Davis, Christina Parks, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Language Practices and Ideologies of Difference in Sri Lanka' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
CHRISTINA P. DAVIS, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Language Practices and Ideologies of Difference in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. A former British colony, Sri Lanka is an extraordinary diverse, multilingual island-nation. For over 25 years, Sri Lanka has been ravaged by an ethnic conflict, between the Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan government, and a Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic research, this project explores multilingual language practices and ideologies of social difference among ethnic minority (Tamil and Muslim) adolescents in two educational institutions in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Two major questions were addressed: 1) how are social divisions -- based on ethnicity, religion, and class -- represented to students in institutional policies and curriculum involving language, such as the medium of instruction, and the teaching of correct or appropriate speech? And 2) how do the students in their own interactions in school and non-school settings engage with, negotiate, and create their own configurations of these groupings? This research contributes to the ethnography of education, studies of interactions in institutional settings, and to understandings of ethnic conflict.
Petruccio, Claudia L., U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'Amniocentesis, Cultural Mediation, and the Construction of Difference in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Joseph S. Alter
CLAUDIA L. PETRUCCIO, then a student at University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in January 2005 to aid research on 'Amniocentesis, Cultural Mediation, and the Construction of Difference in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Joseph S. Alter. This project examined a program in which native speakers of thirty languages facilitate the delivery of culturally competent healthcare to recent immigrants in Florence, Italy. Research was designed to reveal the ways in which culture is defined, represented, and enacted throughout the various administrative and clinical registers of the program, and was focused primarily on a prenatal clinic for Chinese immigrants housed in a center for the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The researcher attended trainings for cultural mediators, participated in the daily life of prenatal clinics where Arab, Romanian, and Chinese mediators assisted patients, and shadowed a Chinese mediator as she conducted rounds in the prenatal and maternity wards of a large suburban hospital. Interviews were conducted with administrators, doctors, midwives, mediators, and patients to elicit opinions about the meanings of culture and how it relates to the needs of expectant and new immigrant mothers. Particular attention was paid to points of disjuncture in clinical practice, where ideal theories or romanticized versions of culture came into conflict with the legal, material and structural reality of immigrant patients. The women who frequented the clinics described their needs primarily in legal, structural, and economic terms: long working hours and poor conditions, greater need for translation services, and difficulty navigating the bureaucracy of medical and government offices. All of these needs were addressed in daily interactions in the clinic, yet the clinic staff expressed a frustrating incongruity between an idealized Chinese culture, associated with healthful living and a balanced lifestyle, and the often unhealthy circumstances of their immigrant patients.
Makram-Ebeid, Dina Waguih, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Steel Lives Under Neo-liberalism: Everyday Politics of Labour in Helwan, Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan P. Parry
DINA W. MAKRAM-EBEID, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Steel Lives Under Neo-liberalism: Everyday Politics of Labor in Helwan, Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan P. Parry. This grant supported the second half of a research project focusing on steel workers in one of Egypt's oldest public-owned plants in Helwan governorate. The researcher conducted ethnographic fieldwork on two shop-floors inside the steel plant and among workers' community in the neighboring 'Company Town.' The ethnographic investigation highlighted how workers and their households incorporate the drastic changes in industrial policies, which occurred over the past two decades, into their everyday lives. The research findings suggest that the new work conditions in the plant and living conditions in the Company Town are creating new relations among various groups of workers and between workers and management. These new relations, for example, between young workers employed casually and old workers with stable contracts; production and maintenance workers, and workers and engineers, in turn, influence the work culture of the plant and the values that are (re-) produced among the community of workers. This research thus, encourages linking the analysis of wider changes in community relations and values to the shifting conditions of work worldwide.
Ayuandina, Sherria Puteri, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Restoring Virginity: Hymenoplasty, Value Negotiations, and Sexual Knowledge among Migrant Muslim Women in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. John R. Bowen
Preliminary abstract: In many societies, unmarried women must negotiate the tension between premarital sexual desires and social expectations to maintain virginity before marriage (Eich 2010, Buskens 1999, Parla 2001). With recent developments in medical technology and the rise of opportunities for premarital sexual behavior, young women who believe that they no longer possess an intact hymen can now undergo hymenoplasty surgery, which alters the hymen ring to minimize the aperture. While hymenoplasty draws its significance from socially-constructed values of virginity, there is a lack of ethnographic exploration of the phenomenon. Studies on hymenoplasty to date have been primarily conducted by medical researchers who focus on the surgical procedure and doctors' ethical dilemmas. They often assume that the desire for this surgery is evidence of women's oppression. Most ignore the social motivations of the female patients, the intergenerational networks among women of migrant background, and the 'migrant-native' dynamics between the patient and the doctors (Bhugra 1998, Parla 2001). I will investigate the complicated and contradictory social aspects of hymenoplasty as experienced and negotiated by Muslim women patients from migrant background in the Netherlands. The surgery will provide a site to observe the negotiation of sexual values surrounding female virginity between the young women and other members of the community of her background, between the patients, the family, and the doctors, as well as among the doctors themselves, and thereby explore the negotiation of values and of control of sexuality in a pluralistic setting.
Emery, Melissa A., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Ovarian Function and Dietary Composition in Wild Chimpanzees (*Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii*),' supervised by Dr. Richard A. Wrangham
MELISSA A. EMERY THOMPSON, while a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in May 2001 to aid research on diet and ovarian function in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), under the supervision of Dr. Richard A. Wrangham. Thompson analyzed reproductive endocrinology in wild female chimpanzees in three East African populations-those at Kibale National Park and Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda and at Gombe National Park in Tanzania. In addition to data on diet, aggression, and sexual behavior, fieldwork up to December 2002 yielded more than 1,900 fecal and 2,500 urine samples from more than 75 female chimpanzees as a means of studying general patterns and variation in ovarian steroid levels within and among communities. Enzyme-immunoassay procedures were validated for the measurement of estrone conjugates and pregnanediol glucuronide. These data provided important information on three research questions. First, patterns of hormonal activity were examined for important reproductive events such as pregnancy and adolescence. Second, relatively little variation in steroid activity was observed between wild populations, with consistent relationships between reproductive states at each site. Finally, significant variation emerged within populations with regard to reproductive state, female status, and ripe fruit consumption. These results indicated that chimpanzee ovarian function, while following predictable patterns over the life course, shows marked variability within and between females, indicative of sensitivity to local ecology.
Emery Thompson, Melissa, and Richard W. Wrangham. 2008. Diet and Reproductive Function in Wild Female Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Kibale National Park, Uganda. American Journal of Physical
Chart, Hilary Rebecca, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Becoming Business People: Emergent and Contested Forms of Entrepreneurship in Urban Botswana,' supervised by Dr. Sylvia Junko Yanagisako
Preliminary abstract: In Botswana's capital city, it seems everyone is 'in business,' and the acronym for small, medium, and microenterprises--SMMEs--has become an everyday word. Men, women, youth, elders, wealthy professionals, and the poor and unemployed alike describe their entrepreneurial activities with enthusiasm. Yet preliminary research (2009, 2010) suggests that far from uniting people, common claims of entrepreneurship are based on tremendously diverse practices that are fiercely contested. There is much debate over what counts as real business, who can legitimately claim to be an 'entrepreneur,' and what sorts of practices--including the illicit and occult--may fuel or undermine economic success. These debates invoke class, gender, nationality and generation in complex ways. This 18-month ethnographic project aims to answer the following question: How are business and entrepreneurship emerging as cultural productions in Botswana today, and to what effects in people's lives, on social fields, and on the urban landscape? My project is organized around three groups of actors in the capital city of Gaborone: 1) staff and clients at SMME promotion agencies; 2) those doing business in a single urban corridor, including street venders, informal service advertisers, wealthy business 'hobbyists' and shop owners alike; and finally 3) teachers and students in youth-centered entrepreneurship programs. I understand entrepreneurship to be a matter of being as well as doing, and expand 'doing business' to include all those practices that support claims of entrepreneurship. This opens possibilities for recognizing 'entrepreneurship' as a historically specific and contested cultural production that means and does things far beyond what is typically described as economic.
Nsabimana, Natacha, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Violence, Subject Formation and Humanitarian Discourse in Post-Gacaca Rwanda,' supervised by Dr. Mahmood Mamdani
Preliminary abstract: My project takes the Gacaca trials in Rwanda as a point of entry and asks three main sets of questions: 1) how can we understand the processes and implications of interpellating people as perpetrators and survivors? What are the legal, political, and social dimensions of this subject formation? What new possibilities and barriers do these different subjectivities produce and foreclose? 2) How can we understand the everyday afterlife of violence? And finally 3) how does this 'local' Rwandan project that deploys a particular understanding of genocide articulate within a larger metanarrative on universal human rights and 'humanitarian reason'? The first set of questions examines the consequences of the legal and political institutionalization of Rwandans into the categories of perpetrators and survivors brought forth by the Gacaca trials and the kinds of political communities and lived social realities and subject positions such a process creates on the ground. That is, this project also interrogates how Rwandans inhabit these legal categorizations. What kinds of sensibilities and lived experiences are being produced in the process? The second question centers on the afterlife of violence. I will explore the specter of violence in the everyday life of post-genocide Rwanda. In other words, the project is an exploration of the affective afterlife of violence and of subject formation in the aftermath of the Gacaca trials. Finally, the third question looks specifically at the Gacaca courts in relation to specific tropes of humanitarian reason.
Lau, Chi Chung, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Imitation by Design: The Politics of Shanzhai in Contemporary China,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Raffles
Preliminary abstract: 'Shanzhai,' a word drawn from classical Chinese literature that originally describes mountain villages occupied by rebellious bandits, now refers to an unusual form of fakes and counterfeits in China. What people call a 'shanzhai iPhone,' for example, is not exactly a fake. Instead, the unique design features that come with the knockoff product arguably make the shanzhai iPhone an even better product (at least in some respects) than its original counterpart. While these shanzhai products imitate, they show surprising innovation and creativity. The unusual strategy of manufacture and design of shanzhai, together with its surprising (and sometimes illegal) tweaks and local customizations, not only make the shanzhai product extremely popular in China, it has also made the shanzhai into a form of totem. Rather than merely being a copy of established (Western) brands or products, the shanzhai is often regarded in China as 'design for the people,' 'grassroots innovation,' or even as a rebellious response to power and the establishment. This research intends to understand: 1.The emergence of shanzhai electronics manufacturing in China. 2.The relationships between shanzhai manufacturing and the cultural history of modern China. 3.The political space and forms of opposition and accommodation created and expressed by shanzhai design.
Stevens, Hallam, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Stringing Life Together: Bioinformatics in the Post-Genomic Age,' supervised by Dr. Peter Galison
HALLAM STEVENS, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Stringing Life Together: Bioinformatics in the Post-Denomic Age,' supervised by Dr. Peter Galison. This project involved participant observation at laboratories in the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, United Kingdom. This work has been supplemented by over seventy-five interviews at twenty-one different institutions as well as visits to archives at Stanford University, the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, and the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The research aims to show the ways in which biological knowledge and biological practice are increasingly dominated by computers and computation. Computers are used for data analysis, hypothesis testing, simulation, information management, instrument control, data sharing, and laboratory management. In order to understand the impact of contemporary genetics and genomics on society, the project focuses on the role of information technology in biology. After all, it is through computers that regimes of data privacy or large-scale genome-wide searches (for instance, looking for breast cancer-causing genes) are actually implemented. The resulting dissertation will be one of the first detailed ethnographic studies of bioinformatics, providing an account of how contemporary biology has become entangled with computing and information-communications technology and what effect this entanglement has had on the production of knowledge about life.