LaRocque, Olivier, McGill U., Montreal, QC, Canada - To aid research on 'Ranching and Conservation Covenants in the Foothills Rangelands of Alberta Canada,' supervised by Dr. John G. Galaty
OLIVER LaROCQUE, then a student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Ranching and Conservation Covenants in the Foothills Rangelands of Alberta, Canada,' supervised by Dr. John G. Galaty. 'Conservation' certainly has a busy agenda in the southwest corner of Alberta, famous for its spectacular landscapes and wildlife. The ambitions of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) merged with intense imbroglios waged on behalf of 'nature' that often have little to do with its welfare but that of the multifarious advocates of its various uses and vocations. Through ambitious ranchland purchases, NCC became the region's largest local landlord in a short time -- lucky in timing but culturally insensitive in practice, naïve in discourse, and blundering in methods. Yet it has scored a major upset against the current trend of landscape fragmentation that serves exurban development. The NCC must now contend with the fallout of its improvised land-buying spree (which more expeditious than the negotiation of conservation easement), the legal complexities of which are propelling them towards Supreme Court. This calls for the NCC to get into the trenches of landscape production as equals with their ranching leaseholders, lest they alienate entire communities. Of fundamental research importance (because the conduct of conservation hinges on it) was the project's aim of documenting the choreography of conceptual entrenchments that occur amongst scientists -- who are cast as gatekeepers of valid ecological knowledge -- in contrast with those practitioners who make landscapes happen. Collectively, researchers waver between commitments to taxonomic purity and equilibrial ideals of nature, and the acknowledgement that nature is forever in flux, which discombobulates their world of references propped up with solid baselines and clear benchmarks.
Duarte, Columba Gonzalez, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'The Monarch Butterfly Assemblage: A Transnational Study of Environmental Knowledge, Politics and Conservation Networks,' supervised by Dr. Hilary Cunningham
Preliminary abstract: In the last two decades Canada, Mexico and United States have jointed efforts to protect the monarch butterfly and this migration route from southern Canada and northern United States to the central mountains of Mexico. The result is the recent creation of a trilateral conservation space formed by a network of protected areas, animals, humans and institutions across the three countries that has affected near 1 million people in the Mexican habitat and prompted a citizen-science group without precedents in the other two countries. Biodiversity conservation projects have been approached by different angles in social disciplines, yet the tendency is to carryout local or regional studies that are primary conducted in one single location, different from this, my research proposes to capture the connectivity of transnational conservation projects by following a flow of knowledge that travels across the monarch migration route. By attending the production, circulation and application of knowledge about the monarch, this research address the knowledge politics attached to monarch conservation and the form in which this is shaped and shapes the alliances between humans and non-humans. To carry on this study I propose that the appropriate theoretical framework is a merging between Political Ecology and Science and Technology Studies, while methodologically is a multi-sited research across Canada, Mexico and United States. The combination of this theoretical framework with a multi-sited ethnography will allow me to explore the associations between the citizen-science practices that occur in Canada and United States with the new environmental practices and problems that take place in the protected Mexican habitat.
Solomon, Marisa Elizabeth, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Letting Trash Talk: Garbage in the Order of People,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin
Preliminary abstract: New York City produces trash at an astounding rate of 36,200 tons per day. Forty percent of it is diverted to mega-landfills in the southeastern quadrant of Virginia, making this region one of the nation's largest importers of trash, with over 5 million tons of solid waste received annually. While trash permeates all neighborhoods, it seems to signify something endemic about certain places and people. At the same time, trash moves; gathering a set of material, economic, political, and affective relations, the relations that this ethnographic work seeks to explore. This project makes garbage a central informant in an ethnography of inequality, space and a hierarchical ordering of people and things. From the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically black and immigrant Brooklyn community now in the midst of rapid gentrification, to the distant landfills of southeast Virginia, this project tracks garbage as a symbolic and material agent that moves through states of 'use' and 'disuse', 'problem' and 'profit' and investigates how it exists in both locations as a nuisance to be cleaned and as a generative force shaping spatial transformation and logics of race and class.
Malone, Molly Sue, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada - To aid research on 'Living on the Skagit River: Native American Historical Consciousness and Relationships with the Aquatic Environment,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Granville Miller
MOLLY SUE MALONE, then a student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Living on the Skagit River: Native American Historical Consciousness and Relationships with the Aquatic Environment,' supervised by Dr. Bruce Granville Miller. This research examines Upper Skagit Indian Tribe members' historical consciousness of their families' settlement patterns and fishing practices in the Skagit River watershed over the past two hundred years, and ,asks what this consciousness reveals about how contemporary Native American relationships to land and water are shaped by colonial processes of land alienation and subsequent struggles for tribal recognition and access to aboriginal territory. Data was collected over a twelve-month period using three overlapping methods of inquiry: the collection of oral narratives with contemporary Upper Skagit people, participant observation within the Upper Skagit community, and archival work with documents pertaining to the post-contact history of the Skagit River valley as well as field notes and oral narrative transcriptions collected by earlier anthropologists working among the Upper Skagit throughout the 20th century. The data is compiled into family settlement narratives and an overall tribal narrative for the purpose of evaluating the various levels of historical consciousness pertaining to colonial impacts on the watershed .
Ganapathy, Sandhya, Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'The Intersections Between Indigenous Rights and Environmental Movements,' supervised by Dr. Judith Goode
SANDHYA GANAPATHY, then a student at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received funding in December 2004 to aid research on 'The Intersections Between Indigenous Rights and Environmental Movements,' supervised by Dr. Judith Goode. This research examines the environmental mobilizations to prevent oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the ways in which the Native Alaskan community of Vahsraii' Koo is positioned within these mobilizations. Fieldwork was conducted in Vashraii' Koo, Alaska and with environmental NGOs operating in Fairbanks, AK and Washington, DC, and consisted of ethnographic interviews and participant observation, archival research on federal and state Native policies and environmental policies and media analysis on the representations of this environmental controversy and Native opposition to development. The research describes the ways in which people in Vashraii' Koo articulate and frame environmental concerns and their experiences of this broader environmental mobilization. The research also describes the work of environmental NGOs active in these mobilizations and shows how political contexts and constituencies influence the ways they operate and how they attempt to incorporate Native perspectives within their work. This research suggests that there is a disconnect between the interests of the NGOs and the Native communities represented as their allies; specifically, the singular emphasis on narrowly defined environmental goals marginalizes Native voices and diverts attention from other pressing political, economic and cultural concerns in Vashraii' Koo.
Ganapathy Sandhya. 2013. Imagining Alaska: Local and Translocal Engagements with Place. American Anthropologist 115(1):96-111
Weiner, Talia Rose, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Home of the Blues: The Political Economy of Mood Disorder Self-management in 21st Century Chicago,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Cole
Preliminary abstract: In the face of a depression epidemic in the U.S., 'self-management'--a therapeutic protocol originally developed to help patients control their own physiological diseases--is gaining popularity as a cost-effective treatment for mood disorders. Many laud this approach, claiming it 'empowers' patients to objectify and independently control their conditions. But if this ideal of rational self-management is perhaps attainable for physiological diseases like arthritis or diabetes, it appears particularly unrealizable in the case of mood disorders, where the patient's rationality is always in question (Martin, 2009) and the disease to be managed coincides with the self. During pilot research, I observed that attempting to self-manage a mood disorder as an autonomous individual produced distress and uncertainty rather than empowerment. In their efforts to practice self-management, my informants demonstrated individual agency and self-control to be partial at best. Moreover, those who were able to successfully 'self-manage' did so by relying heavily on outside supports, whose accessibility varied according to the group member's resources. These findings suggest that while expert discourses portray mood disorder self-management as a technology that any patient can learn and practice on her own, to be effective the protocol in fact must implicate actors and institutions beyond the diagnosed individual. If so, then self-management is likely to be differently instantiated, with divergent consequences, depending on the resources available in the socioeconomic context in which it is utilized. My research investigates this proposition by comparing how mood disorder self-management is envisioned, practiced, and experienced across a socioeconomically diverse range of settings in Chicago.
Grinberg, Yuliya, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Data Mines: The Quantified Self and the Cultural Work of Data in the Digital Age,' supervised by Dr. Marilyn Ivy
Preliminary abstract: It has become commonplace to invoke the contemporary excesses of digital data. Popular media takes particular pleasure in regularly announcing the '2.8 zettabytes,' the '1 sextillion bytes' the '24 quintillion tweets' or the 'hundreds or thousands of petabyte-scale databases' being generated today (Pearlstein 2013). These staggering figures and exotic descriptors call attention to the way advances in digital technology have opened the gates to a fantastic excess, an incessant digital copying and preservation of minutest signs and gestures that seem to be secreted manically and automatically, leaving behind a techno-social human refuse figured as human resource. While the contemporary ubiquity of digital data has become the most routine reality, this project addresses how digital technologies of capture have become an important social and political technology, and a central means of making sense of the everyday. To examine this, the project is grounded in ethnographic research with a burgeoning community, the Quantified Self, which typifies as it extends the current trajectories and excesses of data collection, processing, and application.
Albanese, Jeffrey Scipione Black, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Social Alterity and Regulation in Legally-Recognized Homeless Tent Cities,' supervised by Dr. Damani Partridge
Preliminary abstract: Over the past decade, politically-organized homeless encampments, often called 'tent cities,' have emerged in cities across the US and have sometimes achieved legal-recognition. This is somewhat surprising as scholars and homeless advocates working in diverse local and national contexts have, over the same period of time, identified widespread patterns of urban administrative and (re)development practices that have, in effect, 'criminalized' homelessness. My project asks how such marginalized groups have managed to appropriate urban space and, at times, achieve formal recognition. Working with a legally-recognized encampment in a Pacific Northwest city, I consider recognition's regulatory effects on the social, economic, and moral alternatives that animate residents and activists involved with homeless tent cities. Anthropologists studying a variety of rights- and identity-based claims have argued that contemporary forms of recognition tend to suppress difference by producing and regulating subjects through forms of social protection that delimit possible actions and ways of being. My project asks whether similar dynamics are at work when incorporation proceeds through such legal technologies as zoning ordinances and building codes. The tent city I am working with was incorporated largely as a component of the built environment, rather than a liberal right protecting specific social practices. My research considers how the exigencies of such a form of recognition affects a tent city's social organization and everyday life and whether urban and municipal laws can facilitate, foster, or limit such alternative social projects.
Ozden, Canay, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Engineering Economics: An Ethnography of the Electricity Markets in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Michael M.J. Fischer
Preliminary abstract: This project will ethnographically track the travel of economic theories into the making of markets in electricity in the United States. I hypothesize that as economists, engineers, and electricity traders seek to craft an efficient market structure that embodies the ideals of neoclassical economics, electricity becomes a vehicle not only for power, but also for economic theories. Moving beyond cultural and social studies of finance that show that economic theories are not just descriptive, but also prescriptive (that the market is 'an engine, not a camera,' in the words of Donald MacKenzie), I plan to investigate how economic theory is vernacularized in domains both adjacent to and distant from the cloistered worlds of financial offices and practice that have been the inaugural sites of study for the new anthropology of money, economics, and finance. By looking at the fashioning of an electricity infrastructure in which 'supply' and 'demand' have to be built in rather than analyzed after the fact, I plan to explore how assumptions from neoclassical economics might be embedded into material frameworks that organize the flow of 'power' -- physical, political, and economic. Centering my research among the power systems engineers as well as among traders working in the deregulated regional markets of the United States, I will investigate the reengineering of a technological infrastructure to concretize a marketplace. This research will contribute to the anthropology of markets by documenting the infrastructural underpinnings of markets that enable not just the movement of commodities, but also the circulation of the very economic theories that animate that market.
Hill, Dr. Sarah, Western Michigan U., Kalamazoo, MI - To aid research and writing on 'Matter In and Out of Place at the U.S.- Mexico Border' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. SARAH HILL, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, received a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in May 2004 to aid research and writing on 'Matter In and Out of Place at the U.S.-Mexico Border.' This fellowship aided publication of research that explores the relationship between wastes and resources, production and disposal, and pollution and social boundaries. These publications show how immigrants get blamed for border pollution, how an early 20th century U.S.-Mexico boundary dispute characterized border garbage disposal, and why Michigan thinks Toronto's trash is dirtier than its own. During the tenure of the fellowship (June 2004-May 2005), the grantee made significant progress on several publications that explore empirically and theoretically the relations between waste and resources, production and destruction, and pollution and boundaries.The ethnohistorical context of this project draws from long-term research at the U.S.-Mexico border (since 1992). In addition, the grantee's more recent residence (since 2002) near the U.S.-Canadian border (in Kalamazoo, Michigan), has expanded comparative analysis in this venture, thanks to an on-going dispute at this international boundary over the importation of Canadian municipal solid waste to a Detroit-area landfill.
Hill, Sarah. 2005. The Chamizal Tipping Point? El Paso?s Garbage in 1910. Passwords, the Quarterly Journal of the El Paso County Historical Society 50(3):142-149.
Hill, Sarah. 2005. The Trouble with Toronto?s Trash. Rhizone, Newsletter of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada 15(1):12-13.
Hill, Sarah. 2006. Purity and Danger on the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1990-1994. South Atlantic Quarterly 105(4):777-800.