Baum, Christopher Joseph, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Regulating Sex: Labor, Technology and the Shifting Politics of Adult Film Production in California,' supervised by Dr. Setha Low
Preliminary abstract: Over the past several decades, the production of adult films in the United States has grown from a few small enterprises at the fringes of society to a booming multi-billion dollar industry. California's San Fernando Valley alone (located in the northern reaches of LA County) has emerged as the largest producer of adult film in the world; it hosts over 600 production companies and has a labor force that exceeds 6,000. Yet as this industry has rapidly expanded, the politics of pornography have also shifted. For over a century, the primary social and political debate around pornography concerned censorship and the control of sexually 'obscene' material. Now, as adult film has taken root as a culturally and economically significant industry in the United States, debates have shifted away from questions of censorship, and instead concerns about regulating work, the body, and technology have become the symbolic sites where notions of sexual acceptability are playing out. This is perhaps best exemplified by a divisive and landmark bill, passed in Los Angeles County in 2012, which made the use of condoms mandatory for all pornography produced within the region. In a twelve-month study, this research ethnographically explores the social world of adult film production in Los Angeles County and San Francisco through participant observation, network mapping and in-depth interviews. It engages with a variety of cultural producers including industry professionals and stake-holders to explore how emergent technologies and forms of bodily regulation in the adult film industry are reconfiguring broader understandings of sexuality and sexual labor in the United States.
Obadia, Julienne Jeanne, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin
JULIENNE J. OBADIA, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin. This research explores how American notions of self, relationship, and family relate to the contemporary conceptualization and practice of polyamory, or honest non-monogamy. Findings point to three significant themes. First, frustrated by the monogamous mandate to have all needs and desires met by one person, polyamorous people find that intimacy with multiple people can satisfy a much wider range of needs and desires. Commonly, this entails an emphasis on self-analysis, self-knowledge, and self-compartmentalization based on the principle that relationships work best and are most satisfying when each partner knows him/herself and what he/she wants from each relationship. Second, to organize poly life and minimize surprises, contracts and agreements often designate in advance what kinds of relationships and intimacies are acceptable. Understood as a tool for both self-knowledge and relationship transparency, contracts are always transforming, encouraging while regulating modes of self-elaboration. Last, current polyamorous practice utilizes a concept of 'sexual orientation' associated primarily with homosexuality: a set of desires that one is born with and is unaffected by upbringing, choice, or culture. Consonant with a theory of personhood based on discovering and elaborating a core self, this orientation is described as having always existed as an essential part of oneself.
Herstad, Kaeleigh Lynn, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Fighting Blight: Investigating Lived Processes of Postindustrial Ruination in Detroit, Michigan,' supervised by Dr. Anne Pyburn
Preliminary abstract: This project examines the dynamic process of blight removal and remediation in Detroit, Michigan, from multiple perspectives, asking how residents and organizations perceive and interact with the materiality of postindustrial transformation, and how the social and material dimensions of blight reflect and shape residents' understandings of the city's past, present, and future. Building on theories from within contemporary archaeology, postcolonial anthropology, and urban sociology, I explore postindustrial ruination (manifested in the vacant structures and lots left behind in the wake of displacement and deindustrialization, commonly referred to as 'urban blight') as a spatially-constituted 'lived process' shaped by broader socio-economic processes of uneven capitalist development and destruction. This study combines ethnographic methods with spatial and material analysis to argue that an investigation of the social and material dimensions of blight--its creation, peoples' interactions with it, and its removal or reuse--both provides a more holistic and inclusive understanding of the long-term impacts of postindustrial transformation and contributes directly to anthropological theory that posits modern ruination as a lens through which to understand the pasts, people, places that are being negated in order to create the geographies of the present and future.
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.
Randle, Sarah P., Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Building the Ecosystem City: Environmental Imaginaries and Spatial Politics in Los Angeles,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How are residents of Los Angeles negotiating attempts to manage their city as a service-providing ecosystem -- and what do these processes suggest about the politics remaking urban space under conditions of increasing environmental uncertainty? This project investigates emergent efforts to capture, store, and reuse rain and wastewater in new ways within L.A.'s cityscape, in response to widespread concerns about impending climate change-induced water supply scarcity. Proponents frequently present these initiatives as pieces of a broader spatial transformation within the city, restoring historic watershed functions to the urban landscape. Embedded in these framings is a particular vision of L.A.'s urban ecology, one in which properly managed city space provides key ecosystem services (such as water supply augmentation) to its citizens. Through 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork with water agency personnel, environmental activists and non-profit workers, 'green' business owners and employees, and mobilized residents, I trace the social, political, and material lives of such rescripted urban landscapes and resources. Studying interventions at multiple scales -- in private homes, city streets and parks, and wastewater treatment plants -- I examine the effects of these material projects and spatial imaginaries on Angeleños' political subjectivities, alliances, and claimsmaking.
Jordan, Michael Paul, U. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK - To aid research on 'Descendants' Organizations and Cultural Heritage in Kiowa Society,' supervised by Dr. Daniel Charles Swan
MICHAEL P. JORDAN, then a student at University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Descendants' Organizations and Cultural Heritage in Kiowa Society,' supervised by Dr. Daniel Charles Swan. At the core of recent research on heritage and historical consciousness is the premise that interpretations and representations of the past must be understood as rooted in the contemporary moment. This study addressed the ways in which heritage and historical consciousness are implicated in the social dynamics of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma by focusing on formal descendants' organizations, groups organized by lineal descendants to commemorate their nineteenth-century ancestors. Research has focused upon identifying individuals' motivations for participating in descendants' organizations, documenting cultural performance events sponsored by descendants' organizations, and delineating the position of these organizations within the broader social network of indigenous organizations that sponsor cultural performance events in southwestern Oklahoma. In addition, the research has examined the ways in which contemporary Kiowa people employ intellectual property as a means of visibly asserting their ties to prominent nineteenth-century ancestors. Ultimately, research on Kiowa descendants' organizations has contributed to an understanding of the ways in which heritage and historical consciousness are produced, deployed, accessed, and contested in comparatively small, but culturally distinct social settings, providing a much-needed counterbalance to previous studies which have focused on their role in large-scale nationalist and separatist movements.
Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Dr. Chip, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, CO - To aid research on 'Repatriation and Reconciliation: The Ethical Effects of NAGPRA'
DR. CHIP COLWELL-CHANTHAPHONH, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, Colorado, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Repatriation and Reconciliation: The Ethical Effects of NAGPRA.' This ethnographic study investigated how repatriation law in the United States has directed and configured the beliefs, values, and behaviors of Native Americans and museum professors. Specifically, this project examined how the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has been variously applied by individuals and institutions over the last 25 years, and in what ways the law's implementation has rearranged the moral relationship between museums and tribes. This question was answered by following the 'ethnographic biographies' of four cultural items repatriated from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science-two sacred objects and two sets of human remains-as they originated, were collected and curated, were claimed, and were returned home. Additionally, a systematic survey of tribal repatriation workers was conducted to understand the broad impacts of NAGPRA on Native American communities across the United States. The results of this research to date include one article (Colwell-Chanthaphonh, C. 2012. The Work of Repatriation in Indian Country. Human Organization 71(3):278-291) and a book manuscript under contract with the University of Chicago Press. This project ultimately illuminated the interplay between juridical laws and moral duties, while shifting the repatriation dialogue towards an ethnographically grounded anthropology.
Colwell-Chanthaphonh, C. 2012. The Work of Repatriation in Indian Country. Human Organization 71(3):278-291
Santoro, Daniella Shlomit, Tulane U., New Orleans, LA - To aid research on ''The Wheelchair Life': Navigating Visibility and Social Mobility After Violently Acquired Injury in New Orleans,' supervised by Dr. Adeline Masquelier
Preliminary abstract: Despite recent scholarly and popular attention to the legacy of the war on drugs, and to the consequences of 'inner city violence' in communities of color in the U.S., physical disability as result of gun violence is topic that remains largely unexamined. Individuals with violently acquired spinal cord injuries are rendered both statistically and socially invisible. This research seeks to understand the experiences of so-called 'street veterans', the social and cultural worlds they embody in the liminal space of rehabilitation, how they construct identity at the intersectionality of race, gender, and disability, and how they self-organize and build community around wheelchair specific mobility.
Labrador, Angela Marie, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Entrusting the Commons: Agricultural Land Conservation in Post-Industrial New England,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Chilton
ANGELA M. LABRADOR, then a student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Entrusting the Commons: Agricultural Land Conservation in Post-Industrial New England,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Chilton. This research explored how a rural New England community has leveraged the legal instrument of the conservation easement to protect their cultural landscapes and associated cultural identities and values. The fieldwork documented the social impacts of conservation easements, framing their application as part of a wider social ethic, deeply embedded in local cultural heritage. Traditionally, the protection of heritage is conceptualized as a 'preservation' process enacted by experts using etic standards of cultural and material 'authenticity.' However, this approach has alienated communities from their heritage. This research contributes a dynamic framework of heritage as a creatively shared component of community life and its safeguarding as an ethos informed by emic values and enacted by a broader base of stakeholders. The resulting ethnography -- which combined archival research, participant observation, and Photovoice -- actively engaged with the social ethic that supports the landscape protection program. Two sets of findings resulted: one assessed the potential and shortcomings of the heritage commons created through the usage of conservation easements and the other proposed a methodology for facilitating community-based and deliberative reflection on the past and future in rural places struggling with the socio-economic transformations of modernity.
Duarte, Columba Gonzalez, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'The Monarch Butterfly Assemblage: A Transnational Study of Environmental Knowledge, Politics and Conservation Networks,' supervised by Dr. Hilary Cunningham
Preliminary abstract: In the last two decades Canada, Mexico and United States have jointed efforts to protect the monarch butterfly and this migration route from southern Canada and northern United States to the central mountains of Mexico. The result is the recent creation of a trilateral conservation space formed by a network of protected areas, animals, humans and institutions across the three countries that has affected near 1 million people in the Mexican habitat and prompted a citizen-science group without precedents in the other two countries. Biodiversity conservation projects have been approached by different angles in social disciplines, yet the tendency is to carryout local or regional studies that are primary conducted in one single location, different from this, my research proposes to capture the connectivity of transnational conservation projects by following a flow of knowledge that travels across the monarch migration route. By attending the production, circulation and application of knowledge about the monarch, this research address the knowledge politics attached to monarch conservation and the form in which this is shaped and shapes the alliances between humans and non-humans. To carry on this study I propose that the appropriate theoretical framework is a merging between Political Ecology and Science and Technology Studies, while methodologically is a multi-sited research across Canada, Mexico and United States. The combination of this theoretical framework with a multi-sited ethnography will allow me to explore the associations between the citizen-science practices that occur in Canada and United States with the new environmental practices and problems that take place in the protected Mexican habitat.