Henne, Adam Peters, U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Wood: Nature, Knowledge, and Commodity Fetishism in Chilean Forest Certification,' supervised by Dr. Peter Brosius
ADAM PETERS HENNE, then a student at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, received a grant in April 2006, to aid research on 'The Social Life of Wood: Nature, Knowledge, and Commodity Fetishism in Chilean Forest Certification,' supervised by Dr. Peter Brosius. The Forest Stewardship Council provides the green seal of approval for 'good wood,' indicating a wood product that the conscientious consumer can feel good about buying. Like Fair Trade or organic food, FSC certification depends on a market premium on sustainably produced wood to push producers toward more sustainable practices. This dependency implies global connections between Northern consumers, Chilean producers, and the physical landscape of Chile itself. The value-based standards that attempt to constrain those global connections are the product of political contests not visible in the wood products at the end of the commodity chain. This project attempts to make these politics visible by documenting the process by which standards for good forestry are negotiated and defined. Standards and certification are particularly good objects for cultural study because they bring together in one site so many fields of contestation: techno-science and international trade; indigenous and environmental movements; consumers and ethical practice. By studying how the FSC and its knowledge practices work together to produce new subjectivities while re-inscribing existing structures of inequality, this project aims to raise some valuable questions about the role of forest certification and other ethical trade initiatives in creating sustainable, survivable global futures.
Smith, Lindsay A., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Subversive Genes: DNA Identification and Human Rights in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman
LINDSAY A. SMITH, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Subversive Genes: DNA Identification and Human Rights in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman. This project examined DNA identification technologies and their relationship to political, social and familial reconstitution in post-dictatorship Argentina. The fieldwork focused on two groups: one organized around the recovery of their kidnapped grandchildren and the other organized around the identification of the bodies of the 30,000 disappeared. Through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and archival research comparing these seemingly similar movements, which nonetheless constitute separate social movements and use different technological approaches, the grantee explored the coproduction of scientific and political orders in the midst of a seemingly endless process of 'transitional' justice. Initial findings document the flexible social meanings of DNA technologies, especially how the meanings of genetic tests are constructed and reconfigured as they travel between multiple sites of discourse and practice, connecting scientists in the U.S. and Argentina, radicalized mothers in Latin America, international human rights NGOs, kidnapped children, and even the other-worldly disappeared. This research suggests that forensic DNA identification technologies have emerged as core sites of identity formation both for individuals and families affected by the terror of the dictatorship but also for the Argentine nation-state as it tries to reckon with the legacies of repression.
Lazar, Dr. Sian Marie, U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Trade Unionism, Citizenship, and Political Subjectivities in Argentina'
DR. SIAN LAZAR, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'Trade Unionism, Citizenship, and Political Subjectivities in Argentina.' The research explored the relationship between self, collective political organization and political agency in trade unions. The grantee worked with activists in two unions of public sector workers in Buenos Aires, one closely connected to the government (regardless of party politics), while the other represents itself as more politically radical. There are three principal themes: 1) the research extended previous work in El Alto, Bolivia, and thereby brought in an explicitly comparative dimension and led to an ethnographic consideration of comparison itself; 2) some distinct technologies of the self propel union activists to do much political work that is often very difficult and also stigmatized. These 'technologies of the self' are twofold: 'militancy,' an individual impetus to political action, choice-based, but with echoes of 1970s leftist activism, and 'contención,' a collective 'containment' enacted by organizations. 'Contención' gives a political context, helps people with personal problems, but also prevents outright rebellion; 3) how understandings of organizational structure and behavior express and constitute political ideology. The two unions strongly oppose each other, and activists tended to discuss ideological differences through structure - particularly the contrast between 'top-down-ism' ('verticalismo') and horizontalism. The research questions the common assertion that the latter is more 'democratic.'
Budden, Ashwin, U. of California - San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Remaking Illness, Class, and Cultural Selves in Brazilian Ecstatic Religions,' supervised by Dr. Steven M. Parish
ASHWIN BUDDEN, then a student at University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, California, was awarded funding in January 2005 to aid research on 'Remaking Illness, Class, and Cultural Selves in Brazilian Ecstatic Religions,' supervised by Dr. Steven M. Parish. This dissertation research investigates how Brazilians of different social classes participate in and use charismatic and spirit mediumship religions as therapeutic modalities and how, consequentially, moral knowing and moral selves are cultivated in the context of Brazil's medical and religious pluralism. Ethnographic fieldwork, using intensive participant-observation, semi-structured and person-centered interviews, and questionnaires, was carried out between February 2005 and July 2006 in the Amazonian city of Santarém. The primary venues for research were several Afro-spiritist terreiros, Kardec Spiritist centers, Pentecostal churches, and a community mental health clinic. The dissertation compares the cultural values and explanatory frames that are embedded in and intersect across these spiritual and secular institutions, their practices, and social class formations, which together comprise a medico-religious marketplace. It focuses specifically on how these values, in coordination with sensory and emotional experiences of distress, illness, and ritual, shape medical decision-making, social identities, and conceptions of moral selfhood. In these respects, this dissertation research will contribute to studies of religion, health, and modernity in Brazil, to an anthropology of urban Amazonia, and to theories of embodiment, suffering, and personhood within psychocultural and medical anthropology.
Uribe, Simon, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The State at the Frontier: A Historical Ethnography of a Road in the Putumayo Region of Colombia,' supervised by Dr. Sharad Chari
SIMON URIBE, then a student at the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'The State at the Frontier: A Historical Ethnography of a Road in the Putumayo Region of Colombia,' supervised by Dr. Sharad Chari. This research seeks to explore the everyday life discourses and practices around the development of a road linking the Andean and Amazon regions in the Department of Putumayo, Colombia. This road, part of a wider regional transportation scheme whose main purpose is to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Brazil and Colombia, comprises the improvement of the existing road and the construction of a new 47km section. The latter, aimed to replace a hazardous unpaved road locally known as 'el trampolín de la muerte' -- the springboard of death -- due to the dozens of people who die in car accidents each year, has become the center of heated debate. The passage of the new road through an area of biodiversity-rich forests has been a point of contention on environmental and social grounds. However, public demonstrations throughout the region fiercely supporting a new road, have revealed another dimension largely neglected within the current debate. Putumayenses have invested this single infrastructure project with a moral content in which enduring feelings and memories of marginality and abandonment from the state converge. The new road, simultaneously, incarnates long standing dreams of 'progress,' 'modernity,' and 'development.' Combining multi-sited ethnography and historical analysis, this research aims to examine those usually overlooked ways in which people engage with infrastructure projects in frontier regions. Paying particular attention to discourses concerning the actual and future roads, as well as the ongoing practices associated with the project, the grantee looks specifically at how the state is both physically and imaginarily encountered, challenged, and subverted through the road and the social and spatial practices it embodies.
Conklin, Dr. Beth A, Vanderbilt U., Nashville, TN; and Vilaca, Dr. Aparecida, Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - To aid collaborative research on places and bodies as sites of identity among the Wari' of western Brazil
Paley, Dr. Julia F., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'The Multiple Meanings of Democracy: Indigenous Movements and Development Agencies in Ecuador'
DR. JULIA PALEY, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding to aid research on 'The Multiple Meanings of Democracy: Indigenous Movements and Development Agencies in Ecuador.' This research studied five collective actors operating in Ecuador -- two development agencies, two indigenous organizations, and the municipal government of a highland county that has won international awards for participatory democracy. The study aimed to answer three questions: 1) What are the meanings of participation for these collective actors? 2) What are the practices of participation they engage in? And 3) what emerges when they work together? This study entailed fieldwork in development agency offices; in indigenous organization events; and in spaces of municipally-sponsored participatory democracy activities. Such a research design facilitated investigation of the complex relationships between discourses and practices of participatory democracy. Data collection methods included: participant-observation, interviews, oral histories, photography, and review of textual materials.
Paley, Julia (ed.) 2008. Democracy: Anthropological Approaches. School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series. Santa Fe, NM.
Fattal, Alexander L., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Guerrilla Marketing: Information Warfare and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels,' supervised by Dr. Kimberly Susan Theidon
ALEXANDER L. FATTAL, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Guerrilla Marketing: Information Warfare and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels,' supervised by Dr. Kimberly Theidon. This research, which builds on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia and five months in Sweden, explores the counterinsurgency in Colombia through a detailed study of the Program for Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilized (PAHD) within the Colombian Ministry of Defense, the everyday lives of former insurgents, and the way the PAHD partners with an advertising firm to sell its program to current rebels and update the image of the Colombian armed forces. This dissertation argues that the assemblage of the individual demobilization policy in Colombia and its media dimensions seeks to radically rebrand the Colombian counterinsurgency as humanitarian, and elide its abysmal human rights record. At stake in the Colombian government's efforts is the very definition and future of demobilization as a peace-building policy, as well as a greater understanding of how war and capitalism intertwine in contemporary civil wars.