Pocs, Dr. Eva, U. of Pecs, Pecs, Hungary - To aid workshop on 'Spirit Possession. European Contributions to Comparative Studies,' 2012, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Pecs, in collaboration with Dr.Andras Zempleni
Preliminary abstract: European conceptions and rituals of spirit possession described by historians and ethnographers of Western and Eastern Europe have never been compared systematically with those observed by anthropologists elsewhere in the world. This workshop intends to trigger an exchange of ideas between qualified representatives of these oddly separated research communities in order to reformulate some basic questions recently raised in comparative anthropology of possession. Anthropological studies are still rooted in European notions of body-soul dualism, concepts of self and personhood, and they convey a whole set of presuppositions inherited from Christian models of ?good' and ?bad' possession. This legacy and these lasting presuppositions will be reviewed in a debate with historians of Europe going back to their origins. We expect a significant contribution of the workshop to ongoing anthropological attempts to redefine the very notion of possession to be freed from the western notion of the self and more clearly delineated from related idioms such as witchcraft, devotion, mysticism etc. European studies which have long been faced at a diachronic level with the thorny issue of delineation may both contribute to and benefit from ongoing anthropological studies focused on interactive transformations of official and popular concepts of possession competing in the contemporary transnationalized religious spaces of the Americas. New field data to be presented on the contents of messages issued by North-Indian and Malagasy mediums in a state of trance may incite both camps to revise former ideas on the nature of 'communication' triggered by trance. A pioneering anthropological approach, experimentally extended to European models, will address African possession rites as a form of indigenous historiography. This perspective promises to become another meaningful meeting point between Europeanists, Africanists, Americanists and Indianists.
Grant, Dr. Bruce M., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Cosmos and Cosmopolitanism in the Azeri Caucasus'
DR. BRUCE M. GRANT, New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Cosmos and Cosmopolitanism in the Azeri Caucasus.' Despite centuries of participation in Silk Road trade and evidence of intense linguistic, religious, and cultural pluralisms, the mountainous Caucasus region has long been thought of as a 'closed society,' unwelcoming to outsiders. Through a project on the life of a small but regionally famous village in rural northwest Azerbaijan over the course of the twentieth century, the grantee combined extended field and archival research to consider the manifold but rarely documented ways that the Caucasus region has deeply embedded in economic, political, religious, and social networks across Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and beyond. The research found fresh accounts of Sufi-style networks across Azerbaijan, and worked with a number of local religious leaders who considered that the hard-won religious traditions preserved in the late Soviet period compare in some respects more favorably, paradoxically, to those practiced today in a time of expanded religious tolerance. With this ethnographic approach to cultural history, the goal of this research was to better understand the Soviet project itself, as well as the logics of sovereignty in a world area too long known only for its violence.
Rubin, Jonah S., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Re-membering the Spanish Civil War: Thanatopolitics and the Making of Modern Citizens in Spain,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff
JONAH S. RUBIN, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Re-Membering the Spanish Civil War: Thanatopolitics and the Making of Modern Citizens in Spain,' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff. This research project consisted of a multi-sited ethnographic study of the Spanish historical memory movements, a loose conglomeration of NGOs, academics, and individuals dedicated to locating, exhuming, and honoring Republican and civilian victims of the Spanish Civil War. It sought to answer: What is meant by the term 'historical memory' as it is deployed on the ground? How do the memory movements go about the work of re-membering and honoring the dead? What is the place of the dead in the formation of a liberal-democratic polity? Answering these questions required research at diverse sites where the work of re-membering the dead takes place. These included exhumations and reburials of victims, weekly protests demanding government action on behalf of the disappeared, NGO offices dedicated to investigating the fate of the deceased, formal and inform education programs, state archives, and a wide variety of ceremonies, public lectures, and conferences organized by the movements. Ultimately, this research seeks to empirically demonstrate that, even in the context of regime change, the crimes of past regimes continue to effect the nation in complex, but discernable ways. While remembering the dead is certainly not a straightforward matter of reconstructing the past, it is through this work that ideals of citizenship and democracy are worked out.
Horner Brackett, Rachel Anne, U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - To aid research on ''Eat it to Save it': Risk and the Slow Food Movement,' supervised by Dr. Erica Stephanie Prussing
RACHEL A. HORNER BRACKETT, then a student at University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on ''Eat It to Save It:' Risk and the Slow Food Movement,' supervised by Dr. Erica Prussing. The Slow Food Movement outlines the risks of 'fast' food and living, targeting issues such as sustainability, loss of culinary traditions, unethical rural development, and vanishing biodiversity. How are the discourses of risks described by this movement translated by and through a milieu of diverse local histories and locally defined values surrounding food? To answer this question, research was conducted with Slow Food groups in Tuscany and Iowa from September 2008 to September 2009. This research was comprised of two related but distinct efforts: 1) a critical discourse analysis of Slow Food's stated missions, through evaluations of the media, public relations efforts, publications, and Slow Food events; and 2) the ethnographic study of local efforts to address food risks by Slow Food chapters and related organizations. Risk to place and tradition is emphasized in Italy, where breeds like the Cinta Senese pig are highlighted by Slow Food because they are symbolic of disappearing cultural landscapes and cultural knowledge. In the U.S., where the bureaucratization of a corporate food chain is seen as a major threat, Slow Food groups engage in overtly political contexts. Actors in both countries hold values that promote local activism aiming to redress 'external' threats.
Kilshaw, Dr. Susie, U. College London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research and writing on 'Friendly Fire: An Anthropological Account of Gulf War Syndrome' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
DR. SUSIE KILSHAW, University College London, London, United Kingdom, received a Hunt Fellowship in October 2007 to aid research and writing about the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) community in the UK. She prepared a book that conveyed a new complexity to understanding this and other emerging illnesses. Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Masculinity and Vulnerability (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009) examines GWS as an illness of its time, revealing its similarity to other contested illnesses and they way it is shaped by wider cultural anxieties. However, the work also shows the illness to be an expression of distress that is unique to a particular group of people. By looking at the narratives that surround GWS, insight is gained into the social and cultural dimensions of the illness and in what ways this has influenced sufferers' understandings. GWS symptom reporting can be interpreted as a vehicle to draw attention to and a means to communicate concerns of the people it affects; issues such as trust, life within a dramatically changing military, gender roles, and toxicity. Revealing how an anthropological approach is necessary to better understanding the condition, the book challenges biomedicine's interpretation of GWS as a psychiatric and somatizing condition. Biomedicine has a rigid, limited view of illness and suffering that is unhelpful and obscures our understanding of illnesses such as GWS. Modernity and increasing individualism as well as the anxieties of (post)modernity are topics of great interest to anthropology and this book contributes to this ongoing discourse.
Kilshaw, Susie. 2009. Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Vulnerability and Masculinity.
Berghahn Press: New York, Oxford.
Kilshaw, Susie. 2009. Obligations to Veteran Informants: Contentious Research and Stakeholder Engagement. Anthropology News 50 (5):28-29.
Allison, Jill D., Memorial U., St. John's, Canada - To aid research on '(In) Fertile Ground: Contradictory Conceptions in Assisted Reproduction in Ireland,' supervised by Dr. Robin G. Whitaker
JILL D. ALLISON, then a student at Memorial University, St. John's, Canada, was awarded a grant in January 2005 to aid research on '(In) Fertile Ground: Contradictory Conceptions in Assisted Reproduction in Ireland,' supervised by Dr. Robin G. Whitaker. This research examined the social challenges and paradoxes that surround infertility and its treatment in relation to rapid and recent social and economic change in the Republic of Ireland. Recent changes include economic growth, new economic and political links with the European Union, and declining public confidence in social power of the Roman Catholic Church within Ireland. Less overt factors in the infertility experience emerge from debates around the traditional definition of family and its significance to Irish political identity, the long-standing issue of abortion politics, and the meaning of the constitutionally protected 'right to life of the unborn' in relation to increasingly available assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in Ireland. Based on in-depth interviews with people who have experienced difficulty conceiving, the researcher explored the way they contend with moral and ethical challenges posed by technological innovations in infertility treatment, how they make decisions between medical or social options that may or may not be available, and the impact of infertility itself in a climate of changing social values. In spite of continuing emphasis on the traditional family as the site of social, moral, and political stability in Ireland, the research suggests that women dealing with infertility are challenging the institutionally and discursively constituted meanings of motherhood, conception, and fertility that have been the cornerstones of their subjective identities.
Timura, Christopher T., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Negotiating Expertise: The Globalizing Cultures of British and American Peace Negotiators,' supervised by Dr. Conrad P. Kottak
CHRISTOPHER T. TIMURA, while a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding to aid research on the globalizing cultures of British and American peace negotiators, under the supervision of Dr. Conrad P. Kottak. Timura conducted eleven months of fieldwork with a representative sample of university and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the globalizing field of conflict resolution. He obtained more than 140 interviews with students, trainers, and practitioners, collected oral histories from key informants, and acted as a participant observer in seminars and training workshops. In addition, he used information about practitioners' professional networks and their referrals to arrange interviews with key individuals involved in the conflict management activities of the U.S. and British governments. The data showed that conflict management theories could be traced back to a small but diverse group of North American and European founding figures who used their institutional affiliations to promulgate their understanding of how violent conflict could be prevented, managed, and resolved. Despite considerable demographic diversity in the field today, a common set of concepts and value orientations enabled this transnational group to coalesce around a conflict resolution epistemology and practice. Conflict resolution specialists have used their roles in government, NGOs, and academe to advocate for changes in the ways governments manage and resolve violent conflict, while arguing for the existence of their own specific form of expertise. 'Local' cultural, socioeconomic, religious, and political factors have played varying roles in the globalization of this expertise beyond North America and Europe, offering opportunities for considering how anthropology might constructively analyze and otherwise engage with this and similar phenomena having significant effects on international governance.
Lofink, Hayley Elizabeth, U. of Oxford, Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity in British Bangladeshi Adolescents, in East London,' supervised by Dr. Stanley J. Ulijaszek
HAYLEY ELIZABETH LOFINK, then a student at University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity in British Bangladeshi Adolescents in East London,' supervised by Dr. Stanley J. Ulijaszek. Research on the health behavior of low-income, ethnic minorities has assumed that the poor are uneducated, and that if delivered the necessary knowledge, behavior will change. If poor nutrition and low levels of activity are attributed solely to individual-level decision making, it is unlikely that broader social and structural influences will be acknowledged. This research employed a biocultural framework to examine socio-cultural and political-economic factors influencing dietary and activity patterns and resulting underweight, overweight and obesity among British Bangladeshi adolescents (aged 11-14 years old) from low-income families in East London. Quantitative (anthropometry and survey data) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews and participant observation) methods were integrated to develop a nuanced understanding of adolescent weight, dietary and activity patterns, and the local level and larger scale processes influencing those patterns. Quantitative analysis will include multinomial logistic regression and other techniques to test the relative importance of a range of factors affecting weight status. Narrative analysis will be used to explain statistical results in order to move beyond a mere documentation of a relationship between poverty and obesity, and offer explanations of how local and broader level factors influence health inequalities in this context.
Carroll, Jennifer Jean, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Choosing Methadone: Managing Addiction and the Body Politic in Post-Soviet Ukraine,' supervised by Dr. Laada Bilaniuk
Preliminary abstract: In recent years, interventions targeting the HIV and intravenous drug use epidemics in Ukraine have been supported by some of the largest international public health grants in the world. This has given leverage to European and North American biomedical approaches to drug use and addiction, which stand in stark contrast to Soviet-era approaches to addiction. Biomedical paradigms are gaining traction and forcing addicts and public health workers, alike, to change the way that they think about the connections between drug use, addiction, and mental health. Methadone therapy is hailed by Western biomedicine as an effective medical treatment for addiction, which is viewed as a maladaptive medical disorder. This research questions these definitions, and asks whether drug use and drug treatment can be seen as adaptive behaviors, and whether addicts seek methadone treatment for its purported medical benefits at all. Via ethnographic research in L'viv, Ukraine--a city that lies culturally and geographically in the space where Europe and the former Soviet Union meet--this project will explore how drug users incorporate these new public health infrastructures into their addiction and into their personal strategies for navigating new political economies in an increasingly neoliberal Ukraine.
Murphy, Dr. Liam D., California State U., Sacramento, CA - To aid research and writing on 'A City of Spirit: Religion and Social Change in Belfast, Northern Ireland' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. LIAM D. MURPHY, California State University Sacramento, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in June 2005 to aid research and writing on 'A City of Spirit: Religion and Social Change in Belfast, Northern Ireland.' Funding assisted writing of a book-length manuscript based on the grantee's doctoral and post-doctoral research among charismatic Christians in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The project examines relations among religiosity, ideas about the self, and socio-political transformations currently underway in Belfast. In particular, the project looks at changes to religiosity stimulated by 1998's Belfast Agreement and 2006's St. Andrew's Agreement - which have seemingly brought the region's low-level civil conflict (the 'Troubles') to an end. Whereas religion has helped to define community boundaries and ideas about self in relation to society since the sixteenth century, the character and purpose of religion in the 'new' Belfast is now subject to a different form of scrutiny and revision. The future status of religion as a marker of identity and selfhood is in doubt. Participants in an ecumenical, evangelically-driven charismatic 'renewal' devise occasions and language of religious devotion that hybridize embodied and ecstatic experience, ideas about civil society in Northern Ireland, Europe, and elsewhere, ritualized practices that embrace elements of Northern Ireland ritual tradition transformed to emphasize social unity, theories of historical change that minimize social difference.