Hale, Dr. Charles, U. of Texas, Austin, TX; and Velasquez Nimatuj, Dr. Irma, Independent scholar, Guatemala - To aid collaborative research on "When Rights Ring Hollow: Racism and Anti-racist Horizons in the Americas"
Preliminary abstract: This proposal supports two research teams (in Guatemala and Brazil) that form part of a six-country study of indigenous and afro-descendant peoples, as they confront challenges rooted in ongoing social inequality, racial discrimination and limits to participation in their respective national political systems. The research emerges from three year's work with organizations in all six countries, which belong to a hemispheric network of "observatories on racism." Periodic meetings of this network yielded a central empirical observation: throughout the region,
Lee, Courtney Anne, U. of Colorado, Denver, CO - To aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester
COURTNEY ANNE LEE, then a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, was awarded a grant in April 2009, to aid research on 'The Impact of Medical Tourism on Health Care in Costa Rica,' supervised by Dr. Stephen Koester. Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork, this research explores the development of Costa Rica as a medical tourist destination for Americans seeking low cost, high quality medical care. This dissertation project seeks to understand the social, political, economic, and moral implications that the growth of medical tourism -- as a manifestation of larger neoliberal changes in Latin America -- has for the existing socialized health care system in Costa Rica, and the ways in which medical tourism affects how Costa Ricans think about health care delivery and state responsibility for health care. The global medical tourism industry represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about health care provision, and yet its impacts on local health care access remain virtually unexamined. This research addresses the ideological tensions and contradictions that surround medical tourism as the lines between conceptions of health care as local and global, socialist and capitalist, public and private blur to accommodate this emerging industry. This study is one of the first to take seriously local perceptions, understandings, and engagements with medical tourism. Grounded in the experiences of Costa Rican health care providers, educators, policy makers and locals, this paper tells the story of a system in flux.
Moran-Thomas, Dr. Amy, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid engaged activities on 'Experiences and Etiologies of Metabolic Disorders: Discussing Findings with Local Experts and Communities in Belize,' 2014, Belize
Preliminary abstract: Diabetes has become the leading cause of death in Belize, making its realities emblematic of an emerging epidemic in the world today. Most people with diabetes now live in postcolonial countries, but there is still a dearth of knowledge about what it is actually like to survive with the condition in the 'global south.' To help address this gap, my dissertation research in 2009-2010 provided an ethnography of diabetes in Belize--its causes and unevenly accessible treatments, its communities and contradictions, and what it means to live with a human condition often imagined as a disease of excess in a context marked by relative scarcity and insecurity. This Engaged Anthropology grant allows me to return to Belize to share and discuss these cumulative findings with local experts and communities who contributed to the project (including patient groups, government doctors and officials, various caregivers, national intellectuals, and individuals and families who shared their stories with me). The primary focus of this trip will be creating a workshop and various forums to make my research findings publically accessible, to document people's feedback, and to explore potential collaborations for making our collective reflections useful to those living with chronic conditions in real time.
Rozental, Sandra C., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Mobilizing the Monolith: Property, Collectivity, and Vernacular Archaeology in Contemporary Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Thomas A. Abercrombie
SANDRA ROZENTAL, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Mobilizing the Monolith: Property, Collectivity, and Vernacular Archaeology in Contemporary Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Thomas A. Abercrombie. This research examined how archaeology -- a science that has been key in formulating state ideology and national heritage in Mexico -- is being mobilized by community projects to claim inalienability over land and community property over scarce natural resources in the context of rampant urbanization and social change. Ethnographic research was conducted in Coatlinchan, a town characterized by the extraction of a colossal pre-Hispanic stone monolith that was taken by the state to Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology in 1964. Findings draw on eight months of participant observation among: groups working with cultural heritage in Coatlinchan, the absent monolith and its many replicas; local authorities in charge of managing community property; and other social actors engaged in activities around the town's history and heritage. A second phase of research was conducted during six months of work in the national and state archives locating documents, maps, and photographs illustrating the history of Coatlinchan's buildings and territories, and oral-history interviews with participants in the monolith's extraction and in the study of Coatlinchan as an archaeological site. This study argues that national heritage (as a property category) and State appropriation of the preconquest indigenous past and its material culture (as the nation's past and property) are being re-signified by local communities who are mobilizing this past and the tangible ruins located in their territories to claim indigenous ancestry and collective ownership over land and resources at the same time Mexico's neoliberal policies work to dismantle the inalienability of ejidos (communal property) and communal forms of government and identity that had characterized Mexico's post-revolutionary recent past. This project contributes to studies on property, heritage (as both a system of ancestry and inheritance), and the uses of science and scientific knowledge by social actors in contemporary claims.
Allen, Karen Elizabeth, U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Sustainable Development in Costa Rica: Understanding Values, Land Use Decisions, and Market-based Mechanisms for Conservation,' supervised by Dr. Ted Gragson
Preliminary abstract: The goal of this study is to understand the diversity of values that influence private land-use decisions, and the implications of these decisions for the immediate social-ecological system. This research will take place in the Bellbird Biological Corridor in Costa Rica, a planning region designed to encourage sustainable development across a mixed-use landscape. This research will focus on how market-based mechanisms for conservation engage with landowner values, and how they operate across a diverse landscape. This research is grounded in work from anthropology that challenges the economic understanding of values that drive much of conservation. The research design integrates ethnographic data from semi-structured interviews, participant observation, unstructured interviews, and focus groups with ecological data to arrive at a holistic understanding of the relationship between landowner values, land-use decisions, and the landscape. Geographically weighted regression will be used to examine the relationship between land use decisions and biophysical and socioeconomic factors, and relate this information to sustainable development goals. Through examining variation in experiences of sustainable development in the wake of recent policy changes in Costa Rica involving market liberalization, this research will provide a case study on the various local responses to national and international policy trends.
Gonzalez Jimenez, Alejandra, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Volkswagen de Mexico: The Car as a National Fetish,' supervised by Dr. Valentina Napolitano
ALEJANDRA GONZALEZ, then a student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Volkswagen de Mexico: The Car as a National Fetish,' supervised by Dr. Valentina Napolitano. This dissertation ethnographically examines the socio-cultural reproduction of transnational corporations through the lens of Volkswagen de Mexico. As such, this project traces the different social worlds that are connected to the German car industry through the production and consumption of cars. Since its arrival in Puebla, Mexico, in 1967, Volkswagen de Mexico has been regarded as a key engine of the nation's progress, and for at least three generations, working for this auto-industry has signaled upward mobility and social capital. Historically, car production and driving a car have been considered central elements in the making of modern Mexico. The project draws on sixteen months of fieldwork (2010-12) that consisted of participant observation with Volkswagen workers and employees, engineering students sponsored by Volkswagen de Mexico, as well as Volkswagen car clubs and collectors. Through these worlds, the project elucidates the meanings and tensions, as well as contrasting articulations and visions that are embedded in Volkswagen de Mexico. Broadly, this project seeks to understand the power of transnational corporations to reproduce themselves through state violence and coercion and simultaneously through situated subject formation.
Leon, Andres, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Agrarian Conflict and the 2009 Honduras Coup d'état: Global Land Grabbing, Dispossession and Peasant Resistance in the Bajo Aguán,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman
ANDRES LEON, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'Agrarian Conflict and the 2009 Honduras Coup d'état: Global Land Grabbing, Dispossession and Peasant Resistance in the Bajo Aguán,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman. The grantee investigated the relation between the current agrarian conflicts in the Aguan Valley in northern Honduras, and the 2009 coup d'etat that ousted democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. Research included extensive fieldwork in various peasant communities located in the valley and employing extended participant observation and oral history recuperation to document and reconstruct the history of the valley and the set of peasant cooperatives that were created during the 1970s. Based on fieldwork, interviews, archival and other documentary data, research investigated the process by which organized groups of peasants were brought to the deemed 'empty' Aguan Valley during the 1970s to form a set of cooperatives dedicated mainly to the production of African Palm. Based on this combination of ethnographic and historical research, the study argues that this case complicates the argument presented by most of the current literature on the global land grab that presents the African Palm boom as something relatively new, and as creating a conflict between palm-producing large landowners and subsistence-oriented poor peasants. In the Aguan Valley, the expansion of African Palm began in the 1970s and this expansion has been as much the result of increasing transnational investment through large landowners, as that of peasant cooperatives investing their meager resources into the production of the crop.
Moran-Thomas, Amy Lynn, Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid 'An Anthropological Study of the Experience of Parasitic Infection and Diabetes in Belize,' supervised by Dr. Joao Guilherme Biehl
AMY LYNN MORAN-THOMAS, then a student at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, was awarded funding in April 2009, to aid 'An Anthropological Study of the Experience of Parasitic Infection and Diabetes in Belize,' supervised by Dr. Joao Guilherme Biehl. Diabetes is the leading cause of all deaths in Belize-so why does the international health aid circulating in this Central American country instead emphasize infectious disease interventions? This dissertation explores the difficult paradox of living with a popularly imagined 'disease of affluence' in contexts of poverty and transition, where care for chronic illnesses remains in sight, but often moves in and out of reach. Rather than providing the sole possibility of growth and health, new patterns of consumption (including both foods and medicines) that spread from the developed world are deeply implicated in the tangled webs of poverty and disease. Through intimate everyday choices, Belizeans are left to negotiate their own care as they tack between fractional drug regimes and older rituals of healing--each embedded with its own moral codes and implicit values. Based on a year of fieldwork in Belize, this project examines the way policy narratives and medical technologies are being translated into the local tissue of common sense. It ultimately charts the unexpected ways that emerging symptoms of diabetes are being treated, as well as what it means for diabetes itself to be a key symptom of radical social changes in an unevenly globalized world.