Fiske, Amelia Morel, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'The Making of Harm in the Ecuadorian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Wiener
AMELIA M. FISKE, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'The Making of Harm in the Ecuadorian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Wiener. In 1972, the U.S.-based Texaco Corporation began oil production in the upper Ecuadorian Amazon. For 20 years, the company extracted oil unhindered by regulations designed to protect the health of oil workers or the environment, resulting in widespread environmental destruction and human suffering. The resulting contamination and relationship between oil and health have been widely disputed in the 18-year Aguinda v. Texaco lawsuit, as well as in ongoing conflicts around oil. Since Texaco, oil production has expanded with operations by the state company PetroEcuador, as well as dozens of foreign companies. Harm from oil, in the forms of contaminated water, toxic gas emissions, continual oil spills, health problems, and social division, remains a pressing concern for people in the Amazon today. This project follows contemporary interventions into the question of harm, paying attention to how harm is defined and formed by practices of measurement, documentation, and presentation. This project makes 'harm' the subject of an ethnographic investigation in order to raise questions about the consequences of extractive activity, and how these forms of evaluation may themselves be changing the way life is lived in the Amazon today.
Revilla-Minaya, Caissa, Vanderbilt U., Nashville, TN - To aid research on 'Environmental Perceptions in a Matsigenka Population,' supervised by Dr. Norbert Otto Ross
Preliminary abstract: This study will advance both theories of culture and of natural resource management by exploring the role of cultural understandings relating to human -- environment interactions. Outside of Anthropology, such models have been conspicuously absent in theories and debates regarding natural resource management. Within Anthropology, however, claims about the relationship between culture and environmental conservation have been largely based on ethnographic accounts. Such accounts have lacked the kind of rigor needed to: 1) clearly establish causal chains for environmental behavior; 2) account for within-group heterogeneity (without losing ethnographic accuracy) in order to advance theories of culture; and 3) allow interdisciplinary collaboration. Combining ethnographic and experimental methods, the present investigation will add to the ethnography of the Amazonian region while, at the same time, advance both our knowledge of indigenous resource management strategies and, by looking at within-group heterogeneity, our understanding of the concept of 'culture.' The investigation will build on seven months of preliminary research conducted by the co-PI during 2010 and 2011 by documenting specific ways that indigenous Matsigenka in lowland Peru view the world and their place within it.
Grace, Samantha Lois, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Becoming Citizens: Schooling the Life Course in Ecuador and the U.S.' supervised by Dr. Susan J. Shaw
Preliminary abstract: Over the last few years, Ecuador has undergone an “educational revolution” explicitly aimed at reducing citizen inequality. Underlying these new laws and practices is an understanding, also found in U.S. educational discourses, that students are still in the process of becoming citizens and that this process will reach completion as they achieve adulthood. Both Andean anthropology and U.S.
Scarborough, Dr. Isabel, Parkland College, Champaign, IL - To aid engaged activities on 'Raising Awareness on the Importance of the Informal Market in Cochabamba, Bolivia,' 2013, Cochabamba, Bolivia
DR. ISABEL SCARBOROUGH, Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in August 2012 to aid 'Raising Awareness on the Importance of the Informal Market in Cochabamba, Bolivia.' This project proposed to raise awareness of the growing importance of the informal market and the indigenous female vendors who practice this trade in Bolivian society, in response to the historical invisibility and marginalization of this social sector. To achieve this goal, the project organized and implemented a two-day workshop in the city of Cochabamba, featuring local academics and professionals, to discuss the importance of the informal market to the regional economy. The workshop took place at the state university in Cochabamba and endeavored to further research on this topic by Bolivian and Bolivianist scholars. The results of the exchange of ideas at this seminar will be published in this university's social sciences academic journal. A second activity sponsored by this project comprised the design and publication of a children's book that provides a fictional and engaging narrative of the workings of the informal market, its vendors, and their critical contributions to Bolivia's economy. The storybook was distributed in the marketplace among the vendors and their families, and in the public school system, where in both instances it was warmly welcomed. The book's distribution and reading to Cochabamba's children will continue through the activities of a local non-profit library organization.
High, Casey, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'From Enemies to Affines: History, Identity, and Changing Inter-Ethnic Relations among the Waorani of Amazonian Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Peter Gow
CASEY HIGH, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in December 2002 to aid research on 'From Enemies to Affines: History, Identity, and Changing Inter-Ethnic Relations among the Waorani of Amazonian Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Peter Gow. This research began as a study of how the Waorani, an indigenous group of Amazonian Ecuador, construct peaceful relations both between local groups and with their indigenous Quichua neighbors, with whom they have a history of violent conflict. In addition to focusing on changing interethnic relations in the region, the project considered how local people engage representations of the past in establishing ethnic and other identities in relation to non-Waorani groups. Collecting narratives of past violence revealed that detailed imagery of violent death, narrated generally from the perspective of the victim group, is a central idiom by which Waorani people make moral commentary on intergroup and interpersonal relationships. While the research initially considered such local uses of historical representations, a particularly violent event that occurred in the Waorani territorial reserve during fieldwork led the researcher to examine the meanings contemporary intergroup violence has for local people. In May 2003, a group of men from a Waorani village attacked a distant enemy group, referred to locally as 'Taromenani', leaving some 25 people dead. Although nobody in the community where the fieldwork was conducted was harmed or directly involved, local villagers were familiar with and closely related to those who perpetrated the attack and were profoundly concerned with the implications of the event. By recording the frequent descriptions Waorani people made of the attack, the killers and their victims, the researcher was able to examine ethnographically how local people represent violence, interpret its causes, and react to such conflicts.
High, Casey. 2009. Victims and Martyrs: Converging Histories of Violence in Amazonian Anthropology and U.S. Cinema. Anthropology and Humanism 34(1):41-50.108
High, Casey. 2009. Remembering the Auca: Violence and Generational Memory in Amazonian Ecuador. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15(4):719-736.
High, Casey. 2010. Warriors, Hunters, and Bruce Lee: Gendered Agency and the Transformation of Amazonian Masculinity. American Ethnologist 37(4):753-770.
Bessire, Dr. Lucas Britton, U. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK - To aid research and writing on 'Where the Black Caiman Walks: Legacies of Violence and Life Against Culture among Ayoreo People of the Gran Chaco' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. LUCAS B. BESSIRE, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, received a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2011 to aid research and writing on 'Where the Black Caiman Walks: Legacies of Violence and Life against Culture among Ayoreo People of the Gran Chaco.' This book project tracks the contradictory ways that indigenous humanity is objectified in the aftermath of a 2004 'first contact' with a small band of Ayoreo-speaking people in Paraguay's Gran Chaco. It is equal parts lament, narrative meditation, and critical analysis of the ways the politics of culture blur into the politics of life for certain historically marginalized indigenous groups. Based on 42 months of fieldwork, the book charts the emergence of new Ayoreo senses of being in the world in order to offer an alternate to the common dehumanizing portraits of these people as savages or primitive outsides to modern rationality. The central argument of this book is that these emerging Ayoreo ontologies are best understood not as timeless cosmologies but as moral responses to broad contradictions within contemporary global regimes about what constitutes legitimate forms of life. How can we develop a critical public anthropology capable of addressing and unsettling this instrumental collapse of the politics of Native culture and the politics of legitimate indigenous life?
Bessire, Lucas. 2012. The Politics of Isolation: Refused Relation as an Emerging Regime of Indigenous Biolegitimacy. Comparative Studies in Society and History 54(3):467-498.
Taber, Peter Addison, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Expertise and Sovereignty in Ecuadorian Biodiversity Conservation,' supervised by Dr. Brian Silverstein
Preliminary abstract: This project explores how an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) and indigenous advocacy group enact distinct forms of expertise in the context of biodiversity conservation. While professionals in the NGO are formally trained scientists, those in the advocacy group work to integrate indigenous expertise into conservation projects in northwest Ecuador. By focusing on the details of interactions between individuals and institutions as they conduct conservation projects and respond to pressure from oil interests, this analysis will examine how both groups produce themselves as experts in contrast with one another while aligning their agendas. As conservation projects demand new types of knowledge from rural Chachi residents they are also likely to create new dynamics of political legitimation between indigenous bureaucrats, NGO experts, and community residents, as well as new senses of race that build on longstanding understandings of indigenous peoples as 'naturally' connected to the environment. The project will also examine the participation of communities in conservation projects through indigenous community assemblies and conservation fieldwork to gain insight into the interchange of discourses and practices between these institutions and the broader population. By examining the micro-scale interactions through which conservation projects take shape, this ethnographic study will help to elucidate the relationship between different forms of expertise, sovereignty in environmental matters, and emergent relations between indigenous peoples, NGOs and the state.
Leighton, Mary Theresa Frances, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Making Authoritative Knowledge in the Field: The Epistemic Culture of South American Archaeological Research Projects,' supervised by Dr. Shannon L. Dawdy
MARY THERESA FRANCES LEIGHTON, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Making Authoritative Knowledge in the Field: The Epistemic Culture of South American Archaeological Research Projects,' supervised by Dr. Shannon L. Dawdy. This dissertation project explores the nature of expert knowledge within field sciences, aiming to understand how such knowledge is constructed, circulated, and delineated in field sciences in contrast to laboratory sciences. Specifically, it uses the example of South American archaeology to explore the practice and structure of a disciplinary community that crosses international boundaries, while being intimately situated in national contexts and produced in local landscapes. Funding supported nine months of research studying the practice of archaeology in Chile, which involved interviews and participant observations in key field sites -- excavations, universities, and conferences. Starting from the concept that field sciences rely on the embodied expertise of the scientist to bring-into-being its objects of study, particular attention was paid to the ways in which expert archaeologists are created through formal and informal educational practices, and subsequently how expertise is communicated and recognized by both non-archaeologists (including indigenous stake-holders) and fellow archaeologists. Attention was paid to the differences in epistemic and disciplinary culture among archaeologists from different countries, and attempts made to trace people, practices and concepts as they moved between local, national and international spheres.
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.