Gastrow, Claudia, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Grounding Citizenship: The Politics of Property in Post-conflict Luanda,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff
CLAUDIA GASTROW, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Grounding Citizenship: The Politics of Property in Post-Conflict Luanda,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff. Since the end of the Angolan civil war (1975-2002), the Angolan state and private concerns have invested significant resources in the redevelopment of the capital, Luanda. The remaking of the city has involved a strategy of relocating thousands of informal settlement residents to new state housing areas on the periphery of the city. The mobilization of formal planning mechanisms after years of the state seemingly leaving residents to occupy and build according to their own wishes has come into conflict with established means of urban expansion, forcing residents to rethink strategies for gaining access to housing and land. This research tracks how housing has acted as a means for the residents to assess their relationship to the state over the last thirty years. More particularly, it looks at how, over the last decade, demolition and rehousing have impacted urban residents' notions of citizenship. Based on interviews and participant observations in Luanda's informal settlements, and with housing rights groups, victims of demolitions, state representatives, and historical research in Luanda's archives, this research connects micro-level discussions about housing, and acts of housing construction, to larger national and state discourses about the meaning of democracy and social inclusion in Angola.
Jones, Kyle Ellis, Purdue U., West Lafayette, IN - To aid research on ''Uniting All of Peru Isn't Easy': Youth and Transurban Spaces of Hip Hop in Peru,' supervised by Dr. Brian C. Kelly
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the processes and implications of 'creating spaces' through hip hop for Peru's urban youth, who have experienced firsthand an unprecedented influx of globalized media and promises of social inclusion and political representation, while at the same time having their activities and affiliations subject to extreme public anxiety. First, what are the ways that Peruvian youth envision, pursue, and come to inhabit hip hop-based projects of collectivity, and how are these projects situated among the pressures and possibilities they face? Second, how is hip hop itself elaborated as a medium for both socially intimate and dislocated connections, and what are the processes through which these connections are forged and fractured? And third, what role do Peruvian hip hop's emergent associational spaces play in mediating young people's visibility in public urban life, as well as the broader meanings surrounding youth and urban culture in contemporary Peruvian society? Building on three periods of predoctoral research, these questions will be pursued ethnographically in the cities of Cusco, Huancayo, and Lima among a network of hip hoppers organized through hip hop collectivities. By directing attention to the dynamic ties between various cities negotiated through concerted projects of collectivity, this project expands research on hip hop and urban musics that have predominately focused on individuated metropolises and eschewed the on-the-ground ways specific socio-expressive networks have emerged. Further, while offering insight into emergent spaces of urban popular belonging relevant throughout Latin America, it also contributes to the growing field of the anthropology of youth and scholarship on the formation of public spaces.
Pfeil, Gretchen Elisabeth, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Reckoning Charity's Risks and Rewards: Sufi Muslim Alms and Evangelical Missionary Gifts in Urban Senegal,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein
GRETCHEN PFEIL, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Reckoning Charity's Risks and Rewards: Sufi Muslim Alms and Evangelical Missionary Gifts in Urban Senegal,' supervised by Dr. Michael Silverstein. The research was designed as a study of the large and vibrant economy of charitable giving in Dakar, Senegal. It frames these acts of giving as a site in which local Muslim and expatriate Christian actors attempt to realize ideal forms of sociality by managing the manipulation of objects in transaction. The research proposed that Muslim and Christian givers employed different kinds of moral judgment in the management of small-scale transaction, resulting in distinct modes of circulation of goods revealed in differences in social formation at larger scales. Prepared meals, commodity foods, and money were tracked in charitable transactions to follow three objects of analysis: material goods, persons/social roles, and verbal/affective signs. The research employed individual and focus group interviews, participant observation and apprenticeship in related tasks (such as food preparation and shopping) and media studies to identify 'divisions of charitable labor' in the household and salient moments of judgment in practice. The research found that Evangelical giving focused on judgment about the proper accounting of the relationship between gifts and their stakes. Senegalese Muslim charitable practice, however, focused on enacting two other values: sutura and masla (Wolof 'discretion' and 'tolerance'). Enacting these values entails limitation of circulation of information and goods. Thus, not only do Muslim and Christian forms of giving rely upon and enact different kinds of moral judgment, they also involve different operative values, which not only create different forms of circulation as hypothesized, but also entail substantially different constitutions of agents/ givers.
Euren, Jason Duane, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Technological Citizenship: How Today's Hackerspaces are Interfacing Tomorrow's Future,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin
Preliminary abstract: More and more today, ordinary citizens are becoming involved in the creation and appropriation of complex, technical systems to address issues of everyday concern. Corresponding to the emergence of these increased techno-scientific capabilities, a strong political identity has begun to crystalize around technological domains, creating a subjectivity that might be referred to as 'technological citizenship.' A rapidly growing institutional form known as hackerspaces is currently contributing to the cultivation of this technological citizenship: over the last five years, these hackerspaces have spread to over 150 locations within the United States alone. This research asks the following question: how are we to make sense of the increasing civic appropriation of technological devices and processes as political strategies for intervening in the world? This research seeks to understand the nature, practice, and effect of this growing phenomenon. It hypothesizes that these emerging techno-scientific practices are engendering new contexts for political engagement in the twenty-first century. To evaluate this hypothesis, this research will consist of nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily situated within three of such hackerspaces. It will explore who these technological citizens are, how their techno-scientific appropriations seek out novel platforms for democratic participation, and how these undertakings might be engendering a variety of political effects.
Vaidya, Anand Prabhakar, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'The Origin of Forests, Private Property, and the State: The Life of India's Forest Rights Act,' supervised by Dr. Ajantha Subramanian
Preliminary abstract: This project studies contestations around the drafting, transmission, and implementation of India's landmark Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006. This law, a bold attempt to reconcile India's environmental and livelihood concerns, came into effect in January 2008 and created a radical new procedure for the more than seven million people who live in India's national forests to claim formal title over forest land. The Act accomplishes this by instituting a revolutionary form of property, granting individuals non-transferable titles and requiring them to act as forest stewards. It simultaneously redistributes authority over forests, creating new local judicial bodies to regulate forest use. The law, however, held up by bureaucrats and pushed by activists, is being implemented slowly and incompletely: every step of its life has been a site of struggle for control over the law's meaning and the authority to regulate India's forests. My project explores these struggles by following an activist group that has been involved in shaping the law from its beginning. I propose to examine the links between the social history of the Forest Rights Act and its ongoing implementation. I ask what sorts of authority and property are claimed through the law, and how politics play out on a legal terrain to include or exclude the forest residents the activists and state claim to represent.
Hlubik, Sarah Kathleen, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Finding Prometheus: A Multi-pronged Approach to the Search for Fire in the Early Pleistocene at FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Craig Feibel
Preliminary abstract: The search for the first use of fire in the archaeological record has been a topic of contention since the discovery of reddened consolidated sediments at the sites of FxJj20 East and FxJj20 Main at Koobi Fora, Kenya in 1973. Since then work at other contemporaneous sites in East and South Africa have added to the debate over the earliest use of fire by human ancestors, but none have unequivocally answered the question of whether ancient human ancestors controlled fire. Evidence for fire in the region is abundant in the natural record, but association of that fire with human behavior, particularly in open-air settings, has been problematic. The current study proposes to combine chemical, spectral, spatial and magnetic analysis with new excavations at site FxJj20 AB and experimental work to determine whether a signal of fire is present on the site and whether or not it can be associated with human activity. The project will conduct excavation at the FxJj20 AB site, as well as conduct experiments in the signature of fire on open landscapes. During excavation, all cultural material will be collected, as well as samples for micromorphology, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), and magnetic intensity. Similar samples will be collected for experiments to create a reference collection of the signature of fire on an open arid landscape and how that signature degrades over time. This project will contribute a significant amount of knowledge to the study of the origins of fire.
Nunez Vega, Jorge Oswaldo, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Financial Nationalism: Imagining Catalonia through the Banking System,' supervised by Dr. Alan Klima
JORGE NUÑEZ, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Financial Nationalism: Imagining Catalonia through the Banking System,' supervised by Dr. Alan Klima. This ethnography is about the ethics and aesthetics of personal savings in Catalonia with a focus on investment and speculation. It documents the allocation of public debt amongst citizens, the purchase of toxic assets by ill-advised bank customers, and the everyday life of non-professional online traders. At the same time, it is a study of money cultures based on notions of citizenship, consumption, and technology. Its hypothesis suggests that after the housing bubble, a sizeable number of low and middle-income savers became a ready-made source of liquidity for both the Catalan government and the Spanish stock exchange system. This happened through the retailing of billions of Euros in patriotic bonds, preferred shares and subordinated debt, and financial derivatives to everyday citizens, triggering a cultural conflict between preexisting local moralities of savings and emerging global notions of investment and speculation. The main argument the study develops emerges out of a dialogue with individual savers about the morality of money. However, it also takes into account the point of view of several other key actors in the word of finance such as bankers, account managers, brokers, traders, public servants, consumer associations, financial journalists, public relation experts, activists, politicians, and online forum users.
Welton, Megan Lynn, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Mobility and Social Organization in Early Bronze Age Anatolia: Isotopic Analysis of Remains from Ikiztepe,' supervised by Dr. Timothy P. Harrison
MEGAN LYNN WELTON, then a student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was granted funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Mobility and Social Organization in Early Bronze Age Anatolia: Isotopic Analysis of Remains from Ikiztepe,' supervised by Dr. Timothy P. Harrison. This research utilizes strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of human remains from a large Early Bronze Age cemetery at Ikiztepe in northern Turkey in combination with spatial and biodistance analysis and various dating techniques to identify potential immigrants to the site and to examine larger issues of residential mobility and social organization. Chronological issues were addressed through fluoride and AMS radiocarbon dating of the skeletal remains, creating an absolute and relative chronology for the burials. The results indicate that the cemetery dates a millennium earlier than previously supposed. Strontium and oxygen isotope analyses allowed the identification of individuals whose bone chemistry suggests they were possible long distance immigrants to the site, as well as suggesting the existence of a group of mobile individuals who may represent a transhumant segment of the Ikiztepe population. Immigrant individuals and nomadic or semi-nomadic segments of the population do not appear to have been distinguished in any observable way from their sedentary local counterparts, displaying similar burial types, grave goods and spatial locations. The results suggest that assumptions about funerary practices as important indicators of cultural identity and lineage affiliation may represent an over-simplification of complex patterns of interaction and integration among and within populations.
Boltokova, Daria, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada - To aid research on 'Betwixt and Between: Studying Processes of Language Hybridization among Sakha Youth,' supervised by Dr. Patrick Moore
Preliminary abstract: In my research, I am theorizing processes of language hybridization through an ethnographic study of generational differences in the linguistic practices of Sakha people residing in Russia's far northeast. Most accounts of linguistic hybridity in anthropology frame hybrid language use in terms of 'code-switching' and 'code-mixing' on the assumption that speakers remain fluent in the languages they combine. Less considered are the cumulative effects of prolonged switching and mixing on fluency itself, particularly across generations. I ask: When and how do processes of hybridization like mixing and switching lead to the emergence of novel hybrid language practices? To answer this question, first, I explore the social and political factors driving processes of language hybridization among Sakha youth and, second, document the growth of Sakha-Russian hybrid language forms in practice. For scholars studying the Sakha people, this research provides a more accurate picture of contemporary Sakha language practices. For anthropologists more generally, this research offers a more refined conceptual toolkit for theorizing processes of language hybridization in multilingual communities, both elsewhere in Russia and around the world.
Stone, Naomi Shira, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Human Technologies in the Iraq War,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick
Preliminary abstract: This is a study of the Iraq War through the dual lens of a subset of American politico-military theoreticians and the Iraqi 'frontier figures' whom they recruit as human technologies of war. Variously understood as translators of culture by the US military and as collaborators back home, how do these figures (mock villagers in combat simulations, political advisers, fixers, interpreters) see themselves? How might we understand the lives and complex allegiances, debts, and doubts of frontier Iraqis, both maneuvered by the military and making their own moves within economic and moral calculi, and now displaced into the America to which they, at great cost, aligned? And as these figures translate Iraqi culture, how do they translate themselves when wartime compels practices of constant masking? I investigate two interrelated case-studies of Americans and Iraqis within the war landscape: first, American military theoreticians at Fort Irwin, California's mock Iraqi villages, and the Iraqi role-players employed there; and second, American political strategists and Iraqis who advise them, and a range of other Iraqis who worked with the Americans during the war (drivers, interpreters) in Washington, DC. I will collect life-histories and observe the lives of frontier Iraqis; interview American theoreticians of war; and engage the military scripts that generate storylines for simulations. I propose that embodying the frontier location turns selves and bodies into second selves and bodies: technologies doing work within a bigger warmaking apparatus, traversing national & cultural boundaries. I further debates on contemporary war, arguing that amidst improved machine technology enabling distance & a potential turn to the 'posthuman,' my study foregrounds the human being at the frontier as an irreplaceable technology of war.