Samet, Dr. Robert, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid endgaged activities on 'Engaging Journalism: The Venezuelan Press in Times of Political Uncertainty,' 2014, Caracas, Venezuela
DR. ROBERT SAMET, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in August 2013 to aid engaged activities on 'Engaging Journalism: The Venezuelan Press in Times of Political Uncertainty.' One year ago Venezuela was at a crossroads. The death of President Hugo Chavez altered the country's political landscape and there were questions about what the future held. Today it is in crisis. Soaring inflation, plummeting oil prices, and scarcity of goods have helped fuel frustration and political unrest. No one feels the current predicament more than Venezuelan journalists. The grantee's dissertation research (2007-2009) examined the press and the politics of urban violence in Venezuela's capital city, Caracas. It used crime reporting as a window onto the dynamics of political engagement among journalists, editors, and media owners. The Engaged Anthropology Grant was used to conduct a series of follow-up workshops during the summer of 2014 about the promises and perils of engaged journalism in these times of political uncertainty.
Hetherington, Craig, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'On the Verge of a Transparent Peasantry: The Politics of Property Reform in Paraguay,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena
CRAIG HETHERINGTON, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'On the Verge of a Transparent Peasantry: The Politics of Property Reform in Paraguay,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena. The project looked at the changing world of Paraguayan peasants, and asked how they viewed recent property reforms, pressures for legal and bureaucratic transparency, and the institutional frameworks facilitating the rapid expansion of industrial soybean production in their communities. The research lasted nine months and followed developments in six complicated legal battles over land following peasant activists into meetings, courtrooms, archives and government offices. In the process, it uncovered a novel form of political organizers whom the author dubbed 'guerrilla auditors,' peasant activists who constructed complex legal arguments from their own archival research. Their tactics were entirely legal, but threatening to established bureaucrats, who vilified and persecuted these self-fashioned auditors. The study suggests that these leaders straddle a contradiction of the Paraguayan transition. On the one hand, they respond to an international ideology of good governance and transparency, and use these ideas to their own ends. On the other hand, they show just how exclusive Paraguay's new democracy really is, and point to the implicit limitations of programs of good governance which are not built around a radical project of social inclusion.
Hetherington, Kregg. 2013. Beans before the Law: Knowledge Practices, Responsibility, and the Paraguayan Soy Boom. Cultural Anthropology 28(1):65-85.
Bessire, Lucas Britton, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Becoming the Ayoreo: Shortwave Radio, Power, and Emergent Indigenous Identities in the Gran Chaco,' supervised by Dr. Fred R. Myers
LUCAS BESSIRE, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Becoming the Ayoreo: Shortwave Radio, Power, and the Emergent Indigenous Identities in the Gran Chaco,' supervised by Dr. Fred Myers. In March 2004, seventeen of the worlds last 'voluntarily isolated' hunter/gatherers walked out of Paraguay's Gran Chaco forest, fleeing ranchers' bulldozers and ecological devastation. Five months after this 'first contact,' they had converted to evangelical Christianity and joined their more settled relatives in using an inter-community, Ayoreo-language radio network to establish a collective ethnic identity across the Bolivia-Paraguay border. Based on extensive fieldwork, this research explores how certain kinds of social futures are relationally produced and circulated as possible for the cross-border Ayoreo Indians to imagine. It describes how electronic media technologies shape indigenous understandings of modernity, belonging, and faith in politically significant ways, as the Ayoreo navigate a neo-colonial maze of often conflicting value systems brought by North American missionaries, state projects, humanitarian NGOs, and transient anthropologists. This research charts the ways that violence and upheaval come to be knowable as sentiments of shame, trauma, and hope. Bearing witness to a little known human drama, this project explores the sentimental mechanisms by which religious conversion and media technologies shape Native cultural and political futures in the Gran Chaco.
Publication CreditsBessire, Lucas. 2011. Apocalyptic Futures: The Violent Transformation of Moral Human Life among Ayoreo-Speaking People of the Paraguayan Gran Chaco. American Ethnologist 38(4):743-757.
Bessire, Lucas. 2010. A Fieldnote on Shame. Anthropology Now 2(2):1-8.
Silverman, Dr. Helaine, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Monumentalized Spaces of Tourism and Identity in Cuzco, Peru'
DR. HELAINE SILVERMAN, of the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, was awarded funding in May 2003 to aid research on 'Monumentalized Spaces of Tourism and Identity in Cuzco, Peru.' This project interrogated the new 'Inca' monuments erected throughout the city of Cusco (Peru) by its municipality since 1984 in terms of official discourse about identity, cultural heritage and tourism, and the vernacular discourse and behavior of local residents and foreign tourists in the historic zone. Fieldwork involved interviews, behavioral observation in the city's principal public spaces, graphic documentation of the new monuments, and archival newspaper research. Research demonstrates that mass tourists are largely oblivious to, uninterested in and protected from the social, political, and economic realities of contemporary Cusco by the activity managing of tourist agencies. Tourists also are largely oblivious to the Inca-themed monuments in the city, whereas various of these are important landmarks and ideological reservoirs for ordinary local residents. Moreover, cusqueños are quite aware of tourists and, whatever their socioeconomic class, most believe that tourism is beneficial for Cusco and its inhabitants, even though fieldwork indicates that they have lost social, physical, and economic space in the city because of tourism. Interviews and archival research reveal that the Plaza de Armas has been Cusco's principal site of struggle for the representation of identity since the Spanish Conquest. These debates are still unresolved. Today this main public space is the city's most dynamic 'contact zone' and many cusqueños are enthusiastic about what they call 'interculturality,' welcoming the global encounters tourism provides. Nevertheless, fieldwork shows that Cusco remains culturally 'provincial' and infrastructurally 'underdeveloped' despite the veneer created by its upscale hotels, nouvelle-hybrid cuisine restaurants, and abundant internet cafés.
Canova, Paola, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Rewriting Ethics on Female Bodies: Ayoreo Sex Work and Christianity in the Paraguayan Chaco,' supervised by Dr. James B. Greenberg
PAOLA CANOVA, then a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'Rewriting Ethics on Female Bodies: Ayoreo Sex Work and Christianity in the Paraguayan Chaco,' supervised by Dr. James B. Greenberg. Since shortly after 'first contact' in the 1960s, women of the Ayoreo indigenous group have engaged in 'sex work' in the urbanizing Mennonite Colonies in the Paraguayan Chaco. The nature of their interactions with clients (which don't always involve monetary transactions), their conspicuous consumption of 'fashionable' clothes and makeup, and their own discourses of 'sex work' as 'play' or 'kinship,' upend conventional theoretical frames for analyzing the relationships between collective agency, 'sexual labor,' and indigenous personhood in lowland South America. Based on extensive fieldwork, this research addresses the ways in which young Ayoreo women make sexuality a central mode for producing and resignifying indigenous epistemologies of gender and sexuality in relation to the Christian moral values imported by American missionaries and the exchange values of an expanding market economy, the two major forces shaping the socio-political landscape of today's contemporary Chaco. By doing so, this research reveals how seemingly contradictory ethical systems simultaneously shape the cultural production of gender, indigeneity, and agency. This project provides the first ethnographic analysis of how sex work becomes a central and counterintuitive site for negotiating the terms in which meaningful performances of personhood are co-constructed in the rapidly industrializing Paraguayan Gran Chaco.
Tucker, Dr. Christopher Joshua, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Andean Sounds, Indian Selves: Music, Media, and Indigenous Experience in Highland Peru'
Abstract: DR. JOSHUA TUCKER, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Andean Sounds, Indian Selves: Music, Media, and Indigenous Experience in Highland Peru.' Funding supported research in Ayacucho, Peru, on the circulation of Andean popular music and its connection to transnational debates over indigenous identity. Focusing on a Quechua-language genre called chimaycha, this work shows how local activists tied to the global indigenous movement compete with agents of the popular cultural industry to define certain kinds of songs and performers as the true voices of contemporary indigenous Peru. This scene pits traditionalists, who seek to preserve esthetic distinctiveness and thereby claim the rights accorded to bearers of 'deep difference,' against 'modernists.' The latter instead follow inherited expectations that indigenous performers sing songs of personal experience, meaning that their non-traditional songs treat the decidedly modern problems of labor migrants in the urban milieu. By following musicians, luthiers, broadcasters, and listeners as they create, circulate, consume, and debate the value of chimaycha, this research shows how they stage a debate between differing commitments to indigeneity without entirely exhausting the 'truth' of either position. Indeed, far from threatening the perdurance of indigenous identification, these debates challenge a dominant narrative in vogue among nationalist ideologues, according to which salutary forms of cultural mixture are inexorably whittling away Andean commitments to indigenous difference and self-determination.
Tucker, Joshua. 2013. Gentleman Troubadours and Andean Pop Stars Huayno Music, Media Work, and Ethnic Imaginaries in Urban Peru. University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London.
Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas
May 3, 2006
Zent, Dr. Eglee Lopez, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas, Caracas, Venezuela - To aid research and writing on 'Choosing to be Hunter-Gatherers: Hoti Ecological Ethos and Praxis' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
Dr. Egleé L Zent, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Caracas, Venezuela, received a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in December 2006 to aid research and writing on 'Choosing to be Hunter-Gatherers: Hotï Ecological Ethos and Praxis.' The fellowship allowed several months of comprehensive library research across several disciplines reviewing the published literature on Amazonian Amerindian ecocosmological ideologies and praxis, and related topics (human ecology, ethnobiology, ecophilosophy, perspectivism, mythology, ritual, shamanism, ethnomedicine, notions of personhood, eschatology). Extensive analysis of original field data was carried out also, including the creation of different time-consuming data bases in digital formats. Seven chapters of a monograph and two papers have been written thereafter on the ecological ethos and practices of the Hotï people, a hunter-gatherer group of the Venezuelan Amazon focused on the interlink between material and ideological reasons to explain the hunter-gatherer's ethos.