Widmer, Alexandra E., York U., Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Constituting 'Mental Health' in Vanuatu: Subjectivity, Knowledge and Development in a Pacific Post-Colonial Context,' supervised by Dr. Margaret C. Rodman
ALEXANDRA WIDMER, while a student at York University in Toronto, Canada, received funding in March 2003 to aid research on the constitution of health and subjectivity in Vanuatu, under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Rodman. Widmer looked at changing articulations of the nature of Vanuatu people (ni-Vanuatu) in biomedical, Christian, colonial, development, and kastom discourses regarding health, beginning in the 1850s. By making the health knowledge that circulated in Vanuatu and in global arenas a key object of her inquiry, along with accompanying assumptions about personhood, Widmer was able to contextualize as culturally and historically specific the otherwise universalizing aspects of notions of the rational individual and modernity typically associated with biomedicine. In Port Vila, Vanuatu, Widmer spoke with NGO health educators, biomedical doctors, and Christian healers and with people using their services. She attended public events held by health education development organizations and church services held explicitly to heal sick people. Looking at the history of biomedical health care in Vanuatu, she interviewed retired health professionals who had practiced during the colonial period and examined Presbyterian missionary and British colonial material in libraries and archives. She found that beginning in the 1850s, missionaries hoped that the 'rational' knowledge and practices of Western medicine would help bring about conversions from 'heathenism' to Christianity. By the twentieth century, colonial authorities saw medicine as a means to 'bring the uncontrolled bush tribes under control'; providing access to Western medicine was crucial for 'progress' toward 'modern civilization.' Widmer planned next to analyzie how ni-Vanuatu had adapted and resisted these discourses.
Di Rosa, Dario, Australian National U., Canberra, Australia - To aid research on 'Remembering the Colonial Past: Histories and Historicities of Kerewo People (Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea),' supervised by Dr. Christopher Hugh Lewis Ballard
Preliminary abstract: Blending archival research and ethnographic fieldwork, the present project explores what role knowledge of the colonial past plays in understanding 'modernity' among Kerewo people of Papua New Guinea. When the missionary James Chalmers was killed in a Kerewo village in 1901, the colonial government intervened with three subsequent punitive expeditions. Shortly after, Kerewo people were incorporated in the colonial state and under the mission influence, leading to the suppression of head-hunting and their incorporation into an unstable labour market. Memories of these experiences, read through the lens of indigenous epistemology, today form a means of understanding present relations with global forces such as Christianity, capitalist development and the nation-state. Through an ethnography of historical consciousness and the micro-politics of remembering, I intend to contribute to contemporary debates about notions of 'historicity' on one side, and 'modernity' on the other, paying attention to the role played by history in everyday life as a source for understanding relations which shape individual agency in the present/future.
Paini, Dr. Anna Maria, U. of Verona, Italy - To aid conference of the European Society for Oceanists on 'Putting People First: Intercultural Dialogue and Imagining the Future in Oceania,' 2008, Verona, in collaboration with Dr. Elisabetta Gnecchi Ruscone
''Putting People First': Intercultural Dialogue and Imagining the Future in Oceania: Seventh ESfO (European Society for Oceanists) Conference'
July 10-12, 2008, Universitá degli Studi di Verona, Verona, Italy
Organizers: Anna Paini (Universitá delgi Studi di Verona) and Elisabetta Gnecchi Ruscone (Universitá Milano Bicocca)
Among the goals of this conference (organized by ESfO and the Università degli Studi di Verona) were: 1) to critically reassess the aspirations expressed in the 1993 'Putting People First' Suva Declaration on Sustainable Development, to examine contemporary Pacific ways of facing controversies and contradictions of our time; 2) to provide a venue for Oceanist scholarship in Europe, bringing together (for the first time in Italy) international scholars to debate contemporary theoretical issues relevant to Oceania and beyond; 3) to create occasions for Pacific scholars to engage a wider audience; 4) to promote scholarly dialogue between 'francophone' and 'anglophone' regions; 5) to foster relations between scholars and institutions with an interest in Oceania. Over 200 speakers participated in the plenary and in the 13 parallel sessions. A new format for ESfO conferences -- the roundtable ''Putting People First': Fifteen Years On' -- was organized as a plenary session to ensure greater visibility to Pacific Island speakers, resulting in a successful and stimulating event. Following ESfO tradition, the book of abstracts was distributed to all participants, and four edited volumes are being considered for publication.
Wolffram, Dr. Paul Robert, Victoria U., Wellington, New Zealand - To aid filmmaking on 'What Lies That Way?' - Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: 'What Lies That Way?' Is a feature length ethnographic film focused on the sorcery practices of a remote rainforest community in the southern region of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. Sorcery and the magical practices of subsistence communities continue to be perceived by many as backward or counter to scientific rationalism that dominates Western ways of thinking. This film seeks to challenge this perception by exploring in detail the sorcery practices that form an important part of many Melanesian societies. The sorcery practice known as 'Buai' is widely spread through the Bismarck Archipelago. Unlike many of the sorcery traditions in Papua New Guinea, the 'Buai' practice is a non-destructive, creative form of sorcery that allows practitioners to access realms of creativity. 'What Lies That Way?' will explore 'Buai' practice as the Lak people of Southern New Ireland perceive and experience it, as an important source of creativity that helps to cohere the community through music and dance practice. In addition to describing the 'Buai' practice the film will give an account of my own ethnographic investigation into 'Buai' practice based on over two years of fieldwork with the Lak people. My personal journey of discovery will act as a vehicle through which the audience can come to perceive sorcery, not as a strange exotic practice but rather as a fascinating aspect of human consciousness.
Lempert, William David, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'Broadcasting Indigeneity: The Social Life of Aboriginal Media,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Shannon
Preliminary abstract: In the opening months of 2013, the first national 24-hour Indigenous Australian television networks were launched, representing two distinct sensibilities of Aboriginal media aesthetics and economics--grassroots community vs. polished professional--that have emerged at the local, regional, and now national levels. These Indigenous mass media represent less than 3% of the total population, yet have received desirable slots on the national satellite network that is newly capable of reaching all remote Aboriginal communities. To follow the social lives of Indigenous video projects from initial idea through local reception, I will participate within the production teams at Goolarri and PAKAM, two cohabiting Indigenous media organizations that closely map onto, and disproportionately contribute to, these national networks. Rather than asking what identity is, I seek to complicate and illuminate anthropological understandings of indigeneity by revealing how Indigenous media makers negotiate the manifold often-paradoxical pressures that shape their final products. With unusually high levels of media productivity and success in Aboriginal political activism, the regional hub of Broome and the Aboriginal community of Yungngora in Northwestern Australia will provide an ideal backdrop for articulating the stakes that are at play in the ways in which Indigenous peoples represent different visions of indigeneity.
Pile, James S., Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Beyond the Clan: Fighting Networks of the Layapo-Enga,' supervised by Dr. Rena Lederman
JAMES S. PILE, while a student at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, was awarded a grant in June 2003 to aid research on fighting networks among the Layapo-Enga of Papua New Guinea (PNG), under the supervision of Dr. Rena Lederman. From June 2003 to May 2004, Pile conducted research in the Lai Valley of Enga Province and elsewhere in PNG, including fieldwork with the Ambulyini clan, interviews with bigmen, war leaders, and gunfighters from tribes and clans throughout Enga Province, and archival research in Wabag, Mount Hagen, and Port Moresby. The work with the Ambulyini clan produced a detailed case study of two gun wars, enabling Pile to document and analyze the mechanisms through which war was declared, the internal politics that shaped the way war was prosecuted, and how the decision to end war was arrived at and put into effect. The interviews and archival research resulted in a regional account of feud relations and patterns of warfare alliance and enmity from contact to the present; a history of how factory-made shotguns and rifles, locally manufactured firearms, and, most recently, assault rifles had been incorporated into tribal fighting; and an analysis of the consequences of gun wars for social, economic, and cultural institutions. Finally, Pile documented how ambitious young men in the Lai Valley innovated on the most archaic traditions in the novel contexts of gun wars to gain control over assault rifles, create new relationships with other gunfighters, and effectively challenge the clan- and tribe-based moral and political foundations of Enga warfare.
Dussart, Dr. Francoise Denise, U. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT - To aid research on 'Living with Chronic Illness in Aboriginal Australia'
DR. FRANCOISE DENISE DUSSART, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Living with Chronic Illness in Aboriginal Australia.' The inequitable distribution of medical services endured by Central Australian Desert Warlpiri patients suffering chronic kidney disease constitutes only one part of a much broader problem. How can Warlpiri people follow preventative prescriptions of the bio-normalizing guidelines when they do not have the resources to do so? The Warlpiri community of Yuendumu lacks what is determined key by health-care providers to offset chronic disease such as 'proper' food, 'literacy', and 'exercise'. If life-style is destiny, the future of Yuendumu seems bleak. An analysis of in-depth interviews with 57 patients with chronic kidney disease, interactions among patients, local health-care providers, and healing performers, sheds light on alternative and competing rationales and practices through which patients and their relatives make sense of diagnoses and the burdens of living with chronic illness. An analysis of narratives of coping with the chronic - inter-produced by several local and national constituencies - brings us closer to an understanding of the complex re-articulations of indigenousness in contemporary Australia.
Dussart, Francoise. 2010. Diet, diabetes and relatedness in a central Australian Aboriginal settlement: some qualitative recommendations to facilitate the creation of culturally sensitive health promotion initiatives. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 20: 202-2007.
Dussart, Francoise. 2010. It is Hard to Be Sick Now: Diabetes and the Reconstruction of Indigenous Sociality. Anthropologyica 52: 1-11.