Deomampo, Ms. Daisy, Fordham U., New York, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Policy, Health, and Women's Rights: An Engaged Project on Transnational Surrogacy in India,' 2014, Mumbai, India
Preliminary abstract: This engagement project builds on research conducted in Mumbai, India, on the global surrogacy industry, in which would-be parents travel across national borders in pursuit of assisted reproductive technology (ART) services such as gestational surrogacy, egg donation, and in vitro fertilization. Findings from this research demonstrate the ways in which Indian women's experiences of surrogacy are complex and varied, and cannot be known a priori. Yet, while the surrogacy industry remains unregulated and policy debates continue as a draft ART bill awaits decision in Parliament, Indian surrogates' voices have remained largely absent from the debates. Through the organization of two participatory workshops-one with surrogate mothers and egg donors, and another with scholars, advocates, and policymakers, as well as participants from the first workshop-this engagement project brings together diverse actors in order to disseminate key findings of this research and to provide a forum for local actors to share their experiences, voice their concerns, and influence ongoing policy debates regarding the regulation of ARTs and surrogacy. It also offers a unique opportunity to engage various actors who might not otherwise interact, in order to foster potential collaborations to address the rights of surrogates and egg donors.
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
Fjelstad, Karen, San Jose State U., Scotts Valley, CA and Nguyen, Hien Thi, Institute of Culture & Information Studies, Hanoi, Vietnam- To aid collaborative research on 'Len Dong: A Transnational Ritual'
DR. KAREN FJELSTAD, San Jose State University, Scotts Valley, California, and DR. HIEN THI NGUYEN, Institute of Culture & Information Studies, Hanoi, Vietnam, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant in October 2007, to aid collaborative research on 'Len Dong: A Transnational Ritual.' The len dong spirit possession ritual traveled to the U.S. with Vietnamese refugees during the 1980s, but spirit mediums on both sides of the Pacific were prohibited from meeting with each other until after 1986. Recently, a number of US mediums have initiated ritual relations with their Vietnamese counterparts, resulting in the formation of transnational ties. This research traced an emerging relationship between mediums at two temples, one in northern California and the other in northern Vietnam. Transnational ritual relations were stressful and problematic because the mediums were former 'enemies' during the American-Vietnam war and they had significant cultural, linguistic, and ritual differences. However, they overcame difference by focusing on a shared spirituality, recounting narratives of transformation, and relying on help from certain youthful spirits who could easily cross social and cultural borders. The initial transnational event centered on initiation rituals involving the massive exchange of information and goods, but these flows subsided over time. Whereas some of the US mediums wanted to maintain long-term relations with their Vietnamese master, others wanted to focus on developing their own 'American' style. However, rituals in both the US and Vietnam temple were ultimately changed as a consequence of these interactions.
Prasse-Freeman, Elliott Edward, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Resistance to Rights? Political Ontologies and Modes of Governmentality in a Rapidly Evolving Burma,' supervised by Dr. Erik Harms
Preliminary abstract: While Burmese dissident elites and external observers have typically characterized Burmese societal opposition to Burma's long-ruling military-state in terms of people fighting for their rights, my preliminary research suggests that many Burmese social movement actors mobilizing to address issues pertaining to health, education, clean water, etc often have used different idioms to motivate their appeals and actions. While these uses may merely reflect instrumentally strategic choices, my research also suggests that some Burmese actors ascribe entirely different meanings to the concept of 'rights'. Instead of rights securing inalienable standards which citizens can expect by dint of their membership in the polity, 'rights' in Burmese language is often synonymous with opportunities, suggesting that rights are not perceived as existing without opportunities to realize them. Fieldwork with an NGO that defends social movement leaders and particularly marginalized groups will allow me to identify a range of Burmese experiences with power. I will explore how social actors ground political claims and mobilize for them, even whilst lacking rights to anchor and sustain such collective actions, asking: How are claims made, and on what alternative political values are they based? Given the current changes occurring in the Burmese state, understanding the values that ground the Burmese 'politics of the daily' are potentially theoretically productive. Indeed, as state elites have declared an intention to both create a 'rights' regime and 'governmentalize' Burma into a nascent welfare-state regulating population groups, social movements may be implicitly suggesting that formal 'rights' do not exist unless the system is changed such that rights can actually be realized.
Amigo, Maria F., U. of Sydney, Sydney, Australia - To aid research on 'The Economic Roles of Children in Household Economies,' supervised by Dr. Paul Alexander
MARIA F. AMIGO, while a student at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on the roles of children in household economies on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Alexander. The primary aim was to add an anthropological perspective to the literature on child labor, which had been dominated by other disciplines. By trying to understand native notions of 'childhood' and 'work,' Amigo challenged what had often been seen as cultural universals. And by analyzing children's work through their own accounts, she was able to show that the ideas, wants, and expectations children have about their lives are critical to understanding their work and their motivations for it. In the rural area studied, children became economically active at a very early age. Regardless of their household's difficulties in meeting everyday needs, children were expected to be committed to the household's economy. Children had long been involved in unpaid tasks (household chores, agricultural work), but the relatively recent introduction of large-scale tobacco plantations dramatically increased their opportunities for paid work. Hierarchical structures of power based on seniority and gender channeled them into the least desirable and lowest-paid work, yet children clearly made economic decisions in relation to their work and the money they earned. Rather than being victims forced to work for the benefit of others-as child workers are commonly described-the evidence suggested that children worked for the well-being of their households and were conscious that this meant their own well-being, too.
Kohrt, Brandon Alan, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Wounded Hearts, Wounded Minds: The Embodiment of Trauma in Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Carol Marie Worthman
BRANDON A. KOHRT, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Wounded Hearts, Wounded Minds: The Embodiment of Trauma in Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Carol Worthman. This research examined psychological trauma associated with the Maoist revolution in Nepal. The research involved three areas. First, Nepali conceptions of mental health and mind-body connections were investigated. Contrary to most literature, which suggests that mind-body are not seen as separate in Asian contexts, this study revealed that there is a tripartite division of body, heart-mind (the center of emotion and memory), and brain-mind (the center of social control and decision-making). Individuals with psychological trauma seen as originating in the brain-mind suffered the greatest stigma. The second area of research investigated the change in mental health as a result of the Maoist revolution. Three hundred individuals were interviewed in 2000 prior to the outbreak of Maoist violence and again in 2007 after the People's War ended. Anxiety increased from 26.2% to 47.7% and was associated with exposure to war-related trauma. However, depression did not increase significantly (30.9% to 40.6%) when accounting for aging, and levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were 14.1%. The third research was an investigation of the stress hormone cortisol. Among men, cortisol levels were associated with severity of mental health problems. However, among women, cortisol levels were associated with trauma exposure.
Kohrt, Brandon. 2008. Navigating Diagnoses: Understanding Mind-Body Relations, Mental Health, and Stigma in Nepal. Cult Med Psychiatry 32:462-491
Wu, Ifan, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Doing Qigong in Malaysia: Religious Healing and the Production of Chinese Identities,' supervised by Dr. Steven Sangren
Preliminary abstract: Qigong, an ancient Chinese healing practice, has become increasingly popular among the female Chinese minority in Malaysia. Grounded on the belief that cosmic energy is polluted and stagnant and therefore 'blocks' one's physical energy, qigong heals by allowing practitioners to clear 'blockage,' a diagnosis that covers everything from a stiff neck to frustrations with the pursuit of personal success. As a reliever of individuals' dissatisfactions, qigong may bear traces of social anxieties suffered under culturally repressive regulations and economic structures associated with, on the one hand, Chinese patriliny and, on the other, the New Economic Policy, which prioritizes the Muslim Malay bourgeoisie's social welfare while reifying ethnic and class boundaries. To track how expressions of distress and qigong solutions are related to practitioners' social experiences and interactions, I will conduct one year of fieldwork in Penang. In describing how, based on gender roles, class, and ethnicity, practitioners address and work through their somatic frustrations and existential quandaries by using diverse knowledge systems that are transmitted across cultural contexts, my research will examine how individual practitioners, indirectly expressing their internalized political and social frustrations during qigong practices, produce desires and identities that simultaneously accommodate and resist patriliny and the state's agenda.
Gibbings, Sheri Lynn, U. of Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid research on 'Building a Street, Building a Nation: Architecture, Urban Space, and National Belonging on Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Tania Murray Li
SHERI GIBBINGS, then a student at University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, received funding in October 2006 to investigate 'Building a Street, Building a Nation: Architecture, Urban Space and National Belonging on Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' supervised by Dr. Tania Li. This research examines street vendors and their relationship to the state in three sites of conflict, which are differently invested with meaning. Research activities included participant observation, interviews, and archival research among street vendors, their organizations, as well with government officials. Ethnographic fieldwork was carried out for sixteen months between 2006 and 2008. Findings reveal that the street vendors, on one hand, stand for failed modernity but on the other hand, they comment upon and critique the fantasy of modernity and development that pervades city planning. Street vendors have also become increasingly a site of government concern, which has made them the object of an increasing number of projects to control, discipline, and monitor their activities. Findings indicate that street vendors are involved in a larger set of contestations: political battles over urban planning; debates over modernity; and the struggle to solidify budding radical politics.