Fish, Allison Elizabeth, U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Michael Maurer
ALLISON E. FISH, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Owning Transnational Yoga: Intellectual and Cultural Property Claims to a Traditional Practice,' supervised by Dr. William Maurer. Research related to this project took place primarily in Bangalore, Dehli, and California. What the grantee terms 'transnational yoga' is an example of the rapid transformation that forms of traditional cultural knowledge undergo as they are increasingly offered in commoditized form to consumers in affluent and cosmopolitan markets. The research takes two US federal district court cases, Bikram v. Schreiber-Morrison et al. and Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram as a starting point. These suits served as the catalyst triggering open conflict concerning the proprietary nature of yogic knowledge. In researching the resulting dispute, the grantee attends to two sets of reactions. The first is that of the Indian state, which is concerned with what it perceives to be the on-going piracy of its national-cultural heritage. The study focuses upon the state's own claim to yoga and its attempt to protect this claim through the construction of a traditional knowledge digital library. Secondly, the research examines the reactions of select yoga organizations, which have also adopted intellectual property claims. In tracing these relationships the grantee shows how not only yoga, but also other cultural objects (such as intellectual property) are contested and reconfigured. In doing this, the project contributes to a re-examination of the tradition-modernity binary.
Wang, Jing, Concordia Welfare and Education Foundation, Hong Kong, P.R. China - to aid training in social/cultural anthropology at Case Western Reserve U., Cleveland, OH, supervised by Dr. Melvyn Goldstein
Ahsan, Sonia, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Recognizing Honor: Sexual Violence and the Honour Effect in Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Morris Messick
SONIA AHSAN, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in November 2010 to aid research on 'Recognizing Honor: Sexual Violence and the Honor Effect in Afghanistan,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley M. Messick. This project proposes an ethnographic approach to understanding honor-killings. Tracing the complex juridical, social, material, and historical permutations of the categories of honor and honor-killings in Afghanistan, the archival and ethnographic research unsettles these categories by demonstrating that honor is not a singular cause of action that motivates the killings but rather a retroactive effect that manifests itself through ex post facto discourses and practices. This is achieved by: 1) documenting the prominent discourses and practices that enable honor to emerge as the foremost category of analysis to explain certain violent events; 2) analyzing the vocabulary defining sexual transgressions (and by extension sexual norms) and how it has been systematically rationalized, institutionalized, and circulated through social processes; and 3) studying the manifestation of dishonorable statuses (with or without a killing), and how they are inhabited and negotiated in relation to honorable states. Bringing together the social constructs of sexual vocabulary, through an ethnography of honor-killings, this project seeks to illuminate the sexual life-worlds that inhabit present day Afghanistan.
Sundar, Dr. Nandini, Delhi U., Delhi, India - To aid workshop on 'Civil War in South Asia: Ethnographic Perspectives,' 2010, Delhi U., in collaboration with Dr. Aparna Sundar
PROVIDE A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE AIM AND SCOPE OF YOUR MEETING IN PLAIN ENGLISH (UNFORMATTED -- WITHOUT BULLETS OR NUMBERED LISTS -- 200 WORD MAXIMUM).
This workshop proposes to examine civil wars in South Asia, especially from the perspective of civilians. While internal wars in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan have made headlines in 2009, all countries in South Asia have experienced longstanding armed conflicts, with significant implications for their political culture.
Civilians are generally conceived of as participants in militias, whether state-sponsored or against the state; as supporters or opponents of either incumbent or insurgent parties; as collateral damage, or as innocent victims of civil war and objects of humanitarian intervention. Only very rarely are they seen as citizens whose choices and predicaments influence the course of the civil war. Shifting the focus to civilians as citizens introduces new normative and theoretical concerns, having to do with sovereignty, democracy and accountability.
Most research on civil war is carried out by security experts or comparative political scientists. Unlike Africa or South America, there has been little research on civil war in South Asia, and practically none keeping the entire region in perspective. The workshop will bring a new perspective to ongoing conflicts, and contribute to both political anthropology and the ethnographic study of South Asia.
Morton, Micah Francis, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia: Akha Identitarian Politics,' supervised by Dr. Katherine A. Bowie
MICAH F. MORTON, then a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia: Akha Indentitarian Politics,' supervised by Dr. Katherine A. Bowie. Between June 2011 and May 2012, the researcher conducted twelve months of fieldwork with certain members of the Akha indigenous group in Thailand who are involved in efforts to promote a more formal sense of belonging among Akha throughout the Upper Mekong Region - including East Burma, Southwest China, Northwest Laos and North Thailand. It was found that a growing number of Akha are participating in various activities being arranged as part of the movement and that a cross-border sense of belonging is developing. These activities ranged from Akha literacy training workshops to cultural festivals and formal meetings held to discuss how to go about preserving and modifying 'traditional' Akha culture. It was further found, however, that the cross-border sense of belonging that is developing exists beneath the various national level senses of belonging that different Akha communities have depending upon their particular country of residence. In short, Akha in Thailand for the most part see themselves as being Thai first and foremost and members of an international Akha community only second. Last, it was found that the cultural and linguistic emphasis of the movement fails to address the more practical concerns faced by the general Akha community.
Ghosh, Sahana, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How are borderlands produced in the intersection of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through sixteen months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in their everyday lives as a part of the political economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations, moralities and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.
Tsuda, Dr. Takeyuki, U. of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid conference on 'Diasporic Homecomings: Ethnic Return Migrants in Comparative Perspective,' UC San Diego, 2005
'Diasporic Homecomings: Ethnic Return Migrants in Comparative Perspective,' May 20-21, 2005, University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, California -- Organizer: Takeyuki Tsuda. This conference examined various groups of ethnic return migrants - diasporic peoples who return to their ancestral homelands after living outside their countries of ethnic origin for generations. Conference participants compared the ethnopolitical reception and experiences of ethnic return migrants in different European and East Asian countries. Diasporic return migration has often been enabled by extraterritorial citizenship and immigration policies of homeland governments based on imaginings of a broader ethnic nation beyond state borders that encompasses diasporic descendants abroad. Nonetheless, ethnic return migrants frequently receive an ambivalent reception in their homelands and are often marginalized as immigrant minorities because of their cultural differences and low socioeconomic position, forcing them to reconsider their national identities and loyalties and their previously idealized images of the ethnic homeland.
Pant, Ketaki, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'Homes of Capital: Merchants and Mobility in the Indian Ocean,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
Preliminary abstract: This dissertation project is concerned with the long history of Gujarati merchant mobility in the Indian Ocean. While scholars of globalization have considered the movement of global capital as a new phenomenon, this project studies the itinerant merchant--historically engaged in the long-distance oriented textile trade--as an early iteration of the global capitalist. Merchant homes, which also function as warehouses, workshops and offices, are central to these networks, and historically connected the textile trade from its point of origin in the interior to the shores of the Indian Ocean. These homes, and descendents of merchant families within them, continue to exist today and allow me to ethnographically study how a history of merchant mobility, coordinated through the home, continues to persist in contemporary society. In studying Gujarati merchant networks from its interiors, this project analyzes how kinship and religious networks, routed through the home, are central to capital mobility. I am concerned therefore with how a seemingly stationary space--the home--helps us to understand the flow of capital across an oceanic space. In analyzing this dynamic of enclosed mobility this project seeks to demonstrate that unlike the contemporary multinational corporation, which though independent of, operates under the umbrella of imperial states and their mobile armies, Gujarati merchants, through a long history, have protected capital without the use of force and the help of a strong state.