Weiss, Dr. Margot Danielle, Wesleyan U. Middletown, CT - To aid research on 'Visions of Sexual Justice among Contemporary Queer Activists'
DR. MARGOT WEISS, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Visions of Sexual Justice among Contemporary Queer Activists.' Visions of Sexual Justice is organized around the deceptively simple question: What is the relationship between sexuality and social justice? Based on ethnographic research with queer left activists in New York City, Chicago, and Montreal, the project explores the ways activists imagine and articulate new visions of queer social and economic justice. As organizations like Queers for Economic Justice in New York City argue, at a time of economic precarity, LGBT and gender non-conforming people are particularly vulnerable-more likely to work in street economies, more likely to be homeless, more likely to survive through low-paying and non-unionized service work than their straight and cisgendered counterparts. Yet the gay and lesbian movement pays scant attention to poverty, much less class. An intervention into this impasse, Visions of Sexual Justice charts the ways activists make connections between sexual and economic justice in order to comprehend and transcend, rather than repeat, the often bifurcated scholarly analyses of queerness and capitalism, desire and class, and sexuality and economy.
Muehlmann, Dr. Shaylih Ryan, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Emergent Indigeneities and Environmental Conflict on the Colorado River'
DR. SHAYLIH R. MUEHLMANN, University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Emergent Indigeneities and Environmental Conflict on the Colorado River.' In the first phases of research for this project, the grantee examined the recent emergence of an explicitly indigenous activism among the Cucapa people of northwest Mexico. For the past several decades, many Cucapa people have been in conflict with the Mexican government over their rights to fish in a protected area at the end of the Colorado River. Their claims have been repeatedly rejected on the grounds that they use untraditional and unsustainable fishing practices. While most Cucapa people no longer speak their native language, and until recently did not identify as indigenous in the manner prescribed by dominant discourses on indigenous rights, in the last year local leaders have begun specifically re-framing their demands as an 'indigenous struggle.' They have done so by drawing on the recent support provided by the Zapatista movement and by incorporating internationally recognized discourses on indigeneity and ethnic rights into their legal claims. This research began to trace the rearticulation of Cucapa activist discourses with those more widely recognized in the indigenous rights movement in Mexico and beyond. In particular, analysis was focused on the impact of the recent Zapatista support of the political strategies of residents Cucapa activists and the way in which new indigenous identities have been mobilized by the ongoing fishing dispute with the Mexican government.
Muehlmann, Shaylih. 2012. Rhizomes and Other Uncountables: The Malaise of Enumeration in Mexico's Colorado River Delta. American Ethnologist 39(2):339-353.
Hargrove, Melissa D., U. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN - To aid research on 'Reinventing the Plantation on Gullah-Contested Landscape: Gated Communities and Spatial Segregation in the Sea Islands,'supervised by Dr. Faye V. Harrison
MELISSA D. HARGROVE, while a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, received funding in May 2003 to aid research on gated communities as a means of spatial segregation-the new 'plantation'-in the Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, under the supervision of Faye V. Harrison. Hargrove conducted twelve months of ethnographic research in 2003-4 into the conflicts resulting from the divisive practice of mapping social inequality onto the power-mediated landscapes of gated communities. Her research methods included participant observation, convening focus groups of residents of both gated and Gullah (African American) communities, conducting formal and informal interviews with people on various sides of the dispute, and analyzing associated literature. Preliminary findings were that the gated community phenomenon represented, for Gullah people, the racialized oppression and exploitation associated with plantation slavery and that the term plantation served as a device of knowledge production in reinvented versions of Sea Island history. Hargrove identified dichotomous interpretations of plantation slavery, each equipped with rationalizations dependent on social and historical memory. She also found that the predicament of postcolonial recolonization was being met with grassroots mobilization by Gullahs against threats to the vital resource necessary for maintaining their cultural lifeway: their ancestral land inheritance. Unable to garner political and economic power at the local level, Gullah community leaders chose to respond by crafting a platform for self-determination in the global arena of human and minority rights.
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?
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.
Jabloner, Anna, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Archiving Humanity: The Politics of Classification in U.S. Gene Databases,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Masco
ANNA JABLONER, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Archiving Humanity: The Politics of Classification in U.S. Gene Databases,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Masco. From within a frontier scientific culture in northern California, this project examines how Americans deploy genomic information to organize their lives in the early 21st century -- in terms of identity, health, and futures framed through risk. As private and public genetic databases are growing, data-oriented genomics promises the transition of medical and criminological practices into more rational and predictive forms. This project investigates the uses of human genetic databases by looking at their applications in genetic counseling and in court cases in California. Focusing on the everyday uses of genetic databases, it examines genetic counseling as a rapidly growing domain in which data is being interpreted and communicated to medical patients and the consumers of health genomics products. Through ethnographic research, the project asks how genetic counseling practices mobilize genomic information and carve out new claims to direct life courses. As genomic data is communicated to non-scientists invested in health, kinship, and biological and cultural connections, possible meanings of healthy or risky futures are re-made in and through classificatory practices. The project investigates how growing genomic infrastructures and a new genomic governance, which emerges alongside them, variably implicate subjects and their risky or healthy life courses in genetic databases.
Castaneda, Dr. Heide, U. of South Florida, Tampa, FL - To aid research on 'Mixed-Status Families and the Juridico-legal Reach of the Contemporary State in Households in US/Mexico Borderlands'
Preliminary abstract: Currently, there are some 2.3 million mixed-status families in the US, which contain varied constellations of citizens, legal residents, undocumented immigrants, and individuals in gray zones of legal limbo. The construction of 'illegality' for some members influences opportunities for all, including those who are recognized as citizens, and constitutes a primary feature of the contemporary immigration experience. This project posits that the mixed-status family is an ideal unit of analysis with which to examine the functioning of the contemporary state and its penetration at the household level. Juridical categories of citizenship shape members' socialization to identities within the domestic sphere as well as in relation to public institutions, stratifying opportunities and resources. Building upon a 2013 pilot study and utilizing data on the experiences of 100 mixed-status household in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV), this project will reveal the production of different outcomes within the same family and provide ethnographic evidence of how families negotiate various institutions. The LRGV is a heavily populated strip along on the US/Mexico border and home to a large number of binational and mixed-status families; it is a region which exemplifies transnational living strategies as historically deep and integral components of family life, defying efforts to categorize populations along simplistic and axiomatic dichotomies based on legal status.
Rosenbaum, Susanna, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Domestic Economics: Immigrant Women, Middle-Class Employers, and Household Work,' supervised by Dr. Faye D. Ginsburg
SUSANNA ROSENBAUM, while a student at New York University in New York, New York, received funding in June 2002 to aid research on immigrant women, middle-class employers, and household work in Los Angeles, California, under the supervision of Dr. Faye D. Ginsburg. During a year of fieldwork, Rosenbaum examined the ways in which both employers and employees experienced domestic service in order to provide a more complete picture of this institution as it affected the lives of all parties. She asked how broader processes of globalization had affected both immigrants and non-immigrants in Los Angeles and how they had compelled both groups to redefine notions of household, family, motherhood, work, personal fulfillment, and femininity. These once immutable concepts had become sources of anxiety through economic transformations, generational changes, the experience of migration, and domestic service. Rosenbaum approached employers and employees separately by attending meetings of their organizations, spending time with members in their homes, and meeting additional people through members' social networks. Among employees, she began with a housecleaners' cooperative and an association seeking to organize domestic workers. On the employer side, she started with a networking organization for working women and a local affiliate of a national mothers' group. By conducting participant observation, tracking social networks, conducting interviews, and taking life histories, Rosenbaum analyzed how both employers and employees grappled with uncertainties and reworked previous concepts through daily practice and narrative.
Daniell, Rachel Jean, Graduate Center, City U. of New York, New York, NY -To aid research on 'Documenting Contested Pasts: The Production of History and the U.S. 'War on Terror',' supervised by Dr. Victoria Sanford
Preliminary abstract: What is at stake in producing historical knowledge about state violence when that violence has taken place in the very recent past? As controversial state actions move into the realm of historical representation, they are made legible in different ways: reworked into narratives, organized into archives, incorporated into public history projects, and written as textbook accounts. This project proposes an investigation of these history-making practices at their very inception through an analysis of emerging historical memory of controversial practices under the George W. Bush administration: allegations of torture, debates around indefinite detention, and the question of the legality of the Iraq War. These recent human rights controversies are currently being documented in historical archives and written into U.S. history textbook chapters. This project uses ethnographic research with two types of organizations--governmental archive organizations and nongovernmental archive organizations--as well as discourse analysis of U.S. history textbooks, in order to analyze this process of 'becoming history' in depth. Further, this project examines the understandings of actors involved in these documentation projects and the ways they articulate their significance. Ultimately, this research examines how the conditions of possibility for different understandings of controversial histories are formed through actions in the present.