Kaplan, Dr. Martha, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY - To aid research on 'Fiji Water: A Commodity Biography and Ethnography'
DR. MARTHA KAPLAN, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, received an award in April 2008 to aid research on 'Fiji Water: A Commodity Biography and Ethnography.' Advertisements insist (truthfully) that Fiji Water really is from Fiji. The ads invoke images of remote, natural purity. They picture no Fiji citizens. The privately held bottling company was neither founded by nor is it owned by Fiji citizens. The ads are designed for a US consumer sensibility. This summer 2009 project asked the question, 'How does a company that markets water from the remote Pacific by proclaiming that it is 'untouched' and the opposite of 'civilization' interact with actual Fiji citizens? Specifically, how has the company interacted with the Vatukaloko people of Drauniivi village -- traditional landowners where the bottling plant is located, and well known in Pacific anthropology for their distinctive 19th-century, anti-colonial history. The past relationship has been a contested one, including a takeover by local villagers in 2000. Drawing on almost two decades of previous research experience in Drauniivi (conducted between 1984 and 2002), the project in 2009 included interviews with members of 33 households to discuss changes and continuities in kinship, religion, employment, education, moral economy, self representations and aspirations. Interviews with Fiji Water management at the bottling plant site and in the capitol city, Suva, were also carried out.
Mosko, Dr. Mark Stephen, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research on 'Dividual Personhood and the 'Rupture Hypothesis' of Christian Conversion in the Trobriand Islands'
Preliminary abstract: From Weber onwards, the spread of Christianity among non-Western peoples has been widely viewed by social scientists and others as part and parcel of modernization,development and globalization, amounting thereby to a profound 'break' or 'rupture' from indigenous religious systems. Concurrently, it has been presupposed that Christian conversion has involved radical transformations from relational non-individualist, kinship-based modes of personhood to the stereotypically bounded individualism of the West. This Project seeks to develop a new theory of Christian conversion which challenges this ethnocentric tendency by extending insights of the partibile or divisible character of Melanesian personhood recently gleaned from the 'New Melanesian Ethnography' (NME) to local interpretations of Christian cosmology and ritual practice among Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea. The Project will be focused at Omarakana village, ground-zero of anthropology as the site of Malinowski's path-breaking studies and also the home of the Tabalu Paramount Chief and the headquarters for the dominant North Kiriwina United Church. The research will consist of ethnographic field and archival research focused on the experiences of convert and non-convert Trobriand Islanders who, despite more than a century of missionization by five competing sects, remain variously committed to the traditional religion.
Taylor, Dr. John P., The Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research on 'Masculinities in Northern Vanuatu: Gender, Generation and Social Transformation'
DR. JOHN TAYLOR, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, was awarded funding in November 2005 to aid research on Masculinities in Northern Vanuatu: Gender, Generation, and Social Transformation. Masculinities in island Melanesia have undergone profound changes throughout the course of colonial and post-independence history. Yet despite the many classic ethnographies dealing with male ritual and exchange practices, and a burgeoning contemporary literature focusing on changes in women's lives, research that focuses explicitly on the changing contours of male personhood in the region is scarce. This project aims to redress this gap by examining a range of issues relating to the production of masculinities in northern Vanuatu. These focus on the historical entanglement of indigenous cosmology and Anglican Christianity in relation to the new powers secured through mobility and modernity. It examines masculinities in terms of salient shifts of socio-economic focus, for example from indentured and wage labor to bisnis (indigenous commercial enterprise). It also necessarily addresses debates concerning hegemony and power, particularly relating to 'urban drift', youth unemployment, crime and violence, and considers masculinities in contemporary popular culture and the changing configuration of male bodily aesthetics in villages and towns.
Taylor, John P. 2010. Janus and the Siren's Call: Kava and the Articulation of Gender and Modernity in Vanuatu. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 16(2):279-296.
Crook, Dr. Tony, U. of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, UK - To aid '8th Conference of the European Society for Oceanists: Exchanging Knowledge in Oceania,' 2010, St. Andrews, in collaboration with Dr. Melissa Demian
'8th Conference of the European Society for Oceanists: Exchanging Knowledge in Oceania'
July 5-8, 2010, University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom
Organizers: Tony Crook (University of St. Andrews) and Melissa Demian (University of Kent)
The 'Exchanging Knowledge in Oceania' meetings aimed to address a nexus of important contemporary questions, with the objective of rethinking the relations, roles, reciprocities, and responsibilities of academics working and wishing to work in Oceania. Concerns focused on recognizing that obligations to act are being raised by host communities and by diverse funding bodies, but that the kinds of action, knowledge, and relations at stake may be very differently conceived. Increasingly, academic knowledge has to address itself to terms originating from beyond the academy, and these can perhaps risk the eclipse of a commitment to understanding through models grounded in vernacular terms and concerns.
The two hundred and forty conference delegates engaged these questions through more than two hundred presentations in a series of twenty-four working sessions, four plenary keynotes, two dialogues, and a roundtable. The conference theme raised some difficult issues that are rarely discussed head on—such as academic vs practicing anthropology, and who can speak for culture—and enabled these to be raised and discussed in a serious and friendly manner. In addition, a series of publically accessible events ran alongside to provide insights into the realities of Pacific people’s lives, and into anthropological research.
Kefalas, Christofili Valentina, U. of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Telling Ancestral Narratives: Maori Identity and the Charles Smith Collection,' supervised by Dr. Laura Lynn Peers
CHRISTOFILI V. KEFALAS, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, received a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Telling Ancestral Narratives: Maori Identity and the Charles Smith Collection,' supervised by Dr. Laura Lynn Peers. The word taonga has come to define many notions of Maori material culture such as museum objects, performance, land, ancestral human remains, and even knowledge itself. This case study documents ways narratives from the Charles Smith collection of taonga Maori at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford speak to contemporary imperatives for Whanganui iwi (tribe). Whanganui haVE been long involved in endeavors to restore their ancestral land rights through the Waitangi Tribunals. The trials have demanded a recollection of community oral history as evidence, but have also shaped heritage ideals. Museum taonga is theorized as integral to Maori identity, because it is the bridge to ancestral history. This study agrees with this relevant aspect of taonga, but argues that this kinship-based view cannot be wholly removed from the legal and political engagements ongoing in Maori communities. Knowledge from museum taonga helps connect to an indigenous identity based in historical understanding, but this definition has been forwarded as all encompassing, when it only partially explains a contemporary interest in taonga. The meaning of material culture changes and is not uniform within the Whanganui community, so it is important to examine the contexts that shape the contemporary sociality of taonga Maori.
Mosko, Dr. Mark S., Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research on 'Hierarchy, Agency, and Personal Partibility in Pacific Chiefdoms and History'
DR. MARK S. MOSKO, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, was received funding in July 2005 to aid research on 'Hierarchy, Agency, and Personal Partibility in Pacific Chiefdoms and History.' Comparative knowledge of the dynamics of Pacific chiefdoms is currently fragmented, with a variety of inconsistent theories of chiefly agency in state and sub-state polities. This Project has aimed at the development of a novel anthropological theory of chiefly hierarchy, agency and historical efficacy for the Pacific based on previously gathered ethnographic information regarding North Mekeo and new data gathered over seven-and-a-half months among the Austronesian-speaking Roro (Waima) and Trobrianders (Northern Kiriwina) of Papua New Guinea. This new theory consists in the expansion of the so-called 'New Melanesian Ethnography,' and particularly its key notion of 'personal partibility,' in two new directions: from egalitarian non-chiefly modes of leadership to the hierarchical North Mekeo, Roro and Trobriands, with implications, therefore, for Polynesia-Micronesia; and from traditional, supposedly non-changing contexts to situations of social change. The novel understandings of Roro and Trobriand chieftainship to be developed from this research will thereby help to unify anthropological knowledge of indigenous Oceanic polities and provide policy makers with a new perspective for assessing the critical contributions of sub-state leadership to contemporary politics across the region.
Mosko, Mark. 2010. Partible Penitents: Dividual Personhood and Christian Practice in Melanesia and the West. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 16(2):215-240.
Mosko, Mark S.2009. The Fractal Yam: Botanical Imagery and Human Agency in the Trobriands. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15(4):679-700.
Mosko, Mark S. 2006. Fashion as Fetish: The Agency of Modern Clothing and Traditional Body Decoration among North Mekeo of Papua New Guinea. The Contemporary Pacific 19(1): 39-83.
Thorner, Sabra Gayle, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Indigenizing Photography: Archives, Activism, and New Visual Media in Contemporary Australia,' supervised by Dr. Fred R. Myers
SABRA GAYLE THORNER, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Indigenizing Photography: Archives, Activism, and New Visual Media in Contemporary Australia,' supervised by Dr. Fred R. Myers. The research undertaken during this grant explores the technologies and resources through which Indigenous Australians are fashioning a new visual culture. Other peoples' representations have had extraordinary power over Indigenous lives, memories, and futures; this project interrogates how Indigenous people are renegotiating representation and the social practice of photography as: 1) a vehicle for the expression of Indigenous subjectivities and community goals; 2) a form of cultural activism; and 3) a medium for the recuperation of histories, kinship ties, and connections to country. Funding supported fieldwork with three organizations representing distinctive histories and social formations: the Koorie Heritage Trust (an urban Aboriginal cultural center in Melbourne); Boomalli (an Aboriginal artists' cooperative in Sydney); and Ara Irititja (a digital archiving project based in Adelaide and with outposts in the Pitjantjatjara/Yankunyjatjara lands). Using photography as a starting point in this multi-sited project enables consideration of how digital technologies can be made culturally specific and relevant; how art-making remains a largely uncensored domain and an important realm of social intervention; and how traditional knowledge is being looked after in the 21st century. Indigenous organizations are a site of production of contemporary Aboriginality, facilitating change in Australia's visual lexicon and national imaginings.
Culbertson, Jacob Hiram, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Assembling Maori Architecture: Indigenous Knowledge and Expert Collaboration in an Emerging Science,' supervised by Dr. Alan M. Klima
JACOB HIRAM CULBERTSON, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in May 2010, to aid research on 'Assembling Maori Architecture: Indigenous Knowledge and Expert Collaboration in an Emerging Science,' supervised by Dr. Alan M. Klima. From October 2010 to October 2011, research was conducted in the field of Maori architecture. The study focused on how traditional Maori building practices and global architectural movements influence this field and the scientific and non-scientific techniques that Maori architects use when these diverse influences are not readily compatible. The research was conducted in two periods, in Opotiki -- a rural, predominantly Maori town -- and Auckland, New Zealand. The first period centered on apprenticing with a group of Maori woodcarvers; participating in a series of projects using traditional technologies and facilitated in part by government job-creation schemes; and interviewing local Maori elders about the construction and use of meetinghouses. The Auckland component focused on the institutionalized aspects of Maori architecture, including: interviews with Maori and non-Maori architects and urban planners; archival research on the participation of Maori voices and concepts in drafting resource management laws and in planning Auckland's public spaces; and conferences on indigenous environmental planning. Research findings indicate that Maori architects distinguish their field from others by highlighting the importance of relationships, both through collaborative design processes and in using the resultant narratives to situate their buildings in local histories and landscapes.
Kennedy, Jack Lyle Cedric, U. of Western Ontario, London, Canada - To aid research on 'In the Shadows of Frieda: Place-Making, Mining, Marginality, and Identity in Rural Papua New Guinea,' supervised by Dr. Dan William Jorgensen
Preliminary abstract: Papua New Guinea's economy depends on resource extraction projects such as the Frieda River Project (FRP) in Sandaun Province. These projects dot the landscape with mining enclaves, providing opportunities for income and services and the possibility of overcoming the marginality of rural communities. This research project explores how processes of place-making at a site of global-local interaction shape social relations at different scales. The research will address how the mining enclave affects local conceptualizations of place and social relations; how local people imagine themselves in the world; and how local people manage their marginality. Research will take place in villages which are in close proximity to the FRP. Methods include participant observation, semi-structured interviews, collecting genealogies and life histories, and the production of maps and other representations in order to understand experiential dimensions of place and how people imagine the wider world and their location within it. This project will contribute to the literature on place and identity and the study of the cultur