Bashkow, Dr. Ira R., U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research and writing on ''Whitemen' in the Moral World of Orokaiva of Papua New Guinea' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. IRA R. BASHKOW, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in June 2001 to aid research and writing of a book entitled The Meaning of Whitemen: Race and Modernity in Papua New Guinea. The book is a theoretically focused ethnography of an Orokaiva community in Papua New Guinea that examines how Orokaiva people conceptualize 'whitemen,' development, and the West. In it Bashkow explores the racial symbolism that is central to Orokaiva ideas of modernity and provides an unprecedented account of the cultural construction of 'whiteness' and race in a non-Western culture. He shows how Orokaiva use the symbolism of 'whitemen' to interpret the position of their local communities and their race in the world economy. Recognizing that modernity is an essentially racial concept for Orokaiva is the key to understanding modernity's power to insinuate itself into their local cultural processes and tap into dynamics of their local moral order, so that even these people, whose historical experience of modernity has been so unrewarding, still ardently desire to reforge their society in the image of the modern other. Growing out of the writing of the book was a related article on the globalization of time, in which Bashkow examined how the Orokaiva cultural construction of whitemen was substantiated in people's use of 'whitemen's time,' meaning, in Orokaiva terms, the synchronization of different people's activities using modem, Western-style clock and calendrical time. The ethnography of whitemen's time supports a general theoretical argument about the way in which non-Western time systems change (and are resilient) in the face of globalization.
Bashkow, Ira. 2006. The Meaning of Whitemen: Race and Modernity in the Orokaiva Cultural World. University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London.
Dobrin, Lise M., and Ira Bashkow. 2010. 'Arapesh Warfare': Reo Fortune's Veiled Critique of Margaret Mead's Sex and Temperment. American Anthropologist 112(3):370-383.
Hardin, Jessica Anne, Brandeis U., Waltham, MA - To aid research on 'Exchange and Health: Negotiating the Meaning of Food and Body among Evangelical Christians in Independent Samoa,' supervised by Dr. Richard J. Parmentier
JESSICA A. HARDIN, then a student at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Exchange and Health: Negotiating the Meaning of Food and Body among Evangelical Christians in Independent Samoa,' supervised by Dr. Richard J. Parmentier. In a 'traditional' Samoan idiom, large body size indexed deep social networks and prosperity. Today, as rates of weight-related diseases and obesity increase, meanings of the large body are in flux. Exchange is increasingly critiqued by public health and evangelical Christians as a source of financial, social, and emotional hardship that causes weight-related disorders. This research explores how weight-related disorders are constructed as a problem of inequality and social change related to global influences on everyday life. This analysis draws from fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork that included participant observation, semi-structured interviews and discourse analysis in two evangelical churches and public health domains in the urban and peri-urban areas of Apia. These diverse data sets enabled an investigation of how: weight-related disorders are linked to exchange; spiritualized etiologies encourage social and embodied change; and global public health discourses are articulated in complex and surprising ways. This research into responses to the rise of weight-related disorders illuminates the social and spiritual dimensions shaping disease management in contemporary Samoa; this suggests a focus on well-being, as opposed to health, in prevention and policy is necessary.
Martinez-Reyes, Dr. Jose Eduardo, U. of Massachusetts, Boston, MA - To aid research on 'Mahogany Intertwined: Enviromateriality Between the Maya Forest, Fiji, and the Gibson Les Paul'
Preliminary abstract: This project will produce a global ethnography that engages both, the material culture and materiality of Honduran mahogany (Sw. macrophylla), along with a global political ecology of forest conservation. It seeks to understand the complex dynamics between people and mahogany by tracing human-nature relations through the global commodity networks by focusing on one particular artefact, the Gibson Les Paul, an iconic solid wood electric guitar made of mahogany. In recent years, Gibson has been supplied with 'sustainably certified' mahogany by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) grown in the Maya Forest of Quintana Roo, Mexico and more recently in Fiji (whose mahogany was transplanted when a British colony). On the production (material) side, I ask questions to local communities about how they relate to the material in question and more importantly, whether FSC certified mahogany helps create sustainability and community well-being within a neoliberal framework as it proclaims. I also seek to unravel the power relations of mahogany production within Mexico's and Fiji's particular land tenure systems. On the consumption (materiality) end, I will interview Gibson Les Paul builders and players about why they consider mahogany to have sonic and tonal agentic force (which I call 'sonicality') that they seek when building and when playing the guitar. I also interrogate what role does mahogany play in driving the Les Paul's supply and demand, and if such drives contributes to the demise of mahogany and the efforts of agro-forestry as a sustainable conservation practice. From a UMass Boston grant I was able to conduct research in Mexico in 2011-12. In this proposal I seek funding to carry out fieldwork in Viti Levu, Fiji for a total of 12 weeks in 2013-14 and travel to Nashville, TN to the Gibson Factory in the Spring of 2013 to carry out interviews and ethnographic observations
Syndicus, Ivo Soeren, National U. of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland - To aid research on 'Culture, Development, and Higher Education in Papua New Guinea,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Strong
Preliminary abstract; Higher education has increasingly moved into the focus of international development cooperation. At the same time, calls for the recognition of culturally distinct ways of knowing and being are voiced in post-colonial contexts. In a sense, a tension is emerging between the promise of development through education, and the idea that standard models of higher education export eurocentric values and ways of knowing and being to other cultures. My research examines this tension through an ethnographic study of higher education in Papua New Guinea. I address the question of how stakeholders in tertiary educational institutions reflexively locate themselves in relation to notions of development and culture. Through participant observation, life histories, interviews, and discourse analysis, I explore how subjectivities and reflexive notions of the self shape and are shaped by the experience of higher education, and how these link to images of global modernity and development that are framed as standing in tension to notions of culture. Through original empirical research, this project seeks to describe and analyze how Papua New Guineans in a modern institutional setting mediate between the putatively universalist values of higher education and development, and their own culturally diverse ways of knowing and being.
Belharte, Dr. Stefanie Anja, Independent Scholar, Canterbury, UK - To aid research and writing on 'Agroforestry and Agrocentrism: Tropical Land Use as a Test-Bed for Conventional Concepts of Human-Environment Relations' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. STEFANIE BELHARTE, Independent Scholar, Canterbury, United Kingdom, was awarded a Hunt Fellowship in October 2007, to aid research and writing on 'Agroforestry and Agrocentrism: Tropical Land Use and a Test-Bed for Conventional Concepts of Human-Environment Relations.' The manuscript looks at the question 'Why cultivate?' from an ecological angle, focusing on tropical subsistence strategies, in particular in Southeast Asia and Oceania. A comparative literature review suggests that the strategies recognized as 'rainforest foraging,' 'sago subsistence', 'agroforestry,' and 'swiddening (shifting cultivation)' are all based on a sequence of vegetational disturbance and subsequent regrowth; that this sequence is variously manipulated through human labor in two dimensions: the degree of regrowth management (clearing, weeding, planting) and the length of the regrowth/cropping period (annual/perennial resources); and that the various expressions of these two dimensions in contemporary forms and their evolutionary antecedents represent the branches of an evolutionary tree. Supported by a case study from lowland New Guinea, it also indicates a trend towards increasing modification, substitution, and curtailment of the regrowth. An explanation for this trend may lie in the co-evolutionary relationships between resources and their human users. Dependent on resource characteristics, these relationships generate a variously forceful self-amplifying dynamic, which draws resource users towards cultivation, and can thus via the management of woody perennials arrive at contemporary swidden vegeculture.
Haug, Jordan Ross, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Finding Hope in a Time of Decline: After Mine Closure in Misima, Papua New Guinea,' supervised by Dr. Rupert Stasch
Preliminary abstract: In places where extractive industries have left an indelible mark, eroding infrastructures and disappearing economic opportunities following project closures often contribute to crises of hope. Hope for future equality with people in wealthier parts of the world seems no longer practical. Through ethnographic research in Misima, Papua New Guinea, this project seeks to answer the pressing question of how people in these communities hope for greater equality in times of dramatic geopolitical and economic decline. In 2004, the small island of Misima became the site of one of the most significant industrial mine closures in Oceania. Since that time, the possibilities for the island's geopolitical, infrastructural, and economic advancement have dramatically declined. In spite of this foreclosure of opportunity and increased isolation, many Misimans hope for better futures where they are able to obtain geopolitical, infrastructural, and economic equality with the rest of the globalized world. Through moral projects like education, cooperative fund raising, and denominationalism, Misimans infuse presently persistent inequalities with the possibility of greater equality. I hypothesize that these moral projects of cultivating hope subvert the inevitability of inequality in favor of egalitarian ideals that transcend the realm of the possible.
Mawyer, Alexander D., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Processes of Media Receptivity and the Production of Identities in the Gambier Islands, French Polynesia' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
ALEXANDER D. MAWYER, while a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in December 2001 to aid research on 'Processes of Media Receptivity and the Production of Identities in the Gambier Islands, French Polynesia,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly. Between January 2002 and February 2003, the grantee conducted primary dissertation fieldwork in French Polynesia for a project titled 'TV TALK and Other Processes of Media Receptivity and the Production of Identities in the Gambier, French Polynesia.' The theoretical focus of this project remained centered, throughout the fieldwork, in the investigation of particular affinities between the use of available sociolinguistic tools, the interactional stances taken by speakers in the various discursive situations of daily life, and the production of groupness-higher orders of social organization such as publics or communities. During the course of fieldwork, the grantee investigated how it is that speakers do inhabit roles and identities, and generally perform the great play of culture in all its modes and moods, in the indexical realization of the universe of their discourse - resulting in observations of speakers shifting between multiple possible stances, identifying with a public or publics within French Polynesia. A significant methodological goal of this project was to show how culturally situated persons in a sense improvisationally perform and generate the very publics that constitute them, a process which is in part realized by various linguistic devices that simultaneously index and entail that performance. From examining such 'realizations' in the discursive negotiation of the meaningfulness of news and other culturally mediating tropes - in this case, Mexican soap operas, a metropolitan French talk show, and ongoing local political debates articulated with pearl legislation and the French Polynesian government's regional objectives-1 gained an analytical purchase on the cultural and social logics of 'significant' information and the role(s) of communication more generally, in village society.
Berman, Elise Chertoff, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Children as Social Players: Children's Conversational Roles as Affected by Concepts of 'Truth' in the Marshall Islands,' supervised by Dr. John Arthur Lucy
ELISE C. BERMAN, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Children as Social Players: Children's Conversational Roles as Affected by Concepts of 'Truth' in the Marshall Islands,' supervised by Dr. John A. Lucy. Ethnographic and linguistic research was conducted in a small village in the Marshall Islands. Data was collected through participant observation, informal questioning, recording natural conversations, a longitudinal study of eight children, and formal interviews, and reveals that the Marshallese, like many other peoples, consider giving to be obligatory. Yet, many people did not want to give. The dissertation analyzes how the Marshallese avoided giving. It focuses specifically on children's roles (as both objects and actors) in these language games the Marshallese play to avoid giving without insulting anyone. Two theoretical implications emerge: 1) avoiding sharing is a semiotic processes that requires speaking or acting in such a way that people are able to assign goods a status that removes them from the exchange system. Consequently, this study shows that signs change the exchange status of goods; and 2) Marshallese children were able to avoid giving because adults saw them as irrelevant to exchange relations. This irony of the children's situation exists at two levels of analysis. At an ethnographic level, children in the RMI are important because they are perceived as unimportant. But on a theoretical level, it may be the case that, specifically because our informants do not recognize them as such, children are relevant to many research questions traditionally investigated among adults.
Hyman, Marita E., Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Mathematics and the Aboriginal Imagination: Correspondences and Conflicts in Northeast Arnhem Land,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe
MARITA E. HYMAN, then a student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Mathematics and the Aboriginal Imagination: Correspondences and Conflicts in Northeast Arnhem Land,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini Munasinghe. Mathematical imagination extends beyond the use of numbers to define and create external reality. During research with Yolngu people, the grantee examined the production of Yolngu artwork, observing ceremonial practices, learning kinship roles, and analyzing the relations between people's identity and their land to establish the daily conn