Heimsath, Kabir Mansingh, Oxford U., Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Lhasa Contemporary: Urban Spaces and Tibetan Practices,' supervised by Dr. Marcus Banks
KABIR MANSINGH HEIMSATH, then a student at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Lhasa Contemporary: Urban Spaces and Tibetan Practices,' supervised by Dr. Marcus Banks. The tangible modernization of Lhasa, Tibet, has accelerated dramatically in the past decade. This research attempts to use the theoretical construction of space as a method for understanding Tibetan lives in a continually shifting urban landscape. Building on previous experiences residing and working in Lhasa, this fieldwork focused on people's interaction with the material and visual environment of the city. The project attempts to bring together ethnographic research methods with more geographic and architectural concerns of space, buildings, and the city. Fieldwork time was divided between different areas of the city as well as different modes of work, leisure, commerce, and home; while research questions focused on the inter-dependence of material, lived, and representative spaces in the city as they relate to the lives of individual Tibetans. The growing diversification of economies, homes, and professions leads to multifarious spaces in Lhasa, but this project also seeks to discover whether it is possible to discuss the city itself as a coherent place/space. Unexpected riots and crackdowns during fieldwork both complicate and emphasize the peculiar nature of urban topography and its significance for Tibetans today.
Cho, Sumi, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Multiculturalism, Okinawan Popular Culture and the Politics of Ethnicity in Osaka, Japan,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer E. Robertson
SUMI CHO, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Multiculturalism, Okinawan Popular Culture, and the Politics of Ethnicity in Osaka, Japan,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer E. Robertson. The project explored how the recent Okinawa Boom and multiculturalist trend influenced the practices of Okinawan popular music and dance in mainland Japan. For decades, Okinawan music and dance were shunned in Osaka, performed only by Okinawans, and only in private to avoid ethnic stigmatization (except for a few instances of cultural resistance against the dominant ideology of Japanese ethnic and cultural homogeneity). Now Okinawan music and dance genres are becoming increasingly an object of cultural appropriation by Japanese -- to watch, listen to, learn, and perform themselves. While such popularity among Japanese is publicly regarded as a welcome sign of recognition of Okinawan culture, some perceive Japanese appropriation of Okinawan music and dance as another form of Japan's cultural domination -- a threat to the authenticity of Okinawan music and dance, and to authenticity of Okinawan identity itself. However, the divisions between seemingly opposite aspects of Okinawan popular culture are neither clear-cut in practice, nor do they necessarily follow the ethnic lines between participants. As individuals with diverse interests intermingled through Okinawan dance and music performances, they created complex consequences to notions and practices of Okinawan music and dance, and by extension, to attitudes towards the politics of ethnicity in Japan.
Valiani, Arafaat A., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Religious Nationalism and Its Shaping of Urban Space in Western India (1969-2002),' supervised by Dr. Karen Barkey
ARAFAAT A. VALIANI, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on 'Religious Nationalism and Its Shaping of Urban Space in Western India (1969-2002),' supervised by Dr. Karen Barkey. This grant funded ethnographic research in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, beginning in July 2003, pertaining to the effects of repeated episodes of violence occurring between Hindu and Muslim residents of the city. Findings, taken from materials produced through unstructured interviews with residents, local leaders, activists, religious figures, journalists, and local academics, confirm that the violence has cultivated various forms of perception that residing in separate and homogeneous neighborhoods could be safer and more 'culturally germane' for members of both communities despite the existence of centuries of relatively mixed residency in the city. A nationalist Hindu narrative of India being beset with aggressive invasions by Muslims over the past several hundred years structured the historical understanding of the city, especially for Hindu residents; Ahmedabad was described as being a Hindu city on top of which the Muslim king, Ahmed Shah, built Ahmedabad. Therefore, such an historical claim was a veiled absolute claim to the city for Hindus.
Valiani, Arafaat A. 2010. Physical Training, Ethical Discipline, and Creative Violence: Zones of Self-Mastery in the Hindu Nationalist Movement. Cultural Anthropology 25(1):73-99.
Park, Joowon, American U., Washington, DC. - To aid research on 'Belonging in a House Divided: Violence and Citizenship in the Resettlement of North Koreans to South Korea,' supervised by Dr. Adrienne Pine
Preliminary abstract: Violence -- visible and invisible, intentional and unintentional - permeates the experience of forced migrations, shaping and defining every phase of resettlement processes. Since the majority of forced migrants experience acute violence(s) in displacement, it is necessary to examine how violence operates in the ways in which citizenship is constructed and constituted as they attempt to integrate into host societies. Citizenship is generally conceptualized in the dimensions of status and rights, but where both status and rights are granted to people recognized as refugees in integration processes, this study goes beyond the juridical-political aspects of having status, rights, and duties. Thus, this dissertation research investigates the relations between violence and citizenship through the resettlement and integration of North Korean defectors in Seoul, South Korea and asks: how do wide-ranging forms of violence North Korean defectors experience impact their pathways to and embodiment of citizenship? Through examining the ways in which citizenship is constituted, constructed, claimed, practiced, and imagined in relation to the multiple embodied experiences and legacies of violence, this ethnographic research explores the lived experiences and subject-making processes of citizenship vis-à-vis refugee resettlement.
Idrus, Rusaslina, Harvard U., Cambridge MA - To aid research on 'Native State, Transnational Indigenes: Strategies in the Era of International Accountability,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho
RUSASLINA IDRUS, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2005 to aid research on 'Native State, Transnational Indigenes: Strategies in the Era of International Accountability,' supervised by Dr. Engseng Ho. At the international level, the legal realm is an emerging space of resistance for indigenous movements. There has been a significant increase in the number of court cases involving tribal communities successfully suing state governments for land and resource rights world wide. This project seeks to understand the larger implications of this strategy. How has this changed the relationship and dynamics between marginalized groups and the nation state? How has the state responded? How are transnational discourses such as 'human rights' and 'cultural rights' influencing these cases? How do ideas of international accountability and the global audience play into this? This project will examine the questions above by focusing on the relationship between the Malaysian State and the aboriginal people of Peninsular Malaysia, the Orang Asli.
Reese, Jill Marie, U. College London, London, UK - To aid research on 'Spectacular Politics & the Image: Narrative, Morality and Power in the Tamil Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Pinney
Preliminary abstact: Midnight arrests, plotting villains, benevolent heroes and devoted consorts. These descriptions not only pertain to the latest Tamil blockbuster; they apply to the history of spectacular politics in the Indian state of Tamilnadu, where for the past forty-five years, the successive Chief Ministers and many other high-level elected officials have been former members of the Tamil film industry. What accounts for the particularity of Tamil politics? How can one understand a politics delivered via spectacle? I will test my hypothesis that narrative tropes of morality are amplified, distorted or transformed through spectacle to grant varying degrees of legitimacy to political power, through an examination of image regimes in their manifestation as campaign images as they are produced and consumed, specifically at a local rather than state level. Using the city of Madurai as a fieldwork site, I will look at how visual and devotional forms of spectacle situate local politicians within their party's hierarchy of power, the ways in which narrative tropes of morality are infused in campaign imagery, and follow the path of concept, design, and production of imagery on the street and at political rallies. This will entail ethnographic study with local party members, graphic designers for advertising companies, and the painters, printers, and laborers who physically create or campaign imagery. Further, I will investigate the analytic utility of the streetscape where cinema and politics are fused by documenting the changing imagery at three main intersections in Madurai as images are assembled, transformed, and removed throughout local and state elections.
Kutty, Omar, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Gift of Society: Social Welfare Programs and Political Identity in an Indian Megacity,' supervised by Dr. John L. Comaroff
OMAR KUTTY, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in April 2005 to aid research on 'The Gift of Society: Social Welfare Programs and Political Identity in an Indian Megacity,' supervised by Dr. John L. Comaroff. While this project was originally designed as a multi-community study, prior to receipt of Wenner-Gren funds it had been decided that it would be more fruitful to focus on the caste of sanitation workers known as the Valmiki Samaj. Because this community is one of the most ostracized and marginalized in Delhi, analysis of the many governmental and non-governmental welfare programs that target the Valmikis provided extremely rich ethnographic data pertaining to the changing policies and culture of welfare provision in contemporary India. Among the data collected under the auspices of the foundation were interviews with members of the internationally recognized NGO, Sulabh International, whose mission is to improve the condition of this community through a business model incorporating pay-and-use toilets which then also act as self-sustaining sources of employment. Other exemplary data pertained to a special governmental financial program that provides business loans specifically to the Valmiki community. Middle Class Resident Welfare Associations, who have recently begun to organize their hitherto informal, local sanitation workers on a business model were also observed. The tentative conclusion reached from this data is that new models of welfare provision are gradually but dramatically changing the nature of labor among the Valmiki community.