International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) > Competitions

2014 IDRF Program


Yakein Mohamed Abdelmagid
Duke University, Cultural Anthropology Department
The Sounds of Revolution: Improvisational Labor and the Independent Music Scene in Egypt
[ project summary ]
The last thirteen years have witnessed a renaissance in global independent music production. In Egypt, this scene took shape through the practices of a younger generation of musicians rooted in western musical styles that sought to produce an alternative to the commercial values of the mainstream music industry – a process enabled by the adoption of neoliberal and entrepreneurial models of productivity. Although this emerging music scene has become a driving force within Egyptian youth culture, it has received no scholarly attention among anthropologists. This project centers on fieldwork with independent musicians and music studios in Cairo in order to provide a broad picture of the intersections of art, publics, labor, and economy in a deeply uncertain post-revolutionary Egyptian context. I will examine the creative labor and economy of independent music production, asking how musicians' improvisational musical and entrepreneurial practices generate new public spaces and forms of identity. This project challenges the common assumption that neoliberalism is destructive of the social, arguing that independent musicians make use of the grammar and resources of neoliberalism by altering its logics and values to suit their own needs and musical aspirations. Furthermore, this research argues that in constituting alternative publics and markets, musicians' creative labor should be understood as eminently political acts.
Samar Mussa Al-Bulushi
Yale University, Anthropology
Cosmopolitan Terror: Secular Imaginaries, Transnational Governance, and the Security State in Urban Kenya
[ project summary ]
My research explores the ethical and political subjectivities of Kenyan Muslims as they grapple with their nation's entanglement in the 'war on terror.' Working in a range of leadership capacities (parliament, NGOs, media) urban middle class Kenyan Muslims are torn between daring to challenge controversial state practices of counter-terrorism on the one hand, and invoking the very discourses of security that reinforce state-sanctioned violence on the other. Deploying an ethnographic lens to cosmopolitan spaces of politics and public engagement in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, I will examine how socially invoked categories of 'moderate' and 'radical' Islam emerge in relation to contemporary forms of state-craft, historical memory, and transnational governance to shape new understandings of religion, politics, and violence.
Anthony W. Andersson
New York University, History
Environmentalists with Guns: Conservation and Counterinsurgency in the Petén, Guatemala, 1960-1996
[ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the development of environmental conservation in northern Guatemala as a strategy of counterinsurgency during its long civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. The research on which it is based unfolds across three levels of analysis: the institution of the army, which directly governed the region and established conservation policies with enduring legacies; the discourses of conservation and development generated by the army, environmental NGOs, and development agencies; and the practices of conservation on the ground as enacted by actual people in their daily lives as subjects to and enforcers of environmental law. The counterinsurgency priorities that guided conservation policy in northern Guatemala during the civil war weighed heavily on the postwar legacy of environmental protection and the demands for justice that came out of the Peace Accords in 1996, yet debates about conservation in Guatemala regularly ignore this violent past. Grafting together the methods of political ecology with those of social, cultural, and institutional history, I attempt to show how the conservation landscapes of northern Guatemala are both the product of a bloody counterinsurgent war and the continuation of it by other means. My evidence is drawn from national, municipal, and private documentary sources, as well as oral testimony, collected from sites in Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. The implications for this project speak to both academic and policy debates on conservation in the underdeveloped world, challenging scholars and practitioners to grasp the social problems at the heart of conservation.
Delal Aydin
State University of New York at Binghamton, Sociology
Crafting the Self in the Shadow of the Turkish State: The Formation of Yurtsever Subjecthood in the 1990s
[ project summary ]
My research explores the building of the yurtsever (patriot) youth movement in the 1990s when the Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan - Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) mobilization was at its height in Turkey. I specifically focus on the formation of yurtsever subjecthood in the high school setting when Kurdish youth, whose parents were deemed "backward" and "ignorant", were invited to be part of "civilization" and participate in the project of building the Turkish nation. My research investigates the processes that constituted yurtsever subjecthood as a historical process of subject formation that rejected assimilation and instead chose to be a part of struggle for recognition, even at the cost of their own lives under state of emergency conditions. Today, the youth of the 1990s refer to themselves as the "lost generation" to highlight the massive loss of lives and tutunamayan (disconnected) attitude of survivors towards life. I suggest that this critical moment in the mobilization of Kurdish youth and their struggle for recognition speaks to us about how subjectivities challenged and also reconfigured the Turkish political landscape where their experience of difference and inequality continue to be neglected, denied, or uncounted. I combine in-depth and semi-structured interviews with students and teachers who attended Ziya Gökalp High School in Diyarbakir, one of the main centers of yurtsever youth mobilization, archival research of PKK publications, as well as auto-ethnography, to examine the practices and discourses that shaped young people receptive to the PKK's mobilization efforts. Together, these research approaches will enable me to interpret in what ways the political practices of yurtsever youth challenged and reshaped the Kurdish movement in particular and Turkish politics in general. I expect that my study will contribute to interpreting the production of "the political" and also to comparative understandings of political mobilization and subject formation.
Dorota Biczel
University of Texas at Austin, Art History/Architecture
“A Mediocre Utopia”: Artistic Interventions, Migration, and Making of Urban Publics in Lima, Peru, 1978–1989
[ project summary ]
My dissertation investigates public roles of broadly understood architectural and artistic interventions realized in Lima, Peru, between 1978 and 1989. Artistic collectives that emerged from the radicalized scene in and following 1978—Paréntesis, EPS Huayco, Los Bestias, and Taller NN—insisted on the radical redefinition of artistic publics in Peru. Their concerns exceeded the need of a formal renovation of artistic languages. They searched for new, alternative bases of support and—more importantly—aimed to reclaim the "illegitimate" and "unauthorized" publics, by drawing upon material practices of the marginalized and excluded social groups. Through a chronological study of their most important projects, I investigate how these artists understood, engaged with, and shaped the public body in the context of a volatile decade. The period of my analysis constitutes the pinnacle of a demographic explosion of Lima, which resulted from internal migrations from the Peruvian provinces, altering the social and ethnic makeup of the city. It is also the decade of immense political turmoil, ranging from struggles and enthusiasm preceding the 1980 democratic elections to violence of the Peruvian Internal Conflict (1980–2000), in which neo-Marxist guerrilla groups sought to overthrow the government. Arguably, the battle over the definition and control of the Peruvian public sphere, as well as political subjectivities that comprise it, was at the core of these social and political transformations. I hypothesize that the impetus behind my case studies was to render visible a multitude of neglected publics while forging new, self-organized, flexible collectivities. Thus, these projects challenged the monolithic body politics imposed by the modernizing nation-state and the guerilla insurgence. Methodologically, I examine how various cultural forms—texts, images, buildings, and urban space—construct their publics by shaping the flows of discourses between social agents.
Jacob Blanc
University of Wisconsin, Madison, History
Contested Development: Itaipu and the Meanings of Land and Opposition in Military Brazil
[ project summary ]
My project will use the history of the Itaipu hydroelectric dam to trace the layered contours of development, land, and opposition during Brazil's dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Itaipu marked a distinct shift in Brazilian development ideologies; rather than taking an urban-industrial approach, the dictatorship began to view the countryside as a new fulcrum for growth. However, the military's perception of Itaipu clashed with that of the 42,000 people whose lands it flooded, galvanizing a struggle of small-scale farmers, landless peasants, and indigenous communities. By looking at Itaipu from the margins, we can grasp the manifold ways that dictatorship and development insinuated themselves into the lives of rural Brazilians. My project is premised on three hypotheses. First, Itaipu must be understood as an experience rather than a project—one that was contested by the military and various rural actors. Second, the question of land determined much of Itaipu's history and its consequences. For the dictatorship, Itaipu was an experiment in rearranging rural landscapes by displacing local farmers under the banner of national development, and for enabling the cross-border colonization of Paraguay's fertile agricultural lands. For local Brazilians, diverging relationships to land resulted in unique forms of social mobilization at particular stages of the protests against Itaipu. Finally, these movements reveal an unexplored genealogy of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) that emerged toward the end of the dictatorship, elucidating the meanings of Brazil's political transition and the social realities that persisted after the return to democracy. By exposing the broader realities of development, the image of land as a social catalyst, and the complexities of Brazil's path toward democracy, my project will articulate Itaipu's role in the transformation of modern Brazil.
Alexander P. Brey
Bryn Mawr College, Art History/Architecture
Beyond the Bilad al-Sham: Images of Hunting in the Umayyad Empire
[ project summary ]
This dissertation will explore the polycentric nature of artistic production within the Umayyad empire by focusing on three examples of architectural decoration found in present day Jordan, Iran, and Tajikistan. All three contain representations of hunting and slaughter; a popular iconographic feature of aristocratic interior decoration. Although the Jordanian monument of Qusayr Amra has been at the center of the Umayyad canon for almost a century, Chal Tarkhan-Eshqabad in what is now Iran and the frescoes of Penjikent in modern Tajikistan have not been integrated into the prevailing narrative of Umayyad art because their patrons and artists were probably not Muslims. This selective erasure produces a distorted image of art within the Umayyad caliphate, producing an artificial interpretive vacuum around central monuments such as Qusayr Amra. The encounter between humans and animals represented in early medieval images of hunting provided frameworks for modeling structured relationships between other hierarchically or ontologically distinct entities, e.g. women and men, lover and beloved, self and other, civilization and wilderness, and, most relevant in the period of the Arab conquest, military victors and defeated foes. Differences in the standard iconographic treatments of hunting in Sasanian, Roman-Byzantine, Umayyad, and Sogdian art emphasize hunting as either a venue for spectacular displays of idealized masculinity and aristocratic athleticism, a quotidian seasonal labor, or a round-up and slaughter to be followed by celebratory consumption. Differences in the content and form of these hunting scenes are in fact the product of specific and complex negotiations of documentary details, idealizing aristocratic masculinity, and contingent ideological assumptions about the nature of human-animal relationships. They may also reflect the attitudes of their patrons towards the crystallizing visual culture of the Muslim elite.
Edward Brudney
Indiana University Bloomington, History
Remaking Argentina: Labor and Citizenship During the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional
[ project summary ]
This study focuses on the enactment and effects of labor and economic policies during Argentina's last military dictatorship, the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional (1976-1983). Emphasizing the state's efforts to reorganize Argentine society, I examine the impact of these new measures on the day-to-day experiences of workers from both the private and the public sectors, as well as low-level government bureaucrats. Despite an extensive and nuanced historiography on state violence during this period, we know very little about the ways in which the Proceso operated as a government, or the consequences that its reorganizational product had for Argentines' everyday lives. Concentrating on its labor and economic policies, I argue that the military regime attempted to establish a new praxis of citizenship by restructuring the parameters of work. Using archival sources from around Argentina together with oral histories of former workers from various industries, I will examine the changing relationship between individuals and the state, through the lens of work, as it played out on a daily basis. My research situates Argentina at the end of the 1970s within a broader conversation about the possibilities and limitations faced by the ruling junta with respect to political practice. Given the historical importance of work in Argentina as a fundamental criterion for citizenship and political voice, I contend that the Proceso, in fact, sought to redraw the ideological boundaries of the nation and redefine what the role of "the worker" would be within this new construct. This dissertation intends to explore the borders of this new Argentina which the military envisioned. Critically, it also engages the ways in which workers from various backgrounds and economic sectors received and challenged that vision—and, just as importantly, the ways in which they did not.
Elisabeth K. Burton
Harvard University, History
Genetic Nationalism: Ethnic Mythmaking and Human Biology Research in Iran, Turkey, and Israel
[ project summary ]
How are nationalist ideologies indebted to scientific concepts of heredity? Why do the structuring assumptions and interpretations of human genetics research seem to be embedded in nationalist understandings of history? While these issues are currently hotly debated with regard to the Israeli state and the question of a Jewish biology, I argue that a comparative regional perspective is necessary to understand the political stakes involved in academic research and how these stakes affect the working environment of scientists. My project offers a historical juxtaposition of the human biology research conducted in Israel alongside that of Iran and Turkey, focusing primarily on the decades of nation-state formation and consolidation between 1930 and 1980. As a trained geneticist, I contribute to the field of national identity studies by applying discourse analysis to the rarefied rhetoric of scientific publications. Taking my analytical approach from the history of science, I collectively evaluate the published research output of Iranian, Turkish, and Israeli academics not only with regard to terminology, but also to the mechanics of their studies. I observe the selection of study populations, the labeling and manipulation of samples, and most importantly, the underlying assumptions which inevitably shape both the initial questions that drive the study and the ultimate interpretation of the results. I further situate these researchers within their global intellectual and social networks, using their personal papers and correspondence, to understand how the participation of Middle Eastern researchers within an international scientific community has integrated globally standardized terms and concepts of human biology with localized understandings of heredity, identity, and nation. Ultimately, the study offers transformative implications for Middle Eastern studies, the history and current practice of biological science, and theories of political ethnic nationalism.
Darren Byler
University of Washington, Anthropology
The Art of Life at the Margins of Ürümchi: Aesthetics, Minoritarian Politics and the City in Chinese Central Asia
[ project summary ]
Following a series of riots in 2009, officials of Ürümchi, an ethnically-diverse border city in Northwest China, announced (1) plans to resettle 250,000 indigenous Turkic-Muslim (Uyghur) inhabitants from "slums" to state-subsidized public housing, (2) new incentives for migration to Han settlers from Eastern China, and (3) multi-million yuan investments in art projects across the city which address the official goal of "ethnic harmony." Routing my research through Uyghur and Han art collectives that have been created as supplements to this urban revision, this project will focus on the lived experience and cultural expression of these processes of cityscape revision. How is urban upheaval and resettlement shaping the future of a durable existence among the marginalized inhabitants of Ürümchi? How are artists who arrive in Ürümchi from different class and ethnic positions negotiating insider-outsider lines of demarcation? How does their repertoire of art practices and objects which they produce address the particular histories of the three million inhabitants of the city? Aimed at the intersection of urban studies, expressive culture, minority and migration politics, this research will consider the way late-Socialist Chinese planning policy is deployed and, in turn, how the embodied experience of the resulting upheaval gives rise to new forms of sociality and aesthetics.
Jian Ming Chris Chang
Columbia University, East Asian Languages and Cultures
The Once and Future Past: Petitioning Historical Grievances in Post-Mao China
[ project summary ]
In the decade following the Cultural Revolution, local government institutions received thousands of petitions from party cadres, work units, and ordinary citizens of the People's Republic of China. These petitions called upon the state to reverse past political verdicts and render official redress for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution's mass campaigns. As past targets of persecution and factional struggle, petitioners presented historical grievances as the basis of appeals for the revocation of 'black category' labels and the restitution of benefits and privileges associated with good political standing. Through this process, former 'enemies of the people' succeeded in clearing their names and reversing the judgments of Cultural Revolution-era. Utilizing new archival resources and document collections, this dissertation aims to investigate the genre of petitions to engage problems of ideological transition, historical reckoning and contentious politics. A critical reading of these texts will illuminate attempts by petitioners to press claims against the state while utilizing rhetorical strategies of remonstrance to formally align their interests with those of power-holders. Straddling the ground between reportage and litigation, petitions mobilized a combination of private historical narrative and the ethical ideals of socialist society to demand transformative political reforms. In focusing on letters and petitions as expressions of the public and grassroots impetus for revisionism, this project seeks to understand how public agitation contributed toward a critical discourse on the Cultural Revolution as 'state failure' that necessitated a reappraisal of official history and ideology. This account of how civil discourse shifted the balance of the post-Mao transition suggests new possibilities for conceptualizing categories of state and society in a nation where the tensions between the needs of the past and the needs of the present still remain.
Volha Charnysh
Harvard University, Government
Overcoming the Challenges of Diversity: Institutional Solutions to Dilemmas of Collective Action
[ project summary ]
My dissertation examines how societies reach new cooperative equilibria following an exogenous shock to their structure. I seek to further our understanding of the effects cultural diversity on societal capacity to cooperate and explain why diverse and homogenous societies might choose different solutions to dilemmas of collective action. Rather than suggesting that cultural diversity has a qualitatively positive or negative impact, I propose that it creates incentives to invest in different forms of cooperation. Communities at various levels of diversity are likely to develop different social models over time. Diversity at the time of communities' inception is likely to affect what type of goods communities are better at providing and what type of rules they rely upon to maintain cooperation. I propose to study the evolution of cooperation in the Polish counties that experienced complete population turnover in the 1940-50s. In the wake of WWII, Polish borders were shifted westward, and six million people of diverse origins – over one-fifth of all Polish population – were resettled to the new territories, from which the German population was expelled. The migrants came from places as diverse as USSR, central Poland, and western and southern Europe, and in most cases had little agency in choosing their residence. Initially, dubbed "The Wild West" due to numerous social problems, the diverse post-migration societies in western and northern Poland have achieved high levels of development over time. At the same time, they demonstrate social features that differ markedly from areas without a history of migration. My dissertation aims to explain the differences between communities with different migration histories by tracing how coordination mechanisms and social norms have evolved since the formation of these communities. I plan to collect seven decades of rich archival and interview data and conduct a survey to understand how cooperative arrangements developed at the micro and macro levels.
Andra B. Chastain
Yale University, History
Vehicle of Progress: The Santiago Metro and the Techno-Politics of Military Rule in Chile, 1965–1990
[ project summary ]
My dissertation is a history of the Santiago metro system in the context of changing techno-political regimes in Chile. My central question is why public transportation became a shared concern among diverse actors between 1965 and 1990 and how their proposals changed over time. Planning for the metro began in 1965, during a period of democratic state-led development under President Eduardo Frei. Transnational from the start, the metro united Chilean engineering with French technology, funding, and expertise. Construction proceeded during the democratic socialist government of Salvador Allende. After the 1973 coup that ousted Allende, the military junta continued to support the project, as did the French funders and consultants. Both before and after the coup, metro planners made claims for the project's importance in terms of apolitical technical criteria. The first metro line opened in 1975, the year that the neoliberal "Chicago Boys" began to occupy influential positions in the new government. Amid a climate of economic austerity and boom and bust cycles, construction proceeded slowly throughout the 1970s and 1980s. My research ends in 1990, just after the metro was converted to a state-owned corporation, and as the dictatorship came to an end. Given this shifting political terrain, why did the metro remain a viable project? What social and political work did the technocratic discourse of metro planners accomplish? My research examines collaboration and conflict between Chilean and French professionals, state agencies and private businesses, technological experts and users, and planners and urban residents. Cutting across democratic and authoritarian periods, this project illuminates degrees of continuity and discontinuity in Chilean state formation. At the same time, it historicizes contemporary debates about the role of the state in providing transportation as a public good.
Hongwei Thorn Chen
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Area and Cultural Studies
Fairy Tales of Good Reception: The Educational Mode in Chinese Cinema, 1931-1966
[ project summary ]
Cinema made its appearance in China at a time of political turmoil and immense social unevenness. For the larger part of the twentieth century, Chinese cultural institutions and governmental prerogatives invested the medium with inflated pedagogical powers in hopes of combatting the nation's "semi-feudal semi-colonial" condition. Accordingly, the idea of the "educational film" in China encompassed more than a genre of non-fiction films destined for classrooms or employee training programs. It was a function that could be applied to all films, fiction or non-fiction, and used as a standard for their criticism and censorship. This project is a study of cinema's educational vocation between 1931 and 1966, years that witnessed a cycle of crisis, war, communist revolution, and socialist reconstruction. In it, I develop a historical and conceptual account of what I term "the educational mode," a complex notion of film's pedagogical effectiveness developed in the 1930s in coordination with contemporaneous US, European, and Soviet programs and which would persist deep into the first seventeen years of the socialist State. Through the concept of the educational mode, I examine the synergies and conflicts between cinematic institutions and the programs of social reform and revolution that would define the contours of modern Chinese culture. My project argues that cinema's educational mission was not simply a program to be implemented but also a site of contestation and contradiction. In its effort to create a non-market relationship between film and its audiences, to make true the "fairy-tale of good reception," cinema education would internalize the social contradictions that it attempted to solve.
Bryan C. Chitwood
Emory University, English
Poetic Investments: Public Finance and the Fiscal Sociology of Anglophone Poetry Since 1945
[ project summary ]
During the second half of the twentieth century, poets around the world confronted new challenges to financing their art and livelihood. Public funds became an important source of support for poetry, as well as an important topic in poems of the period. While literary scholars have noticed ways in which poetic texts circulate alongside economic concerns, the most influential work on literary aesthetics assumes that poems achieve a strong degree of aesthetic autonomy from fiscal issues. My dissertation challenges this status quo by historicizing and contextualizing public investment in Anglophone poetry after 1945. By examining transnational circuits of public funding that link the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, and Nigeria, I explore the impact of public finance on the Anglophone poetic field in a comparative manner as well as ways in which poetic projects respond to values that underwrite public funding for the arts. My proposed research focuses on consulting archives and individuals in Nigeria and Jamaica, with shorter periods of research in the UK and US. Analyzing the routing of public funds, the poems they enabled, and personal accounts of gatekeepers and poet-beneficiaries will offer insight into how public finance shaped cross-cultural poetic flows and how poets aspired to intervene in cultural imaginaries. Archival records and in-depth interviews with gatekeepers will index and symptomatize fiscal policies and institutional values. Consideration of publication and distribution networks and close analysis of poetic texts will show how public finance impacted poetic production and the extent to which institutional and cultural values correspond to the poems they enabled. Taken together, these considerations will allow me to show how state spending has influenced Anglophone poetry in a comparative manner as well how poems have critiqued and contributed to repertoires of value that bear significantly on fiscal policy and cultural identity.
Darja Djordjevic
Harvard University, Anthropology
The Cancer War(d): Onco-Nationhood in Post-Traumatic Rwanda
[ project summary ]
In Africa, the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, rapidly expanding industrial and extractive economies, uncontrolled economic growth, environmental and lifestyle changes, and the rising age of populations with better access to medicine have occasioned rising rates of cancer. Rwanda's national cancer program has been hailed as a unique example of how to build clinical oncology into a public healthcare infrastructure. The twelve-month ethnographic study will address three sets of questions: 1. What historical, economic, social, and political factors have shaped the development of the country's cancer program? 2. How do local clinicians and patients experience cancer as a treatable chronic disease? And how is that experience affected by the development of a national oncology infrastructure and new biomedical technologies? 3. As an instance of the transnational private-public partnerships characteristic of global health interventions in postcolonial Africa, what successes, limitations, and challenges does this cancer program present for envisioning oncology programs elsewhere in the global south? What are the ethical, political, and epistemological stakes involved in different models of cancer care? This project will contribute to a new chapter in medical anthropology, one focused on rising rates of cancer in contemporary Africa. I shall argue that Rwanda's cancer project is an exercise in the construction of a new sense of sovereignty, rendered through the politics of life as onco-nationhood; that it is an effort to create a postcolonial polity whose citizen body is gifted care of a international caliber provided by a paternal state. In a critical moment of post-traumatic social reconstruction, national biomedicine is becoming the entity through which government seeks to fuse sovereign statehood and nationhood in the cause of a healthy Rwandan future. Theorizing this relationship holds at least one key to developing an anthropology of cancer in contemporary Africa.
Courtney Doucette
Rutgers University, History
Sweet Socialism in the Chocolate Factory: The Last Attempt to Create the New Soviet Person, 1985-1991
[ project summary ]
My dissertation investigates Perestroika, a period of intense reform in the Soviet Union that began under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and ended when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. This study reframes new government policies as a response to what reformers perceived as a moral crisis that they set out to solve by reinvigorating socialism. This dissertation then asks one central question: How did Soviet people respond to reform? I answer this question through a microhistorical case study of the Red October Chocolate Factory in Moscow, which offers the opportunity to trace responses across the social spectrum, from the highest members of the Politburo to rank-and-file workers and their children. The primary analytical apparatus of this study is the concept of engagement. Drawing on ideas of historians Jochen Hellbeck and Igal Halfin developed for an earlier period in Soviet history, this concept allows us to consider a multiplicity of responses to reform, including belief and disbelief, support and criticism, as part of a rigorous conversation between the Soviet state and people. This study extends existing literature that frames Perestroika as an economic initiative aimed to revamp a flagging economy by emphasizing the moral and humanistic center of reform. Further, it offers a detailed empirical investigation of popular responses to reform that includes but is not limited to high ranking officials and the intelligentsia. It challenges the argument that the Soviet Union collapsed because nobody believed or cared about socialist. Instead, this study suggests that the Soviet collapse was an unintended consequence of reform. This dissertation offers a way to think about continuities across the 1991 quandary and the ways in which the last years of Soviet history remain relevant today, particularly with respect to contemporary moral discourse in the Russian Federation.
Andrew B. Ehrinpreis
State University of New York at Stony Brook, History
Coca Nation: The Protean Politics of the Coca Leaf in Bolivian Nationalism (1900 – 1961)
[ project summary ]
This dissertation is a cultural history of the development, in the twentieth century, of Bolivian coca politics in relation to U.S.-led international anti-narcotics regimes. It investigates the processes through which Bolivians constructed- or reconstructed- coca as an indigenous drug. Challenging essentialist notions of coca as embodying autochthonous Andean culture, my research examines the roles of a broad array of Bolivia's social groups, including but not limited to Indians, in the formation of the cultural politics of the leaf. In order to trace the processes through which coca emerged as a symbol of Bolivian nationalism, I pursue five primary lines of research. These include the development of Bolivian Creole indigenismo, medical and pharmacological modernization, positivist criminology, urban popular and worker culture, and international drug diplomacy. From the point of view of Creoles,I investigate the formation of ambivalent ideas about coca and indigeneity at the intersection of transnational discourses of medicine, criminology, and modernization. I also examine Indian engagement with, and resistance to, Creole efforts to define and regulate coca. Additionally, I examine the entrance of coca into the popular culture of urban mestizos. From a transnational perspective, I consider not only Bolivian geo-politics of drug interdiction, and the impacts thereof, but also the engagement of Bolivians with international discourses on the meanings of both drugs and indigeneity.
Seth Estrin
University of California, Berkeley, Classics
Objects of Pity: Art and Emotion in Archaic and Classical Greece, c. 520-380 B.C.E.
[ project summary ]
My dissertation investigates the relationship between the increasing realism of art in Greece in the 5th c. B.C.E. and contemporary shifts in the cultural role of the emotion of pity. I argue that as innate human empathy for both other humans and for material objects was increasingly politicized in the form of pity, and as the definition of who could feel pity and under what circumstances was increasingly clarified, pity emerged as a powerful cultural agent that depended on visual, but not physical, interaction. In this way, artists worked hard to modify their creations so as to make them match cultural expectations – to make them more pitiable. The special ability that figurative art appears to have held in the 5th c. to provoke pity speaks to a cultural understanding that figurative art was particularly good at articulating the relationship between individuals and the world around them. In order to carry out this project, I propose to take up the position of Associate Member at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for nine months. My research will take place in museums and archaeological sites in Athens and more widely in Greece, and Athens will additionally serve as a base for trips to specific collections elsewhere in Europe. Direct access to the wide array of archaeological material included in my dissertation – including sculptures, vases, inscriptions, and architecture – is crucial for my research, which will attempt to show how fine-grained aspects of works of art revealed in visual analysis are configured so as to be especially pitiable according to ancient understandings as revealed in textual sources.
Abigail L. Fine
University of Chicago, Music
Objects of Veneration: Music, Materiality, and Marketing in the Composer-Cults of Nineteenth-Century Germany and Austria
[ project summary ]
My dissertation explores the popular veneration of nineteenth-century German and Austrian composers as figures akin to saints. The project's seven case studies focus on material "relics" as encounters with the composer's body, along with the museums that housed relics as sites for these encounters. While the project takes objects and spaces as its focus, I will also draw upon other "sites" of popular reception, such as panegyric poems, memoirs, obituaries, and biographies. An important aspect of my study will be to situate these genres and practices in the growing consumer culture of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, where the Romantic ideal of aesthetic transcendence was transformed into a commodity that combined artistic prestige with personal veneration. I will show that the proliferation of hagiographic biographies, enshrined objects, and mass-produced souvenirs in the nineteenth century were part of a growing tourism industry that promoted "pilgrimage" to birthplaces and gravesites. At its core, this study reveals a critical tension in nineteenth century aesthetics: the seeming incompatibility of the tangible (relics, body, composer) and the intangible (music, genius, the divine). This tension underlies many of the concerns about authenticity and kitsch that dominated nineteenth-century aesthetic debates. My project also contributes to the narrative of canon formation where textual and material objects, pervasive in nineteenth-century popular culture, functioned alongside monumentality and the "work concept" to crystallize the pantheon of (primarily German and Austrian) composers and a core of musical masterworks.
Sahana Ghosh
Yale University, Anthropology
Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal
[ project summary ]
How are borderlands produced in the intersections of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through twelve months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in everyday life as a part of the economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between historically constituted regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.
Zoe M. Graham
New York University, Film Studies
Transnational Practices and Cultural Legacies of the Ateliers Varan Documentary Training School: Media Activism in Mozambique and Brazil
[ project summary ]
This dissertation explores the transnational practices and cultural legacies of the Ateliers Varan documentary training school, a dynamic field of cultural production (Bourdieu 1993) bridging anthropology and media activism since its foundation in 1981. My focus is on the workshops it has carried out in Mozambique- the first to be established in 1978- and Brazil, where workshops were held in the 1980s and where, 30 years later, a new workshop is being developed for 2014, offering an opportunity for ethnographic observation. Conceived by the groundbreaking anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, the Ateliers Varan has trained over one thousand novice filmmakers in twenty-three countries, creating a transnational circuit of influential ethnographic and activist filmmakers without formal academic training. My research focuses on an aspect of Jean Rouch's influence that has been largely overlooked by scholars in anthropology and cinema studies alike: his pedagogical legacy. By examining the specific cases of workshops held in Mozambique and in Brazil, from the 1980s to the present, my study is designed to understand how teachers and students have adapted and indigenized Jean Rouch's training methodologies in ways that are culturally relevant to their particular national locations, becoming part of local audiovisual and cultural legacies. This work builds on the robust new field of ethnography of media, by examining a particular part of the "Lusophone media world" using ethnographic methods in order to understand how people are engaged in these methods of self-representation (Ginsburg, AbuLughod, Larkin 2002). It will also expand the framework of scholarship in the field of ethnographic film, which has not paid sufficient attention to work outside the Anglophone and Francophone traditions. Finally, this dissertation will contribute to our understanding of a transnational Lusophone arena of cultural production in two key post-colonial locations: Mozambique and Brazil.
Alexa Hagerty
Stanford University, Anthropology
Blood and Bone: Kinship, Science and the Imagined Body in "Humanitarian Exhumations" of the Dead
[ project summary ]
Exhumation of the dead has become a normative human rights intervention and a requisite aspect of transitional justice. In the wake of political violence, exhumation aims to provide judicial evidence of mass atrocity and to return human remains to families. Understood as bringing closure to families, "humanitarian exhumation" may be carried out even in situations in which there is little or no hope of judicial recourse. Yet, the relationship between forensics teams and families has proven to be complex and often fraught. While some exhumations have received clear support from families, others have been sites of intense controversy. This project asks why there has been persistent tension between families of the missing and forensic teams. Attentive to the polysemy of the dead body, which at different times and places can be understood to be judicial evidence, a medical specimen, a scientific object, a political symbol, a religious relic, a site of the uncanny, a social subject, a dense site of mourning and more, this project explores what humanitarian exhumation means to those most intimately involved: forensic teams and families of the missing. Based in Argentina, location of the earliest and longest continuously excavated humanitarian exhumations, this project takes the complex relationship between families and forensic teams as a generative site to explore how we conceptualize exhumations as "humanitarian," how we expect science to serve social ends and how we imagine relationships of care between the living and the dead.
Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky
Stanford University, History
Integration and Resistance: North Caucasus Refugees in the Ottoman Empire, 1860-1914
Margaret C. Hanson
Ohio State University, Political Science
Property Rights, Land, and Rule in Central Asia
[ project summary ]
What explains variation in property rights security in developing autocracies? My dissertation addresses this question by focusing specifically on land rights, which directly impact the approximately 70% of the developing world's population that is rural and agricultural. Most political and economic literature either takes secure property rights as given, or relies on assumptions that property rights are uniformly secure within states and regime types, or among kinds of property. These assumptions rarely reflect reality. Instead, property rights vary cross- and sub-nationally, with cross-national variation reflecting average country conditions; they also differ among autocracies or democracies and by property type. I draw on approaches from economics, anthropology, and political science to examine conditions which influence the security of land rights between and within two developing Central Asian autocracies, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. I hypothesize that two overarching factors influence political elites' incentives and ability to secure land rights: the economic resources on which they can draw to fund patron-client networks; and the nature of ethnic and kinship ties between central and local government leaders. I propose to test these hypotheses using survey experiments and qualitative data from interviews, media analysis, and ethnographic observation during ten months of fieldwork.
Brynn M. Hatton
Northwestern University, Art History/Architecture
By Way of Vietnam: Racial Critique and Social Collapse in Transnational Protest Art, 1965-75
[ project summary ]
During the height of the American led wars in Southeast Asia, roughly 1965-75, a global anti-war movement largely informed by the visual strategies of the countercultures of the United States produced hundreds of posters, short films, illustrated print publications, and other quickly reproducible and widely distributable objects of protest art. While eclectic in format and diverse in national provenance, these works comprised what I assert constitutes a specific art historical genre, formed around a shared strategy of linking local politics with the issue of Vietnamese solidarity. Artists working in this genre demonstrated political subjectivity to be a function of visual and conceptual comparison with Vietnam. And while the works they produced imagined radical proximity between disparate identities in order to upend racial categorizations and collapse social hierarchies, my dissertation argues that this particular Vietnam-centric iconography relied on the over-determination of visual differences between people, thereby reinforcing the same social institutions they were staged to critique. My methodology enlists a core theoretical concern bridging modern critical histories of art and race; namely, the power of the visual to calcify social construction as social fact by reifying sameness or difference. Since the race-based critique was most routinely and effectively vocalized during the war by activists drawing significant parallels between government-sanctioned military imperialism abroad and racist policies at home, my theoretical interjection here is to reframe a concurrent episode in global art historical production as constituting an adamantly and equally transnational, if ultimately problematic, radical politics. The objects central to my study are taken from archives in Vietnam, the U.S., Australia, and Jordan, and evidence the vast material and institutional range of this transnational genre of protest art and its historiographic afterlives.
Jordan Haug
University of California, San Diego, Anthropology
Finding Hope in a Time of Decline after Mine Closure in Papua New Guinea
[ project summary ]
Many post-mine closure communities around the world suffer deindustrialization and dramatic economic decline. Because of this, how people in post-mine communities are able to find hope for a better future in times of dramatic decline is an increasingly urgent question. This project attempts to answer that question through original empirical research on cultural change in contemporary Misima, Papua New Guinea. In 2004, the small island of Misima became the site of one of the largest industrial mine closures in Oceania. Since that time, Misimans have experienced dramatic decline and a "crisis of meaning," making it difficult to hope for a better future with no immediately apparent alternative possibilities. I argue that in response to this crisis, Misimans have reconceptualized their categories of space and time, often through the prism of their Christian faith. I hypothesize that because Misimans believe these categories are highly contingent, they are able to redefine their hopes for a better future. From this we learn not only how people find hope in times of decline, but also what it means to fully recognize the contingency in cultural categories of space and time.
Jennifer C. Hsieh
Stanford University, Anthropology
Sound and Noise in the City: Public Sensibilities and Technocratic Translation in Taipei's Aural Cityscape
[ project summary ]
For the last 30 years, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency has implemented noise control standards in efforts to reduce the noise level on the island. While their efforts have succeeded in lowering the decibel levels around the island, citizens perceive Taiwan as noisier than ever. This paradox illustrates that sound in the form of noise is a contentious topic and reflects political claims about one's self-identification as a modern, Taiwanese subject. I focus on the problem of noise in Taipei as a uniquely urban discourse within Taipei's transition from an industrial city to a cosmopolitan, internationally-renowned urban space. Through city-wide efforts in urban redevelopment and the influx of new migrants from rural Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Taipei is becoming an even more densely-populated, diverse space for a number of urban subjects. I argue that the governance of noise creates a new paradigm in the delineation of urban space that restructures the urban experience through ways of hearing. By situating an ethnographic project within both governmental agencies and specific communities in Taipei, I draw attention to the imbricate nature between the technocratic system that produces a set of noise control standards and the everyday practices of individuals who either react, circumvent, perpetuate, or manipulate such standards toward their own diverse set of interests.
Alexander D. Huezo
Florida International University, Global and Sociocultural Studies
Contested Natures & Insecurities: The Aerial Fumigation of Illicit Crops in Colombia
[ project summary ]
Colombia is the only country in the world that currently permits the aerial fumigation of illicit crops. This practice, financed by the US State Department, has exacerbated the already tenuous circumstances of a rural population caught in the crossfire of an ongoing civil conflict. Of central importance to this study are the tensions that exist between the Latin American countries that produce illicit narcotics and the wealthier Northern countries that consume the vast majority of the world's supply. The focus of the US "war on drugs" has largely been on stamping out the production and distribution of cocaine and other illegal drugs, with less emphasis on the issue of domestic consumption. For US policymakers, the aerial fumigation of narcotics is a vital component of counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency imperatives established in the 2000 Plan Colombia agreement. For Colombian peasants, however, aerial fumigation threatens human, plant, and animal lives as well as ways of living. Informed by Critical Geopolitics and Political Ecology, I argue that aerial fumigation policy is conceptually driven by imperatives that render rural Colombians invisible within a landscape of violence and displacement. Furthermore, I argue that the practice of aerial fumigation violates policy guidelines, threatening the health, security, food security, and land tenure of rural Colombians. The purpose of this study is to gather the testimony of spray zone residents, the documentation of voices silenced by transnational geopolitical decisions. These voices will be incorporated into a quantitative dataset that I will use to map the socio-environmental implications of aerial fumigation policy, practice, and experience in Colombia.
Sarah Ifft
Yale University, History
Jewish and Christian Women's Economic Activities in Late Medieval Catalonia
[ project summary ]
My dissertation project will explore how Jewish and Christian women participated in family financial strategies in three Catalan towns - Barcelona, Girona, and Vic - between 1250 and 1350. With particular attention to credit transactions, property transactions, and commercial contracts, I will use Latin notarial registers from these towns to examine when and how some women became economically active, how this differed between these three cities, and what was similar or distinctive about the experiences of Jewish and Christian women. I will also consider whether women acted independently or alongside their husbands or male relatives, and how women's economic activity correlates with their marital status. While other scholars have addressed women's relationship to financial resources, they have generally focused on how women gained access to those resources, rather than how they used them throughout their lives and on a daily basis. My focus on women's everyday economic transactions will allow me to better determine how women were integrated into local economic life and notarial culture. The comparison between Jewish and Christian women allows me to consider how religious identity affected women's involvement in economic life, and to address the question of whether medieval Catalan Jews and Christians shared a common culture. I have chosen to look at three different towns, of varying size and economic profile, because their differences will allow me both to make generalizations about Catalan society more broadly, and to consider closely what factors might have promoted or discouraged women's economic involvement in the three different cities. This study will allow me to answer important questions about women's role in family's financial strategies, about women's relationship to money as expressed through late medieval notarial culture, and about the extent to which Jews and Christians in medieval Iberia participated in a common culture.
Chloe L. Ireton
University of Texas at Austin, History
Ethiopian Royal Vassals: Black Itinerancy in the Iberian Atlantic 1500-1650
[ project summary ]
My dissertation explores circulations of knowledge about African Christianity within the Iberian Atlantic during the first century and a half of Iberian expansion from 1509-1640. In the sixteenth century, hundreds (if not thousands) of free Afro-Iberians, some of them first generation Africans (manumitted slaves) acquired royal permits to embark in fleets to cross the ocean as vassals of the crown, that is, as Old Christians. The idea of "Christian Ethiopia" allowed crown bureaucrats, free blacks, and slaves to agree that Africans were entitled to claim an "Old" Christian status. Debates about "Christian Ethiopia" circulated amongst European missionaries, the Spanish crown, religious authorities, black individuals, and black religious brotherhoods in key urban spaces. The idea of Ethiopia came to life in books penned by learned clerics and the ambitious plans of universal monarchs trying to justify planetary expansion. But is also came alive in everyday lives of free blacks who participated in the activities of black religious brotherhoods that venerated "Ethiopian" saints in the port cities that constituted the Iberian Atlantic between 1500 and 1650 (and beyond). These brotherhoods created the conditions for black literacy and a black learned republic. I explore how itinerant free blacks served as cultural intermediaries, connecting urban black communities across the Atlantic and disseminating ideas about Christian Ethiopia and African Christianity, particularly in and between Seville (Spain), Veracruz (in present day Mexico), and Cartagena de Indias (in present day Colombia). My dissertation challenges a long-standing historiographical tradition that claims that Africans were considered the ultimate outsiders in the Spanish Monarchy, members of stained human lineages, and inassimilable converts.
Yanay Israeli
University of Michigan, History
Negotiating the Republic: Violence, Propaganda and Politics in Castilian Cities, 1391-1521
[ project summary ]
In the turn of the fifteenth century, a republican vocabulary began to figure prominently in different texts and documents produced in the Crown of Castile. Terms such as "common good" and "good government", previously absent from Castilian records, were now becoming central for making different kinds of political claims. In what circumstances this discursive change took place? How and to what end it affected social fabrics of power? This project explores the relations between republican discourses, social conflicts and civic practices in late medieval Castilian cities. Drawing on a wide range of archival and literary sources, I examine how different social actors appropriated and deployed ideas and claims concerning "good government" and "common good" to engage with a complex political world. My research is particularly concerned with the ways in which republican rhetoric and imagination were deployed in five domains: negotiations over royal authority; propaganda of different urban groups; violence against Jews and conversos including the emergence of notions of "purity of blood"; the production of public spaces in Castilian cities; and the eruption of urban popular protests including the attempts made by Castilian authorities to repress them. In all these areas, I argue, republican thought was "put to work" in meaningful and complex ways which have been largely overlooked. This project proposes the study of the historical negotiations of republican concepts as a perspective from which to rethink these domains and the connections between them.
Tristan D. Jones
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Anthropology
Embodied Sovereignties: Indigenous Political Resistance and Tar Sands Development in Alberta, Canada
[ project summary ]
Alberta's oil or tar sands development suggests tremendous long-term wealth to some, and "a slow industrial genocide" to others. Although a major driver of the Canadian economy, area Indigenous activists attribute changes in the health of the land to development-related pollution and contest further development on these grounds. Yet this conflict is about more than pollution alone: Indigenous activists also understand tar sands development is an erosion of "Indigenous sovereignty" which is claimed to exist prior to, and outside of, any North American political order. But what constitutes the stuff of Indigenous sovereignty? In resistance to tar sands development, Indigenous activists draw upon traditional spiritual and land use practices as a form of political contestation – an assertion to an Indigenous sovereignty, or the right to continue the spiritual and land use practices that form the basis of Indigenous political and cultural identity. In a word, these practices assert the very right to exist on a landscape that is changing through development. I argue that these forms of traditional spiritual practice and land use are best understood through the theoretical lens of "embodiment." Thus, this research is a critical investigation into the ways Indigenous sovereignty is "lived" through embodied traditional practices in the arena of tar sands contestation. Through Indigenous methodologies, participant-observation, and critical and collaborative analysis, this research is poised to contribute to a range of disciplines across the humanities and humanistic social sciences, including anthropology, Native Studies, political science, and history. It will enrich understandings of sovereignty, embodiment, and social phenomena related to tar sands development and Indigenous political resistance as it is lived by Indigenous actors facing the potential disappearance of their communities and ways of life.
Mohamad Junaid
City University of New York Graduate Center, Anthropology
Youth Activists in Kashmir: State Violence, Tehreek, and the Formation of Political Subjectivity
[ project summary ]
My dissertation is an ethnographic study of the self-determination movement in Kashmir. It traces the political struggles and everyday contestations through which young Kashmiri activists, who live under conditions of chronic state violence, challenge India's claims on Kashmir. The history of the self-determination movement, locally known by its Urdu name Tehreek, goes back to 1947. In 1990, however, the movement became an armed struggle, which was violently crushed as India imposed emergency laws in the region. These laws have effectively turned Kashmiris into subjects of military occupation, even though in Indian law Kashmiris are citizens. While Kashmiri youth have been the primary victims of decades of political violence, since 2008 there has been a renewal of a non-violent Tehreek, in which the youth have been prominently involved. The state has, however, continued to target Kashmiris—primarily youth activists—as objects of punitive containment by depicting them as 'anti-national'. State practices of violence and exclusion are accompanied by official discourses that define Kashmiris as Indian. It is struggles against these violent exclusions and forced inclusions, and the citizen-subject differences that the chronic state violence amplifies, which marks the everyday life of young Kashmiri activists. My research will examine how youth become political in the face of state violence. Further documenting the experiences and perspectives of young Kashmiri women activists, I will analyze the consequences of differences within political movements in subordinated societies. Specifically, my research will give an account of: state processes of subjection in Kashmir; relationship between the Kashmiri aspirations of self-determination, its historic articulation in the Tehreek, and the Kashmiri youth subjectivity; and, the modes through which youth might retain agency under conditions of state domination.
Malav Jayesh Kanuga
City University of New York Graduate Center, Anthropology
Imagine Us Here: Urban Redevelopment, Slum Dwellers, and the Place of Imagination in Mumbai
[ project summary ]
Urban redevelopment schemes in Mumbai proceed according to a highly unpredictable repertoire of developer-run rehabilitation, court-ordered displacement, and mass illegal evictions. This project argues that the uneven outcomes of urban development as well as key cultural images of the changing city are significantly shaped by slum dwellers' senses of possibility and forms of imagination around redevelopment. Using collective imagination as a means of uncovering how social meanings in, and of, the city are constructed and negotiated, this project investigates the ways that slum dwellers understand and engage in techniques of exclusion and inclusion through various encounters with redevelopment forces. The technocratic city has been a hallmark of recent investigations that demonstrate how rising inequality in global cities is spatially located in a range of built forms and urban processes, from infrastructure to investments in real estate speculation. However, shared forms of imagination and notions of possibility are a largely overlooked, yet significant, embodied and material feature of urban life. This project investigates the processes through which urban imaginaries form and impact the various scales in which redevelopment politics proceed. Everyday experiences of these social forces, specifically how they draw upon and shape social imaginaries of the city, illuminate questions of mobilization, urban democracy, and agency in Mumbai as well as cities in a range of world regions.
Thomas Kelly
University of Chicago, Area and Cultural Studies
On the Face of Things: Commercial Inscriptions and the Art of Advertising in Early Modern China
[ project summary ]
This dissertation will be the first major study of the rise of advertising as an art form in early modern China. My research focuses specifically on the commercial branding of ink stones (yan) and ink cakes (mo) from the Huizhou region (present-day Anhui) in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Commercial inscriptions on these objects offered a framework around which cultural producers experimented with visual design, forms of craft, and new modes of literary production. Advertising in turn opened up a unique space in which writers were able to imagine different possibilities for the construction of textual authority and channels of communication. Integrating perspectives from art history, material culture, and literary studies, I approach these inscriptional artifacts as vehicles for envisaging new categories of value at a time of great uncertainty about the effects and possibilities of a trans-regional consumer society.
Ulug Kuzuoglu
Columbia University, History
Inventing the Mind: Colonial Psychology and Minority Script Reforms in China, 1950s-1960s
[ project summary ]
My research explores how studies of the human mind have affected greater state policies concerning the reform of ethnic minorities' languages and scripts in the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the 1950s and 60s. When the PRC was founded in 1949, almost half of its territory was inhabited by ethnic minorities speaking different languages and writing in dozens of scripts. The PRC promised a new socialist civilization predicated on scientific progress and equality. To attain this goal, it needed to create new subjects with new minds, free of the pathologies of an earlier age. In the 1950s, supported by the Soviet experts, the PRC decided to unite dozens of writing systems used by the minorities by Romanizing all of them. Collective memories were thus deleted; it was time to write a new history. The turmoil caused by these reforms was nowhere more severe than in Xinjiang, the buffer zone between the Soviet Union and the PRC largely inhabited by Turco-Muslim minorities. Their Arabic script was first Cyrillized in 1956, then Romanized in 1964, and when the PRC's endeavors failed in the end, it was re-Arabized in 1982. I argue that the script reforms of the 1950s and 60s were intimately connected to psychological theories concerning the human mind, and that script was used by the PRC as a colonialist technology to transform minority consciousness. Chinese psychologists in the Republican era (1912-1949) were already investigating the psychology of literacy; and in the 1950s, the import of Soviet psychology and linguistics changed earlier theories and put them into practice. "Psychological Committees" and "Language and Script Committees" were established side by side throughout the minority regions, and writing systems of the minorities were all transformed. Investigating Xinjiang, my research explores the significance of psychological theories in minority script reforms, and reevaluates the line between science and colonialism in a Chinese context.
Nicole Labruto
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society
Biofuel Atlantic: Brazilian Bioenergy Science and the Expanding Plantation Network
[ project summary ]
As petroleum becomes a less viable fuel source economically and ecologically, Brazil has developed the most robust biofuel economy in the world. Sugarcane has been central to the Brazilian economy since the sixteenth century. Now, Brazilian scientists are reengineering sugarcane, a colonial crop, at genetic, organismic, and economic scales to produce new forms of biofuel as internationally viable energy commodities. In this project, I track how the extraction of energy from the botanical life of the sugarcane plant might leverage Brazil's plantation past into a bioenergy future. I will conduct participant observation with geneticists, biochemists, and agronomic economists as they seek to engineer new bioenergy commodities for domestic and international use in Lusophone Mozambique. I ask how these scientists, using lab techniques to separate plants into productive sub-entities, contribute to the making of both "green" energy and the technopolitical knowledge that circulates with it. I hypothesize that the emergence of what I call the plantation network—which extends beyond the cane field into labs and across oceans—indicates a global geopolitical shift premised on "green" capitalist national-scientific control over bioenergy commodity production. I further suggest that new energy commodities stand to bolster global South nations' political leverage, energy security, and GDP, while restructuring the sources and labor practices of energy production. In three scientific sites in Brazil and Mozambique, I investigate the multiple spaces and scales at which scientists are producing "green" bioenergy commodities for an emerging international market—with Brazilian science at the center of innovation and influence. I thus bring energy studies to bear on the anthropology of biology to ask after the scientific practices that shape and inform the cultural, political, and geographic expansion of a biologically based energy commodity.
Whitney Larratt-Smith
University of California, Davis, Anthropology
Of Water and Life: An Ethnographic Intervention in the Alberta Oil Sands
[ project summary ]
Through ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Alberta, this research examines the emergent forms and meanings of water among a diversity of actors, human and non-human, enrolled in the effects the Canadian oil sands industry. In particular, I investigate the relations informing First Nation's claims that water is more than what the state calls a natural resource, that it is a sacred, living being "losing its soul" through industrial upgrading processes. As a crucial element for the oil sand upgrading process and an integral entity in ancestral lifeways in Fort Chipewyan, a First Nations community downstream from operations, water is currently a medium through which scientific and non-scientific practices create different domains of articulation for enacting the harmful and/or benign impacts of industry. In this context, water is not a singular, pre-existing entity, its being is performed by diverse actors with various capabilities (Latour 1993, Law 2002). This research first asks: What is water across an array of techno-scientific and ancestral practices? What are its capacities, roles, and potentials, and how is it apprehended? Second, how is water related to the making of life in these heterogeneous practices? My points of entry to answer these questions in the Athabasca delta are threefold. By accompanying Fort Chipewyan hunters and fisherman, independent academic scientists, and government water quality monitoring researchers, I engage these actors as they enact the various capacities of water in its multiple emergences- tracing its roles in the making, refusing, and constraining of particular forms of life, illness and death for human and nonhuman beings. In particular, I ask how First Nation's practices to make life- some of which include themselves in symmetry with other living beings –witness the impacts of industry through their territorial engagements.
Elizabeth Lhost
University of Chicago, South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Between Community and Qanun: Documenting the Practice of Islamic Law in 19th C. British India
[ project summary ]
My project explores the role of Islamic legal practitioners—namely qazis (judges) and muftis (jurisconsults)—in the modernization of law in 19th-century British India. The expansion of the bureaucratic state and the introduction of new evidentiary protocols required trustworthy individuals who could produce authentic and verifiable legal documents. Based on extensive archival research and the introduction of previously-unused sources, I suggest that after protracted negotiations with Company and Crown officials, qazis were able to carve a space for themselves and their profession within this new document-based legal system. Traditional narratives often cast the 19th century in terms of increasing Anglicization, following the introduction of the Indian Penal Code, and the Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure in the 1860s, but despite the ascendancy of Anglo-Indian law and legal procedure, other forms of legal activity persisted. While qazis petitioned government officials for appointments, muftis worked to fulfill other religio-legal needs but their ability to do so also relied on state recognition. Drawing upon evidence from colonial and vernacular archives, my project considers the history of Islamic law not through the lens of marginalization and minoritization but through its enduring resilience and persistent relevance within the colonial courts. Looking at the practice of Islamic law, and the circulation of legal practitioners, documents, and litigants, my dissertation traces this transformation through the lives and livelihoods of qazis and muftis as they worked at the crossroads of British and Islamic legal systems.
Kevin Li
University of California, Berkeley, History
Crime, Criminality, and the State: A Social History of Southern Vietnam
[ project summary ]
Organized crime in Vietnam became big business and state authority in the decade following World War II. By the early-1950's, the most powerful group controlled large sectors of Sài Gòn's economy, the municipal police, the regional sûreté, and a private army of nearly three thousand. It would ultimately affect the unfolding of the Vietnam War. The group was called the Bình Xuyên, whose members were variously labeled as river pirates, bandits, and gangsters. My dissertation is a social history of the group and how its meteoric rise to power intertwined with broader processes of urbanization, decolonization, and state formation in 20th-century Vietnam. It asks: Under what conditions did this group form? How did it interface with state authorities and other claimants to political power? How did its turn from rural banditry to urban racketeering coincide with larger patterns of capitalist development and urbanization in southern Vietnam? Equally important, how did popular representations of the group reflect perceptions of political sovereignty, criminality, and governance in the context of decolonization? Analyzing archival materials and newspapers spanning the colonial-postcolonial transition and drawing on the scholarly literature on crime and outlawry from history, anthropology, sociology, and political science, my project will bring into focus the "criminal" as a constitutive part of modern Vietnamese history. As an empirical study of an extra-legal group thriving under conditions of state instability and war, my project also offers a valuable comparative case for understanding the political-criminal nexus.
Jeremy K. Lin
New York University, History
Patriotic Philology: Linguistic Classification and the Construction of Nations in Nineteenth-Century Eastern Europe
[ project summary ]
During the 1880s, both Lithuanian journalists urging increased use of Lithuanian and Hungarian scholars trying to establish the true relatives of Hungarian utilized theories drawn from linguistics to make arguments about their nations' characters, despite the different focus and wide separation of their debates. I use these cases to study the interaction between the understandings of language apparent in linguistic texts, which during the mid- to late nineteenth century created a systematic method for comparative-historical linguistics, and the ways in which national activists in Eastern Europe took up these understandings, reproducing and transforming them in their appeals to proposed national communities. Starting with a survey of early Indo-European grammatical and linguistic studies, I draw on the methods of intellectual history to provide a better understanding of how languages and their histories were understood as objects of study, as well as an account of methods of classification, with an eye to understanding how this might shape both the specific terms and stakes of argument as these categories were taken up and publicized by nationalists in specific national contexts. I then discuss the Hungarian and Lithuanian cases in turn, focusing first on the linguistic and national ideas embedded in debates and participant writings before turning to their interaction and their subsequent reception in the popular press. The project concludes with a section on the use of linguistic classification in both contexts to differentiate the nation from internal and external others. This linguistics-grounded historical approach allows a specific account of the role of language in nationalism and the rise of national identity that reinforces previous general accounts, as well as offering a model for understanding analogous debates across Eastern Europe, such as the disputed national linguistic status of Ruthenian and Yiddish or the origins of Romanian and vernacular Greek.
Paul M. Love
University of Michigan, Near Eastern Studies
Mapping the Ibadi Archipelago: Tracing Intellectual Networks among Ibadi Muslim Communities in Medieval North Africa (11-16th c.)
[ project summary ]
My dissertation traces the creation, transmission, and diffusion of five medieval manuscript works by Ibadi Muslim scholars in North Africa with the aim of understanding the intellectual networks which these works helped to form. Ibadi Muslims were a small but important religious minority in medieval North Africa. After a brief period of political dominance in North Africa at the beginning of the Middle Ages, Ibadi Muslims disappeared from the well-known chronicles and history of medieval North Africa. But while they might have faded from the view of their Muslim contemporaries, it was in the centuries following their political marginalization that Ibadis created a corpus of texts that drew the boundaries of their religious community in the past and present. The vehicle that allowed for this construction and maintenance of this religious community, I argue, was the creation of corpus of biographical dictionaries that chronicled the lives of Ibadi scholars. The project explores the creation and diffusion of five such works, composed from the 11th to the 16th centuries in three stages. Firstly, it examines and explains the relationships between these five authors on the textual level. Secondly, it will chart the movement of the physical manuscripts themselves by examining extant copies of these works in both public and private libraries throughout the Mediterranean region. Finally, the project will map the movement of these works, considering the physical geographies through which they moved and how their circulation related to the broader political and religious landscapes of medieval North Africa. The result will be not only to describe an obscure period in the history of this important religious minority but also to offer an example of the ways in which religious communities construct and maintain the boundaries of their faith through the creation, transmission, and diffusion of historical and biographical literature.
Ameem Lutfi
Duke University, Anthropology
Soldiers Now, Citizens Later: Baloch Mercenaries and Bahraini State Formation
[ project summary ]
National Armies, composed of citizen-soldiers, have been an integral feature of modern nation-states. Recruitment of nationals for state institutions like the army is considered essential for tying together the nation and the state. The nation furnishes state armies with its own nationals, who in their capacity as state-functionaries, often police the nation, as much as fight external wars. Recently though, various states around the world have started employing foreign laborers for positions within critical state institutions like the army. In Bahrain, over 40% of the National Guards are recruited from the Pakistani province of Balochistan. This project asks; how do mercenaries mediate the relationship between state and society? It posits the hypothesis that mercenaries, given their connection to both the place of recruitment and place of deployment, formulate not a binary state-society relationship but a triangulated relation with the mercenary-exporting state as the third coordinate. The research follows Baloch mercenary networks in order to understand 1) how the Bahraini state, through the process of mercenary recruitment, gets woven into political struggles in Pakistan, and 2) how sections of the Bahraini society, due to political maneuvering on the part of Baloch mercenaries, forms bonds with the Pakistani state on the basis of shared sectarian identities. It argues that these two interrelated processes mutually reinforce each other, resulting in state-society aligning along sectarian lines and increasing influence of the Pakistani State. Building on previous professional experience, ethnographic fieldwork, and archival research; the project looks to conduct 14 months of fieldwork in Karachi (Pakistan), Gawadar (Pakistan) and Manama (Bahrain), on the processes and discourses around mercenary recruitment, payment and deployment.
Benedito L. Machava
University of Michigan, History
The Morality of Revolution: Urban Cleansings and the Making of Socialist Mozambique, 1974-1988
[ project summary ]
In the years between 1974 and 1988, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), the ruling party of independent Mozambique sought to "mentally decolonize", "purify", and "reeducate" urban citizens deemed to be morally impure and an obstacle to the socialist revolution. FRELIMO violently uprooted thousands of people from the cities and sent them to reeducation and labor camps in the countryside. This exercise in social engineering, which resembled the Great Terror in Stalin's USSR and the Cultural Revolution in China, was carried out by ordinary urban citizens who denounced, hunted down, and helped to expel their fellow compatriots. My dissertation examines the historical, ideological, and socio-political dynamics that drove Mozambicans out of the cities, and documents victims' experiences of reeducation and forced labor. My study moves beyond explanations about why the regime pursued such objectives. It explores the ways in which ordinary urban citizens recast the regime's socialist principles and transformed them into an arena of debate over moral citizenship. Based on extensive archival and ethnographic research, this study redeems a silenced chapter of Mozambique's recent history. It contributes to the understanding of why "ordinary" people participate in violent schemes of social engineering against their compatriots in autocratic regimes.
Eli D. Marienthal
University of California, Berkeley, Geography
Promised Land, Contested Space: Canaan and the Geography of Reconstruction in Post-Earthquake Haiti
[ project summary ]
The earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince and much of Southern Haiti in January 2010 set in motion a massive international emergency response. Humanitarian and development organizations flooded into the country, already host to a large UN peacekeeping mission and the world's highest per capita presence of NGOs. In the almost four years since, the failures and shortcomings of the official reconstruction project have been widely reported. This study moves to destabilize conventional state- and NGO-centric accounts of reconstruction. Instead, it turns to Canaan, an emergent city at the edge of Port-au-Prince, as a theater in which dynamics both related to and disavowed by the official project converge to produce a remarkable new geography of reconstruction. With a population of roughly one hundred thousand, Canaan is a sprawling new addition to the urban periphery, built without international or state assistance, and in large measure without NGO presence. This study explores how Canaan emerged, and why it has been ignored by the official reconstruction project. To do so, I conceptualize post-earthquake reconstruction as a moment of historical conjuncture, in which dynamics unleashed by the earthquake converge with longer histories of migration, urbanization, state-making and foreign intervention. I argue that Canaan transgresses the official reconstruction project's available spatial categories – IDP sites, tent camps, transitional shelters, relocation settlements, permanent housing – and links a historically salient politics of land and rent to the humanitarian category of internal displacement. In doing so, it offers a powerful counterpoint to the ahistorical and "anti-political" humanitarianism of official reconstruction.
Johanna Sofia Kristina Markkula
Stanford University, Anthropology
Navigators of the Social Ocean: Filipino Seafarers and Coastguards in the Global Maritime World
[ project summary ]
This anthropological study of the sea as a social and political space will be based on ethnographic fieldwork with Filipino merchant seafarers, coastguards in the Philippines, and the key institutions that make up the maritime world. It takes as its starting point the paradox that although the sea covers ¾ of the planet and is of great importance to human society as a space of transport, a source of livelihood, not to mention as an ecological resource; the sea has not been given much attention in anthropology, a discipline which concerns itself with humankind in all its diversity. How do humans manage this enormous and enormously important space? Through what practices and processes? In studying Filipino seafarers and coastguards, I focus on two recent transformations in how humans manage and make use of the sea: globalization and global governance. First, global maritime transport is key to globalization, with 90 percent of all goods traded internationally being transported by sea. Filipino seafarers are a rather recent group in international shipping and as such, they provide a window for understanding the nature of the contemporary maritime industry and globalization. Second, new technologies for extracting minerals, oil, and gas from the ocean floor have led to attempts to territorialize and appropriate ocean spaces raising issues of global governance, territoriality and sovereignty. The South China Sea is possibly the most important such maritime territorial conflict today. A study of the Philippine Coast Guard and its strategies, practices and challenges for negotiating this space can tell us how the frontlines of nation-states are navigated in the "real world". Both seafarers and coastguards provide strategic lenses for studying how abstract processes such as globalization and global governance, and negotiations of sovereignty, exist in the concrete, yet fluid ocean space, and are carried out by maritime workers: Navigators of the Social Ocean.
Nathan E. Marvin
Johns Hopkins University, History
A Larger Atlantic: A French Indian Ocean History of the Age of Atlantic Revolutions, 1767-1804
[ project summary ]
In the final decades of the eighteenth century, France and her colonies in the Caribbean became increasingly connected with the Mascareignes, the region encompassing the French Indian Ocean slave colonies of Île Bourbon (today Réunion) and Île de France (Mauritius). One of the most concrete effects of this rapprochement was the exportation of Atlantic norms in the realms of slave law, regulation of miscegenation, social organization, and even missionary strategy. The tensions between these norms and the ethnic and racial realities of the human landscape on Île Bourbon in particular posed a problem. Shaped by a different history, the island's models of race were quite distinct from those in the Atlantic world. The eruption of the French and Haitian Revolutions (1789-1804), with their accelerated advances in egalitarian discourse and citizenship rights, shook the uneasy racial hierarchy that undergirded the colony's society, which the "Atlanticization" of the previous decades had already fragilized to a point of crisis. In exploring how Atlantic notions were imposed on Île Bourbon, and of the very different ways they worked—and faltered—there, my dissertation aims to rewrite the history of Atlantic Revolutions in an Indian-Ocean light.
Stuart M. McManus
Harvard University, History
Globalizing Cicero: Humanist Eloquence in Early Modern European Empires
[ project summary ]
My dissertation charts the global dissemination and subsequent development of classical rhetoric in various colonial contexts in Asia and the Americas (c. 1550-1820). As a contribution to the nascent field of global intellectual history and the history of the global circulation of knowledge, my dissertation will not treat this phenomenon within the confines of national or regional histories. Instead, it will use the skills of comparative colonial history to build a more holistic picture of the reception and application of Antiquity's most powerful persuasive tool beyond Europe. A particular area of focus in the project will be the uses of classicizing oratory for imperial propaganda in urban contexts like Quito, Manila, Lima and Goa and the institutional uses of oratory in colonial colleges in Asia and the Americas (both British and Iberian), and how these rhetorical tools were re-purposed in the eighteenth century for patriotic and nationalist ends. As classical rhetoric was an important element of the humanist tradition, that predominately Neo-Roman trend in European culture that stressed the cultivation of virtue and eloquence, particularly in Latin, my dissertation is also the first attempt at a global history of humanism. By showing the importance of the tradition of classicizing public speaking to manifestations of an anti-Eurocentric world view, such as the criollo patriotism in Mexico in the 1740s, and the patriotic oratory that commemorated the Boston Massacre and the Fourth of July during the America Revolution, I hope to show the importance and malleability of this tradition on the global stage and over the longue durée. The project will be based on the first census of the surviving classicizing orations, in both print and manuscript, delivered in colonial Asia and the Americas c. 1550-1820, which I will complete during my Fellowship year.
Robynne Mellor
Georgetown University, History
A Comparative Environmental History of Uranium Mining and Milling in North America and the USSR, 1945-1985
[ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the history of uranium mining and milling in North America and the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1985, using and building upon approaches from environmental history, diplomatic history, and international comparative history. To do this, I will use four case studies from Canada, the U.S., and the Soviet Union. These case studies include Elliot Lake, Ontario; Grants Mineral Belt, New Mexico; Beshtau and Buk, Stavropol Territory; and Krasnokamensk, Zabaikal Territory. The examination of these case studies will allow me to illuminate the complex connections among science, technology, government, economic ideology, culture, and the environment. The main argument of my dissertation is that indirect and direct connections intricately interwove the history of uranium procurement in North America and the Soviet Union. Ideological opposition and the arms race directly linked the programs, and the similar radioactive legacy that all governments caused indirectly linked the programs. My research connects nuclear technology to its origins in nature in order to bring to light the history of oft-ignored historical actors, such as uranium miners and populations who lived around the mines. It also illuminates how nuclear technology development programs affected the environment. My dissertation will be based on archival research in Canada, the U.S., and Russia, and it will incorporate and advance ideas drawn from anthropological and sociological scholarship. My work will provide a new analysis of Cold War history through the examination of the war's direct effects on people and landscapes connected with uranium mining.
Caroline Merrifield
Yale University, Anthropology
Eating against the Grain in Late Socialist China
[ project summary ]
In a climate of deep distrust toward the conventional food system, Chinese urban consumers have begun pursuing direct relationships with rural and periurban producers in an effort to secure trustworthy food 'at the source.' In China's late socialist context, problems of food safety are linked to prevailing discourses of social and moral crisis, as well as to popular distrust of state regulation. Through face-to-face relationships, consumers are attempting to personalize and clarify the relations of production behind their daily meals. This project seeks to understand the nature of new farmer-consumer relationships, which are emerging across China's deep rural-urban divide and within the politically- and culturally-charged arena of food. By examining these relationships from the situated perspective of a Hangzhou restaurant, its producer networks, and its clientele, this project will investigate the larger political-economic and moral implications of new mobilizations, and new communities, developing around 'good food.'
Isadora Moura Mota
Brown University, History
Reading about Freedom: Slavery, Literacy, and the Impact of the U.S. Civil War in Brazil (1850-1870)
[ project summary ]
My project examines the world of slave communication that made the American Civil War a part of black freedom struggles in Brazil during the second half of the nineteenth century. Relying especially on literate peers with access to newspapers, Brazilian slaves educated themselves about the U.S. Civil War and wove narratives of the conflict into the liberal critique of slavery that had started to sway the country. Black networks of information enabled slaves, freedmen, and maroons to imagine themselves as part of a larger community based not only on literal connections, but also on common experiences, assumptions, and cultural practices throughout the Atlantic. Focusing on slave rebellions in the provinces of Maranhão (1861), Minas Gerais (1864), and Pará (1865), I argue that the United States became an important part of the conceptual maps of slavery and freedom that Brazilian slaves and free blacks applied to navigate the country's political landscape in the decades prior to abolition in 1888. Black political activism adds a new dimension to the historiography about the impact of the Civil War in Brazil. Scholars have often studied the migration of Confederate planters to the country after defeat in the war - estimates range from eight to twenty thousand Southern migrants – but have paid little attention to the fact that the events unfolding in the United States covered the pages of Brazilian newspapers, and fuelled both congressional debates and conversations in slave quarters. My dissertation examines how the U.S. war shaped black abolitionism and contributed to the Brazilian government's decision to abolish slavery gradually in the 1870s.
Galen B. Murton
University of Colorado at Boulder, Geography
Himalayan Highways: Intersecting Identities, Markets, and Geopolitics in Mustang, Nepal
[ project summary ]
My research examines how international politics and cultural identities intersect and are mutually constituted through development. My hypothesis is that road development projects in Nepal are geopolitical projects with cultural ramifications. To test this hypothesis, my primary research question asks: In what ways do Sino-Indian geopolitics affect Himalayan cultural identities and social relations through the socio-economic transformations of road development? Using roads as a lens to examine how development links politics and identities, I engage my main research question with three operational sub-questions: 1) How have Sino-Indian relations in Nepal influenced the development of road infrastructure in Mustang? 2) In what ways are new roads reconfiguring regional mobilities and introducing new commodities to Mustang? 3) How are mobilities and commodities creating new consumer subjects in Mustang and in what ways are these consumer subjectivities reshaping cultural identities and social relations in Mustang? To generate data that answer these questions, I will conduct ten months of ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal. My methods will include: archival research in Kathmandu on the histories and patterns of Chinese and Indian investments in road development in Nepal; quantitative analysis of changing commodity prices in Mustang over the course of recent road development projects from 2000-2012; and extensive qualitative interviews and focus groups on the connections between mobility, consumption, and social relations with traders and consumers in Mustang and Kathmandu. My objective is to produce valuable knowledge about the emerging ramifications of China and India's complex role in Nepal's development industry and establish a point of reference with which to evaluate the political and social implications of road developments across the wider Himalayan and Asian region.
Patrick Otim
University of Wisconsin, Madison, History
Forgotten Voices of The Transition: Precolonial Intellectuals and the Colonial State in Northern Uganda, 1850-1950
[ project summary ]
In a special issue of The Makerere (1972), the Ugandan historian Balam Nyeko critiqued scholars for ignoring the role of African ideas in shaping colonialism. Existing literature on colonial employees pays little attention to African intellectual contributions to the colonial state. Instead, scholars have overemphasized the Africans' roles in the army, their manipulation of colonial administrators for personal gain, their greed as tax collectors, and their conflicts with their people. The growing field of African intellectual history has continued this trend by focusing solely on nationalist figures such as Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah, who received education in the West and made exceptional contributions to independence. But should the focus of African intellectual history start with nationalist figures? What about the generation that came before them and was nurtured by African institutions? This project seeks to expand the field of intellectual history by including Africans who were nurtured by local institutions and who were instrumental in the transition from the precolonial to the colonial state. It focuses on the Acholi of Uganda. I intend to argue that while British colonial violence, especially public executions of rebellious Africans, might have caused fear and weakness among the Acholi, violence alone does not adequately explain the triumph of the European colonial enterprise. The Acholi who became colonial employees brought with them significant knowledge and ideas that contributed heavily to the success of the colonial administration. My study will employ two main sets of sources: documentary and oral. A combination of these sources will generate information on both the precolonial and colonial eras. Thus, this work will contribute to the literature on African colonial employees and on African intellectual history, especially the discussion about the contributions of African ideas and institutions to the shaping colonial projects in Acholiland.
Justin Perez
University of California, Irvine, Anthropology
Coming Out Bureaucratically: Sexuality Rights and Narratives of Discrimination in Peru
[ project summary ]
This project examines how the introduction of formal legal mechanisms to account for and acknowledge discrimination shapes how sexual minorities in Peru narrate their sexual identity, understand their status in society, and participate in the emerging sexual minority community. The oral "coming out" narrative is typically assumed to be the primary way to narrate gay sexual identity. Yet to narrate an experience of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation requires explicit recognition of one's nonnormative sexual identity, both on the part of the victim and the perpetrator. In this project, I ask: (1) How do formal and informal resources for identifying and responding to discrimination shape sexual identity? (2) How does participation in the creation of a formalized discrimination complaint change how sexual minorities understand their identity and status? (3) How and where are narratives of discrimination circulated and what is the effect of this circulation in shaping communities of sexual minorities? Through participant observation and interviews in Tarapoto and Lima, Peru, I propose to track the production and circulation of formal and informal discrimination complaints by and among sexuality activists and sexual minorities. Situating the introduction of a formal legal protocol to address discrimination at the intersection of multiple historical processes and cultural contexts in Peru, the project poses interventions in understandings of community formation, queer studies, literacy and power, human rights and social movements.
Marco A. Ramos
Yale University, History
The Politics of the Mind: Psychology, Violence, and Activism in Cold War Argentina
[ project summary ]
While the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union was a "long peace" noted for its political stability, the Cold War in the global South – defined as Latin America, Asia, and Africa – was hardly peaceful. Instead, it was dominated by volatility, political extremism, and bloodshed. In Argentina during the Cold War, for example, the country was torn between the violence of revolutionary guerrilla groups and a series of oppressive, anti-Communist dictatorships backed by the United States. This interdisciplinary project, situated between Cold War political history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine, examines how the Argentine psychological sciences interacted with the violence, volatility, and extremism endemic to the global South during the Cold War. Most Cold War studies focus on social science under the peace and massive military resources of the U.S. and Soviet Union. My dissertation research turns to Argentina to explore how social science was constituted – not in the rather isolated cases of stability and wealth in the northern superpowers – but amid the violence and extremism that defined politics for the vast majority of nations during the global Cold War. At the height of political violence in Argentina from 1966 to 1983, military officials and activist organizations mobilized scientific understandings of the mind to advance Cold War ideologies and attack political enemies. While the military labeled guerrilla fighters "psychopaths," activist organizations partnered with psychologists to defend political resistance and criticize the psychological effects of state terror. Relying on historical archives and interviews in Argentina, I argue that Argentine psychology offers an invaluable window into the volatile politics that defined the Cold War in the South and reveals an ideologically-committed brand of scientific practice that complicates dominant narratives of Cold War social science based on the First World.
Catherine I. Reilly
Princeton University, Literature
Naming Disorder: Psychiatry, Diagnosis and Literary Modernism in Russia and Germany, 1880 - 1929
[ project summary ]
My dissertation takes up the multiplicity of German classification systems for mental illness that developed under the aegis of urban university clinics during the second half of the 19th century. I suggest that these systems are the starting point for investigating the presence of diagnostic models, representations of psychiatric diagnosis and psychological disturbance in modernist literature in Germany and Russia between the 1880s and 1920s. By tracing patterns of diagnostic discourse in authors such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Schnitzler, Alfred Döblin and Gottfried Benn in Germany and Anton Chekhov, Nikolai Evreinov and Andrei Platonov in Russia, I argue for an overlooked resonance between evolving classificatory systems for mental illness and the parallel investigation of the forms, codes and structures shaping the pathology that repeatedly appears in these authors' works. By returning to psychodiagnostic models "lost" or "discarded" in the quest for standardization, my research asks: In what specific ways did the shifting terrain of psychological pathology provide a resource for literary exploration? How were different historical modes of conceptualizing psychological affliction manifested in a literary context and how did they change once there? What were the specific points of crossover between literary production and clinical evaluation and what more diffuse elements contributed to similarities between the two? Were there instances where literary diagnoses trickled back into clinical practice? A ten-month SSRC IDRF would allow me access to the rare print materials, unpublished case histories, manuscripts and correspondence available at archives across Germany and Russia.
Kelsey Richelle Rice
University of Pennsylvania, History
Crossroads Intellectuals: Enlightenment Societies and Music Assemblies in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Azerbaijan
[ project summary ]
My project investigates the history of enlightenment societies and music assemblies in Azerbaijan from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth century. I argue that these societies were the primary means through which Azeri intellectuals implemented their projects of cultural and social reform. These projects reflected the shifting cultural influences in nineteenth century Azerbaijan and expressed the anxieties about progress and identity held by Azeri intellectuals. I locate cultural innovation in Azerbaijan within a broader nineteenth century trend in which culture played an integral role in the evolution from local to national identities, illustrating how Azeri cultural activities interacted with similar movements in both Europe and the Middle East. By considering the role of the turn of the century Azeri middle class in the creation of a literary and musical culture through the means of enlightenment societies and music assemblies I expand the historiography of bourgeois popular culture outside the West. I argue that as a result of Azerbaijan's location at the intersection of the Ottoman, Iranian, and Russian empires it was uniquely positioned to play a central role in the development of secular intellectual culture in the Middle East. By repositioning Azerbaijan at the center of cultural innovation in the Middle East I challenge the traditional geographic bounds of the region and propose that Central Eurasia, and important ground of Persian-Turkic exchange, and Russian imperial presence in there, be considered as an important location of cultural and intellectual development in the Middle East.
Andrew V. Ruoss
Duke University, History
Competitive Collaboration: Forging Global Corporate Political Economy, 1600-1730
[ project summary ]
How, in the seventeenth century, did the rival Dutch (VOC) and English (EIC) East India Companies forge a shared corporate political economy that transcended national political and economic frameworks? In pursuit of this question, my dissertation analyzes company, state and personal records, focusing on the interactions between the agents of both companies. This project advances two primary interventions: (1) that, in a time known for the rise of mercantilism, the VOC and EIC acted as corporate bodies apart from, but related to their home states; and (2) that these corporations forged a relationship with each other in a complicated network of competition and collaboration that developed over the course of the seventeenth century. The competing firms targeted one another with intensive information gathering operations and they emulated each other's successful strategies. The diverse political and economic institutional ecologies of the states and empires throughout early modern Europe and Asia would all come to both define and be defined by this developing corporate organization. Employing methodologies from economic and political history as well as economic sociology and political science, this project addresses several critical inquiries. How did the communication networks and strategies of both firms involve an exchange of cultural, economic, and political ideas? How do we understand corporate as well as international conflict, including transnational trade, the law of nations, and the ways in which economic concepts were formed? How can corporate competition, itself, engender a set of common languages and ideas that create political economy? My dissertation introduces a non-state global institution to early modern economic and political history, long dominated by naturalized national categories. Simultaneously, this project contributes a new historical framework to the modern concept of multinational corporate organization and international law.
Shashank Saini
University of Pennsylvania, Anthropology
Urbanity and its Discontents: Violence, Masculinity and Dispossession in Delhi
[ project summary ]
The recent discourse about sexual violence in Delhi is masking deeper material transformations occurring in the region. Agricultural lands in peri-urban Delhi—which currently constitutes two-thirds of Delhi—are being acquired at a fast pace per the state's mandate to double the urbanized area of Delhi by 2021. As shopping malls and gated communities are being erected on village lands, rural men from urban villages are being considered a threat to urban modernity as the incidents of sexual violence in which rural men are perpetrators are being selectively highlighted in newspaper reports. These discursive developments and material transformations have produced an exceptionally precarious state for young males from urban villages who are being forced to confront a service industry economy, a mode of production for which they possess neither the habitus, nor the education. My dissertation project will explore the emergent processes of subject-making of these male youth from urban villages, and particularly their notions and practices of masculinity, within the context of a fast changing political economy in Delhi characterized by transformations in modes of production and relationships to land, the emergence of new class and status groups, and the influx of new patterns of consumerism.
Akshya Saxena
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature
Vernacular Englishes: Language, Translation, and Democratic Politics in Post-Liberalization India
[ project summary ]
My project explores the relationship between language and democracy in post-liberalization India through a study of the expanding presence of English in India. It asks: what is the place of English —as a language and as a symbol– in claims for representation and power by hitherto-marginalized castes, classes and language groups within India today? What, whom and how does the English language claim to represent? Through an analysis of Hindi newspapers, Bollywood film and Hindi and Indian English writing, I argue that it is no longer possible to view English as merely a colonial legacy to be opposed or simply a language of global capital to be embraced. Through close textual analysis and archival research, my work establishes that the "foreign" provenance of English in India opens it to interpretation and continually invests it with newer political meaning. Coupled with Hindi in "vernacular hybrids," English interrupts Hindi to reveal dissatisfactions with India's post-independence nationalist agenda. I approach the English-Hindi hybrids used in multiple media contexts as overlooked acts of translation that modify the way a language is written and spoken. English enables class, caste and gender mobilities, facilitates "social and political translation" of their speakers, and ultimately alters the complexion of democratic inclusion in India. My project emphasizes the transformative role of global media in shifting our understanding of language itself and, consequently, of the political. Transnational market imperatives and considerations of diverse audiences have, globally, infused our idiom with more and more global brand names, and multilingual references. My analysis reckons with everyday linguistic inventiveness as decisive political strategy, and inaugurates a novel approach to study instances of global englishes across the world.
Eric T. Schluessel
Harvard University, Area and Cultural Studies
The Muslim Emperor of China: Everyday Encounter in Law and Ritual in Xinjiang, 1877-1933
[ project summary ]
This dissertation argues that Chinese and Uyghurs in Xinjiang in the late Qing and early Republic, roughly from the fall of an Islamic emirate in the 1870s to the beginnings of Soviet hegemony in the 1930s, developed a common set of institutions and a cultural vocabulary for the articulation of power and authority. New narratives incorporating the Chinese emperor and history into Turko-Islamic cultural frames mediated between the affective modes of expression of imperial subjecthood and the statutory inscription of ethnic and religious categories. Either group learned to borrow from the symbolic vocabularies and cultural forms of the other in order to negotiate their relationships and legitimize their own positions in a shifting social and political order. On the basis of Chinese local and central archives, Turkic-language texts, and other sources in a number of languages, I argue that such transcultural phenomena emerged from the everyday experience of routine interactions between Muslim subjects and Qing and Chinese local government, particularly in the pursuit of justice and dispute resolution. As such, my dissertation also explores for the first time the encounter between Islamic and Chinese legal systems. I explore issues of legal pluralism and legal culture through changes in procedure, jurisprudence, and the social uses of the court systems. Informal practices from China proper became formalized on the frontier, yet they operated in an environment where power functioned rhizomatically across groups. This new model of Xinjiang society and politics in a period of minimal state penetration provides a better explanation for major violent incidents in this period that scholars have understood as incipient ethno-national uprisings. I demonstrate instead that events, including those surrounding the Xinhai Revolution, were part of a broader pattern of violence and inter-communal accommodation in local society.
Tunc Sen
University of Chicago, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Astrology and the Mediterranean Apocalypse: Knowledge, Prophecy, and Politics at the Ottoman Court, 1450s-1550s
[ project summary ]
My project aims to explore hitherto overlooked and understudied Ottoman astrological texts produced and disseminated throughout the late-fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a significant period of time that not only witnessed the fall of Constantinople, the fall of Granada and imposition of confessional uniformity in Spain, the Columbian discoveries, the Protestant Reformation, and Ottoman victories on all fronts, but also coincided with the last years of the Islamic millennium. During this period of apocalyptic and millenarian excitement, eschatological tension took firm hand in the entire Mediterranean. My research will set out from the hypothesis that the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century apocalyptic visions in the Ottoman lands of Eastern Mediterranean were closely related to, and in some measure developed in conversation with the apocalyptic ferment among Christian and Jewish communities in the Western Mediterranean. I argue that it is this common apocalyptic idiom in the Mediterranean that facilitated the wide production of contemporary Ottoman astrological ephemera and its open circulation within both Ottoman territories and Latin Christendom. This astrological material consists primarily of calendars and annual astrological compendia, horoscopes and nativity books prepared for members of the imperial family, and related miscellanies that incorporate fragments of astrological tracts and tables. While significant amount of these materials are now kept in the Palace Library in Istanbul, a great many others are scattered in several manuscript libraries in Europe, especially in cities most directly affected by Ottoman expansionism in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The preponderance in European libraries of royal horoscopes and annual astrological prognostications would also suggest that contemporary European readers may have used these Ottoman texts as part of the broader information-gathering and espionage activities widespread in early modern Mediterranean
Aarti Sethi
Columbia University, Anthropology
Chronicles of Deaths Foretold?: Farmer Suicides in Chhattisgarh, India
[ project summary ]
More than a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide across India since 1995. Since what one report terms the 'largest wave of recorded suicides in human history' (Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, 2011) first received attention in the mid-nineties, the 'farmer's' suicide' has emerged as a potent politically charged symbol for intense public debates on the depredations of neoliberal structural adjustment, and the failures of state and society. Scholarly and activist discourses have attempted to establish causal links between the widespread suicide of farmers and the large-scale industrial transformation of agricultural production in the early 1990s. My dissertation research will focus on the suicides of farmers in the Durg and Mahasamund districts of the central-Indian state of Chhattisgarh in order to examine the means by which suicide is transformed from an exceptional occurrence in peasant life, to entering a culturally available repertoire of action. By examining affects and narratives around suicide deaths among cultivators in Mahasamund and Durg on the one hand, and the ways in which the category of the 'farmers' suicide' is energized as the grounds of new political mobilizations against neoliberalism on the other, my project explores the relationship between conditions of socio-structural marginality, forms of life and political possibility, under conditions of neoliberal precarity.
Jonathan Shaw
University of Michigan, History
Always Kadogo: The Mobilization of Children in Conflict and the Legacies of Social Marginalization in North Kivu, Congo (DRC), 1959-2003
[ project summary ]
Thousands of children are making war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite international condemnation combatants under the age of 15 remain vital constituents of Congo's informal armies. The scale of violence in the region is overwhelming: over five million Congolese have died since conflict began in 1996. In the province of North Kivu fighting rages on. The aspirations of groups on all sides, most notably those belonging to a loose affiliation of militias known as Mai-Mai, are borne on the backs of young fighters called kadogo (little ones) in Swahili. As these children leave the battlefield and return to their homes urgent questions emerge concerning how best to deal with the consequences of their violence: in their own lives, in their immediate families, and within their home communities. This project seeks to historicize the contemporary role of children in eastern Congo's conflicts. By tracing genealogies, through both kinship and ideology, between the involvement of children in the recent Congo Wars and the Simba Rebellion of 1964—the first postcolonial conflict in Congo to see the heavy recruitment of children—my dissertation aims to help make sense of violence being committed by young warriors in contemporary North Kivu. This project will attempt to locate the discourses of belonging, marginalization, social maturity, and power that were being converted into a vocabulary of violence by child soldiers in both eras. In uncovering this language of power and tracing its violent inscription on individual bodies and in eastern Congolese communities, I seek to link the mobilization of children five decades ago and today in ways that enable policy makers and social scientists to more effectively understand and interpret the meaning of violence committed by militarized children in Africa's Great Lakes region.
Sujit Shrestha
Emory University, Anthropology
Urban Contestations: Neoliberalism, Maoism, and Post-Revolutionary Politics in Kathmandu's Squatter Settlements
[ project summary ]
On May 8th, 2012, under the direction of the Maoist-led government, five branches of the government bureaucracy launched a coordinated 'attack' on an informal settlement of Kathmandu's urban poor living on the banks of the Bagmati River in Thapathali – Kathmandu, Nepal. Despite the fact that the urban poor had been among the Maoists' core constituencies during the communists' rise to power, and had been singled out (together with other marginal groups) in party documents as deserving of special consideration and protection, the Maoist-led government proceeded to force these people from their homes, and has pursued a more general policy of displacing squatter settlements in Kathmandu and elsewhere. In the wake of a decade-long (1996-2006) armed revolutionary Maoist movement, the Maoist Party that had come to power by promising to abolish private property and to support the working classes, subsequently used the rhetoric of private property to discredit and displace the urban poor. In such a context, how do squatter groups, many of whom are Maoists themselves, respond to the paradoxical accommodation of neoliberal economic policies, political practices, and modes of government by the Maoist regime? How has the Maoist party justified its position with respect to squatter groups in Kathmandu? And what are the emergent social/political formations through which squatter groups navigate the complex post-revolutionary political terrain in Kathmandu, Nepal? Using the politics of urban squatters in Kathmandu as a point of entry, this anthropological project explores the struggles of marginalized Maoist constituencies (such as squatter groups in Kathmandu) to organize collective action as they negotiate the contradictions between 'revolutionary Maoism' and 'neoliberal Maoism'. Doing so, this project will draw upon and contribute to scholarship on neoliberalism, and communism and state socialism.
Marcio Siwi
New York University, History
Making the Modern and Cultured City: Urban Planning, Architecture, and Cultural Production in Postwar São Paulo
[ project summary ]
My project explores the efforts to transform São Paulo into a modern and cultured city in the years following WWII through a transnational investigation of urban planning, architecture, and cultural production. These approaches will be examined as individual expressions of an idealized urban sensibility that a group of leading Paulistanos aspired to produce in postwar São Paulo and as comprising a broader pattern of uneven development, spatial segregation, and racial anxiety. My project seeks to illustrate how the modern and cultured city promoted by these actors was inspired by and created in dialogue with individuals and institutions involved in New York's own rise to prominence. More specifically, my project looks at how ideas about urban planning and architecture associated with New York circulating after WWII under the rubric of modern–including zoning–were selectively appropriated by engineers and architects in São Paulo to update, revitalize, and secure central areas of the city for the mostly white middle and upper class residents and to push the urban poor (mostly black and mixed race) towards the peripheries. Similarly, I examine how artists and intellectuals linked to the city's new art museums drew from and reconfigured practices associated with MoMA, including abstract art, to align São Paulo culturally with the West and to castoff the image of Brazil portrayed in figurative art which tended to highlight the country's Afro-Brazilian heritage. Equally important to my project is to explore how transformations underway in São Paulo shaped developments in New York, from MoMA's increased visibility abroad to New York's urban renewal program of the 1950s. By focusing on the networks of exchange between São Paulo and New York, and taking seriously the multidirectional flows of influence, my project seeks to illustrate how North-South elites worked together to create a shared (though not identical) vision of the modern and cultured city in the postwar period.
Nicholas Smith
Northwestern University, History
Of Sovereignty and Extra-Territoriality: The Pirates of the Red Sea, 1860-1930
[ project summary ]
The British, French and Italians carved the Red Sea into spheres of influence during the imperial era, which set the stage for the rise of a host of smugglers, outlaws and rogues who the colonial powers lumped together as 'pirates.' The pirates occupied what the imperialists – and later scholars – described as extra-territorial space, where no single power was sovereign. While the imperialists characterised extra-territorial, maritime space as anarchic, contrasting it with orderly, sovereign space, I argue the division is artificial. The pirates fostered commercial disorder and inter-imperial rivalries over extra-territorial space to defy the imperialists' attempts to regulate the sea. The pirates took imperial patronage but used it to create networks, which they in turn integrated, with varying success, into the international order. I examine this link between piracy and sovereignty through the careers of four pirate entrepreneurs; Yusuf 'Ali, a renegade sultan from northeastern Somalia; the Naib of Arkikko, a renegade Ottoman-Egyptian governor in Eritrea; Henry de Monfreid, a French merchant and adventurer; and Ahmed Fetini, a Yemeni tribal elder and the leader of a network of smugglers and pirates in the Tihama. Their careers fall consecutively through the years 1860-1930 and offer a window onto the evolving political economy of imperial conquest in the southern Red Sea.
Brian C. Smithson
Duke University, Cultural Anthropology
Piety in Progress: Video Filmmaking and Religious Encounter in Bénin
[ project summary ]
This research explores collaborative media production in Bénin as religious encounter between Yorùbá-speaking Béninois and Nigerian video filmmakers. Béninois media professionals show ambivalence toward their Nigerian counterparts: they invite these filmmakers to Bénin to serve as experts and mentors, but they express concerns that their Nigerian guests carry with them attitudes toward religion and religious interaction that have been steeped in a national climate of mounting inter-religious tensions and violence. This study thus seeks to determine how the production of religious media becomes a forum to debate and establish norms of community and religious practice for these filmmakers, as well as for the ad hoc audiences who come to watch films being made. As an apprentice with a filmmaking troupe and a large filmmaking NGO in Pobè, Bénin, I will interview filmmakers and spectators from both sides of the Bénin–Nigeria border, participate in all stages of the filmmaking process, and attend religious services and festivals with filmmakers and other members of the community. In so doing, I will determine the roles that national identity, religious affiliation, and professional prestige play in negotiations over religious attitudes and conceptions of community. I also will seek to determine how an open production style shapes the public that can participate in conversations about religious representation, iconography, and aesthetics in media. Firsthand participation and broader analysis of the media landscape will enable me to determine the link between religious deliberation on film sets and the religious attitudes and practices of the participants.
Holly J. Stephens
University of Pennsylvania, History
Agriculture and Development in an Age of Empire: Institutions, Associations, and Market Networks in Modern Korea, 1876-1945
[ project summary ]
My project studies the economic and social changes to agricultural production in Korea from 1876-1945. In particular, it examines changes to the institutions affecting agriculture, such as tenancy laws, reforms to the tax system and property rights, as well as the introduction of new organizations that altered the distribution of essential agricultural inputs such as credit and water. In studying reforms to agriculture, this project highlights the perspective of individual producers who negotiated a changing institutional environment and came to rely on new organizational networks and agricultural practices amid a turbulent political period in Korean history. The colonization of Korea by Japan (1910-1945) often appears as a sharp break in histories of Korea, while narratives of exploitation dominate colonial economic histories. By studying economic reforms over a longer time frame and from the perspective of individual producers, I will argue that, far from being a period of rural stagnation, the agricultural economy underwent crucial changes in this period. Moreover, the colonial government's attempts to promote agricultural production shared many characteristics with earlier Korean-led reform efforts. In this way, I reject the prevailing image of an isolated, tradition-bound, rural Korea, showing instead a rural society that was intimately connected to the pressing transnational political and economic concerns of the day. I examine the extension of international credit networks, legal innovations, and technologies into the rural economy to uncover the significance of reforms to local populations. Viewed from the local level, I highlight the ways in which the population responded to both Korean and Japanese-led reforms. I argue that successful reforms incorporated existing social networks even as they transformed methods of production. My project thus challenges existing conceptions of Korean modernity and narratives of Korean economic development.
Etienne Stockland
Columbia University, History
The Insect Wars: Biological Invasions and Agricultural Disasters in the French Enlightenment
[ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the heterogeneous scientific and administrative networks that were formed in ancien régime France and its colonies in order to manage environments affected by biological invasions of insect pests. A study of eighteenth-century responses to eruptions of invasive insect populations provides an optic for understanding how state power was increasingly oriented towards managing natural resources and exerting control over environments through the deployment of technical, scientific and administrative expertise. The state's capacity to respond to agricultural disasters depended on the formation and coordination of long-distance communication networks within which natural knowledge was produced and technical solutions debated, disseminated and implemented. Thus, my dissertation aims to show how both natural knowledge and state power were co-produced through the circulation of observations, materials, specimens and techniques between localities within France and its colonial possessions in the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and North America.
Jill F. Stockwell
Princeton University, Comparative Literature
Cold War Migrants: Canonizing the Gastarbeiter in Turkish and German Fiction
[ project summary ]
This dissertation looks at Turkish-German fiction as a contested, border-crossing body of literature, and pays particular attention to identity-oriented paradigms that surround its emergence, growth, and transformation. I understand the term "Turkish-German literature" as both a critical conceit and a historically-bound collection of novels, short stories, essays, and films by ethnic Turks in Germany. This dissertation departs from existing scholarship, which takes Turkish-German fiction as a "minor literature" of the German canon. Since the 1970s, a small contingent of German studies scholars have persistently argued for the importance of migrant literature for understanding new forms of "Germanness." My intervention into this rich body of scholarship is an attempt to recognize the complex multinational experiences depicted in Turkish-German literature and to allow the historical tensions and personal anxieties that shaped twentieth century labor migration to come to the surface of these texts. Specifically, I propose an expansion of our understanding of Turkish-German literature in two directions. First I suggest that that Turkish-German literature is also a Turkish literature – that is, a literature of emigration as well as immigration. Second, I suggest that this same body of texts should be read broadly as an international cultural product of the Cold War. This project takes 1961 as its starting point, the year of Turkey and Germany's Gastarbeit (Guest Work) contract and the beginning of a mass labor migration that would result in the settlement of millions of ethnic Turks to the Bundesrepublik. I conclude my study in 2010, the year that Chancellor Angela Merkel infamously declared of the failure of multiculturalism in Germany. In using these landmark political events as boundaries, I do not wish to define my project as a literary history, but rather to signal an attention to literature as a source of critical historiography.
Nathan J. Taylor
Cornell University, Literature
Stories of the System: Capital’s Representation in Crisis
[ project summary ]
My dissertation project analyzes relations between capitalist crisis and modern German literature since the 19th-century. Specifically, I trace how literary narrative offers insights into issues of representation posed by an economic system whose logic both demands and eludes scientific conceptualization, especially at moments of crisis. While scholarship at the intersection of literature and economics, and on narrative and political economy in particular, has focused on literary narrative's role in disseminating or underpinning dominant ideologies, I argue that literary narratives of capitalism do not simply affirm historical ideologies. Rather, they provide terms for reimagining capital's representability as an aesthetic problem and thus draw attention to the sorts of techniques and devices which, if not adequate for grasping capitalism's systemic complexity, at least offer insight into the specific nature of its unrepresentability. In this way, I shift attention from ideology critique, which has a long-established tradition in the field, to what I argue is a more productive assessment of cognitive modes available for diagnosing structural complexities and contradictions of capitalism as a global economic system. By tracing how literary narrative addresses capital's representability in moments of crisis, I seek to answer the following questions: How do narratives make sense of economic reality? What narratives of capital underwrite political economy as a discipline? What problems does capitalism pose for its representation as a system, particularly as its instruments of value such as financial derivatives resist simple theorization? And can literature address these problems in a different manner than economic thought? The particular contribution my project makes involves tracing those narrative devices that become available as adequate modes for grasping and at times even resisting the changing logics of a capitalist system of value relations.
Vladimirs Trojanskis
Stanford University
Integration and Resistance: North Caucasus Refugees in the Ottoman Empire, 1860-1914
[ project summary ]
In the fifty years before the First World War, between one and two million Muslim refugees poured into the Ottoman Empire from Russia's North Caucasus region. Dispersed throughout the empire, these refugees profoundly transformed Ottoman demographics, labor markets, and socio-cultural environments. My project explores the resettlement of North Caucasus refugees, with a focus on the mechanisms of integration and modes of resistance that the migrants employed. This study shifts the discussion of immigration from the state and its top-down resettlement project to the immigrants and their reactions to Ottoman policies. My approach emphasizes the perspective of the refugees themselves and highlights their historical agency in the making of the modern Middle East and Southeast Europe. I draw on three case studies in the Balkans, Anatolia, and Greater Syria to investigate communal relations within the refugee community, and between them and other immigrants, local residents, and state officials, and study the economy of resettlement, including the logistics of state humanitarian aid, the refugees' participation in local markets, and land-related disputes. This project conceptualizes North Caucasus refugees as trans-imperial migrants who preserved ties with their homeland, clandestinely traveled between the two states, and had fluid interpretations of what it meant to be a Russian or Ottoman subject. My research draws on sources in Turkish, Bulgarian, Georgian, Russian, and Jordanian archives to situate one of the largest refugee crises in Ottoman history within the context of transnational population movements and colonization projects in the greater Mediterranean region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Elena Stewart Turevon
Duke University, Anthropology
When Mountains Melt: Life on the Edge in the Peruvian Andes
[ project summary ]
This project examines the social consequences of climate change by focusing on Andean entrepreneurs who work as both miners and mountain guides in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. The Cordillera Blanca is the world's second highest mountain range; its rapidly melting glaciers threaten tens of thousands with deadly floods in the present, while millions will suffer regional drought within a generation. I approach climate change through the everyday, tactile experience of men who risk death to lead people up mountains, and extract the minerals that melt the glaciers they need. Destroying nature in pursuit of wealth, miner-mountaineers live the central contradiction of the anthropocene: that we both cause and suffer from climate change. For as temperatures rise, the mountains unleash avalanches, killing more mountaineers each year. I ask how immediate danger inflects miner-mountaineers' dreams and plans for social ascent, and how they make sense of their role within global development and environmental destruction. I do so through focusing on risk and rumors: ways of making sense of the space between visible changes and invisible futures. By studying how miner-mountaineers perceive and navigate the risks they produce, narrate their place on the mountains they love and destroy, and forge meaning of danger, I will shed light on the subjective and social experience of emblematic figures in a planetary rush to the edge of existence. How miner-mountaineers produce and imagine life on the edge may also give us a peek into our own future, which, in the Cordillera Blanca, is now.
Arianne S. Urus
New York University, History
Troubled Waters: The International Order and Conceptions of Nature in the North Atlantic Fisheries, 1713-1783
[ project summary ]
I explore the relationship between nature and the international order to ask how and why contests over resource access enabled specific ways of knowing the environment to gain authority over others in Newfoundland's eighteenth-century cod fisheries. I introduce nature to the study of the international order to question interpretations of the eighteenth-century transformation of the international order as a shift from empire to nation. Rather, I see it as a shift in how polities interacted to construct resource regimes. I focus on the French Shore, a stretch of northeast Newfoundland coast encircling half the island (3000 miles), so-designated by diplomats from 1713-1783. I follow the cod to show how fishermen's common access traditions were challenged by French and British diplomats looking to build a resource regime based on enclosure. To show the tensions between these resource regimes, I study the different ways fishermen and diplomats knew the space. Fishermen knew Newfoundland from lived experience, while diplomats knew it from often-faulty cartographic knowledge. I ask how the diplomat's epistemology acquired authority even though it was removed from environmental realties, and how this affected fishermen and cod populations. Moving out of the imagined world of diplomats to the lived world on the island, I ask how the category of nation meant little to the Irish fishermen who spoke a different language than their English captains, and had more in common politically and religiously with their French neighbors. Thinking about labor in this brutal environment also requires a recognition that European diplomats seemed reluctant to make: the indigenous Mi'kmaq and Beothuk outnumbered Europeans and were more adept at navigating the island. This project highlights how the problems facing one industry in the remote reaches of empire contributed to important shifts in the international order and prompted lasting environmental ramifications and jurisdictional disputes.
Hallie Wells
University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology
Moving Words: Malagasy Slam Poetry at the Intersection of Politics, Performance, and Transnational Circulation
[ project summary ]
My research analyzes how understandings of democracy are shaped by the transnational circulation of slam poetry—a contemporary verbal art competition that merges poetry reading with rap battle—as it contends with centuries-old genres of public discourse. In this project I track how an urban poetry contest born in a largely African-American neighborhood in Chicago came to take root on an island in the Indian Ocean where verbal art is anything but new. Slam has flourished in countries around the world, but Madagascar is unique in its rich and diverse tradition of verbal art genres that are still prevalent in everyday life, such as oratory (kabary) and proverbs (ohabolana), both of which were foundational sites for linguistic anthropological understandings of rhetoric, poetics, and politics. This project will show how slam poets and other verbal artists—including politicians—contest and reform notions of the private versus the public sphere, evaluations of authority and competence (who has the right and the ability to speak?), and norms of indirectness and deference in social interaction. To investigate these questions I will focus on the linguistic and embodied practices of slam poets and their audiences, the circulation of these performances in new social media, and the interaction between slam and other spheres of verbal performance. By leveraging the problematics that arise in social anthropological discussions of global circulation, in combination with fine-grained linguistic analysis of verbal art performances, my research will provide critical insight into how language ideologies and bodily dispositions form, contend with opposing dispositions and ideologies, and ultimately impact the political and economic livelihoods of communities.
Matthew Wilson
University of California, Santa Barbara, Religion
Pious Polemics: Muslim and Christian Debate on the Streets of London
[ project summary ]
My research examines one of the most visible manifestations of the growing religious diversity in contemporary London: public polemical debates between Muslims and Christians who compete for converts and aim to refute the claims of each other's religion. In streets and parks, on Speaker's Corner and university campuses, at The British Museum and the corner grocery store, Muslims and Christians in London passionately debate one another. Why do they constantly seek out these encounters? Are these public "arguments" demonstrations of religious tolerance or intolerance? Are they a dangerous sign of religious agitation that can lead to extremism, or a form of cultural exchange that, despite appearances, is part of the process of two religious communities learning to live side by side? Do they ultimately produce friction or mutual recognition? To answer these questions, this interdisciplinary project analyzes the context and content of these encounters, tracking the mediation and circulation of these performances in order to understand the communities that are constituted in and around these phenomena. Amidst increasing religious diversity and "public" religious visibility in contemporary London, and indeed all of Europe, my research will provide a framework for understanding polemical religious discourse as performative speech acts, and the social dimensions of their production and reception.
Dilan Yildirim
Harvard University, Anthropology
Disobedient Mountains and Rivers of Revolt: Occupation and Insurgency by Other Means in Turkish Kurdistan
[ project summary ]
My dissertation research deals with the politicization of the physical landscape in Dersim, a Kurdish-Alevi province in eastern Turkey that has been one of the major centers of Leftist and Kurdish politics in the last century. I focus on the various modes of discursive and material struggles between the inhabitants of Dersim, state, and corporate actors over the region’s landscape. I examine how inhabitants locate politics in the physical landscape, working to forensically examine the land in order to imbue it with economic, political, and cultural value and subsequently to guard it. The state in turn responds to this politicization through attempts to contain resistance through strategies such as the building of an extensive network of military posts and hydroelectric dams which reproduce the topography of the region as isolated and contained and submerge material traces of sacred landscapes and past struggles. I accomplish this research through ethnographic fieldwork in three area villages, by following the itineraries of activists, and through archival research in state archives as well as drawing on the archives on the Kurdish conflict that are continuously being created and maintained by Dersim inhabitants as well as the other actors involved in the resistance. I ultimately ask how we can understand the physical landscape of Dersim as both a medium and mediator of political struggle and political identity. The political life of landscape in Dersim provides an opportunity to problematize the urban bias in prevalent analyses of how politics works in relation to space. My dissertation will produce an analysis that brings rural extraction and warfare to the heart of understandings of spatial politics, and the labor of resistance to the center of understandings of production of space in insurgent landscapes, both economically and politically.
Adrien P. Zakar
Columbia University, History
On a Biplane: Aerial Photography and the Politics of Space in the Middle East (1895-1950)
[ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the history of aerial photography in the Middle East through the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of independent states in Syria under French mandate, Iraq under British rule and in the Republic of Turkey (1895-1950.) First, my project explores the social construction of this technology at a time when, upon the fall of the empire, aerial mapping became instrumental to the charting of former Ottoman territories. There, aerial photographs were able to capture the coexistence of sedentary, semi-nomadic and nomadic communities with an unprecedented clarity and the development of aerial mapping disseminated conceptions of human geography that enabled the classification this diverse population along sectarian lines. Therefore, I examine the history of aerial photography as the development of not only a visual device but also a historically contingent way of seeing that shaped the Middle East at this critical juncture in time. Second, my research follows aerial mapping in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey in order to trace the deployment of this new visual practice in policies aimed at obliterating Ottoman institutions. In Syria and Iraq under colonial occupation, I question whether these policies destroyed important contact-zones that were characteristic of the Ottoman Empire by confining various populations within designated geographical areas. Additionally, I examine the modernization of Ottoman cartography by the Republic of Turkey in light of nationalist narratives that embraced notions of human geography in order to classify the Anatolian population into new categories such as 'Turks' and 'mountain Turks.' By tracing connections among aerial photography, human geography, and the dismantling of the Ottoman polity, my dissertation unravels the technological and scientific history of sectarianism as way to shed new light on the transition from empire to nation-state in the Middle East.
Waleed Ziad
Yale University, History
Trans-regional Authority in the Age of Political Fragmentation and the Great Game: Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Revivalist Networks and the Shaping of the Early Modern Persianate World, 1747-1857
[ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the development of trans-regional Islamic revivalist networks from the mid-18th to mid-19th century in South and Central Asia, covering present day Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, and North India. The primary subjects of my study, the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi (lit. "revivalist") religious networks, are noteworthy for influencing some of the region's primary Muslim religious movements, and for articulating the major social responses to the decline of Muslim political power, the advent of colonialism, and Great Power politics. At the intersection of religious studies, anthropology and political history, my research seeks to address how these crises impacted Muslim identity formation, and helped shape the current socio-political landscape of the region. This historical inquiry provides the basis for tracing the development of various strands of religious networks today– from confrontational revivalist movements which ultimately gave rise to the Taliban, to those that advocated for educational reform. My dissertation seeks to address how the Mujaddidi networks expanded rapidly from India to Central Asia, encompassing urban, tribal, and rural spaces, and how they adapted to the drastic socio-political changes from the mid 18th to 19th centuries. I propose that the synthetic nature of the Mujaddidi networks – reconciling Sufism, the world of the urban intelligentsia, folk traditions, and sharia into one cohesive system - allowed them to adapt to local environments while maintaining a foundation in devotional practices and central texts. In addition, the Mujaddidi Sufi-scholars formed a network of institutions which acted as loci of academic and cultural exchange, and assumed important social functions in the absence of strong states. These institutions represented a parallel authority structure that helped define the contours of a Sunni Persianate Islam, deeply imbued with Sufi practices, which persisted into the modern period.