Milne, Dr. Sarah, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research and writing on 'Saving Nature? The Politics and Practice of Internatinal Conservation in Cambodia' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: This project examines contemporary global efforts to 'save nature', as seen in the ideas and practices of big conservation organisations. It is important to study these organisations through a critical anthropological lens, because they now have significant influence over how natural resources are managed globally, and an ability to shape fundamentally the relationships between people and nature across the planet. Often their actions take place in tropical developing countries, where biodiversity is most abundant and threatened, and where human needs compete with the demands of conservation projects. The result is a complex, transnational and highly political realm of work; about which little in known. In addition, as environmental problems escalate, many conservation groups are increasingly turning to 'the market' as a tool for saving nature: this neoliberal strategy, with the potential to commodify nature, has unknown effects in practice. My research sheds light upon the nexus of all these issues. I conducted a ten-year study of a major US-based conservation group (2002-2012) and its attempts to implement a market-based conservation project in the remote Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia. Through a multi-sited 'insider ethnography', I reveal how policy ideas were created and implemented across scales; and how unintended consequences emerged when these 'global' ideas were transformed by the local Cambodian context, often in dangerous or damaging ways. Observing project dynamics closely, I saw the conservation organisation's inability/unwillingness to address the gaps between theory and practice. Rather, it focused on the image of success only; highlighting the grave consequences of 'corporate conservation' for people and nature.
Ibrahim, Farhana, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Crafting the Nation: Artisanal production in Contemporary India,' supervised by Dr. Viranjini P. Munasinghe
FARHANA IBRAHIM, while a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on artisanal production in contemporary India, under the supervision of Dr. Viranjini P. Munasinghe. Ibrahim focused her research on questions of political and cultural identity in a border zone. Her work with a pastoral-nomadic community in the western Indian state of Gujarat employed ethnographic data from the district of Kachchh along with textual analysis to critically investigate the modern postcolonial state from the margins. The 'ethnographic moment' was a moment of crisis, which provided a unique historical opportunity in which to turn the ethnographic lens toward a subject as diffuse as the state. This moment of crisis was situated between two critical events in the region: an earthquake in January 2001 and sectarian violence (Hindu-Muslim riots) in March 2002, both of which had far-reaching effects on the physical and ideological landscape of the region. Thirteen months of field research and archival work on the 'edges' of the state (both geographically and temporally, in such a moment of crisis) offered Ibrahim an opportunity to look through the cracks of the ideological constructs employed by the state in its quest for legitimacy. She used detailed vignettes of the social production of religious identities, the construction and practice of citizenship, religious nationalism, and the 'nationalization' of a regional identity in order to reflect on her larger questions.
Craig, Dr. Sienna, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; and Ao, Dr. Tsochen, Arura Group, Qinghai Province, PR China - To aid collaborative research on 'Tibetan Medicine Between Local and Global Worlds: Standardization, Commodification, and Clinical Use'
Preliminary abstract: Today, Tibetan medicine illustrates multiple, and somewhat confounding, agendas. This 'science of healing' must retain a sense of cultural authenticity and a connection to Tibetan Buddhism, yet it must be proven efficacious and safe according to international biomedical standards. Its practice must reflect both integrity and innovation within the scientific tradition from which it emerges, and operate in the context of medical pluralism, commingling with biomedical drugs, diseases, and practices - and, in China, with mainstream Chinese medicine. Tibetan medicines must treat illnesses in specific individuals and communities throughout the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau, and are often given for free. They must also find a place within the multi-billion dollar global market for 'traditional' and 'complementary' medicines, and appeal to non-Tibetan consumers seeking alternate paths to wellness. Finally, Tibetan medicine must address the paradoxes of industry growth and environmental stewardship, given that this healing system depends on the materia medica of high Asia. In collaboration with colleagues in Germany and China, the proposed research will investigate how Tibetan medicines are being standardized and commodified through industry growth in China, how they circulate through diverse social settings as commodity goods and gifts; how they are prescribed and marketed as targeted therapies and as panacea for biophysical and psychosocial ills; and how they elucidate a larger biopolitics of traditional medicine, in both local and global arenas. Specifically, this multi-sited ethnography will: 1. explore the industrial production and marketing of Tibetan medicines and related clinical research agendas from within China's largest producer of these 'traditional' formulas: the Arura Group, Qinghai Province; and 2. examine how Tibetan medical practitioners living and working in the US procure, prescribe, and relate to their pharmacopia, now that they are practicing under radically different circumstances on new patients.
Thufail, Fadjar I., U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Confusion, Conversion, and Riot: Religious Anxiety and Mass Violence in Urban Indonesia, 1998,' supervised by Dr. Kenneth M. George
FADJAR I. THUFAIL, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, was awarded funding in July 2001 to aid research on religious anxiety and mass violence in urban Indonesia in 1998, under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth M. George. Three central questions guided the field research: What conditions and forces prompted people to get involved in-or avoid-the Indonesian riots of May 1998 that led to President Suharto's resignation? How did perpetrators, victims, and witnesses differently understand these riots in light of contemporary political crises, talk about conversion to Christianity, and past events of anti-Chinese violence? And in what ways did the verbal and visual signs evoked during the rioting and in subsequent public discourse reflect the certainties and uncertainties of religious, ethnic, racial, and national identity? Thufail also devoted attention to representations of the riot and its political contestation. Some preliminary findings: Most respondents denied that the riots were religiously motivated. The absence of religious issues suggested that among certain groups of narrators, changes had taken place in the narrative appropriation of violence. Moreover, different state agents produced their own narratives. The official Fact Finding Team's narrative served as the higher-order narrative that shaped other narratives. Besides state agents, media institutions also shaped the ways in which people told their stories of the riots. As a consequence, the strong institutional agenda found in the riot narratives had overwhelmed most attempts to represent the narratives as stories of experience.
Padwe, Jonathan, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove
JOHNATHAN PADWE, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in May 2004 to aid research on 'Genocide, Development and Belonging in Cambodia: The Phnong of the Northeast Hills,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove. The subject of this research is the use of memories of genocide within the political debates surrounding 'development' among highland minorities in northeast Cambodia. Wenner-Gren funding supported the first year of a projected two and a half years of fieldwork. Research for this initial period consisted of five months of research in Phnom Penh among policy makers and staff of NGO and government agencies working on land titling and agricultural development, and seven months in Mondulkiri Province, both in the provincial capital and in Dak Dam village. Initial work in Phnom Penh resulted in the establishment of a network of contacts and the acquisition of reports and documents. Key accomplishments included significant improvement of language ability (in Khmer), the collection of extensive interview data regarding agriculture and land titling, and a refinement of the research questions. As a result of reviewer comments and feedback from this network, the initial focus on hunting has been deemphasized in the research program. Fieldwork in Mondulkiri province included developing contacts within the development community based in the provincial capital, initial visits to Dak Dam village, and eventually an extended period of fieldwork in Dak Dam. Data collected included participant observation and interview data about ongoing development projects, villagers' encounters with development, agricultural practices, such as the establishment of swidden fields, and cultural and religious activities, such as calendric agricultural ceremonies. During this period the Cambodian government granted a large land concession to a Malaysian pine-plantation enterprise, and villagers in affected areas (including Dak Dam) began protests.
Karchmer, Dr. Eric Ivan, Independent Scholar, Weston, MA - To aid research and writing on 'Orientalizing the Body: Postcolonial Transformations in Chinese Medicine' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. ERIC I. KARCHMER, an independent scholar located in Weston, Massachusetts, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2007 to aid research and writing on 'Orientalizing the Body: Postcolonial Transformations in Chinese Medicine.' Orientalizing the Body is an ethnography of the hybrid practices that doctors of Chinese medicine have adopted to suit the institutional demands of modern health care delivery in China. Medicine in contemporary China is shaped by postcolonial power asymmetries: doctors of Chinese medicine practice two types of medicine, Chinese medicine and Western medicine, while their Western medicine counterparts learn only one. Despite the social imperative for doctors of Chinese medicine to use both medical systems, they have not developed an overarching theory of integration. Instead they rely on a small set of 'Orientalist' comparisons that posit the two medical systems as mirror images of each other, especially with regards to efficacy, anatomy, and diagnosis. These seemingly innocuous comparisons operate as purifying claims that both marginalize the clinical scope of Chinese medicine to the chronic, the functional, and the hard-to-diagnose, while also enabling clinical innovation by facilitating its integration with Western medicine. The manuscript traces the historical emergence of these Orientalist formulations and their implications for contemporary practice, demonstrating that the dual processes of purification and hybridization, simultaneously constraining and expanding the horizons of clinical practice, have become the central organizing dynamic in the modern development of Chinese medicine.
Karchmer, Eric. 2010. Chinese Medicine in Action: On the Postcoloniality of Medical Practice in China. Medical Anthropology 29(3): 226-252.
Dressler, Dr. Wolfram H., U. of Queensland, Australia; and Pulhin, Dr. Juan M., U. of Philippines - To aid collaborative research on 'An Ethnography of Rural Livelihood Transitions among Migrant and Indigenous Uplanders on Palawan Island, Philippines'
Preliminary abstract: The intensification of the 'agrarian transition' threatens forests and traditional livelihoods in the rural Philippines. In particular, indigenous residents on the frontier island of Palawan contend with rapidly changing livelihoods arising from unequal commodity relations with migrants in an expanding market economy (Eder and Fernandez, 1996; Cramb and Culasero, 2003; Rigg, 2006). As frontiers are settled, indigenous peoples face growing threats to traditional livelihoods and customary practice as they negotiate agricultural intensification and new markets with migrants in the uplands. But how exactly do indigenous livelihood practices respond to the local outcomes of the 'agrarian transition'? How do household social relations and customary practice engage with migrant trade relations and commodity production? This study seeks to examine in ethnographic detail how indigenous households adjust to livelihood transitions, changes in forest landscapes and changes in the regional political economy.
Dressler, Wolfram. 2009. The shifting ground of swidden agriculture on Palawan Island, the Phippines. Agriculture and Human Values. Published online.
Dressler, Wolfram. 2009. People, power and timber: The politics of community-based forest management. Journal of Environmental Management 91: 206-214.
Dressler, Wolfram. 2010. The Role of 'Hybrid' NGOs in the Conservation and Development of Palawan Island, The Philippines. Society and Natural Resources 23:165-180.
Walker, Christopher, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Social Life of Open-Source Software in Tibet,' supervised by Dr. John D. Kelly
CHRISTOPHER E. WALKER, while a student at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in August 2003 to research the social conditions of Tibetan language software development, under the supervision of Dr. John D. Kelly. Central to the research was a study of the Tibetan block of 'Unicode,' the de facto standard for encoding the world's natural languages in computer systems. More than a decade ago, Tibet University in Lhasa (China) played a central role in this emergent and powerful standard. This feat has been celebrated by the Chinese press, which often highlights any state support of science and technology within minority areas. Curiously, however, the study of more recent technical proposals and computer projects involving Tibetan language reveal that China has mixed reactions to the very standard it helped create. Contrary to the philosophy of Unicode, namely that every language should have only one set of codes, China has recently used the 'private use area' of Unicode to define a second, competing standard for Tibetan. The official reasons given for creating two standards for Tibetan language are mainly technical and pragmatic. A deeper analysis has revealed that economic pressure, educational background, and the social environment play a pivotal role in the development of Tibetan information technology in China.
Prasad, Srirupa, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Gender Construction at Crossroads of Colonialism, Nationalism and Health: A Case Study of Colonial Bengal,' supervised by Dr. Winifred R. Poster
SRIRUPA PRASAD, while a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, received funding in December 2001 to aid research on gender construction, colonialism, nationalism, and health in Bengal, India, under the supervision of Dr. Winifred R. Poster. Prasad looked at the history and trajectory of medical practice in late colonial Bengal (1885-1935), addressing the absence of the home or household in the literature on the history of medicine in India and arguing that the household was a critical unit of analysis for understanding the history of medical practices in modern societies. In colonial India, ideas about disease, good health, sanitation, diet, cleanliness, and therapeutics were important means through which bodies were controlled and disciplined. They were a part of the nationalist discourse, too, behind which lay a zeal to regenerate the nation through healthy bodies and healthy minds that gave rise to a complex politics between Western and existing traditions of knowledge. Everyday prescriptions for health were also implicated in the construction of gender. Culturally nuanced and traditionally Indian notions of health, disease, and therapeutics played a crucial role in the techniques of bodily discipline, making disciplinary regimes in India different from those in the West at the same time. Prasad found that domesticity and the Indian household were indispensable for understanding anticolonial political nationalism in India and argued that the domain of the political should be extended to include the social forms of bodily disciplining that took place in the private domains of Hindu Bengali society.
Koga, Yukiko, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Modernity and Urban Space in the Cities of Manchuria,' supervised by Dr. Marilyn J. Ivy
YUKIKO KOGA, while a student at Columbia University in New York, New York, received funding in January 2002 to aid research on modernity and urban space in the cities of Manchuria, under the supervision of Dr. Marilyn J. Ivy. This research into China's post-coloniality and Japan's post-imperiality-erased or silenced during the countries' respective postwar eras-took place in Harbin, Changchun, and Dalian, three major cities in northeast China, as well as in Japan, the former metropole of 'Manchukuo.' In each city, Koga examined the aftereffects of colonial modernity in the construction of post-1945 China and Japan. The focus of the research in Harbin was the intricate play between memories of the colonial past and those of the Cultural Revolution, both of which were triggered by the (re)presentation of colonial-era structures through a recent government decision to renovate and protect them. The main findings in Changchun concerned the ways in which local Chinese and Japanese visitors experienced and interpreted the architectural remainders of 'Manchukuo'-specifically, Japanese visitors' reactions to their encounters with these historical artifacts, Chinese locals' views of them, and the content of history education at schools in Changchun. The research in Dalian highlighted the Chinese and Japanese encounter in the present as a result of their deepening economic relations in a city where 60 percent of foreign investment is Japanese. What it meant to work for Japanese corporations in a city that had once experienced Japanese occupation was explored through interviews, in conjunction with an examination of how the Dalian city government located and presented the presence of the Japanese within the image and future of the city.