Shear, Boone Wingate, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Making the Green Economy: Culture, Politics and Economic Desire in Massachusetts,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Krause
BOONE W. SHEAR, then a student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Making the Green Economy: Culture, Politics, and Economic Desire in Massachusetts,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth L. Krause. The fieldwork explored how groups of activists are imagining, responding to, and enacting the economy in relation to green economy discourse in Massachusetts. In particular, the project investigated economic subjectivity among green economy coalition members, focusing on the conditions under which both capitalist and non-capitalist desires and practices emerge. This engaged research project combined participant observation while working alongside activists and organizers, with semi-structured and informal interviews in order to better understand how different economic dispositions and desires emerge, are closed-off, or are enacted. The research revealed that interest in economic innovation, experimentation, and organizing around alternative economic projects -- what Gibson-Graham and others have described as 'non-capitalism' -- appears to be increasing among green coalition members. Though preliminary research suggests that discursive interventions can lead to new economic identities and desires, the research also shows that a politics of non-capitalist possibility might also be able to utilize capitalist and anti-capitalist desires in the construction of on-the-ground non-capitalist enterprises and relations. More broadly, this research intends to expand understandings around the complex relationship between structure, subjectivity, and agency.
Malone, Molly Sue, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada - To aid research on 'Living on the Skagit River: Native American Historical Consciousness and Relationships with the Aquatic Environment,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Granville Miller
MOLLY SUE MALONE, then a student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Living on the Skagit River: Native American Historical Consciousness and Relationships with the Aquatic Environment,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Granville Miller. This research examines Upper Skagit Indian Tribe members' historical consciousness of their families' settlement patterns and fishing practices in the Skagit River watershed over the past two hundred years, and ,asks what this consciousness reveals about how contemporary Native American relationships to land and water are shaped by colonial processes of land alienation and subsequent struggles for tribal recognition and access to aboriginal territory. Data was collected over a twelve-month period using three overlapping methods of inquiry: the collection of oral narratives with contemporary Upper Skagit people, participant observation within the Upper Skagit community, and archival work with documents pertaining to the post-contact history of the Skagit River valley as well as field notes and oral narrative transcriptions collected by earlier anthropologists working among the Upper Skagit throughout the 20th century. The data is compiled into family settlement narratives and an overall tribal narrative for the purpose of evaluating the various levels of historical consciousness pertaining to colonial impacts on the watershed .
Grewal, Dr. Zareena A., Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Is the Quran a Good Book? Tolerance and the Muslim Question in the US'
Preliminary abstract: Is the Quran a 'good book'? Tracking the social life of the Quran as an American cultural object deepens our understanding of the complexity and diversity of Americans' political and cultural interests in Islam over time. By analyzing a wide range of official, media, artistic, pedagogical, and ritual practices around the Islamic text-object in the US, we learn not only about American views of Islam but also about Americans' anxieties about the liberal doctrine of tolerance. Contemporary debates about Islam and tolerance are generally organized around two sets of questions: (1) how much should 'we' tolerate Muslims in the US and (2) how should the US government make tolerant Muslim societies abroad? In regard to the first question, how American Muslims read the Quran figures centrally in arguments over the extent they should be tolerated and protected as a minority. The policing of 'good' and 'bad' reading and interpretive practices profoundly impact American Muslims. The second, related question of teaching Muslims abroad tolerance manifests in state projects aimed at nurturing the same 'good' Quranic reading and interpretive practices. I will map out the contours of these national debates about the nature (and limits of) religious tolerance inspired by the Quran.
Bowman, Chelle Elizabeth, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Experimental Collaborations: How Birdsong is Reassembling the Human,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence Hirschfeld
Preliminary abstract: This research looks to examine how birdsong is redefining relationships between humans and nonhumans within amateur and expert communities in the United States. Due to technological advances in recent decades, birdsong has become an important, yet controversial object of a broad range of scientific inquiry, in particular as a potential model for human speech acquisition. This shift coincides with evidence from ethological and neurobiological research that has contributed to a changing cognitive profile of birds that challenges primate biases for interspecies comparison. These findings align with knowledge practices in birding communities where birders intimately entangle their lives with birds and their songs, training their ears and bodies to get close to them. Ironically, it is in appreciating and working to understand bodily difference that these two communities have been able to recognize analogous cognitive processes and likenesses between birds and humans, dismantling intelligence hierarchies. This project will investigate innovate comparative practices at two key birdsong labs at the University of Chicago and Cornell University, as well as field practices in vibrant birding communities along the Atlantic and Mississippi migration flyways. How do these communities and their alternative practices offer insight into new ways of relating to and co-existing with other species?
Sufrin, Carolyn Beth, U. of California, San Francisco, CA - To aid research on 'Negotiating 'Serious Medical Needs:' Medical Care, Carcerality, and Health Rights in a U.S. Women's Jail,' supervised by Dr. Vincanne Adams
CAROLYN B. SUFRIN, then a student at University of California, San Francisco, California, received funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Negotiating 'Serious Medical Needs:' Medical Care, Carcerality, and Health Rights in a U.S. Women's Jail,' supervised by Dr. Vincanne Adams. This study investigated the everyday contours of care in an urban women's jail in northern California. At a time when structures of inequality are perpetuated by a retracted public safety net and an expanded incarceration system, it is notable that prisoners have a constitutional right to receive medical care. To explore the realities of this health care mandate, ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in a jail clinic, housing units, and surrounding community, with supplemental insights gained from the ethnographer's own experience as a practicing physician at the fieldsite. Unexpected relationships of care arose between incarcerated women, medical staff, and deputies; harsh discipline and compassionate care were inextricably linked in these forms of care. Reproduction was a key site where the deficiencies of public services and their substitution with incarceration were made visible. As pregnant women were nurtured and punished in the carceral environment, jail became a tragically desired and comforting place for some of them to inhabit. Their childbirth and motherhood were marked by further institutionalization, cycling through drug treatment programs and back to jail, making sites of care and confinement indistinguishable. Particularly for marginalized, reproducing women, jail has become an integral part of society's social and medical safety net.
Morgen, Dr. Sandra L., University of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Producing and Contesting Consent: The Cultural Politics of Taxes and the Imagined Neoliberal State'
DR. SANDRA L. MORGEN., University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, received a grant in April 2007, to aid research on 'Producing and Contesting Consent: The Cultural Politics of Taxes and the Imagined Neoliberal State'Examining the cultural politics of taxes sheds light on how U.S. citizens understand and differently value the State -- i.e., the institutions, policies, and people that constitute 'government.' This research focused on tax politics 'on the ground' in Pennsylvania and Oregon, using the tools of participant-observation, qualitative interviews, and analysis of documents developed by 'anti-tax' or 'tax fairness' groups. The researchers studied tax-related ballot initiative campaigns in Oregon (2006-2010), local 'property tax relief' elections in Pennsylvania in 2007, and the activities of the Tea Party movement in Oregon in 2009. Analysis of these campaigns reveals how competing ideologies of the State are represented in and produced by public contestations over tax policy. The research suggests that the process of 'deKeynesianization' -- the neoliberal political project of challenging the Keynesian welfare state and winning the consent of the public for neoliberalization in the forms of scaling back safety-net programs, creating a leaner, 'corporatized' public sector, and expanding privatization -- has been effectively, but incompletely, produced by anti-tax organizations. However, 'tax fairness' ideologies, support for some government programs, and a continuing sense of social responsibility still mobilize voters, reflecting the deep political divisions about government that remain unsettled in U.S. political culture.
Helmreich, Dr. Stefan, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Recasting the Nature and Properties of the Sea in the Genomic Age'
DR. STEFAN HELMREICH, of New York University in New York, New York, received funding in January 2003 to aid ethnographic research on the ways in which scientific representations of the sea have been changing in the genomic age. Helmreich worked at two marine biological research sites: the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California and the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. He discovered that as oceanographers turned from mapping the seafloor to mapping the genes of marine creatures, they were offering new accounts of the nature of the sea as a network of marine genes linked to the 'life-support system' of the biosphere. Developing environmental genomics-DNA sequencing not of organisms but of whole ecologies-scientists in Monterey imagined Earth's ocean as an entity with its own genome, its own 'life,' largely microbial. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, where some marine biologists looked to the sea for resources for biotechnology, the discovery of novel gene sequences had awakened debates about ownership in the ocean. Native Hawaiians were contesting biotechnological uses of resources from archipelagic waters. Marine biotechnologists (overwhelmingly not Native) were uneasy with Native rights claims, countering that the register in which they sampled (microscopic, microbial, molecular) could not have been anticipated by constitutional safeguarding of resources for Native peoples. A traditional subject matter of maritime anthropology-how people adjudicate property claims in aquatic resources-found new articulation here in languages of biotechnology, biodiversity, and bioprospecting. Helmreich suggested that marine genomics was transforming the way scientists understood the nature of the ocean, repositioning, too, the terms in which property in marine resources might be imagined as the biotechnological age goes to sea.
Helmreich, Stefan. 2005. How Scientists Think; About 'Natives,' for Example. A Problem of Taxonomy among Biologists of Alien Species in Hawaii. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11(1):107-128.
Carothers, Courtney, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Sociocultural Effects of Privatizing Marine Resources in the North Pacific,' supervised by Dr. Eric A. Smith
COURTNEY CAROTHERS, then a student at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, received funding in July 2005 to aid research on 'Sociocultural Effects of Privatizing Marine Resources in the North Pacific,' supervised by Dr. Eric A. Smith. This study explores the sociocultural impacts of the privatization of fishing rights on Alaska Native fishing villages. Ethnographic research in three remote coastal villages on Kodiak Island suggests that the privatization of fisheries access is a primary factor contributing to a fundamental change in the lifestyle on the island. Within the last decade village populations have decreased by approximately 50%, fishermen and their 'fishing power' (e.g. vessels, crews, permits, and quotas) have decreased substantially, and young people have started growing up without fishing knowledge or a fishing identity. Initial analysis of the fishing quota market, extensive fishery participant survey data, and ethnographic research suggest that community residence, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity play an important role in explaining the variation in the effects of resource access privatization. Cultural factors, such as the importance of a 'maintaining' rather than an 'accumulating' economy, appear to influence decision-making in privatized access fisheries. Other factors, including economic declines in mainstay salmon fisheries, geographic isolation from markets, increased cost of living have also contributed to loss of fishing power in Kodiak villages. This study also explores community ownership of fishing rights as a mitigation measure against some of the negative impacts of resource privatization.
Willow, Dr. Anna Jane, Ohio State U., Marion, OH - To aid research on 'The Politics of Environmental Alliance: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of the Boreal Leadership Council'
DR. ANNA J. WILLOW, Ohio State University, Marion, Ohio, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'The Politics of Environmental Alliance: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of the Boreal Leadership Council.' This project explored the prospects and politics of multi-sector conservation by investigating the Boreal Leadership Council, an initiative comprised of ENGOs, First Nations organizations, resource-extractive corporations, and investment institutions committed to collectively addressing issues impacting Canada's boreal forest. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic research and on landscape and discourse theoretical perspectives, it examined how cultural and political differences contour and complicate partnerships between indigenous groups and environmentally-concerned non-Natives. While the initiative promotes a pluralistic definition of conservation and encourages dialogue that recognizes First Nations rights as essential to the forest's future, it continues to adhere to discursive practices that limit how environmental information can be persuasively presented, thus undermining the influence of indigenous participants who inevitably take part on terms that are not fully their own. Participating in multi-sector conservation represents a strategic choice made by indigenous leaders seeking to ensure their peoples' ability to practice the land-based subsistence on which they physically, culturally, and spiritually depend. These findings offer a valuable vantage point from which to reflect on entanglements of socionatural and sociopolitical relationships and thereby contribute to considerations of 'nature' as a contested category and 'conservation' as an arena in which power relations may be both reinforced and resisted.
Willow, Anna. 2013. Doing Sovereignty in Native North America: Anishinaabe Counter-Mapping and the Struggle for Land-Based Self-Determination. Human Ecology 41(6): 871-884.
Ozden, Canay, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Engineering Economics: An Ethnography of the Electricity Markets in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Michael M.J. Fischer
CANAY OZDEN, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid research on 'Engineering Economics: An Ethnography of the Electricity Markets in the United states,' supervised by Dr. Michael M.J. Fischer. This dissertation explores the creation and daily maintenance of markets based on the example of deregulated electricity markets in the United States. Specifically, the grantee aims to investigate the shape scholarly economic theories take when a variety of non-economist actors such as engineers, traders, and researchers interpret, modify, or completely transform them while striving to concretize a marketplace. During the multi-sited research, the grantee spent time at a power trading and market intelligence firm, interviewed economists and power systems engineers, and observed studies at various smart grid research centers. Based on observations, the research argues that electricity markets are animated by vernacularized forms of economics created at the interstices of engineering knowledge and microeconomic theory. Today, market expertise is not a direct extension of the academic discipline of economics but a hybrid creation that deserves special attention if anthropologists are to shed light on the mechanisms that underlie ubiquitous yet often obscured forms of contemporary market exchange. Combining economic anthropology with science and technology studies, this research contributes to the anthropology of markets by exploring what it means to make and act in a market today.