisible' combat injuries more generally. This research addresses how historically-specific conceptions of combat injuries and discourses of disability shape emerging constructions of mild TBI as a combat wound. In a twelve-month ethnographic study situated in the largest integrated healthcare organization in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this research investigates mild TBI as it is constituted in medical research, clinical diagnosis, and the VA's unique disability benefits system, from the perspectives of medical researchers, clinicians, patients, and benefits officers.
Nichols, Catherine Anitra, Arizona State U.,Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Museum Networks: The Distribution of the U.S. National Museum's Anthropological Collections,' supervised by Dr. Richard John Toon
CATHERINE A. NICHOLS, then a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received a grant in October 2011 to aid resarch on 'Museum Networks: The Distribution of the U.S. National Museum's Anthropological Collections,' supervised by Dr. Richard J. Toon. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, major scientific museums exchanged objects with each other in order to build encyclopedic collections. This project investigates the distribution of museum objects from the Smithsonian Institution's U.S. National Museum anthropology collections during the period of 1879-1940. In addition to collection exchanges, the U.S. National Museum distributed a large number of anthropological objects to educational institutions within the United States in return for political favors as a means of maintaining and increasing operational and research funding from Congress. Research traces the path of Southwest Native American objects distributed by the U.S. National Museum from a collection assembled in 1879-80. Using archival records, museum collection records and material culture (object data), it investigates how curators made decisions about what to keep and what to give away, and interprets those decisions within the intellectual, political, and social contexts of the time period. This study makes a significant contribution to museum anthropology through the evaluation of how American anthropologists influenced the development of museums globally, and the relationship between anthropological distributions and national identity formation.
Haas, Bridget Marie, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Producing Subjects in the U.S. Political Asylum Process,' supervised by Dr. Janis H. Jenkins
BRIDGET MARIE HAAS, then a student at the University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Producing Subjects in the U.S. Political Asylum Process,' supervised by Dr. Janis H. Jenkins. This research investigated the U.S. political asylum process, focusing on the experiences of Cameroonian asylum seekers in the urban Midwest. Recent changes in immigration law and policies have made the asylum process more challenging and asylum claimants often find themselves in protracted situations of uncertainty. The contemporary climate surrounding immigration has provided the grantee an important opportunity to ethnographically examine how discourses of human rights and trauma, on the one hand, and discourses of national security, on the other, come to be enacted on a local level and impact individual lives. Data collection included unstructured, open-ended interviews with asylum claimants; semi-structured interviews with staff members of a human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) that assists asylum seekers; semi-structured interviews with asylum officers and immigration attorneys; participant observation among asylum seekers within their daily lives; and observation in various institutional settings (immigration offices, immigration court). By collecting data in both institutional and social contexts, the grantee documented a) the discourses and practices that institutional bodies (NGO workers, immigration attorneys and officials) draw upon to render the asylum seeker a knowable subject, and b) asylum claimants' responses to institutionally produced identities and the salience of alternate identities and subjectivities.
Aporta, Claudio, U. of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada - To aid research on 'Inuit Navigation and Technological Change in the Eastern Canadian Arctic,' supervised by Dr. Eric S. Higgs
CLAUDIO APORTA, while a student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, received an award in August 2001 to aid research on Inuit navigation and technological change in the eastern Canadian Arctic, under the supervision of Dr. Eric S. Higgs. Field research conducted in Igloolik, territory of Nunavut, Arctic Canada, in the summer of 2002 provided significant data about Inuit wayfinding methods during boat travel on the open sea. During the crossing of a large extent of sea known in Igloolik as Ikiq (Fury and Hecla Strait on official topographic maps of Canada), Inuit hunters set courses and made spatial decisions by making precise readings of the horizon and employing thorough knowledge of the relationships among tidal action, prevailing winds, and waves. Aporta conducted several interviews with Inuit elders on topics related to spatial orientation, knowledge and use of routes and trails, and use of new technologies for travel and orientation. Through interviews with knowledgeable hunters and analysis of data about search-and-rescue operations, he established patterns regarding age groups and situations involving Inuit hunters getting lost in the Igloolik area. The extensive geographic data collected in Igloolik during four years of research were analyzed and represented through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Place-names, traditional routes, and recurrent features of the sea ice were plotted on maps as layers of a database that permitted an appreciation of these complex aspects of Inuit knowledge and of different patterns of land use over generations.
Polson, Michael Robert, City U. of New York, New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Shifting Governance of Marijuana in Northern California: Medicalization, Illegality, and Practices of Citizenship,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings
MICHAEL R. POLSON, 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 'The Shifting Governance of Marijuana in Northern California: Medicalization, Illegality, and Practices of Citizenship,' supervised by Dr. Leith Mullings. This project analyzed the elaboration and negotiation of social relations and practices in the emerging medical and underground marijuana markets of northern California. It sought to understand the inter-relationship of policy production, activism, economic activity, and everyday practices of those related to marijuana in order to decipher the broader regional transformations in the political economy of marijuana. During fieldwork, substantial shifts occurred as the federal government intervened in the medical marijuana distribution system, thus altering marijuana's institutional composition, commodity chain flow, medical significance, il/legal status, and governance. Because the political terrain continues to change, this project focused on the dynamics of these changes, particularly on several key and enduring phenomena, including: tensions over modes of distribution; the significance of marijuana land transactions and agricultural practices; intermeshing of medical and 'recreational' marijuana markets; differing modes of governance; and biomedical vs. medicinal-herbal understandings of marijuana. The summation of these factors creates a picture of a regional economy in transformation with widespread implications for the War on Drugs, understandings of the relation between plants, medicine and the body, and the power of law and emergent modes of governance and political activism.
Polson, Michael. 2013. Land and Law in Marijuana Country: Clean Capital, Dirty Money, and the Drug War's Rentier Nexus. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 36(2):215-230.
Hundley, James Marlow, State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Resistance and Accommodation: The Effects of Securitization on Coast Salish Politics, Governance, and Sovereignty,' supervised by Dr. Thomas M. Wilson
Preliminary abstract: National and international relations transformed globally following September 11, 2001. This is most visible at international borders including 'the longest undefended border' between Canada and the United States. New ways of securing the border entail new policies of securitization. This ethnographic research project documents the effects of securitization on the Coast Salish First Nations in the Washington State/British Columbia borderlands. I chronicle their strategies and tactics for resisting, accommodating, and challenging state power in their everyday lives and at larger levels of political organization. Through ethnographic research I trace changes to Coast Salish behaviors and ideologies and how they articulate with continued and differentially experienced security policies at the border. What this entails are changes to Coast Salish political organization, formal and informal governance mechanisms, and tribal sovereignty. There are implications not only for the Coast Salish but for indigenous peoples across the United States, North America, and around the globe.
Burch, Melissa Lynn, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'To Shed the Mark: A Critical Examination of Employers, Job Seekers and Advocates,' supervised by Dr. Joao Costa Vargas
Preliminary abstract: To Shed the Mark: A Critical Examination of Employers, Job Seekers and Advocates seeks to contribute to efforts to increase the number of employers who are willing to hire workers with criminal convictions. It does so by asking a question unanswered in the literature: what differentiates employers who are willing to hire people with past convictions from those who are not? Despite broad consensus that employment is essential to reentry success, we know very little about what drives or informs employer behavior. While a significant body of literature documents the scope of employer aversion, few accounts have analyzed how or why employers make their decisions and none explain shifts from reluctance to willingness. This study is premised on the idea that in order to transform the status quo, we need more nuanced and precise analyses of employer perspectives and behavior, as well as those of job seekers and the advocates who assist them. How do the analytic and practical strategies of job seekers and advocates speak to, or speak past, employers concerns and motivations? With these questions in mind, I will undertake a longterm ethnographic study of employers, job seekers and advocates, using the qualitative methods of participant observation, interviews and focus groups. My belief is that through social scientific attention to the perspectives and behaviors of all three actors--what informs them and how they shift--this research will strategize new theoretical and practical pathways to increase access to employment and reduce the stigma associated with a criminal record.
Safransky, Sara, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid enegaged 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.
Kelkar, Shreeharsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Platformizing Higher Education: Computer Scientists and the Making of MOOC Infrastructure,' supervised by Dr. Graham Jones
Preliminary abstract: In the hugely popular Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, organizations like edX, Udacity or Coursera, in collaboration with elite university professors, have created computing infrastructures to offer prospective students anywhere in the world a highly interactive distance learning experience. Focusing on edX, a non-profit online learning enterprise jointly founded by MIT and Harvard, my dissertation will ethnographically track the development of such a computing infrastructure. I will study three disciplinary communities---programmers and computer scientists, educators, and learning scientists---who centrally participate in edX's mission of reinventing higher education, as they go about producing this infrastructure by coding software, making online course-ware and analyzing online student learning respectively. I hypothesize that these online computing infrastructures reflect the rising epistemic and cultural authority of computer scientists who have leveraged the Internet to work on problems usually considered 'social.' These computer scientists draw on many aspects of Internet commerce and culture---particularly the idea of 'platforms'---in their effort to reinvent higher education; they not only build the software that constitutes this platform, but also, through the new discipline of computational learning science, get to define what constitutes learning. In exploring how these practices may transform ideas about learning, representations of students, and the role of teachers, I seek to illuminate a broader set of theoretical concerns having to do with the co-production of infrastructure, social relations and forms of subjectivity, particularly in the digital realm.
Cromer, Risa Denae, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Of Bio-Valuables and Adoptable Children: The Politics of Resurrecting Frozen Human Embryos in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery
RISA D. CROMER, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Of Bio-valuables and Adoptable Children: The Politics of Resurrecting Frozen Human Embryos in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdery. This project dedicated fourteen months in California to studying a new ethnographic object -- frozen human embryos -- to trace the political, cultural, legal, and moral implications that their 'lives' and futures entail in the contemporary United States. Each primary field site -- an embryo adoption program, and a university-based tissue bank and stem-cell research institute -- represents a solution for remaining embryos after IVF. What might these putatively opposing sites -- one utilizing embryos for research; one committed to giving embryos a chance to be born -- have in common? Three qualitative methods elicited data for this project: archival research, participant observation, and semi-structured ethnographic interviews. These methods helped elucidate how remaining embryos after IVF are materially and symbolically detached from their IVF origins as fertility patients make embryo disposition decisions. They also outline social networks and key actors involved in the practices that facilitate the movement of embryos from freezers to wombs, labs, and waste bins. Research gathered puts into relief the relations, conditions, and histories that enliven frozen embryos in diverse ways and contributes significantly toward understanding of how frozen embryos' futures became political and with what effects.