Addo, Ping-Ann, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Cloth and Culture: The Significance of Tongan Barkcloth, with Special Attention to the Diaspora,' supervised by Dr. Eric W. Worby
PING-ANN ADDO, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in March 2001 to aid research on 'Cloth and Culture: The Significance of Tongan Barkcloth, with Special Attention to the Diaspora,' supervised by Dr. Eric W. Worby. This project investigated the cultural processes whereby hand-made textiles produced in the Tongan Islands remain significant in the daily lives and ceremonial cultural practices of New Zealand-dwelling Tongans. Broadly classified as koloa faka-Tonga (treasures of Tonga), these textiles constitute varieties of barkcloths and woven mats that have been produced continually in Tonga for at least the past three centuries and that remain the work of women. The research was designed to be a set of snapshots, over time and space, of the ways that textiles with locally distinctive Tongan patterns are serving the contemporary needs of Tongan people who make their homes in New Zealand. The research phases alternated between fieldwork in the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa, and in Auckland, New Zealand, in arenas where such textiles are produced, displayed, worn, commoditized, and exchanged as gifts. The main research question answered was: How is the value of koloa faka-Tonga affected by the correspondingly high value of money and hybrid Tongan-styled textiles (made from synthetic materials and primarily in diasporic locations), as evidenced through continuing processes of gift-exchange between Tongans in the homeland and the diaspora? The study will contribute to the ethnography of the Pacific and will advance theory in anthropology on material culture studies, as well as in the social sciences on diaspora and modernity.
Spiers, Samuel R., Syracuse U., Syracuse, NY - To aid research on 'The Historical Archaeology of the Eguafo Polity: Landscapes of Production and Consumption AD 1000-1900,' supervised by Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse
SAMUEL R. SPIERS, while a student at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, received a grant in January 2001 to aid research on the historical archaeology of the Eguafo polity of coastal Ghana, under the supervision of Dr. Christopher R. DeCorse. The goal of Spiers's twenty months of fieldwork was to document changes in settlement patterns and artifact inventories at the site of Eguafo, capital of the kingdom of Eguafo, 1000-1900 C.E. The work including survey, excavation, cataloguing, and archival research and spanned the thousand years of the site's continuous occupation. Preliminary results suggested two main occupation phases: an early phase marked by small, defensive settlements, limited long-distance trade, and limited differentiation in the artifact inventory and a second phase, from roughly the seventeenth century onward, when settlement size increased, long-distance trade goods became more plentiful, and artifact types became increasingly varied. Such transformations in the settlement pattern seemed to have occurred at the height of Eguafo's involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was intended that the completed research would add to the understanding of the archaeological record of coastal Ghana and of African sociopolitical complexity. Further, the findings were to be made available to the people of Eguafo to assist them in tourism development projects.
Melin, Amanda Dawn, U. of Calgary,Calgary, Canada - To aid research on 'Evaluating the Importance of Colour Vision for Target Detection in Human Observers,' supervised by Dr. Linda Mary Fedigan
AMANDA DAWN MELIN, then a student at University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, was awarded funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Evaluating the Importance of Colour Vision for Target Detection in Human Observers,' supervised by Dr. Linda M. Fedigan. In a continued effort to understand the evolutionary significance of color vision polymorphism in primates, the grantee evaluates the effect of vision phenotype on real-world target detection tasks experienced by a polymorphic species of monkey. Digital images of a variety of naturally occurring fruits and insects consumed by capuchins in Costa Rica were presented to human observers on a touch-sensitive graphics tablet. Human observers with normal trichromacy searched for ripe fruits and insects in the images, which were color-filtered using custom software to appear as they would for the six monkey vision types -- three dichromatic and three trichromatic -- based on photopigment sensitivities. The study also included color-deficient human participants for comparison. Participants with both simulated and actual color deficiencies took longer to complete the search tasks and had more erroneous responses, especially for yellow food items and to a lesser extent with red food items. This demonstrates a clear advantage to trichromats for real-world search tasks. Interestingly, recent research shows that color deficient monkeys do not have lower feeding efficiencies than trichromats, thus the current research indicates that these monkeys must be compensating for their disadvantage by using non-visual mechanisms or that visual deficiencies can be minimized with foraging experience.
Gupta, Hemangini, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'After-Work: Class, Gender and Public Culture in Neoliberal Bangalore, India,' supervised by Dr. Carla Freeman
Preliminary abstract: This project foregrounds an increasing turn to entrepreneurial and professional work amongst middle class women in India to examine emerging forms of self-making as they cultivate productive, professional and modern selves at public sites of leisure. Located within recent anthropological approaches to the study of middle class life and of work, this research will explore how new forms of capitalism shape the lives of working women, drawing them into public practices of leisure and sociality, and challenging historical and cultural expectations that middle class women remain in the private domestic realm. Based in Bangalore, India's 'IT capital,' and situating itself within a network of professional and entrepreneurial women, this research will investigate how gender and class norms are challenged and negotiated by professional women as they cultivate their bodies at gyms and fitness classes, network at bars and clubs, and produce themselves anew at salons and spas. This project will investigate how public leisure challenges existent gender norms and reconfigures middle class respectability. The findings will contribute to our understanding of how middle class bodies and selves are being reshaped by contemporary work, thus producing new forms of public culture and rewriting the basis of middle class life.
Dennis, Dannah Karlynn, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Re-Imagining the Nation: Citizens in the New Nepal,' supervised b Dr. Allison Alexy
Preliminary abstract: How do people envision and enact citizenship when the social and legal foundations of their nation-state are called into question? This doctoral research explores how citizens in contemporary Nepal are re-imagining their nation in the midst of an ongoing transition from Hindu monarchy to secular democracy. This turbulent process requires the citizens of Nepal to fundamentally re-conceptualize Nepali national identity, which has historically been defined in terms of three key elements: the Shah monarchy, state Hinduism, and the Nepali language. Because the Shah monarchy and state Hinduism have both been removed from the structure of government in recent years, and given that less than 50% of the country's population speaks Nepali as a first language, the continued existence of a unified Nepali state is contested. My research analyzes the ways in which Nepali people who oppose the division of the country along ethnic and religious lines are attempting to re-imagine Nepal as a coherent, unified nation-state and themselves as citizens of that nation-state. I focus on three main arenas in which Nepali citizens are working to concretize their ideas about the nation: 1) the education of children, 2) religious demonstrations in public life, and 3) everyday interactions between neighbors of different backgrounds.
Schiller, Naomi Ann, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Making Media, Making Producers: Community Media and the Production of Collective Subjectivity in Caracas, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Abercrombie
NAOMI SCHILLER, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Making Media, Making Producers: Community Media and the Production of Collective Subjectivity in Caracas, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Abercrombie. This research examined efforts of 'community' media producers in Caracas, Venezuela, to transform the relationship of the marginalized poor with the state and respond to the Chavez government's political and financial support for their grassroots media projects. Research was conducted among producers from one prominent community television station and three community radio stations based in barrios (poor neighborhoods) of Caracas. The findings draw on participant observation at community- and state-run media organizations and interviews with media producers and government officials. Research argues that participation of barrio-based media producers in local neighborhood projects and in state-run media productions changed the way that producers from poor neighborhoods understood themselves and the state. Grassroots media producers skillfully negotiated the recent increase in the symbolic and political value of their media productions. This project reveals how community media leaders depended on normative theoretical notions about the boundary between state and society to leverage power by asserting themselves as a non-state authentic popular voice, while in their daily practice they regularly questioned, traversed, and challenged the boundary between state and society. This research contributes to an understanding of the intersection of social movement building, activist use of media, subjectivity, and processes of everyday state formation.
Lynch, Jane Elizabeth, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Fashioning Value: Materiality, Cloth, and Political Economy in India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane
JANE E. LYNCH, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Fashioning Value: Materiality, Cloth, and Political Economy in India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane. This research examined the consequences and prospects of economic liberalization in contemporary India through a study of the handloom textile industry. Given its historical depth and institutional diversity -- ranging from cooperative societies and government corporations to private companies and self-help groups -- this industry and its politics offer unique perspectives on India's transition from state-led economic development to market liberalization. By focusing on the workings and institutional frictions of the commodity networks for cloth woven in the central Indian town of Chanderi, this study examined the social geographies, moral claims about production and consumption, and locally mediated conceptions of ownership and community that are navigated and produced in the commoditization of cloth. Ethnographic research undertaken in Chanderi as well as in the cities of Indore and Delhi, revealed a key effect of liberalization on this industry has been the heightened competition over intellectual property and rights to production, for example, in terms of branding. Extended fieldwork and document-based research showed that practices of branding are being defined not only in terms of consumer sentiment, but also through the efforts of institutions, collectivities, and individuals to delineated -- on moral grounds -- the ways in which cloth can be manufactured, valued, and owned.
Cho, Mun Young, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'When Does Poverty Matter? Managing Differential Impoverishments in the People's Republic of China,' supervised by Dr. James Ferguson
MUN YOUNG CHO, then a student at Stanford University was awarded funding in May 2006 to aid research on 'When Does Poverty Matter? Managing Differential Impoverishments in the People's Republic of China,' supervised by Dr. James Ferguson. Dissertation fieldwork, conducted at one-time workers' village in Harbin, northeast China, from August 2006 to July 2007, explored processes of differential impoverishment under China's late socialism and examined how they are managed in the state's projects of governing urban poverty. Research sought, firstly, to examine how both urban laid-off workers and rural migrants of the same area experience and respond to their changing economic fortunes and sociocultural positions by forging new relationships with each other as well as to the state; secondly, to explore how poverty-related state agents have constituted and contested the state's multiple ideological frameworks when they attempt to regulate urban poverty. Ethnographic data suggest that urban laid-off workers and rural migrants formulate common identities through recent processes in which they not only experience spatial segregation and marginalization all together but also reappropriate the state's paternalistic claims for the urban poor to their own needs and understandings. Nevertheless, data also reveal that both groups pursue distinct trajectories rather than forming a unitary bloc owing to state governing techniques that differentiate them as well as to disparate institutional and sociocultural positions that each group has had to the socialist regime. Research demonstrates that 'the poor' in urban China remains not a political class but a governmental and scholarly language for normalizing people who do not consider themselves a collective 'poor.'
Cho, Mun Young Cho. 2012. 'Dividing the Poor': State Governance of Differential Impoverishment in Northeast China. American Ethnologist 39(1):187-200.
Rignall, Karen Eugenie, U. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY - To aid research on 'Expanding Cultivation, Land, and Livelihood Transformations in Southern Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Lisa Cliggett
KAREN EUGENIE RIGNALL, then a student at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Expanding Cultivation, Land, and Livelihood Transformations in Southern Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Lisa Cliggett. The project explored the relationship between land use change, land tenure, and livelihood strategies in a pre-Saharan oasis valley of southern Morocco. Research in three communities in the Mgoun valley revealed how changing land use practices become sites for contestations around livelihoods, political authority, and social hierarchies. In the past two decades, local residents have converted uncultivated steppe into agricultural land and housing settlements in unprecedented numbers. This conversion reflects shifts in land tenure systems resulting from transformations in livelihoods and social hierarchies in the region. The research explored these changes at a variety of scales -- regional, community, and household -- and used household case studies to address the centrality of land as a site of political and social contestation. Households with the resources to navigate customary tenure regimes in their favor use these institutions to facilitate their agricultural investments in the steppe. Rather than push for open land markets and individual tenure -- as predicted by many accounts of neoliberalism and agrarian change -- they invoke a discourse of communalism in support of customary regimes. In contrast, marginalized families without access to land resist communal tenure regimes, mobilizing to divide collective lands and secure individual tenure
Kwon, JongHwa, State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Green Dreams: Development, Climate Change, and Making Carbon Markets in Korea,' supervised by Dr. Frederic C. Deyo
JONGHWA KWON, then a student at State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Green Dreams: Development, Climate Change, and Making Carbon Markets in Korea,' supervised by Dr. Frederic C. Deyo. This ethnographic research to situate carbon markets of Korea in terms of a community of experts, calculative devices, and the entangled networks of legislative performance makes the following conclusions. First, when a market is saturated with institutional uncertainties -- caused by such factors as political precariousness, lack of comprehensive legal policies on property rights, or just simply its early stage of development -- the success, or the functionality, of a market heavily depends on the availability of diverse modes of valuation and the flexibility of involved agents to coordinate those heterogeneous valuation processes. Second, the speculative nature of carbon markets -- a preemptive practice that brings 'possible' futures into the present -- is key to its consistent dominance in climate-change discourse nowadays. In South Korea this speculative aspect is also closely related with conjuring up tales of economic development in the past to render historical anticipations. Finally, the dichotomies between market abstraction and cultural/social value quantification and qualification (both virtual and real) are not suitable for understanding the dynamics of contemporary market processes. Since carbon markets constantly reform and produce social and economic meaning to environmental crisis through market transactions, looking at how market objects and actors are simultaneously inserted into and abstracted from the social relation is crucial.