Kortright, Christopher Michael, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Experimental Fields and Biotech Futures: The Politics and Histories of Scientific Rice Research,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit
CHRISTOPHER M. KORTRIGHT, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in April 2009 to aid research on 'Experimental Fields and Biotech Futures: The Politics and Histories of Scientific Rice Research,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Dumit. Through ethnographic fieldwork at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), this research focuses on how scientific research on rice has been motivated by scientists' assumptions about population growth and consumption, and how these motivations have changed with the advent of genetically modified (GM) rice. This research illustrates the ways in which experimental practices are shaped by scientists' 'visions of the future'-specifically overpopulation and agricultural underproduction. These future visions are historically located within the political economy and agricultural science. This research is a product of the archival collection of oral histories and scientific papers of researchers working on rice research and the production of 'new plant types' at IRRI. Alongside these oral histories, research focused on the study of one specific GM rice project called C4 Rice. The ethnographic research on the C4 Rice Project was conducted both in the laboratory and the experimental fields at IRRI while two large-scale experiments were under way, and the ethnographer accompanied C4 Rice researchers to scientific conferences, funding meetings, and presentations introducing GM science to the general public. Tracing out this specific scientific network of GM rice researchers, this project sheds light on an international science collaboration as it is manifested and articulated at a historically and politically controversial research locality. This research adds to the anthropological literatures on agriculture, science, political economy and futures. Alongside these contributions to the anthropological literature, this research opens up larger discourses on food and food security, specifically in the domain of genetically modified crops.
Kortright, Chris. 2013. On Labor and Creative Transformations in the Experimental Fields of the Philippines. East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 7(4):557-578.
Wu, Ka-ming, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on ''Speaking Bitterness': History, Culture and Politics in Modern China,' supervised by Dr. Myron L. Cohen
KA-MING WU, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in October 2003 to aid research on ''Speaking Bitterness': History, Culture and Politics in Modern China,' supervised by Dr. Myron L. Cohen. The research investigated how 'speaking bitterness' -- a form of speech historically utilized as a Communist mobilization strategy to articulate experience of exploitation and to create class consciousness among the peasantry before and after in 1949 China -- continued to affect the way people articulated their experience in post-socialist China. Research was carried out from October 2003 to October 2004, first in Xi'an city and later in three villages in the Yan'an area, Shaanxi Province, using participant observation to examine village politics and rural lives. The research found that the meaning of 'bitterness' can no longer be understood as prescribed by the socialist narrative. It shows that the rural Chinese landscape has undergone radical changes since economic reform in 1980s and this entails a new understanding of the term 'bitterness.' By examining how rural residents survived the deteriorating rural conditions, expressed collective discontent, solved medical issues, and resumed folk ritual practice of various sorts, the research points to a new direction through which 'bitterness' of post-socialist China can be understood.
Gilbert, David, E., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Agrarian Movements in Sumatra and their 'People's Forests' (Hutan Rakyat),' supervised by Dr. William H. Durham
Preliminary abstract: This research proposes to study the complex connections between agrarian social movements and ecological change, building on older research efforts that recognize that social-ecological changes are not monocausal, but are influenced by global markets and national policies to proximate biophysical variations. I use a comparative anthropological approach to study Sumatra's agrarian movements and the ways that they are altering livelihoods possibilities and ecologies around them. The potential existence of self-described 'peoples' forests' (hutan rakyat) agroecological systems represents a largely unresearched counter-trend with the potential to alter the well-being of households as well as tropical rainforests. A multi-disciplinary stugy is proposed, with methods drawn from the study of social-ecological systems, including environmental anthropology, geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Saini, Shashank, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Urbanity and its Discontents: Violence, Masculinity and Dispossession in Delhi,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Thomas
Preliminary abstract: The recent discourse about sexual violence in Delhi is masking deeper material transformations occurring in the region. Agricultural lands in peri-urban Delhi--which currently constitutes two-thirds of Delhi--are being acquired at a fast pace per the state's mandate to double the urbanized area of Delhi by 2021. As shopping malls and gated communities are being erected on village lands, rural men from urban villages are being considered a threat to urban modernity as the incidents of sexual violence in which rural men are perpetrators are being selectively highlighted in newspaper reports. These discursive developments and material transformations have produced an exceptionally precarious state for young males from urban villages who are being forced to confront a service industry economy, a mode of production for which they possess neither the habitus, nor the education. My dissertation project will explore the emergent processes of subject-making of these male youth from urban villages, and particularly their notions and practices of masculinity, within the context of a fast changing political economy in Delhi characterized by transformations in modes of production and relationships to land, the emergence of new class and status groups, and the influx of new patterns of consumerism.
Bernstein, Anna, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Transformations in Siberian Buddhism: Mobility, Visuality, and Piety in Buryat Worlds,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Grant
ANNA BERNSTEIN, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2007 to aid 'Transformations in Siberian Buddhism: Mobility, Visuality, and Piety in Buryat Worlds,' supervised by Dr. Bruce M. Grant. This project explores the renovation of Siberian Buryat Buddhist practices through transnational, post-Soviet ties. It brings together field and archival study to bear upon three fields of inquiry: 1) the ethnography of Siberia; 2) cosmopolitan, transnational religious forms; and 3) material culture. In contrast to some scholars who have seen Buryats purely as 'native,' 'indigenous,' or even as a 'fourth-world' people, many Buryats have long viewed themselves as cosmopolitans who consider Buddhism as one of the most prominent markers of southern Siberia's expansive histories since its arrival in approximately the eighteenth century. Many today ask: Should Buryat Buddhism be understood as adhering to a 'Tibetan model,' one most recently advanced through pilgrimages by monks and well-funded lay persons to Tibetan monasteries in India? Or, as nationalists argue, should it downplay its international ties to assert itself as a truly independent 'national' religion? This project argues that the ways in which Buryats transform older cosmopolitanisms into contemporary socio-religious movements are key for understanding new geopolitical forms of consciousness, as long-held Eurasian ties are now being revived in the wake of Soviet rule. Based on twelve months of field research, this project tracks these issues ethnographically through a study of two Buryat monastic and lay religious communities located in Russia and in India. The focus on material culture engages specific case studies of how various material objects -- such as relics of famous monks, auspicious images found on rocks, and ritual implements buried underground during Soviet times -- are reinterpreted to create new sacred geographies, historiographies, and modes of religiosity.
Bernstein, Anya. 2011. The Post-Soviet Treasure Hunt: Time, Space, and Necropolitics in Siberian Buddhism. Comparative Studies in Society and History 53(3):623-653.
Lau, Timm, Cambridge U., Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'The Development of Moral Knowledge and Identity Formation in a Tibetan Community in Baijnath, India,' supervised by Dr. James A. Laidlaw
TIMM LAU, while a student at Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in March 2004 to aid research on 'The Development of Moral Knowledge and Identity Formation in a Tibetan Community in Baijnath, India,' supervised by Dr. James A. Laidlaw. This research, undertaken for the duration of 15 months from March 2004 until July 2005, set out to investigate the development of moral knowledge in a Tibetan settlement in North India, and its relationship to the formation of identity in this exile community. Ethnographically, it contributes to existing research in providing an in-depth description of Tibetan exiles in India, which includes interaction with the Indian host population. The most notable of these outside the Tibetan settlements is widespread itinerant trading in the Indian marketplace. Descriptions of Tibetan refugees' evaluations of Indians sheds light on issues of morality and identity: negative moral evaluations are often constructive of Tibetan identity through ascription of difference. They are also shown to be instrumental in dealing with contradictions in the lives of Tibetan refugees, which are largely shaped by Tibetan cultural preservation, but to some extent influenced by the pop-cultural sensibilities of their Indian host nation. Furthermore, the ethnography of the Tibetan emotional notions of harmony and shame establishes them as effective in moral development, through the construction of moral emotions, and also as instrumental in the construction of relationships within the family and the wider community.
Zhang, Dr. Hong, Colby College, Waterville, ME - To aid research and writing on 'In the Shadow of Patriarchy: Gender, Marriage, and Social Transformation in Central China' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. HONG ZHANG, of Colby College, Waterville, Maine, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in May 2002 to aid research and writing on 'In the Shadow of Patriarchy: Gender, Marriage, and Social Transformation in Central China.' Research and writing focused on a central China village from 1900 to 2001. Patriarchal and patrilineal principles have long been regarded as the quintessential features of what it means to be Han Chinese and the key to Chinese political authority and control. This view has led scholars to treat Chinese society as essentially and predominantly focused on male authority and privilege in the areas of social organization, family life, inheritance, residence, and gender relations. The current research revisits these assumptions of patriarchal dominance, examining the contestation and manipulation of that dominance in everyday social practice. It does so by looking closely at an issue of ostensibly minor importance - uxorilocal marriage, in which a man reverses the normative marriage pattern by marrying into his wife's family. Through reconstructing the collective history of marriage practices through the memories and life experience of the villagers who made this history from 1900 to 2001, this study documents the viability of uxorilocal marriages despite the hegemonic ideals of the Chinese patriarchal and patrilineal system, and demonstrates how rural family structures and marriage strategies have adapted to the rapidly changing social, demographic, economic, and political contexts of twentieth-century China.
Hanna, Bridget Corbett, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Illness in North India: Medicine, Risk, and Experience,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman
BRIDGET C. HANNA, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Illness in North India: Medicine, Risk, and Experience,' supervised by Dr. Arthur Kleinman. The grantee conducted research in north India looking at the effect of controversies over toxic chemical exposure on health experience and health care. The project was based in New Delhi and Bhopal, India, and focused on discourses of health and healing that have followed in the wake of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster. The grantee looked at the experiential, legal, and epidemiological history of attempts to concretize and make sense of the long-term effects of the exposure of half the city to methyl-isocyanate. With archival research, and through extended conversations with patients, doctors, researchers, bureaucrats, and activists, the grantee mapped usage of health care by survivors, and tried to understand the dynamics that structured the provision of health care to the affected group. The project asked: How is environmental illness causality survivor, the healer, and the state? What effect do these perceptions have on the lived experience of the individual, the family, and the city? What are the roles of state and non-state actors in articulating medical frameworks in Bhopal? And what are the implications of the culture of medical anxiety and obfuscation that has characterized the aftermath?
Sherpa, Dr. Pasang Yangjee, Penn State U., State College, PA - To aid engaged activies on 'Engagement in Cultivating Mutually Beneficial Collaborations to Understand Climate Change Impacts Between Academic Scholars & Sherpas of Everest Region, Nepal'
Preliminary abstract: My Wenner-Gren funded doctoral research showed that among the host community in Pharak, gateway to Mt. Everest, the institutionally introduced phrase 'Climate Change' refers to extreme events, which are perceived as caused by human actions as well as diminishing religious faith and spiritual pollution in the region. This research revealed that the narrow institutional focus of climate change discussions on extreme events have excluded exploration of other short term and long term climate change effects thereby limiting our understanding of how the host community is affected by climate change. Therefore, this engagement project aims to: 1) facilitate discussions among the host community and academic scholars on the need for a broader understanding of the effects of climate change on local people, and 2) provide a platform to cultivate mutually beneficial collaborations between the host community and academic scholars, whereby they can interact as equal partners in integrating indigenous and scientific knowledge to gain a better understanding of climate change impacts. This project will carry out two seminars in Kathmandu with academic scholars and the host community and three workshops in the Everest area. Techniques for systematic participatory monitoring of environmental changes will be introduced to the host community during workshops to assist in future transdisciplinary sharing of climate change knowledge.
Chaturvedi, Ruchi, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Criminal Enmities: State, Party Workers and the Law in South India,' supervised by Dr. E. Valentine Daniel
RUCHI CHATURVEDI, while a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on 'Criminal Enmities: State, Party Workers and the Law in South India,' supervised by Dr. E. Valentine Daniel. Research centered around political party workers of the Marxist left and the Hindu right in Northern Kerala who have used relentless violence against each other for over three decades. Field research for the dissertation project proceeded from the following questions: What are the details of the party workers' social histories and biographies? What roles and performances mark their careers and what is their relevance for the functioning of the democratic state? What are the contexts and modes in which workers oft11ese parties usurp the state's defining feature: its monopoly over the use of physical force? Party workers form communities tied together by bonds of friendship and kinship, and religious and other ideologies. Those not perceived as 'friends' and 'brothers' are classified as enemies. Political practice gets directed towards elimination of this enemy, and violence ensues. This is a logic that also finds place within democracies but poses grave challenges to the ideals of rightful democratic practice. In KeraIa, as in other parts of India and the world, the State paradoxically becomes both the site of the political contest as well as the agent of violence against enemies of one or another group, thereby creating its own enemy. Research was thus directed at examining how the State-judiciary enacts its authority only by transfiguring the State subject into the State enemy through violence. Party workers are caught in this whirl of varied antagonistic claims to authority and violence. The question of necessity of this violence in the practice and preservation of democracy is the central ethical problem that is posed and engaged with in the dissertation.