Smith, Carolyn, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Weaving pikyav(to-fix-it): Karuk Basket Weaving Practice in-Relation to the Everyday World,' supervised by Dr. Rosemary Joyce
Preliminary abstract: This project requests funding to research archival resources and museum collections pertaining to the Karuk Tribe of California's basket weaving practices, as well as to conduct interviews with Karuk basket weavers, descendants of weavers, and employees of the Karuk Department of Natural Resources. Anthropology has long engaged with Native American craftworks and this project will build on prior work by considering the configurations of social identity produced through practice in everyday life. Data produced will address questions regarding historical and contemporary relations between people and land: how do Karuk basket makers constitute social identity through the making and circulation of baskets? In what ways do these practices support the formation of connection to place? How does recontextualization of museum collections through linking objects with archival resources help us understand how objects can constitute social identities? In order to examine the relations of basket weaving with the broader issues of traditional ecological knowledge and its relation to natural resource management; the circulation of objects within and outside source communities; and the implications of considering objects as agentive; this project explores Karuk epistemology and ontology. The research will significantly contribute to museum anthropology, theories of materiality, and engagements with indigenous methodologies.
Lewis, Elizabeth Martha, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'The Everyday Intimacy of Difference: A Biography of the Deafblind Spectrum,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen Stewart
Preliminary abstract: Deafblindness changed dramatically in recent decades, expanding its parameters to include individuals with a spectrum of both auditory and visual impairments, who often have additional disabilities. Through this process, many people who would previously have been labeled as 'multiple handicapped' acquired a new diagnosis: they became deafblind. My project examines the local contours of deafblindness in contemporary Texas as a case study of this shift to the deafblind spectrum. I pay particular attention to this complex diagnostic as it unfolds across three registers: everyday life on the border; statewide politics and activism; and cutting-edge biomedical technologies. The broadening of the spectrum has combined with on-the-ground advocacy efforts, as well as new educational, biomedical, and support services, enabling children to begin emerging from society's shadows in previously unimagined ways. I focus on deafblindness in family life and the everyday to illuminate how this diagnostic reconfiguration unfolds locally, and I will compose a biography of the deafblind spectrum itself within these contexts. My analysis will illuminate connections between bodies, affect, and disability, yielding insights into the entangled realities of deafblindness in my fieldsites and beyond. Furthermore, this biographical approach to deafblindness will open new methodological and conceptual avenues for theorizing disability.
Ficek Torres, Rosa Elena, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Migration and Integration Along the Pan American Highway in Panama's Darien Gap,' supervised by Dr. Anna Tsing
ROSA FICEK TORRES, then a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Migration and Integration along the Pan American Highway in Panama's Darien Gap,' supervised by Dr. Anna Tsing. The researcher's dissertation examines how a powerful road-building dream of physical connection created regions at national and hemispheric scales in Latin America. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in Darien province, Panama, where the Pan American Highway remains an on-going but unfinished project. The researcher mapped the changing social geography of Darien in relationship of the highway- how people, plants and animals move in, out, and through Darien, and how this has changed over time since the highway's construction. Oral community histories focused on the twentieth-century migrations of Afro-Darienita, indigenous Choco, and mestizo settler ethnicities. Participant-observation focused on current movements of people, cattle, logs, and agricultural products along the highway as well as everyday experiences of marginality in Darien. By tracing and historicizing mobility along the Pan American Highway, this research suggests that region-making does not happen through the unfettered movement of people and things. In Darien, these movements are controlled by state and foreign organizations. What matters is not that things move, but how they move. Data on mobility and on marginality in Darien, will enable the researcher to theorize how regions are made at the national (Panmanian) level and hemispheric (Latin American) level through the analysis of a single road-building project.
Valles, Dario, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Provedoras Unidas: Latina Migrant Family Child Care Providers Negotiating Poverty, Power & Organized Labor in Neoliberal Los Angeles,' supervised by Dr. Micaela di Leonardo
Preliminary abstract: The growth of a feminized global service sector, intersecting with the move from welfare to 'workfare' in the U.S., has engendered a 'child care crisis' where demand for care has skyrocketed while costs have outpaced rents in most states. In response, family child care (FCC) has become one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S., with an estimated 2.3 million workers and many more working informally, providing alternatives to institutionalized daycare hours, cost and access. Like the low-income women they serve, U.S. FCC providers are predominantly Latina and black women; in Los Angeles, they are primarily recent migrants from Mexico and Central America. I propose to study Latina migrant family child care providers in Los Angeles and the ways in which they negotiate the contradictions among market demands for 'flexible' and cheap care, increased regulatory surveillance by government and racialized and gendered ideas of 'good motherhood' and 'proper families'. Joining a growing trend across the U.S., family child care workers in California have attempted to gain legal recognition as a union, yet face opposition from left- and right- leaning legislators alike. I will examine family child care union organizing alongside providers' daily experiences to understand the historical political-economic factors and racialized and gendered structures shaping Latina migrant women's participation in family child care. At the same time, I hope to uncover how Latina family child care providers ï¿½' in their everyday practices and collective action ï¿½' create new spaces of 'conviviality,' where migrant groups and marginalized workers craft new forms of political and social life in urban landscapes reconfigured by transnational flows and neoliberal globalization
Medhat, Katayoun T., U. College London, London, UK - To aid 'Bi-Cultural Discourse in Mental Healthcare: An Ethnography of Organizational Dynamics in Navajo Health Services,' supervised by Dr. Roland Littlewood
KATAYOUN T. MEDHAT, then a student at University College London, London, United Kingdom, received funding in August 2004 to aid 'Bi-Cultural Discourse in Mental Healthcare: An Ethnography of Organizational Dynamics in Navajo Health Services,' supervised by Dr. Roland Littlewood. Focusing on healthcare organizations as micro-cosmic representations of socio-cultural structure and ideation, this is a comparative ethnographic study of one community, and one hospital-based mental health service on the Navajo Nation. The study considers changes to administration and funding policy and their impact on service development and professional identity in the context of (post-) colonial discourse. The bureaucratization and hierarchization of the healing domain may be seen as a global phenomenon, where competition for scarce resources and third-party-issued guidelines increasingly define treatment process.
In the quest to commodify health-services, professional boundaries dissolve in a metamorphic exchange by which administrators become clinicians and clinicians become administrators. These developments lead to progressively standardized definitions of illness and treatment. Thus, paradoxically, while the importance of asserting and expressing (cultural) identity in a 'pluralistic' society is prominently acknowledged, difference in the context of healthcare -- be it in terms of symptomatology, professional credentials, or treatment approaches -- is systematically displaced.
Whereas culture as form may be tolerated and even promoted, culture as substance cannot be accommodated by a homogenized system seeking to establish its efficacy through economic viability. Discourse on change in this context is typically ambiguous: While the idea of 'progress' and 'integration' is perceived as seductive, challenging and finally as unavoidable by a majority, it is equally felt that 'progress' and 'traditional values' cannot co-exist peacefully, leading to the bitter-sweet realization that the inevitable process of change constitutes a protracted swan-song of a quasi-mythologized congruent cultural identity.
Gogel, Leah Pearce, Teachers College, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Diagnosis Postponed: Ethnographic Perspectives on the Mental Health of Female Youth in Court-placed Residential Treatment,' supervised by Dr. Charles Harrington
LEAH PEARCE GOGEL, then a student at Teachers College, New York, New York, was awarded funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Diagnosis Postponed: Ethnographic Perspectives on the Mental Health of Female Youth in Court-Placed Residential Treatment,' supervised by Dr. Charles Harrington. This ethnographic study provides an analysis of the how psychiatric diagnoses, including Disruptive Behavior Disorders and Bipolar Disorder, are located in a residential treatment center for female youth in the juvenile justice system. Fieldwork was conducted for twelve months with residents and staff at a facility in New York State. In particular, the project sought to explore how juvenile justice gatekeepers, youth, and other members of the residential community invoke, embrace, and/or challenge diagnostic categories. Data generated from participant observation and interviews suggests that there are meaningful contradictions in how psychiatric diagnoses operate in this environment. On the one hand, mental health concerns remain relatively muted in the daily lives of residents, who face myriad challenges related to histories of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual coercion, and school failure. On the other hand, the assignment of a psychiatric disorder to specific individuals, whether by self-labeling or by consensus among peers or staff, functions both to forgive and discredit; youth who acknowledge diagnoses can purchase leniency from peers and adults but only at the cost of being perceived as somehow broken. Ethnographic data is integrated with literature on the historical transformation of adolescent psychiatric disorders in order to examine how diagnoses like Conduct Disorder and Bipolar Disorder become a currency of value for various actors with different end goals.
Obadia, Julienne Jeanne, New School for Social Research, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin
JULIENNE J. OBADIA, then a student at New School for Social Research, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Shared Intimacy: Opening the Door of the American Bedroom,' supervised by Dr. Miriam Ticktin. This research explores how American notions of self, relationship, and family relate to the contemporary conceptualization and practice of polyamory, or honest non-monogamy. Findings point to three significant themes. First, frustrated by the monogamous mandate to have all needs and desires met by one person, polyamorous people find that intimacy with multiple people can satisfy a much wider range of needs and desires. Commonly, this entails an emphasis on self-analysis, self-knowledge, and self-compartmentalization based on the principle that relationships work best and are most satisfying when each partner knows him/herself and what he/she wants from each relationship. Second, to organize poly life and minimize surprises, contracts and agreements often designate in advance what kinds of relationships and intimacies are acceptable. Understood as a tool for both self-knowledge and relationship transparency, contracts are always transforming, encouraging while regulating modes of self-elaboration. Last, current polyamorous practice utilizes a concept of 'sexual orientation' associated primarily with homosexuality: a set of desires that one is born with and is unaffected by upbringing, choice, or culture. Consonant with a theory of personhood based on discovering and elaborating a core self, this orientation is described as having always existed as an essential part of oneself.
Hartigan, Dr. John, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Races of Corn and the Cultivation of Biodiversity in Mexico'
Preliminary abstract: The prevailing view of race in cultural anthropology is that it is singularly about humans. But race was developed to characterize certain domesticated species, a usage that continues to be widespread today in Spanish-speaking countries. This project examines practices and discourses concerning 'razas de maíz' (races of corn) in Mexico in order to more broadly characterize racial thinking. This ethnographic study focuses on practices of identifying, conserving, and improving 'razas de maíz' in the Bajío region of central Mexico. The institutional sites--a national biodiversity lab (LANGEBIO) and a state branch of a national agricultural institute (INIFAP)--feature an array of projects that analyze and experiment with the genetic diversity of maize varieties. Breeders and researchers apply a range of techniques to grow plants that will provide phenotypic material for answering questions about the viability of and relations between distinct maize races. I am particularly interested in practices related to 'selfing' the razas; I suggest these constitute 'care of the species,' a process of cultivation that posits varied parallels between people and plants. In ranging across species boundaries to speculate about or establish commonalities, this focus on sameness is distinct from dynamics of dehumanization and projections of otherness that are generally construed as constituting racial thinking. This contrast could potentially prompt a reassessment of the prevailing model of racialization in anthropology.
Blanchette, Alexander David, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Factory Hog Farming, Capitalist Natures, and the New American Rural Frontier,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Masco
ALEXANDER D. BLANCHETTE, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Factory Hog Farming, Capitalist Natures, and the New American Rural Frontier,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Masco. The aim of this ethnographic research project was to clarify the cultural and historical meaning of the 'factory' within a cluster of the world's largest factory hog farms on the American Plains. The grantee tracked the ways that vertical integration -- ostensibly just the merging of distinct agricultural operations such as raising, feeding, or slaughtering pigs -- is actually a philosophy for re-imagining and seeing hidden value within the industrial hog's life-course. As such, this dissertation research queries the forms of management and labor-based culture that animate and emerge from this novel experiment in mass-producing living nature. To this end, the grantee engaged in interviews and management shadowing at almost every work phase of corporate hog production from (pre-)life to (post-)death, participated in post-WWII Japanese manufacturing theory classes as they were applied onto the farming process, conducted over 100 interviews with regional workers and planners, and himself worked as a laborer on an industrialized sow farm. As a whole, this dissertation project promises to contribute to our understanding of the cultural underpinnings of industrialization in the so-called 'post-industrial' United States, while vivifying new ways of seeing nature, life, and labor in a rural America undergoing transformation.
Randle, Sarah P., Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Building the Ecosystem City: Environmental Imaginaries and Spatial Politics in Los Angeles,' supervised by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan
Preliminary abstract: How are residents of Los Angeles negotiating attempts to manage their city as a service-providing ecosystem -- and what do these processes suggest about the politics remaking urban space under conditions of increasing environmental uncertainty? This project investigates emergent efforts to capture, store, and reuse rain and wastewater in new ways within L.A.'s cityscape, in response to widespread concerns about impending climate change-induced water supply scarcity. Proponents frequently present these initiatives as pieces of a broader spatial transformation within the city, restoring historic watershed functions to the urban landscape. Embedded in these framings is a particular vision of L.A.'s urban ecology, one in which properly managed city space provides key ecosystem services (such as water supply augmentation) to its citizens. Through 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork with water agency personnel, environmental activists and non-profit workers, 'green' business owners and employees, and mobilized residents, I trace the social, political, and material lives of such rescripted urban landscapes and resources. Studying interventions at multiple scales -- in private homes, city streets and parks, and wastewater treatment plants -- I examine the effects of these material projects and spatial imaginaries on Angeleños' political subjectivities, alliances, and claimsmaking.