- Rosemary Admiral
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, History
Approaching Islamic Law: Women, Gender, and Law in Morocco, 1310-1465 [ project summary ]
My investigation centers on how women approached Islamic law in fourteenth and fifteenth century Morocco. Research over the last few decades shows that women were active participants in the Islamic legal courts, defending their rights to property and inheritance, demanding their rights in their marriages, and conducting numerous types of business transactions across the Ottoman world. This research will turn the focus to North Africa, and examine the diverse ways in which women interacted with Islamic law in Morocco from 1310-1465. I will investigate three aspects of women’s interaction with Islamic law: the participation of women in the Islamic legal courts; the ways in which women and gender were described in juristic discourse such as doctrinal texts and legal opinions (fatwas); and the lives of women who engaged with Islamic law at the level of advanced scholarship. This study will employ theories of gender, providing an example of the construction of gender in Islamic legal texts. This research will add to the literature on women in Islamic legal history and female scholarship by bringing women and gender to the forefront in Moroccan legal studies, and extending the field of analysis to the intellectual environment in which legal scholarship flourished. The goal of my project is also to expand our understanding of the range of possibilities for women as actors in Moroccan and Islamic history. History is not monolithic, and my attention to gender here will help illustrate this point, as it shows that in certain times and places our understanding of what is normative behavior is challenged, for example, by the presence of elite women who engaged in exceptional activities. On the other hand, I anticipate that my study will confirm for the Islamic West the ordinariness of women’s participation in Islamic courts that has been shown for other parts of the Islamic world.
- Jochen Steffen Arndt
- University of Illinois at Chicago, History
Becoming "Xhosa:" German Missionary Linguists and How the Borderland Communities of the Eastern Cape Region of South Africa Became Part of the Xhosa Ethnolinguistic Group, 1830-1930 [ project summary ]
A powerful relationship exists between language and ethnic identity in South Africa. For instance, while the modern-day Republic of South Africa identifies its official languages by ethnographic labels, its predecessor, Apartheid South Africa, recognized black ethnic groups on the basis of their “distinct” Bantu languages. Which intellectual context produced this relationship between language and ethnicity? What scholarly activities helped “construct” these languages and led to their standardization? And, finally, what were the processes through which borderland communities that did not neatly fit into these ethnolinguistic categories eventually became part of them?
The purpose of my dissertation is to find fresh answers to these questions. Three objectives will drive my research project: uncovering the ways in which missionary linguists contributed to the transformation of “Kaffir” into separate Xhosa and Zulu ethnolinguistic groups; unveiling the hitherto neglected intellectual contributions of German missionaries and their African intermediaries to this important ethnolinguistic bifurcation; and, finally, detailing the “messy process” by which borderland communities became absorbed into the Xhosa ethnolinguistic community as speakers of “inferior” dialects of “standard” isiXhosa.
- Teofilo Ballve
- University of California, Berkeley, Geography
Territories of Life and Death: Space, Power, and Violence on a Colombian Frontier [ project summary ]
The deadly conflation of political violence and the cocaine boom in Colombia has fueled the displacement of four million campesinos. The northwest frontier region surrounding the Gulf of Urabá has been an unruly epicenter for this mass dispossession, mainly by narcotrafficking paramilitaries who use land appropriation and agribusiness as conduits for money laundering. Despite terrifying violence, some displaced peasants have collectively and peacefully seized back portions of their stolen farms from the armed groups. But Urabá is not simply a tale of political disorder. I argue that the region’s combustible mix of narco-driven economies of violence, peasant struggles, and deeply contested forms of governance have converged into a deadly form of frontier state formation. Urabá has also cradled a handful of well-organized peasant spatial formations against the paramilitary takeover, providing fertile ground for comparing the territories produced by two separate peasant groups: the Afro-Colombians of the Curvaradó River and the mestizos of San José de Apartadó. Against Urabá’s violent political-economic order, militant campesino groups produce these territories by grounding “global” discourses of ethnic rights, environmental conservation, and humanitarianism. I argue that these discourses provide them the means for articulating novel political claims connecting life, land, and livelihood into discrete territorial formations that exceed liberal notions of statehood. Amid frontier governance, narco-fueled economies of violence, and peasant resistance, territory itself has become not only an object of political contestation, but also a collective springboard for peasants’ reclamation of stolen lands. Through their territorial strategies, displaced peasants are not fighting in the war, but actively mobilizing against the war.
- Nicholas Barnes
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Political Science
Monopolies of Violence: Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro [ project summary ]
In the 582 favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro, the state has been historically absent; the police do not enter and even the most basic utilities, public transportation and schools are generally not provided to the inhabitants. In place of the state, gang organizations constitute the major political actor, having achieved a substantial degree of sovereignty through a monopoly on violence in these areas. Despite their similarities in most respects, gang organizations deal with residents under their control in vastly different ways. Some gangs implement responsive systems of law and justice, allow for democratic practices and maintain a high degree of social order while others implement more intrusive and unresponsive governing institutions while failing to provide social services or maintain social order. What accounts for these varying forms of governance implemented by gang organizations?
Rio de Janeiro is the perfect laboratory to study gang governance as it remains the paradigmatic case of pervasive gang control in the urban sphere. Moreover, this project has important ramifications for urban public policy in much of the developing world in addition to engaging with important theoretical debates surrounding armed groups and their relationships to civilians.
My dissertation will use two analytical approaches to investigate how and why gang organizations have engaged in varying forms of governance within these specific contexts. I will first implement a large-N quantitative analysis of the structural factors that exist in favelas that account for the variations in governance such as policing tactics, incursions by rival gangs, strength of civil society and the electoral value of the favela. This quantitative analysis will be followed by an in-depth qualitative study of four favelas, using case-studies, semi-structured interviews and resident surveys in order to provide another test of these hypotheses and effectively trace causal mechanisms.
- Yesenia Barragan
- Columbia University, History
“The Darkest Place in New Granada”: The Abolition of Slavery and the Politics of Place in Chocó, Colombia, 1821-1852 [ project summary ]
The abolition of slavery entailed the disruption, dislocation, and reformulation of places across world regions. Focusing on the northwestern province of Chocó, Colombia, my project examines how key places of slave and free black life were reconfigured during the gradual abolition of slavery (1821-1852) in the historic heart of Colombia’s gold mining economy. I examine this transformative thirty-year period through the politics of place, a concept influenced by approaches in geography, anthropology, and critical theory. The politics of place is a dual concept I use to analyze both the discursive representations of a place, such as the description of Chocó as “the darkest place in New Granada” in 1836, and the ways in which a place, such as a home, was lived and negotiated in the everyday. Functioning on various scales of analysis—micro-level, regional, and transnational—I analyze five central places of Afro-Colombian life in Chocó: the gold mine; the home; rivers; public spaces (churches, plazas, and cemeteries); and a final chapter on Chocó’s relationship to two important places: the southwestern city of Popayán, where the vast majority of Chocó’s major slaveowners lived, and the “Black Pacific,” referring to the group of black communities along Latin America’s Pacific Coast. In addition to examining the role of place in struggles of freedom and citizenship, my project proposes a new theoretical understanding of a politics of place, challenges scholars to examine other places of political life excluded by literature on the public sphere and popular politics, and historicizes the idea of a “Black Pacific,” a newly developing transnational concept in African Diasporic studies.
- Daniel J. Beben
- Indiana University Bloomington, History
Sacred Narratives, Spiritual Authority, and Communal Identity among the Ismailis of Central Asia, 1500-1895 [ project summary ]
My dissertation will explore the history of the Ismailis of Central Asia, a minority community of Shia Muslims who live mostly in the Badakhshan province of Tajikistan. The project will investigate the development of religious authority and communal identity within this community from the sixteenth century down to the Russian conquest of the region in the late nineteenth century. I will examine a body of previously-unstudied literature produced among the Ismailis during this period, which consists of legendary and hagiographical accounts of founding figures of the community. Many of these texts have been known for some time now to Soviet scholars of the region but were dismissed as irrelevant due to their fantastical content. In my research I will approach these texts by drawing upon a series of innovative methodological approaches developed in recent years in studies of hagiographical and legendary biographical texts. In particular, recent research has demonstrated the capacity for hagiographical literature to illuminate important questions concerning social history, communal identity, and authority within the community in which such materials are produced. My goal is to determine what these texts may tell us about developing notions of authority and communal identity among the Ismailis during the period of their production and circulation. My research will draw upon a number of manuscript sources located in archives in Central Asia and Europe. Both the history of the Ismaili community of Central Asia in particular and the period of this study in general remained poorly understood. My study will offer a unique contribution towards a better understanding of the history of Islam in the region and the role of local communities in the formation of a pluralistic Islamic society in Central Asia and beyond.
- Sandra Botero Cabrera
- University of Notre Dame, Political Science
High Courts and Socioeconomic Rights in Latin America [ project summary ]
Over the last two decades, courts in Latin America and in other developing democracies have become increasingly involved in the policy making process. High courts in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Costa Rica have issued rulings expanding socioeconomic rights, curbing executive excesses and protecting the rights of minorities. Current scholarship focuses on discerning why some courts and not others get away with making these controversial judgments. Yet, we know little about the implementation and, more broadly, the impact of these decisions. This project addresses this understudied phenomenon. Under what conditions can courts in new democracies produce effective political and social change? More specifically: Why do some rulings have significant influence on public opinion, the mobilization of activist coalitions or policy outcomes? Why is there variation in compliance with judicial rulings?
This project will study the impact of high court decisions on socioeconomic rights in Colombia and Peru. I argue that explaining impact requires paying attention to the courts’ oversight mechanisms (committees, public hearings, information requests etc.) and to the presence of a legally empowered constituency in civil society. To evaluate the role of oversight mechanisms and legal constituencies in promoting impact, I will conduct a ‘within and across’ paired comparison of major rulings by the Colombian and Peruvian highest tribunals in three social policy areas—environment, health and social welfare. Empirically, the project will generate original data on the processes following selected major rulings to assess a) the indirect effects of these rulings (including their influence on the following: public opinion, on incentivizing mobilization and on changing the behavior of governmental and private actors not directly affected by them); b) efforts at compliance and implementation over time; and c) policy results.
- Roberto Chauca Tapia
- University of Florida, History
Science in the Jungle: The Missionary Mapping and National Imagining of Western Amazonia [ project summary ]
My dissertation project analyzes the crafting of notions on territory, ethnicity, and nation in the Amazonian region now shared by Ecuador and Peru, and historically known as Maynas. My working hypotheses are: (1) that between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, Jesuit and Franciscan cartography played an important role in the systematization, and eventual nationalization, of the knowledge about territories and societies in Western Amazonia, and (2) that this process of knowledge making on Maynas depended upon relationships missionaries established with indigenous Amazonian societies. My project thus aims to study how ideas on territoriality and ethnicity came to be formulated as the result of a process in which both missionaries and Amazonian Indians participated, and how Maynas and its inhabitants came to be considered either Ecuadorian or Peruvian after independence. My general goal is to generate new theoretical and practical appreciations in regard to the crafting of spatial and national identities.
- Adriana Chira
- University of Michigan, Anthropology and History
Circulating Freedoms: Citizenship Rights and Political Activism around the Gulf of Mexico, 1868-1898 [ project summary ]
During the Cuban War of Independence (1868-1898) and U.S. Reconstruction, U.S. and Cuban Afro-descendants transformed regional commercial networks and port cities on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which had traditionally sustained Caribbean plantation economies, into an infrastructure for spreading radical interpretations of freedom and citizenship after slavery. My dissertation project examines the circulation of people and vernacular ideologies of race and citizenship between two societies transitioning from slavery to freedom. I hypothesize that, through labor unions, associational politics, and journalism, geographically mobile U.S. Reconstruction-era activists, along with Cuban journalists, artisans, union leaders, and anti-Spanish conspirators, collaboratively defined citizenship as membership of both national and trans-American communities of political belonging. As an idiosyncratic crossroads of French, Spanish, British, and U.S. political traditions and racial ideologies that mid-nineteenth century activist Afro-descendants drew upon, the Gulf’s revolutionary networks offer a case-study through which we can explore (1) the dynamic relationship between vernacular and formal-constitutional meanings of citizenship rights after the abolition of slavery; (2) the circulation of ideologies of rights across legal jurisdictions and political and cultural boundaries; and (3) the emergence of visions of diaspora in the Western Hemisphere. My research draws on rich, but underutilized primary sources located in U.S., Spanish, and Cuban archives, including notarial records, census data, embarkation and disembarkation records, journalism, personal and official correspondence, minutes of association meetings, consular reports, and judicial cases brought against alleged conspirators against the Spanish Crown.
- Yasmin Cho
- Duke University, Anthropology
Politics of Tranquility: The Religious Practice of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in Western China
- Rishad I. Choudhury
- Cornell University, History
Empire and Self in Early Modern India: Mughals in the Indian Ocean World, c. 1605-1707 [ project summary ]
My dissertation asks, how did the expansive regimes of circulating goods, peoples, and ideas in
the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Indian Ocean influence the complex ensembles of
political sovereignty and individual subjectivity in Mughal India? It seeks to illuminate the
historical and ideological lineage of the early modern concept of Universal Empire in Islamicate
India through a study of the sprawling networks of commerce, pilgrimage, and diplomacy that
connected the subcontinent to the worlds of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Further, the
study aims to reveal how itinerant subjects of the Mughal Empire crafted new visions of the self
as they pursued distinctive religious, aesthetic, and social interests while journeying through
these dizzying terrains of oceanic mobility. In short, my dissertation contends that novel notions
of ecumenical Islamicate authority and personal subjectivity emerged in India as a consequence
of newly forged circuits of oceanic movement in the early modern era. Conjugating previous
histories of sedentary politics and mercantile trafficking and trade, this project grounds itself in
multi-sited research in Mughal (Persian), Ottoman (Turkish), European, and Indian vernacular
sources and archives to inquire into the globally contingent history of local formulations of
empire and self in precolonial South Asia.
- Sakura Christmas
- Harvard University, History
Earth to Empire: Mongol Lands under Japanese Rule, 1905-1945 [ project summary ]
My dissertation focuses on what I call “colonial land regimes” in Inner Mongolia, examining the meanings of the earth, land, and territory, and their changing value during the first half of the twentieth century. We cannot, I contend, fully explain the history of the Japanese empire nor its ramifications today until we account for its frontiers, and nowhere more so than the border regions of Manchuria and Mongolia, the area formerly known as “the Mongol Lands” under Japanese rule. By the height of their occupation in the late 1930s, the Japanese brought an unprecedented precision to the problem of colonial control in the region, defining the edge of the empire through intensive agriculture, aerial surveys, forced settlements, and scientific research. I argue that, in the course of identifying the ends of empire, this territorial transformation thrust the region into the central processes of global capitalism and scientific exchange. At the same time, this transformation marginalized the Mongol Lands and its inhabitants, where nomadic life became increasingly untenable in a modernizing landscape. The interaction between nomads, hunter-gatherers, migrants, and scientists in the region adds an Asian dimension to such important themes in world history as: the formation of frontiers, the incorporation of transient people into emergent states, and the role of “excavating sciences” in imperial enterprise. The change that these sciences wrought on the Mongol Lands was dramatic—transforming it from what the Japanese perceived as a timeless cycle to a progressive trajectory and from a flat plane to three-dimensional strata. This reconstitution of time and space not only allowed Japanese to stake a claim in cutting-edge research, but also helped them situate the Mongol Lands within the larger imperial framework.
- April L. Colette
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Geography
Floods, Favors and 'Fixes': The Reproduction of Vulnerability in Santa Fe, Argentina [ project summary ]
As one of the most important additions to social science research on climate change in recent years, vulnerability studies have enriched our understanding of the factors that predispose people to climate-related risk. Yet, despite this enhanced understanding, engineering-based responses to hazards dominate contemporary policy and practice, while social causes are consistently overlooked. The proposed research uses Santa Fe, Argentina—a city ravaged by consecutive floods over the last decade—as a lens to explore why engineering-based responses persist despite their poor performance in reducing vulnerability. Due to a long legacy of hydraulic works, engineering-based responses to floods and flood risk have gone unquestioned by both government officials and residents and are deeply embedded in, rather than autonomous from, the political landscape. In contrast to the development literature that tends to pit the local in opposition to imposed state schemes, this dissertation project examines how state schemes work in conjunction with and through the practices and desires of local populations. By investigating how conventional hazards framing has come to dominate and shape practice in Santa Fe and how local political actors and residents are complicit in sanctioning engineering “fixes” that emerge from this framing, this research seeks to develop a textured, ethnographic understanding of how vulnerability is reproduced. In particular, it will expose how clientelism is both a pragmatic avenue for the urban poor to maintain their livelihoods as well as a key driver underlying why the poor continue to be vulnerable in the face of floods. Using insights derived from scholarship on urban geography, vulnerability and development, this project employs multiple methods, combining ethnography with survey, interview, and mapping techniques to investigate how vulnerability is reproduced through a tangled set of practices, processes, and relations interacting at multiple scales.
- Kristin A. Dickinson
- University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature
Translation and the Production of Modernity: A Turkish German Comparative Analysis [ project summary ]
Translation played a significant role in the development of Turkish and German modern literary and national cultures, yet little scholarship has focused on the historical intersections between these traditions. My dissertation develops a comparative analysis beginning with important paradigm shifts in translation in18th century Germany and the 19th century Ottoman Empire. Working against models of influence that predominate in Turkish scholarship, I situate translations between German and Turkish within a historical conception of world literature. My approach gains significance through case studies that consider late Ottoman translations of Goethe (1880-1911) in relation to Goethe’s earlier reworkings of Ottoman poetry in the West-East Divan (1814), a text central to his evolving conception of Weltliteratur. By reading translations across time periods in dialogue, I foreground a Goethean understanding of world literature as a method of critical reading that gains value through international perspective. By showing how Ottoman translations participated in processes of world literature, I counter readings of Turkish literature as derivative to a Western model due to its inception through translation. As Turkish Republican criticism of Ottoman engagement with Western European source texts has been crucial to perceptions of a belated Turkish modernity, my dissertation also considers the importance of the state funded “World Literature” translation series (1940-1966). In particular, I show how Sabahattin Ali’s engagement with German literature for this series criticizes Kemalist portrayals of “the West” as a monolithic entity, and counters Republican understandings of world literature as an established canon of Western texts. My focus on Ali establishes a continuity to Ottoman cultural movements Kemalism set itself against, and provides a connection to contemporary German translations of Turkish literature, for which Ali has been an important figure.
- Elizabeth Burns Dyer
- University of Pennsylvania, History
The Performance of Politics and the Politics of Performance: Theatre in Postcolonial Kenya, 1978-2002 [ project summary ]
My project works to reintroduce a diversity of voices to a period of Kenyan history largely remembered for its large-scale geopolitical transitions and President Daniel arap Moi’s close control over freedoms of speech and press. By considering resistance theatre in conjunction with Moi’s rhetoric and publicity acts, I register a critical conversation between Kenyan intellectuals and the state over issues of nationalism, international politics, and ethnic expression. Funding will allow me to situate myself as an historian and a collaborator among Kenyans already engaged in the time-sensitive process of recovering this literary tradition and the political and cultural history it expresses.
- Melih Egemen
- Harvard University, Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies
Imperial Borderlands and Regional Geographies: Russian South Caucasus and Ottoman Eastern Provinces, 1860s-1920s [ project summary ]
This dissertation project seeks to combine comparative with transnational approaches to empire-studies by zooming in on the Russian and Ottoman borderland regimes installed in the connected geography of the South Caucasus and Eastern Anatolia between the 1860s and 1920s. Specific attention is paid to the former Ottoman territories ceded to the Russian empire at the Berlin Conference (Kars, Ardahan, Batum), which will offer a useful vantage point for studying the strategies of incorporation of the newly acquired regions populated by non-Russian and non-Orthodox subjects to the Russian empire. Themes addressed in this dissertation include the production of topographical and ethnographic knowledge, practice of “population politics,” and imperial struggles over citizenship and loyalty in the Russo-Ottoman borderlands. The ultimate objective is to emphasize the shared historical experience of the Russian and Ottoman empires through a sustained focus on a common geography unified through ecological, mercantile, political, and international factors, without losing sight of the impact of imperial contestation on the lives of the region's local inhabitants.
- Kjell David Ericson
- Princeton University, Area and Cultural Studies
Inventing the Japanese Pearl: Imperial Coastlines, Global Trade, and the Legal Limits of Nature, 1880-1950 [ project summary ]
My project follows the history of a certain type of object, the cultured pearl, as it circulated between imperial Japanese coastlines and Western markets from the late 19th through the middle of the 20th century. I first examine the production of pearls through patented pearl aquaculture methods in the Japanese empire. Through the analysis and contextualization of an early 1900s pearl patent trial in the Japanese court system and a 1920s pearl fishing rights dispute between Mikimoto and a Mie prefecture village, I investigate how frameworks of patents and property opened up opportunities to test the limits of exclusive production rights. I then look at these pearls as potential objects of trade among producers in the Japanese empire, merchant go-betweens, and consumers in Europe and the United States. Cultured pearls provide a way to examine how commodities, particularly commodities with national or imperial modifiers like the “Japanese” pearl, have been contested and authenticated in localized settings and across borders.
- Maria F. Escallon
- Stanford University, Anthropology
Cultural Heritage, Maroons and the Politics of Diversity in Colombia and Brazil [ project summary ]
My project responds to a crucial debate in anthropology regarding the disjuncture between recognition, cultural rights and citizenship. Through an ethnographic examination of two formerly enslaved communities in Colombia and Brazil, my research shows how cultural heritage exemplifies this conundrum. On the one hand, declaring traditional music, dance and rituals as ‘intangible cultural heritage’ is seen as both political reparation for Afro-descendants and as recognition of cultural diversity for multicultural democracies (UNESCO 2010). On the other, heritage declarations have actually helped to institutionalize the political and economic marginalization of Afro-descendant communities in Colombia and Brazil. I will conduct a comparative ethnography of cultural heritage (Breglia 2006, Byrne 2007, Meskell 2009) in San Basilio de Palenque (Colombia) and Quilombo dos Palmares (Brazil), two communities declared as national and world heritage, in order to ask: how and why has Afro-descendant heritage become a critical instrument to recognize cultural diversity in multicultural nations? Since intangible heritage nominations lack enforceable national legislation, my project examines how harmful consequences, such as exclusion and elitism, unfold for communities on the ground (Barry 2001, Fraser and Honneth 2003). Ultimately, my research analyzes whether intangible heritage designations actually reinforce segregating practices, rather than construct equitable cultural democracies as they claim to support (Povinelli 2002).
- Jeremy Ferwerda
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Political Science
Why the Levee Breaks: Explaining Variation in Citizenship Policy [ project summary ]
Why do policymakers pass controversial immigration reforms despite widespread public opposition? More broadly, what explains the diversity of immigration and citizenship policy across countries with ostensibly similar economic interests? In this project, I address this puzzle by using a nested research design to examine the politics of citizenship reform in Europe. In the first phase of the study, I leverage a unique dataset to conduct a large-n statistical analysis across 25 European countries and 30 years in order to determine the factors that predict whether governments will restrict or facilitate access to citizenship. In the second phase, I will conduct paired case studies of two countries with historical liberal citizenship regimes (France, Belgium), and two countries with historically restrictive regimes (Austria, Germany). Within each dyad, one country has significantly liberalized its policy (Germany, Belgium) while the other’s policy regime has remained stationary or has become more restrictive (France, Austria). Drawing upon the substantial policy variation in each country since the late 1980s, I will use a combination of archival research, electoral data, and interviews with policymakers to test my hypotheses. In contrast to previous approaches, I focus primarily on the strategic preferences of policymakers. I argue that in the context of citizenship law policymakers are neither particularly responsive to public opinion nor bound by national culture; rather, they respond primarily to demographic shifts and fluctuations in the demand for citizenship. Specifically, parties will have an incentive to increase access to citizenship if they believe that the extension of suffrage to foreign residents will result in a clear electoral advantage. Conversely, parties will favor restricted access to citizenship if the structure of the welfare state or the character of foreign integration implies either substantial fiscal costs or the loss of policy leverage.
- Eric T. Gettig
- Georgetown University, History
The United States, Oil, and Revolution in Cuba [ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the vitally important and heretofore-overlooked role of oil in shaping the domestic and international dimensions of the Cuban Revolution from the 1950s through the 1980s. Cuban efforts from the early 1950s onward to overcome the island’s dependence on imported oil and U.S. efforts to exploit that dependence provide a new lens through which to investigate the development of the Cuban Revolution, continuities and changes between pre- and post-Revolutionary Cuba, relations between Cuba and the United States, and between them and such key third countries as Venezuela, Mexico, and the Soviet Union. The project examines the material base and highlights the underlying ecological and economic constraints that shaped the contours of the Batista and Castro eras, and demonstrates the marked continuities between the two regimes’ domestic and foreign policies despite their very different languages of development and relationships with the United States. The dissertation blends international, political, economic, and environmental history, based on research in governmental and non-governmental archives and publications in the United States, Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico.
- Rachel Deborah Gibson
- University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Literature
Negotiating Space and Self in the Medieval Mediterranean: The Construction of Mercantile Identity in Franco-Italian Literature [ project summary ]
The representation of medieval Mediterranean cross-cultural relations and trade in Franco-Italian, French and Italian literature provides the focus of my dissertation. I study these representations as transformers of class, nationality and identity, questioning how the locus of social and political value changed significantly as mercantile spaces emerged to supplant battlefields and tournaments as shapers of identity in the northern Mediterranean. My dissertation highlights thirteenth and fourteenth-century works, like the French fabliaux, Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, and the Franco-Italian Entrée d'Espagne, for example, which reflect this shift in cultural values towards the celebration of the merchant's practical ingenuity and social dexterity, and which pivot around questions of value and identity in spaces of exchange. My hypothesis is that, as merchants sought to negotiate increasing societal authority, literature becomes a place from which to create new identities and social hegemonies, appropriating spaces for interaction, and defining new cultural values based on ingenuity, wit and shrewdness. This project examines the circulation of goods and the representation of mercantile spaces as male gendered in the Medieval Mediterranean world, and the regular transgression (and mastery) of these spaces of exchange by female characters. This approach adds a critical dimension for thinking about gender in production, exchange and social spaces, and the making of Franco-Italian Mediterranean mercantile culture, particularly in Venice. To approach these moments where Venetian mercantile identity is constructed and negotiated, my project proposes to utilize archived, thirteenth and fourteenth-century mercantile documents and Franco-Italian literary manuscripts, currently located in Venice's Marciana Library, to provide a critical analysis of the intellectual trade between medieval French and Italian mercantile cultures.
- Claire M. Gilbert
- University of California, Los Angeles, History
Bilingual at the Boundary: The Politics of Translation and Language in Early Modern Spain [ project summary ]
My dissertation project deals with the use of the Arabic language and its perceived socio-cultural status in Spain during the sixteenth century, with a particular focus on translators of Castilian and Arabic. I focus on the language ideologies, social and professional strategies, and cultural practices of bilingual individuals who were employed as language workers (translators, negotiators, and other intermediaries) by the Spanish monarchy. I argue that the discourses around what could and should be "Spanish" languages centered around the use and status of Arabic. Arabic also functioned as an international link between Spanish humanists and other early European orientalists, and as a language of information and diplomacy for Spanish agents in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Despite hostile policies in the sixteenth century and ambivalent language ideologies thereafter, however, knowledge of Arabic and interest in the language was never extinguished and was in fact cultivated and rewarded within the Spanish monarchy under all of the Habsburg monarchs. In particular, I explore the ways in which bilingualism was used or resulted in the continual revision of a series of ideological boundaries between ethnic groups, religious communities, professional occupations, and even social classes. Rather than aiding in assimilation, acculturation, or even communication, I argue that the practice of employing bilingual intermediaries in the royal administration ultimately strengthened an exclusive and monolithic Spanish identity and concept of citizenship in the early modern period.
- Geneviève Godbout
- University of Chicago, Anthropology
Taste and Plantation Life in Antigua, ca. 1700-1900 [ project summary ]
"Taste and Plantation Life in Antigua, ca. 1700-1900" examines the intersection of imperialism and the politics of taste in British Caribbean plantation contexts. It proposes to trace taste-making practices on the Betty's Hope Plantation archaeological site in order to better understand how the inhabitants of the plantation, free and enslaved, negotiated their social relationships through food consumption and hospitality. The project deploys an innovative conceptual framework that builds from the rich heritage of consumption studies and plantation archaeology. It employs a robust methodology combining archaeological excavation, archival research and archaeobotany (the analysis of ancient plant remains). The goal is to unsettle the primacy of British metropolitan models and canons in scholarship about colonial consumption, and thus complicate existing accounts of the flow of commodities, practices and food consumption preferences within the British Empire. By shedding light on how taste was made in colonial Antigua, this project will contribute an innovative archaeological insight into colonial entanglements and the social efficacy of British imperial materiality. In particular, the project hypothesizes that colonial influence on metropolitan taste may occur through the circulation of domestic intimacies formed on the plantation. The research will contribute empirically to the corpus of data on Antiguan history and plantation archaeology; conceptually, it will add to broader debates in the social sciences about the relation between consumption, colonialism and material sociality.
- Stefanie Graeter
- University of California, Davis, Anthropology
Materiality, Medium, Message: Representational Politics of Lead Science in Central Peru [ project summary ]
Over the past decade lead contamination science emerged into Peruvian political discourse in the context of national anti-mining protests. The scientific documentation of the metal lead in human tissue, particularly that of children, provides continued evidence of Peru's national health disparities and the bio-political implications for further economic development of the country's mineral sector. My research interrogates the dimensions of this social debate through the lens of representational politics. Drawing from field sites in the Andean mineral zone and the port of El Callao, I will examine how lead becomes both an object of science and a socially salient political actant. To do this I will conduct research with Peruvian and international scientists who study lead, as well as social actors like affected community members, NGO workers, activists, and policy makers who politicize these scientific findings into a socially relevant story that can have political effects. From preliminary research my hypothesis posits that representing the medical and social effects of mining through scientific measurements of lead provides new political possibilities for socially and economically marginalized communities, as well as related anti-mining activism. Yet because international epidemiological studies correlate lead intoxication with cognitive impairment, the representation of lead in forms of media and political mobilizations in Peru often link the contaminant's effects to biomedical and social anxieties related to education, behavior, and violence. Historical uses of biological determinants to explain racial and cultural difference among Peru's diverse ethnic groups seems to resonate with these depictions of lead as a determinant for impaired social behavior and moral development. Thus my research asks how lead becomes a political tool, but also how this political tool itself comes to represent impacted communities and affects representations of Peru's poor "as usual"?
- Christopher Gratien
- Georgetown University, History
‘The Mountains Are Ours’: Malaria, Resettlement and Social Change in Ottoman Çukurova (1856-1896) [ project summary ]
My dissertation examines the social and ecological effects of resettlement policies in the Ottoman Empire, focusing on the forced settlement campaigns of transhumant tribal communities in the Adana region of Southern Anatolia during the 1860s and their impacts on these communities as well as the subsequent reactions to settlement policies in the decades that followed. I am particularly interested in the impact of malaria on resettled communities and the measures taken to alleviate the pervasive effects of the disease in the highly malarial plains of Çukurova. I am also interested in the ways in which these settlement campaigns intersect with emerging economic relationships between the Ottoman provinces and world agricultural markets. This study is a contribution to the nascent field of social environmental history of the Middle East that has global relevance. Because the Adana region was a space situated somewhere between the colonial and the national during the nineteenth century, it reveals much about the phenomena of the emerging nation-state as well as global capitalism and settler colonialism. My research has implications for our understanding of social restructuring of the modern Middle East and the breakdown of Muslim-Christian relations in the Ottoman Empire during its last few decades. It also provides a close-up picture of the role of violence in shaping the emerging world economy and examines the ways in which states react or fail to react to ecological and humanitarian crises brought on by irreversible changes implemented through coercion. It is above all an illustration of the extent to which the ideologies of civilization and progress make good on their promises in practice when wielded by modern states operating in the service of a number of conflicting interests.
- Fouad Halbouni
- Johns Hopkins University, Anthropology
Addressing the Status of Ahl Al-Dhimma in Religious Public Speech in Al-Azbakiya District, Cairo, Egypt [ project summary ]
This project explores the circulation of sermons and religious lessons through the district of al-Azbakiya, a popular quarter in Cairo, Egypt. It traces the trajectory of ideas and voices as they move from mosques and churches to other less formal public spaces of interaction in the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution. While the dramatic images of religious conflict found in the media render the Muslims and Copts as two monolithic communities locked in seemingly eternal battle, I am interested in investigating the plurality of positions regarding questions of the religious other found within the Muslim and Coptic communities. Through an analysis of public religious speech, specifically the sermons and religious lessons delivered in Al-Azbakiya - a popular religious venue for the Salafi movements and the Coptic Orthodox community - I will track how different visions of the place of Non-Muslims in the umma circulate in the local public sphere. If the Egyptian revolution has opened new possibilities for political action, I aim to understand how public religious speech contributes to the making and remaking of the umma as a political community in the midst of religious polarization. My point of departure is the ongoing, often conflicting, discussions of the proper place of Ahl al-Dhimma, [non-Muslims communities living under Islamic guardianship] in an Islamic polity among Salafi groups, various Islamist groups, and officially appointed Imams. I am interested in how these debates articulate with discussions in the Coptic Church about the proper ways of being Christian within a predominantly Muslim society. Consequently, my goal is to move away from representations of the Muslim and Coptic communities as monolithic wholes.
- Alysa M. Handelsman
- University of Michigan, Anthropology
Blackness, Work, and Repression: Street Children at Play in Guayaquil, Ecuador [ project summary ]
In Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, street children line the traffic intersections, enmeshed in the city’s landscape: juggling tennis balls, washing windshields, selling flowers and oranges, and begging passers-by for money. Although a majority of these “street” children do not live on the streets, their work places them there and links them to images of poverty and childhood in an attempt to inspire compassion from those driving by: they frown as they walk from one car window to the next and some children hold signs describing a disability or an illness. These are the images outlining the city. Over 30 percent of Ecuador’s population is under the age of 15, and, as of 2006, approximately 20 percent of children in Ecuador live and work on the streets (Velasco 2006). This phenomenon is not unique to Ecuador, as 20 percent of children in Latin America work (typically on the streets), but the racialized discourses surrounding Ecuadorian street children—“indians” in the highlands and “blacks” on the coast—highlight specific tensions and ethno-racial stereotypes that accompany Ecuadorian poverty. This project explores the interconnections of the forms of play and work of Afro-Ecuadorian street children in Guayaquil, as a means of understanding how these children conceptualize their worlds and how these conceptualizations challenge traditional play theories and traditional ideas of childhood. My research calls attention to growing social inequalities, questioning the ways in which poverty, hope, and survival are intertwined in Guayaquil and how and why forms of play, work, and “care and compassion” (Ticktin 2011) emerge in the relationships between street children, their families/guardians, and governmental and nongovernmental entities.
- Alexander Hazanov
- University of Pennsylvania, History
Porous Empire: Foreign Visitors and the post-Stalin Transformation of the Soviet Union [ project summary ]
This project will study the interaction among foreign visitors, the Soviet state and Soviet society in the post-Stalin era. It aims to reconstruct both the socio-cultural impact of the tens of millions of foreigners who visited the Soviet Union between the late 1950s and the early 1980s, and the dilemmas the Soviet authorities faced as they negotiated the clashing imperatives of Cold War cultural diplomacy and their fears of foreign ideological and moral contamination. By looking at a series of case studies including Soviet attempts to control foreign traffic and visitors' efforts evade them, the impact of foreign travel on the Soviet western borderlands, the experience of foreign students in Soviet universities, and foreign support for the Soviet Jewish immigration movement, I will argue that the encounters between Soviet citizens and foreigners in the post-Stalin era constituted a vast transnational network that injected new ideas, identities, fashions and patterns of consumption into a hitherto closed society. The existence of this network and the Soviet failure to sever or control it weakened the ideological control mechanisms of the Soviet party-state and demonstrated the extent to which the post-Stalin Soviet Union became enmeshed in the emerging global regime of increased human, information and capital flows. The Soviet experience of foreign travel and its contribution to the disintegration of the socialist project constitutes therefore a case study of globalization and its impact on the late 20th century erosion of authoritarian regimes and non-capitalist social orders. By studying the Soviet Union's foreign encounters, this project aims to place the post-Stalin era in a global comparative context, to contribute to the growing literature on the influence of transnational forces on Soviet history, and to integrate the Soviet experience into our understanding of the history of the present-day globalized world order.
- Rebecca Ann Herman
- University of California, Berkeley, History
Collaboration and Dissent in the Construction of U.S. Airbases in Cuba and Brazil, 1940-1961 [ project summary ]
My dissertation explores strategies of collaboration and dissent around the implementation of a clandestine defense program in Latin America during World War II. In November of 1940, the U.S. government secretly subcontracted Pan American Airways to build and expand airports—as well as roads, radio towers, bridges, housing and hospitals—in strategic locations across Latin America through an endeavor called the Airport Development Program (ADP). 50,000 Latin Americans were employed at forty locations to carry out the work. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, many ADP sites became official U.S. military bases. My project looks at ADP defense sites as spaces in which the constant but ordinarily less visible interplay between international, national, and local agendas was made explicit. By exploring the implementation of the Airport Development Program and its aftermath at four sites in Cuba and Brazil from 1940 to 1961, I consider how this defense program intersected with long-term nationalist economic and political agendas of Latin American regimes as well as with local demands for health, labor and education initiatives. My dissertation aims to pair the strengths of transnational and international frameworks to assert a textured way of thinking and writing about inter-American relations that is not fixated solely on inter-state relations but rather recognizes multiple layers of inter- and trans- national contact.
- Carter Hawthorne Higgins
- Cornell University, Asian Religion
Exchanges with Gods and the Miracles of Capital: Pilgrimage and Development in India [ project summary ]
My ethnographic and cultural-historical research asks how multi-sensory perceptions of gods articulate with, mediate, or problematize neoliberal development, nationalism, and secularism. I will track efforts to develop the pilgrimage economy and infrastructure in the village of Gogameri, India, and Hindu-Muslim competition over the right to perform pilgrimage rituals in the village’s regionally important tomb of the god/saint Gogaji. I will look at how networks of priests, monks, government and NGO officials, and local scholars draw from circulating discourses, objects, practices, and capital in order to garner pilgrims’ support for their projects. These networks attempt to do this by styling their initiatives in accordance with pilgrims’ bodily-sensorial encounters with divinity at Gogameri’s tomb-complex. Such styling in turn reconfigures the narratives and character of the trans-local, trans-historical genealogies (Hinduism, Islam, the Indian nation) speakers claim for Gogaji, themselves, and pilgrims. I will use ethnographic vignettes of local micro-politics and multi-sensory perceptions of the criteria of divinity (both at this pilgrimage site, as well as in the home temples, ashrams, and neighborhoods—in Agra and Delhi—of two pilgrim communities centrally involved in Gogmeri’s projects and debates) to ask after the constitutive role played by such bodily-sensorial recognition in the enunciation, spread, and reception of neoliberal development, nationalism, and secularism. In addition to conducting fieldwork extensively in Gogameri, and for shorter periods in Agra and Delhi, I will also travel to other important monasteries and pilgrimage sites in India with the often mobile monks of Gogameri’s monastery, and back and forth to the Rajasthan State’s Department of Religious Sites in Bikaner, Rajasthan, with its officials stationed in Gogameri: both of whom also figure predominantly in development projects and contestations over ritual space in the village.
- Jang Wook Huh
- Columbia University, Literature
Black Radicalism in Korea: Overlapping Dispossessions in Afro-Korean Literary Networks, 1910-1953 [ project summary ]
My dissertation examines overlooked African American and Korean texts in juxtaposition to reconstruct a lost history of Afro-Korean literary networks from the Korean colonial period (1919-1945) to the Korean War (1950-1953). These transnational networks show the ways in which both African American and Korean authors collaboratively envisioned a cross-racial solidarity against empire. Combining the long-divided fields of African American and Korean literatures and cultures, my dissertation offers a comparative framework that translates racial and cultural differences between African Americans and Koreans into a shared poetic for articulating a radical thought of global civil liberation. Translation, I argue, makes possible this cultural exchange of knowledge production. My dissertation thus brings to light two unexplored modes of translation in the discourse of Afro-Asian convergences. Black intellectuals made use of the metaphorical translation of analogy. They connected the familiar, domestic racial subjugation in the U.S. to the foreign colonial subjugation in Korea. Analogical translation enabled them to build Afro-Korean networks of brotherhood as internal victims entrenched in racism within a nation--in Korea’s case, the nation being the Japanese empire and later the U.S. quasi-empire during the Cold War era. On the other hand, Korean authors made recourse to the translation of textual poaching. They inserted Korea’s colonial dispossession into African American texts of racial dispossession to covertly produce knowledge of anti-colonialism under the exhaustive purview of imperial surveillance. By integrating a literary history of textual production into an intellectual history of radicalism, my dissertation on Afro-Korean networks yields an archive that illuminates overlapping dispossession across the Pacific Rim as a means of epistemological analogy for political resistance.
- Elena Ion
- University of California, Berkeley, Art History/Architecture
Repaving Bucharest: Recession, Public Funding, and the Revival of Public Works in Romania’s Capital City [ project summary ]
Since Romania’s accession to the European Union (EU) in 2007, many of its cities have witnessed a resurgence of state-led urban development on a scale not seen since the socialist period. In Bucharest, many of these state-led projects have resulted in mass evictions and the demolition of vast historic areas. This urban development surge is occurring at a time of deep budget cuts and a sharp decrease in private investments—conditions brought on by the onset of the 2007-2008 recession. EU structural funds and public funds have financed many of these infrastructural and urban development projects and in the process transformed the dynamics of central and local governance. This project examines the emergence of a new regime of urban governance that is reliant on EU and public funding and focused on public works projects. It examines the conditions under which municipal investments in the built environment produce uneven development through a selective and discretionary allocation of public resources. My research will analyze how this allocative mode of urban governance differs from territorial competitiveness, which recent scholarship views as key forces shaping Central and Eastern European cities.
- Deborah Alison Jones
- University of Michigan, Anthropology
Talk, Text & Land Grabs: Negotiating Place in Eastern Europe's Breadbasket [ project summary ]
The study of agrarian political economy is often approached in terms of substance and transaction: scholars and analysts discuss crop prices, soil types, hectarage, tractor sales, garden pests, and so on. Language seems to be a tool for describing the agricultural process, but is rarely considered something that participates in it. Yet agrarian society is permeated by talk and text: land deeds are exchangeable written artifacts; stories factual and supernatural add intangible value to dirt, seeds, and rain; and the work day, whether for fieldhands or business people, is driven by countless instances and layers of interaction. As Ukraine, the fabled ‘breadbasket of Europe,’ officially – and controversially – reopens its land market, ending a 20 year moratorium on the sale of land, considering language in, of, and as political economy has particular purchase. Ethnographically anchored in stakeholders’ practical navigation of the land reforms, my dissertation will examine how an array of linguistic phenomena interlock to create contested notions of ‘place’ in south-central Ukraine. By learning how small landowners, government bureaucrats, and interested buyers assemble and deploy the dossiers of documents required for claiming, appraising, leasing, and exchanging agricultural plots, I will investigate how the linguistic takes on, creates, and transforms value in a dynamic landscape.
- Ahilan Arasaratnam Kadirgamar
- City University of New York Graduate Center, Anthropology
Reconstruction and Dispossession: Landed Relations in Post-war Sri Lanka [ project summary ]
In May 2009, a three decade long civil war came to an end in Sri Lanka. Its war-torn areas are now under reconstruction; a process led by state infrastructure development. While the livelihoods of rural people of Jaffna, the war-torn, predominantly Tamil district in northern Sri Lanka, are mainly from agriculture, foreign remittances and the state sector also contribute to their household incomes. How is reconstruction shaping their relations to agriculture as a livelihood and land as a productive asset? What are the changes to labor, and how is that impacting class differentiation and caste stratification? This study will use both quantitative and qualitative approaches to analyze the sustainability of rural livelihoods in Jaffna. Through an analysis of rural livelihoods in war-torn Sri Lanka, it will address the dispossession of the peasantry, common to so many places in the global South going through armed conflicts, migration and rapid global integration.
- Hun Kim
- University of California, Berkeley, Urban Planning
Categorical Erosion: Land Capitalization and Governance in Vietnam [ project summary ]
This study aims to understand two contradictory modes of reform that underpin Vietnam's urban development. The first mode, what I call categorical erosion, enables the capitalization of land by utilizing the gray spaces of legality and the opaque nature of authority under late socialist transition. Changes to the country’s political and legal structure, namely decentralization of governance and the 1993 land law privatizing land use, have created opportunities for the state to experiment with land expropriation and urban planning schemes central to the goals of state-led marketization. These schemes often contradict one another. The other mode, good governance reform, critiques the practices of categorical erosion as it assumes that the old ways of doing business under socialism cannot produce capitalist growth. This latter mode often misidentifies such practices as corruption. Good governance reform, like categorical erosion, is embraced by the state and spearheaded by development institutions. These reforms promote norms of liberalism, or strong private property rights, the rule of law, democratization and the strengthening of bureaucracy. Urbanization is a key process through which the two modes of reform conflict and expose the paradoxes of Vietnamese development under reform. I hypothesize that these reforms expand the legitimacy of the Vietnamese state while producing competing claims and rights to urban space predicated on land expropriation. Using the extended case study and deploying qualitative methods, the proposed research will examine two sites: peri-urban enclave development and NGO good governance initiatives. While land capitalization and reform are my objects of inquiry, they serve to elucidate: 1) the production of late socialist state power through urbanization; 2) the changing landscape of rights versus claims to urban space under economic transition; 3) how the two modalities of reform have created avenues of inclusion and exclusion to the city.
- Kathleen Fitzpatrick Klaus
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Political Science
Claiming Land: Institutions, Narratives, and Political Violence in Kenya [ project summary ]
The central question of this dissertation asks: Why has there been such significant variation in the occurrence and forms of political violence across Kenya since the onset of multiparty elections? Recent explanations of political violence focus on elections, state strength, ethnic identity, and the feasibility of rebellion. By contrast, I suggest that variation in land tenure institutions is a crucial yet overlooked factor in shaping the occurrence and dynamics of political violence. Land institutions matter because they shape the politics of access, claim-making, and election-time patronage and coercion. The project focuses on the formation of contentious claims to land, and how these claims or grievances can be mobilized by elites into various forms of political violence. Two specific questions guide the research. First, there is considerable variation in the types of land tenure relationships in Kenya—across geographic regions, between different ethnic groups, and within communities. Why do these diverse land tenure relationships provoke contentious land claims in some cases, while in many others, tenure relationships remain uncontested? Secondly, when and how do contentious claims to land become a mobilizing tool for political violence? The dissertation uses a five-stage research design based on a micro-comparative study of different communities across Kenya, each displaying variation in land tenure strength, land claims (narratives), and different histories of political violence. It also includes a national-level quantitative study comparing the percent of titled land and the patterns of political violence at the district-level in each election-year.
- Sohl C. Lee
- University of Rochester, Visual and Cultural Studies
Within and beyond Minjung: The Aesthetics of National Identity and Democratic Participation in South Korean Art (1970-2010) [ project summary ]
The South Korean pro-democracy movement called “minjung movement” (or people’s movement) is often cited as a model of the third wave democracy, having successfully established a parliamentary democracy in 1987, as well as the subsequent economic prosperity. Yet, against this celebratory narrative of the victory of capitalist democracy, today’s South Korean artists tell a different story. For them, the political struggle continues, even after the initial revolution—and so does the necessity of art production that actively imagines new forms of citizenship and democratic participation. This project offers a historical and visual analysis of South Korean artists’ continued vision for radical social change, as well as their shifting aesthetics over the past four decades. If many social sciences scholars have focused on the minjung movement’s political and sociological aspects, my visual and cultural studies approach to minjung art (or people’s art) and today’s political art investigates the complex dynamics between aesthetics and politics. How does art give tangible, material forms to the seemingly universal ideals of citizenship and democracy in a post-colonial nation that still lives with the Cold-War era national division? How does art reflect the shifts in South Korean understandings of national subjectivity, from a singular, homogeneous model of citizenship to a more heterogeneous and contentious one? Considering the recent developments in visual technologies, I ask how changes in the actual material forms of minjung art (banners, woodblock prints, oil painting) to today's “post-minjung” art (video clips, photography, multi-media installation) can enrich our knowledge of South Korean art history. With this transhistorical study on South Korea, I seek to complicate the global history of avant-garde political art, one that has been consistently oriented around Euro-American political history (the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Paris 1968, the end of communism in 1989).
- Seth S. LeJacq
- Johns Hopkins University, History of Medicine
“And What do You Know of the Body?”: Monitoring, Disciplining, and Caring for Sailors' Bodies in the British Royal Navy, 1688-1783 [ project summary ]
My dissertation project uses the records of British naval courts-martial to reconstruct the body culture aboard the “wooden world” of navy vessels—the culture of the men who built and maintained the British empire. My focus is on the years 1688 to 1783, a period of pivotal military and imperial expansion. I show that the constant production of bodily knowledge was an essential feature of shipboard communities, where sailors monitored each other closely to detect disease, drunkenness, the results of violence, poor medical care and provisioning, and sexual activity. They used the knowledge they generated to help and discipline peers, to pursue their own aims and to attempt to ensure their communities' safety.
Historians have come to recognize that knowledge of the human body assumed increasing importance as naval administrators built and managed their expanding force. They have not, however, recognized that sailors themselves produced and used bodily knowledge as they self-regulated in response to the immense difficulties and dangers of their jobs and lives afloat. Usually this knowledge was not set down in writing, but it was recorded when it was articulated before courts-martial. The records of trials allow me to explore the varieties of knowledge sailors generated and to reconstruct the ways in which they used it.
By looking at the production and use of bodily knowledge from the bottom up—from the perspective of regular sailors rather than administrators and elites—my research enriches our understanding of the dynamics of these important early modern communities and supplements literatures on a range of topics, from maritime medicine to homosexuality in the navy, that have generally been considered from the perspective of those in authority. Only by attending to shipboard body culture from this bottom-up perspective can we understand the experiences of ordinary seamen during the age of sail, how their communities worked, and how the empire was built.
- Ayala Levin
- Columbia University, Art History/Architecture
Nationalizing Modernism: Architectural Expertise in Israeli-African Technical Cooperation (1958-1973) [ project summary ]
This study explores the cultural-political dynamics of the design and construction of public buildings by Israeli technical cooperation programs in Sub-Saharan African states from 1958 to 1973. Presented as a model for rapid development, Israeli expertise in various fields was construed as nationally specific but at the same time applicable to numerous African states. By focusing on projects such as the Sierra Leone parliament building, Ife University campus in West-Nigeria, and the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry building, this research addresses the ideological and operational contingencies embedded in this neo-colonial modality of transnational exchange.
Considering these projects in the framework of African states’ post-independence development plans brings to the fore the international political and economic infrastructure that facilitated them, and the national infrastructure they were supposed to catalyze and sustain. This study expands questions of representation, usually articulated through the realm of aesthetics, to include the ways in which international politics and issues of state governance affected architectural practices and materialized in the final designs. While architectural modernism was propagated in the U.S. and Europe as the International Style, Israeli architects translated it to African countries by imbuing it with nation-building qualities. I argue that it is the Labor-Zionist ideology and set of practices, derived from the settler-colonial experience in the Mandate era, that were exported to the African states. I critically examine how the Israeli Foreign Ministry promoted these practices through traveling exhibitions, state tours, and mass media, and how architects negotiated them in relation to the African commissioners’ expectations and the international professional discourse. By going beyond Cold War dichotomies this study complicates existing narratives of modernization and exposes the socio-cultural underpinnings of globalization
- Chung-En Liu
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology
Construction and Governance of the Global Carbon Commodity Chain [ project summary ]
The carbon market, in which people trade carbon in order to reduce it, has emerged as the dominant policy solution to deal with climate change. How was such a market established and stabilized? I adopt the Global Commodity Chain framework to “follow” carbon commodities through the chain in different parts of the world. I apply a combination of ethnographic fieldwork and archival analysis in understanding 1) the institutional building of the carbon market, 2) the governance structure of the carbon market, and 3) the commodification processes of carbon. My multi-sited research method includes fieldwork in London, China, and Washington D.C. In London, the carbon finance hub of the world, I plan to acquire an internship position in a carbon finance company to obtain hands-on experience in carbon market operations and observe the market infrastructure from below. In China, I will sample different sources of carbon offset products to investigate the politics associated with the commodification processes. In the final phase, Washington D.C. will be the strategic place to analyze how governments are mobilized to construct carbon markets at the global level. Since the carbon commodity chain is a global phenomenon, each part of my project is indispensible to capture the full picture of the chain. My research contributes in advancing the sociological theory and practice on climate change by bringing the Global Commodity Chain and environmental sociology together. It also enhances our understanding on the structure of transnational governance. Finally, the results from this study are particularly relevant to the current policy debate on future of climate change mitigation strategy.
- Kristen Loveland
- Harvard University, History
Thinking the Future Human: Debates on the Ethics of Diagnostic Reproductive Technologies in Germany, 1946 – 2001 [ project summary ]
My project traces the emergence of ethical debates on the proper use and regulation of diagnostic reproductive technologies through a number of social and professional groups in postwar Germany, including feminists, disability rights activists, bioethicists, theologians, legal scholars, and philosophers. My project explores initial attempts to articulate Germany's eugenic past in the context of disability and reproduction through the 1946 Doctor's Trial, 1960s Contergan scandal, and 1975 Federal Constitutional Court decision against a liberalized abortion law. It then explores a series of debates in the 1980s and 1990s on the impact of prenatal diagnosis and preimplantation genetic diagnosis to understand how participants in these debates implicitly or explicitly characterized an unborn "future human" when theorizing the proper use of these technologies. In constituting this "future human," such debates also frequently redefined the meaning of "disability." By exploring these ethical debates within the context of legal and economic regulations on both the national and supranational levels, I will analyze how they might be understood both as attempts to renegotiate Germany's eugenic past and as responses to technological modernity and economic liberalization in a postwar European society.
- Aman Luthra
- Johns Hopkins University, Geography
Modernity's Garb(age): A Political Ecology of Municipal Solid Waste in Delhi [ project summary ]
Discourses and practices of development have consistently held that urbanization is the key to progress. But the process of urbanization also brings a set of problems, two of which are—an informal sector that perpetually escapes the purview of the state and piling amounts of unmanaged and sometimes, unmanageable, garbage. At the intersection of these two problems of urbanization are waste pickers—those who informally manage the city’s garbage—whose livelihoods are being threatened as the city of Delhi privatizes its waste management services in its aspirations to become a “world-class” and “global” city. The proposed research asks the following broad question: What can the problem of garbage tell us about relations within and between classes, the state and private capital in the process of urbanization in Delhi? More specifically, this research examines: (a) garbage and waste pickers as objects of urban planning; (b) tactics and strategies of private waste firms; (c) middle and upper class desires for a particular kind of urban modernity; and (d) modes of informal sector waste pickers’ organizing. In order to do this, this research will employ the following methods as part of the fieldwork to be conducted between July 2012 and June 2013: (1) Fifty semi-structured interviews with government officials, NGO and development agency personnel and waste firm managers; (2) Participant observation at six Resident Welfare Association (RWA) meetings, one waste picker organization (Safai Sena), and one waste firm (through a four-month long internship); and (3) Household surveys with 120 households in the six neighborhoods where participant observation at RWA meetings will be conducted. The crux of this research is an examination of the stakes involved in the imagination of alternative urban futures not just for Delhi but for other cities that aspire to become “world-class” and “global” as well.
- Stephanie Maher
- University of Washington, Anthropology
Barça ou Barzakh: The Social “Elsewhere” of Failed Clandestine Migration Out of West Africa [ project summary ]
Over the past decade, tens of thousands of predominantly male “boat migrants” departed from Senegalese shores for Europe. As labor markets opened in Tripoli and Algiers, thousands more transited by land across North Africa. Today, however, the combined effects of surveillance technologies patrolling Senegalese coasts, mobility partnerships between the European Union and the Senegalese state, and post-Arab spring developments have resulted in the sequential constriction of illicit migration routes, leaving many migrants either in protracted transit or subject to enforced repatriation. Current migration scholarship focuses largely on assessing integration and social networking in host or transit countries. It overlooks what happens when migrants fail to reach their intended destination and are forced to return. My research will examine “failed migration” by looking at both state policies and migrant strategies across the region. On the level of the state, this research asks how political partnerships and development policies both facilitate and circumscribe population movements that are physical and social in nature. On the level of the individual, this research asks how the social barzakh, or “elsewhere,” of failed migration influences future possibilities for male youth in contemporary West Africa. The experience of failed migration in Senegal is creating significant physical and psychological challenges for young West Africans. The Senegalese state is developing new forms of governmentality to deal with this burgeoning population of unsuccessful migrants, partnering state and non-state actors. These are facets of the global migration phenomenon that are largely invisible in the literatures on youth, migration and the African state, but they are an increasingly common part of the life story of West African youth. Based in Dakar, Senegal, research will take place over nine months between July 2012 and March 2013.
- Anca Mandru
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, History
"Socialism of Sentiment": Culture, Progress and Community in the Early Romanian Left (1870-1914) [ project summary ]
My dissertation questions the traditional assumption of the absence of an indigenous socialist tradition in Romania prior to the Soviet takeover in 1944 by exploring the cultural and intellectual history of early socialism in Romania between 1870 and 1914. Moving away from the unimpressive political and institutional history of Romanian socialism, I argue that this period witnessed the emergence of an influential leftist intellectual tradition, particularly visible in the fields of literary criticism and the popularization of science. Examining left-leaning periodicals, brochures, lectures, literary and theoretical studies and archival sources, my project will reconstruct the cultural and educational agenda of Romanian socialist intellectuals and explore its dynamics, reception and legacy. In the process, by applying contemporary theories of “cultural transfer” and the “circulation of knowledge”, I will show that Romanian socialists belonged to a broader transnational movement and question the status of the Balkans as a periphery. While recovering the works of major Marxist critics absent from the Western canon, I will explore the significance of this unusual debut of socialism in Romania for the understanding of the shape and meaning of socialism in general and in the Balkans in particular. In addition, using intellectuals and their cultural pursuits as a lens for the reassessment of socialism will provide new insights into the relation between socialism and nationalism and capture the complexity of the initial encounter with socialism, characterized simultaneously by ideological ambiguity, ethical idealism and unlimited faith in science and progress.
- Emily Marker
- University of Chicago, History
The Cultural Politics of Late Colonialism and European Unity: Cultural Transnationalism in Postwar France, 1943-1968 [ project summary ]
France embarked on two ambitious transnational undertakings after the Second World War—the revitalization of its African Empire and the unification of Western Europe. These were political and economic projects, but they were also fundamentally cultural. They each engendered initiatives to create new shared identities and a sense of common destiny that crossed national borders and traditional cultural boundaries. Pursuing parallel strategies, proponents of overseas France and united Europe looked to youth as a key demographic to build the social and cultural foundations of their projects. They sought to redesign primary and secondary school curricula, create institutions of higher learning, launch student exchanges, hold sports competitions, and use film and radio programming to create new cultural communities. My dissertation takes these initiatives as a case study as part of a broader reexamination of the impact of the conjunction of colonial reform, decolonization and early European integration on ideas about difference and multiculturalism in postwar France. My research will show that exclusivist visions of the French Republic and united Europe were in fact fiercely contested in the immediate postwar decades, that ideas about racial and cultural difference were in a great state of flux, and that the resonances these identity markers carried in what might initially appear to be a narrow French national debate were in fact being worked out in a transnational dialogue between French, European and African actors. Cultural homogeneity was not necessarily deemed essential to the success of colonial reform or European integration; postwar youth-oriented cultural policy in favor of both projects reveals a vision of cultural community in which the logic of ‘unity in diversity’ was not just tolerated but embraced. My project will therefore historicize and challenge contemporary discourses that disclaim the viability of multiculturalism in France and across Europe today.
- Nada Matta
- New York University, Sociology
Gender, Work, and the Family in Egypt [ project summary ]
Although the Egyptian working-class movement has been the most mobilized group in Egypt, staging around 4000 protests involving millions of workers during the last decade alone, it didn’t initiate or lead the Egyptian uprising of 2011. In fact, it was the youth movement that did both, calling for the Day of Anger protest on 25 January, leading the subsequent revolt from Tahrir Square [liberation, in Arabic], and formulating its main political demands. How can one explain this seeming anomaly? The events of the Egyptian uprising, I argue, raise a puzzle for social movement literature. While most the research of social movements suggests that those with the largest pre-existing networks and most resourced organizations are the most likely to lead protests, this wasn’t what transpired in Egypt. The opposite actually happened. The groups that hadn’t earlier demonstrated their ability to mobilize large numbers of people, and were loosely organized online networks, took a leading role in the uprising. Simultaneously, the historically more militant workers, with strong organizational structures and pre-existing networks, participated as striking workers only towards the end of the 18-day mobilization. My main objective is to explain the disjuncture between earlier organization and actual participation in the uprising. My project builds on preliminary research that I conducted in Egypt since 2009. On my last visit in the summer of 2010, I spent 7 weeks in Mahalla (a working-class city renowned for its labor militancy) interviewing textile workers about the 2006-2009 Mahalla strikes that drew the attention of all Egyptians. These may well be regarded as the first seed of the Egyptian uprising. Only by conducting further in-depth interviews with both youth and labor activists will I be able to understand the conditions under which the youth activists were able to organize such a massive protest and sustain an organized movement in Tahrir square, and how workers conceive of th
- Amiel Melnick
- Columbia University, Anthropology
'Black Spots': Roads, Accidents, and Uncertainty in Kenya [ project summary ]
Traffic accidents have made roads in many parts of Africa into sites of frequent, violent death. One commentator calls the road ‘a huge slaughter slab,’ another decries ‘the death stretches our road have become.’ In Kenya, road crashes are third only to AIDS and malaria as a cause of death and mediate an intense debate among citizens on the vicissitudes of government and society in the post-structural adjustment state. Focused on potholes, traffic jams, blood, and worn-out auto parts, this debate foregrounds the material and temporal uncertainty within which everyday life takes place, as well as the failures of state- and self-regulation. In the context of an international push for infrastructural modernization in Africa, rising numbers of traffic accidents appear as both a consequence of and an affront to modernity. My dissertation research will consider the unintended consequences of infrastructural modernization by examining, on the one hand, the ‘expert’ calculation and bureaucratic management of traffic accidents, and, on the other, moral, political and practical responses on the part of accident victims and their families, civil society, and religious leaders. Building on emergent anthropological interest in infrastructure, as well as interdisciplinary questions about uncertainty, injury, and the everyday, this project examines how traffic accidents both shape and reveal ethical and political dispositions—ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—in Kenya’s uncertain present. In so doing, my research questions the contradictory links between mobility and modernity.
- Faiza Moatasim
- University of Michigan, Art History/Architecture
Making Exceptions: Politics of Place in the Planned Modernist City of Islamabad [ project summary ]
Unanticipated urban phenomena or “exceptions” in newly planned modernist cities of the twentieth century have mostly been conceptualized as contradictions to the ideal “plan.” An examination of the functioning and everyday life of these planned places, however, reveals that rather than being marginal dysfunctional phenomena, exceptions play a central role in the way abstract plans are operationalized and planned cities are experienced. For instance, in the planned modernist city of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan designed in 1959 by Greek architect-planner C. A. Doxiadis, both marginalized and affluent communities routinely engage in exceptions in order to gain access to certain rights and privileges. By focusing on spatial exceptions found in Islamabad, I thus ask: What is the relationship between the plan and the exception in a planned modernist city? What are the similarities and differences found in the spatial and political tactics of different socio-economic groups engaged in creating exceptions? To answer the first question, I will investigate the proliferation of exceptions in the planned sectors in Islamabad in order to highlight the constitutive role they play in planned urban environments. To address the second question, I will conduct an historical analysis of both a squatter settlement and an unauthorized elite-housing neighborhood in Islamabad, attending to the differing ways each setting is partially constituted through spatial practices at variance with legally sanctioned rules. Using different ethnographic and archival methods to investigate these two main aspects, this research thus addresses the politics of creating a modernist space in Pakistan as they emerge in spatial practices and tactics located outside official planning protocols while nevertheless remaining critical to the functioning and organization of the city.
- Christina Frances Mobley
- Duke University, History
The Kongolese Atlantic: Central Africans in the Haitian Revolution [ project summary ]
My dissertation, “The Kongolese Atlantic: Central Africans in the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804),” examines how enslaved Africans drew on their experiences in Africa to resist chattel slavery in the New World through the most successful slave revolt in history, the Haitian Revolution. The Haitian Revolution has traditionally been seen as derivative of the ideologies of the Enlightenment or the French Revolution circulating in the French Atlantic world. This perspective has failed to explain aspects of the Haitian Revolution that were fundamentally different from, and, indeed, challenged, European ideas. Specifically, the unique religious and social forms that developed in post-emancipation Saint Domingue, Vodou and the lakou. To explore these issues, I develop a cross-regional “Kongolese Atlantic” framework analyze the Haitian Revolution within the African history of the enslaved revolutionaries themselves. The circulation of people and ideas between central Africa and Saint Domingue in the late eighteenth century drew these seemingly disparate areas of the world into a single, deeply intertwined system of exchange. In the French colony of Saint Domingue, 90% of the population was enslaved, two-thirds of whom had been born in Africa, the majority in central Africa. My research shows the majority of central Africans brought to the colony came from east of the Kwango River, and therefore had no prior contact with Europeans. Central Africans in Saint Domingue retained strong ties to central Africa because they had only been in the colony a short while and lived in communities that were majority central African. In my dissertation, I explore the cultural and social backgrounds of central Africans. Using an interdisciplinary methodology that includes traditional archival sources with ethnographic research linguistic analysis, I argue that central Africans strongly influenced the ideas about labor and religion that came to be expressed in the Haitian Revolution.
- Anat Mooreville
- University of California, Los Angeles, History
The War Against Trachoma: Ophthalmology between Jews and Arabs, 1914-1973 [ project summary ]
My dissertation investigates how the ocular disease trachoma became a focal point in reconfiguring notions of “Arab” and “Jew” through bodies, medical practices, scientific discourses, and ethnographic observations in Mandate Palestine and Israel from 1914-1973. Trachoma’s unique etiology and prevalence in Arab and Yemenite Jewish settlements allowed Jewish ophthalmologists in Mandate Palestine to construct it as a marker of severe poverty, cultural backwardness, and the “East.” I argue that the Hadassah Medical Organization therefore launched an intensive “war against trachoma” not only to eradicate the disease, but to culturally differentiate Yemenite Jews from Palestinian Arabs and integrate them into the burgeoning national body. I will explore the socio-medical discourses physicians employed that contributed to the “Arabization” of trachoma; the relationship between Orientalist knowledge and biomedical practice; and how ophthalmologists in private practice produced alternate visions of their relationship to Eastern patients. Rather than only placing my study of Hadassah’s anti-trachoma campaign within a nationalist framework, I am proposing to make comparative Jewish connections between trachoma treatments and discourses in Israel, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. French Jewish philanthropic organizations were all involved in anti-trachoma projects in Jewish communities in North Africa in the 1950s to prepare Jews to immigrate to Israel. Understanding these efforts uncovers transnational histories of public health by placing Middle Eastern Jews within their countries of origin and Israel before and after 1948. I would also like to investigate the legacy of Israel’s ophthalmic expertise within the global context of decolonization. The Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem’s Ophthalmology Department became the frontrunner of sub-Saharan African medical relief. I argue that these development projects aligned with previous cultural conceptions about ocular disease.
- Stephanie O'Rourke
- Columbia University, Art History/Architecture
Bodies of Knowledge: Girodet, Fuseli, and Spectatorship at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century [ project summary ]
When the British writer Horace Walpole first saw Henry Fuseli’s "The Nightmare" exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1782, he used just one word to describe it: “shocking.” Although Walpole was referring to the salacious content of the painting, his description gestures to a much larger reconfiguration of spectatorship at the turn of the nineteenth century, in which shock and other forms of embodied responsiveness transformed popular spectatorial practices. This project contends that certain features Enlightenment epistemology, aesthetics, and entertainment give rise to a particular kind of spectatorial body—a body that is fundamentally incompatible with the structures of knowledge that produce it.
Far from being able to isolate a rarified mode of aesthetic experience in this period, we must consider how the parameters of spectatorship in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are negotiated in multiple, heterogeneous discourses, spaces, and practices. This spectatorial body, characterized by its responsiveness, its disarticulation of semiotic structures, and its vulnerability to manipulation, will give rise to a set of assumptions and anxieties about the body that will trouble much of nineteenth-century thought. Although my narrative will privilege the work of two artists, Henry Fuseli working in Britain and Anne-Louis Girodet in France between 1780 and 1810, I will be drawing upon a network of professional and commercial exchanges throughout continental Europe. Fuseli and Girodet furnish us with images that self-consciously invoke the relationship between representation and the body through representations of that body, often allegorizing conditions of spectatorship within the works themselves. This project will consider the ways in which a diverse range of discourses and practices informed the relationship between these works and their viewers and will examine how this shift is articulated in the parameters of representation itself.
- Aileen Robinson
- Northwestern University, Drama/Theater and Performance Studies
Technological Wonder: The Theatrical Fashioning of Modern Scientific Knowledge, 1838-1905 [ project summary ]
What was the impact of social and cultural modes of transmission upon the creation of modern scientific knowledge? My dissertation investigates the influence of nineteenth-century public performance on the communication and utilization of scientific and technological knowledge. The popular performance culture of Victorian Britain was a vital center of communication, disseminating ideas, theories, and critiques while creating a vital sphere of social, cultural, and political discussion (Newey and Richards 2008; Davis 2009). While theatre historians have theorized widely about the relevance and vitality of popular theatre practice upon culture, the relationship between theatrical performance and science and technology remain under-researched. What are the implications of scientific lectures, mechanical magic shows, and spectacular technological pantomimes? Bringing together theatre history and the history of science and technology, I contend that from mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, 1838-1905, public performances of science and technologies, ranging from presentations to theatrical performances, were vital arenas for the fashioning of scientific discourses, the shaping of technological utilization, and the dissemination of scientific credibility and legibility. Analyzing institutional and periodical archives through semiotic, phenomenological, and constructivist lenses, my research addresses how public performances created modern scientific knowledge, fashioning a legacy still resonant through the TED talks and public programming today.
- Sara Saljoughi
- University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature
Cinema as Novel Vision: Intertextuality and the Iranian New Wave [ project summary ]
My project is the first study on the founding years of the Iranian New Wave cinema (Mowj-e No), which started in 1962 with Forough Farrokhzad's "The House is Black," through to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. My work conceptualizes cinema as the center of a network of signifying practices, particularly modern poetry and fiction, as well as classical art from the Safavid era, Islamic iconography, and regional textile arts and handicrafts. In addition, this project traces new dimensions to Iran's post-revolutionary cinema, highlighting unexplored aspects of its collaborative, interdisciplinary and intertextual cultures. By juxtaposing the formation of the avant-garde against the backdrop of a culture of dissent, my work intervenes in the larger scholarship on Iranian cultural history, which in privileging 1979 and the establishment of a theocracy as a moment of rupture, overlooks what I demonstrate is a longstanding relationship between formal innovation in the cinema as a response to widespread social and politic anxieties about what constitutes "Iranian-ness." My research shows how in the early 1960s, Iranian cinema struggled to define a national aesthetic practice that articulates a central antagonism between state and society. The research question that grounds my dissertation asks why "Iranian-ness" is inconceivable without the cinema. My methodology combines formal, textual analysis with film historiography to argue the importance of the parallel development of filmic intertextuality with the national project. I examine the historical context by analyzing the production, reception and interaction of ten New Wave films within the larger culture of the avant-garde. Following that, I read each film closely in order to draw out the relevant pieces of how the intertextual matrix expresses itself in the language of the cinema. My work is both a theory of the cinema and a cultural history of contemporary Iran.
- Stephanie Anne Savell
- Brown University, Anthropology
Humanitarian Militarism in Everyday Lives: The Brazilian Human Security Paradigm [ project summary ]
This proposal outlines an ethnographic study of security, in particular the Brazilian ‘human security’ paradigm, which combines humanitarian discourses with armed interventions. Launching a vigorous bid to become the world’s ‘human security superpower,’ Brazilian troops have led recent UN peacekeeping missions in East Timor and, since 2004, in Haiti. Meanwhile, since 2008 the Rio de Janeiro government has charted a new course in urban security policy with the implementation of controversial ‘Police Pacification Units,’ or UPP – a policy that, as in Haiti, is based on humanitarian militarism. In both Haiti and Rio, Brazil’s violent military model of how to ‘pacify’ urban slums seems at odds with the model’s branding as ‘human security’ – a term popularized by the UN to index the goals of protecting individuals from violence and promoting rights and community development. My project aims to (1) understand how Brazil has constructed a paradigm of human security that simultaneously promotes and denies human rights, and (2) analyze the consequences of this model for its targets, the urban poor. I investigate the context in which the Brazilian state developed urban security expertise in Rio de Janeiro; how this expertise has been sent abroad to Haiti; and how the experience of exporting security has then reshaped the paradigm as it travels back to Rio. My proposed research focuses on the last part of this global circulation, examining the effects of the travel of security expertise between Brazil and Haiti, and how Brazil’s foreign military operations and self-branding as a human security superpower have affected security operations – and therefore the urban poor – in Rio’s favelas.
- Timo H. Schaefer
- Indiana University Bloomington, History
Republic of Participatory Coercion: Policing, Army Recruitment, and Labor in the Making of Postcolonial Mexico [ project summary ]
This project will examine the formation of non-professional policing forces that kept order in postcolonial Mexico, the local processes of army recruitment that sent large numbers of men into effective social banishment, and the economic and cultural foundations for so sudden and stark a division between lower-class Mexicans. Presenting evidence from three research locations - the predominantly indigenous state of Oaxaca and the states of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí, where mestizo and indigenous peasant villages were interspersed with large agricultural estates (haciendas) - the dissertation will argue that in postindependence Mexico, policing and army recruitment crystallized fluid and diffuse social divisions into a political order that premised participation in the new liberal regime of rights on gendered performances of honest work and familial responsibility. Radical new notions about the dignity of labor that characterized the global 'age of revolutions' in Mexico were thus at the heart of simultaneous revolutions in political participation and social marginalization.
- Guo Quan Seng
- University of Chicago, History
The Birth of the Modern Diasporic Subject: Law, Knowledge, Family Reform and the Overseas Chinese in British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies (1870-1942) [ project summary ]
My project examines the entanglements of states and Chinese diasporic communities in Southeast Asia from 1870 to 1930 during the first age of liberal globalization. It focuses on the contested construction of legal-knowledge regimes of family law and citizenship as a lens to historicize the making of the modern Chinese diaspora and to illuminate the complexities of colonial and national state efforts to channel, incorporate and manage the diasporic communities of sojourning Chinese traders and laborers across maritime Southeast Asia. Deploying an interdisciplinary and transregional methodology, I center my work on the British Straits Settlements (present day Singapore, Malacca and Penang), the protected Malay states (much of present day Malaysia), the Netherlands East Indies (present day Indonesia) and southeastern coastal China. My approach places colonial legal and knowledge regimes, and their dialectical relationship with Chinese diasporic communities, at the center of the colonial state formation process during two periods of particularly intense political contestations over diasporic kinship conduct and citizenship recognition: 1) from the 1870s when Anglo-Dutch colonial states and the diasporic Chinese patriarchal elites in the region first came to display strong concerns over family and kinship issues leading to colonial-inspired family reform campaigns at the turn of the century; and 2) after the Chinese state passed new citizenship and civil laws in 1906-9 and 1927-31, when Chinese claims on its overseas subjects became not only diasporic but also international legal problems. This project draws on primary sources from multiple archives in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Great Britain. Along with its historical contribution, my work speaks to our contemporary encounter with variegated diasporic social and cultural forms and their persisting tensions with liberal nation-state defined regimes of the family and citizenship.
- Hosna Sheikholeslami
- Yale University, Anthropology
“Do Books Make Revolutions?”: Publishers, Translators, and the Circulation of Western Philosophy in Iran
- Christopher Nicholas Sheklian
- University of Chicago, Anthropology
What's “neo-” about “Neo-laicism?” Theological and Legal Developments in the Relationship of the Armenian Community of Istanbul to the Turkish State [ project summary ]
The Armenians of Istanbul are currently encountering two aspects of what Turkish papers have dubbed “neo-laicism:” the return of properties to minority foundations and the internal “civilianization” of their communities away from established religious hierarchies. Yet if neo-laicism is just a reinvigorated Turkish secularism explicitly compatible with Islam, what makes it new? Through work at the Armenian Apostolic Church's Patriarchate in Istanbul and the Turkish and Armenian bilingual weekly newspaper Agos, this project interrogates the claim that neo-laicism is a relationship between politics and religion. It explores the apparent willingness of the Turkish state to incorporate various idioms and discourses concerning communal organization for minority groups. These varied discourses about collective life include categories such as charity, liturgy, and service. Through attention to these categories and a rich analysis of the legal developments in the return of properties to minority foundations, the project will interrogate how diversity of thinking about religion and community in a secular state might contribute to a new understanding of collective existence and state recognition of religious minorities.
- Asheesh Kapur Siddique
- Columbia University, History
Daring to Ask: The Questionnaire and the Problem of Knowledge in the Late Eighteenth Century British Atlantic Enlightenment [ project summary ]
This dissertation examines the rise and extensive use of the questionnaire as a technique for investigating the social, political, economic, and agricultural life of the British North American colonies between the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 and the aftermath of American independence. In this Enlightenment era of an expanding public sphere, new media technologies, and imperial state-formation, British and colonial intellectuals, governing institutions, commercial bodies, and civil society organizations used questionnaires as a technology by which they sought to systematically investigate the social, political, and cultural environment of the North American territories, newly acquired as a consequence of British victory over France and Spain. Questionnaires were crucial instruments for satisfying both the exigencies of effective governance at a distance, and the intellectual curiosity of intellectuals, scientists, and knowledge associations. By investigating the history of the questionnaire in the late eighteenth century British Atlantic empire, this dissertation places the history of the Enlightenment state and civil society in the same analytical perspective, highlighting both the global and imperial dimensions of these histories, and the centrality of the mediation of information to understanding the ideological shifts and the functioning of institutions touched by the expansion of empire. By exploring how questionnaires were used by late eighteenth century Britain to produce intellectual geographies of the world, my dissertation promises to have direct relevance to understanding the development of a practice central to modern qualitative social science.
- Fiorella Jazmin Sierra
- Brown University, Political Science
Brazil Goes Global: The Worker’s Party and the Rise of Brazilian Multinationals [ project summary ]
Brazil used to be where American and European multinational corporations (MNCs) invested, but it is now Brazilian firms that seek to go beyond their home markets. Yet there is a key difference between MNCs from developed countries and their Brazilian counterparts: the latter are largely the result of targeted industrial policies as part of a broader growth strategy pursued in the last decade by a labor-based party, the Workers’ Party (Partido de los Trabalhadores- PT). Industrial policy under the PT has focused on creating large Brazilian firms through domestic mergers and then promoting their internationalization. The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), a state agency with a lending portfolio twice the size of the World Bank, has provided the capital required to achieve these objectives. The results are impressive: Brazil has surpassed both Russia and China in global investment. Yet by promoting MNCs the Brazilian government is signing on to a policy that is biased toward big businesses, perceived by workers and public opinion as a threat to employment and domestic competition and sends large amounts of capital abroad instead of investing it in the local economy. This outcome is hardly what one would expect from the industrial policy of a programmatic labor-based party such as the PT. Why has the PT sought state sponsorship of domestic MNCs? How has it managed the distributional challenges posed by this industrial policy? I hypothesize that the ability of the PT to implement its industrial policy is a function of two crucial factors: the capacity of the government to place a key bureaucratic institution under its political control and the incentives and capacity of labor to challenge the policy. My research design uses semi-structured interviews with bureaucrats, PT leaders, business and labor exploiting variations in policy-making and preference formation across and within firms that are targeted by the PTs industrial policy.
- Ian R. Simpson
- Stanford University, Anthropology
Producing Market and Muslims: Religious Change and Commercial Culture in Early Islamic Syria-Palestine [ project summary ]
This project examines the relationship between religion and market through a study of ‘Muslim-Christian market interaction’. While early conversion to Islam is often seen as involuntary and the result of Islamic ‘military conquest’, I explore how interaction between different religious groups in the market produces early Muslim identities. In a diachronic study of religious change at Jarash city in early Islamic Syria-Palestine (600-900 CE), I will answer the following question: As part of a new social movement, how did Muslims in Jarash employ the productive tensions between market and religion to negotiate their place and establish themselves as an urban community? How does the market enable commercial products and practices to acquire social and religious meaning? Notably, in early Islamic Jarash—a city with no less than 14 churches—a congregational mosque is built, the urban marketplace expands, and new religious features and text emerge in a changing commercial culture with early Muslim attributes. I will investigate Christian and Muslim influence in three fields of the market at Jarash: production, commercial culture, and consumerism. I will study change in use of Christian and Muslim text and representation in commercial practice and products, and religious affiliation in the urban organization of production, commerce and households. By drawing links between these components of the market, my project addresses the multi-scalar interaction of market and religion. I will demonstrate interaction and exchange between different religious groups in the market and illuminate how this enabled Islam to prosper as a new urban social movement. This detailed archaeological study of market and interreligious dialogue at Jarash is informed more broadly by written sources relating to trade, introduction of credit systems, the early Islamic state, and evidence from nearby market towns.
- Stuart Strange
- University of Michigan, Anthropology
Differences to Blame: Narrative, Agency and Responsibility in War, Sorcery, and Suffering in Suriname [ project summary ]
My project seeks to understand the influence of different cultural logics of accounting responsibility for misfortune on conceptions of ethnic difference in Suriname. I inquire into the ways people within the Indo-Surinamese and Afro-Surinamese communities’ differently narrate human and supernatural agency and responsibility for misfortune—particularly for the Surinamese civil war of 1986-1992. My project asks how cultural traditions differently construct authoritative evidence of human and supernatural agency to explain misfortune and assess the consequences of action and the meanings of contingency. By examining how Indo-Surinamese Hindus and Muslims and Afro-Surinamese Traditionalists and Christians differently attribute agency to explain personal sufferings like illness or national misfortune like war, I can learn how these assessments of responsibility are related to ethical narratives that associate moral dispositions with ethnic traits. How these interpretations are linked to ethnic difference should then shed light on the social objectification of ethnicity. I will examine how differences in accounting responsibility inflect ideologies of ethnicity to shape the ways members of ethnic collectivities conceive of themselves and interact with others. In doing so, I can address foundational issues about culture and social difference in social science, developing an action centered approach to understanding the social practices of difference.
- Miriam S. Thangaraj
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Educational Policy Studies
The Fabric of Childhood: Silk, Schools, Special Economic Zones [ project summary ]
As global rights-based policy regimes are reconfiguring the meanings of childhood across societies, global economic processes are restructuring the very materials – the social and generational contracts, obligations and relations – that make up the experience of childhood. My study is an ethnographic account of the (re)construction of childhoods in the long-standing weaving communities of Kanchipuram, in southern India. On the one hand, the enforcement of global conceptions of childhood – embodied by “no work, more school” policies – displaces child apprentices out of the thick social fabric of weaving-based networks; on the other, the state’s broadly neoliberal economic regime has led to the creation of a series of unregulated, loosely-coupled spaces – from industrial ‘special economic zones’ to brick kilns or the growing cash-based, fringe economy of consumption goods – that increasingly draws a workforce of children.
My project seeks to map and thickly describe the unfamiliar spaces that children traverse in their movement from loom to school, in order to understand how children participate in and make sense of these spaces, and to explicate the social/relational protections for children embedded in each of these spaces. In so doing, my project critically engages with global conceptions of childhood, as well as the construction of schooling as the primary means of protection for working children, from a perspective that is anchored in their daily lives. Moreover, given the closely-knit social fabric of weaving communities, my project contributes to thinking about children and their rights and protections in ways that are relationally grounded rather than reflecting a western liberal tradition that foregrounds autonomy, rationality and self-interest as the basis of rights. In studying up from children’s lives, my study offers a creative window into the complex and multivalent processes of globalization that (re)produce ways for people to be.
- Peter Dewitt Thilly
- Northwestern University, History
Treachery on the Coast: Smuggling and Maritime Administration in Fujian, 1795-1937 [ project summary ]
In my dissertation, I will use commercial and legal records to explore the way successive generations of opium smugglers in China’s southeastern province of Fujian developed and maintained a highly successful but illegal narcotics trade. Through a close examination of the inter-connections between lineage units, smuggling syndicates and the civil and military administrations along the coast, I look to uncover what happened in the ports and villages of southeast China during the meteoric rise of the opium trade, and how the residents of Fujian’s coastal hinterland and busy port cities – Xiamen, Quanzhou, and Fuzhou – managed this (mostly) informal economy. During the late Qing, Fujian was unique for the size and power of lineage units in local society, the importance of military administration within local government, and the unusual (in the Chinese context) appointment of locals to positions of authority within the military and maritime customs administration. I propose to examine how these and other factors contributed to the flourishing of a smuggling economy, and how the history of smuggling conditioned modern statebuilding along the Fujian coast during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
My dissertation will offer a detailed analysis of the successes and failures of smugglers and anti-smuggling administrations over a period of nearly one hundred and fifty years: from the period before the first opium war, through the treaty port era of the late nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century and the advent of Japanese expansion into the region. In its focus on clandestine commercial networks that extended across national boundaries, my research engages with and contributes to the growing body of scholarship on transnational history, informal economies, law and empire, and globalization. Additionally, my work will contribute to the historiography of late imperial and republican China, as well as that of British and Japanese imperialism in Asia
- Christy Thornton
- New York University, History
Revolutionary Internationalism: Mexico and the Creation of the Postwar Multilateral System, 1919-1948 [ project summary ]
Conventional understandings of the post-WWII multilateral order locate its origins in the negotiations between an ascendant United States and a Europe wracked by war, with a peripheral role, at best, played by countries of the colonized and less-developed world. This project, however, will ask how the interwar internationalism of the less-developed world influenced how the world powers sought to organize global governance after the Second World War. Against the notion that liberal multilateralism was antithetical to economic and political nationalism, my preliminary research has uncovered successive efforts by post-Revolutionary Mexican nationalists, from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 through the Bretton Woods economic conference in 1944, to structure a multilateral system of economic and political cooperation—and to thereby codify a “revolutionary internationalism” that would address the global distribution of power and resources. Projecting outward the nationalism engendered by the recent Mexican Revolution, interwar Mexican intellectuals, jurists, and diplomats repeatedly sought to codify a vision of state-vested property rights, absolute sovereignty, and national developmentalism in international legal frameworks, agreements, and institutions. By utilizing a variety of archival sources in Mexico and the United States, including diplomatic, scholarly, and personal records, this project will present a transnational analysis of Mexico’s continued advocacy of multilateral cooperation in the interwar period, and will propose that that advocacy directly challenged the U.S. conception of multilateral liberalism—not through its rejection, but rather through its extension into economic and social realms. That challenge, I hypothesize, was instrumental in embedding the idea of “development” into international institutions, and directly shaped how the United States envisioned the postwar multilateral order and projected its power in the world.
- Marlee Jo Tichenor
- University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology
Transnational Pharmaceutical Governance: Senegal and the Global Fight against Malaria [ project summary ]
Using the case study of the Artemisinin Project (AP), a private-public partnership funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and manufacture cheaper anti-malarial drugs, I seek to investigate the political, cultural, and ethical ramifications of global health initiatives in Dakar, Senegal, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA. Researching the particularities of malaria in urban and rural Senegal, I intend to examine the role of non-state governance and structural inequalities in the regulation of health and to problematize the process of a pharmaceuticalization of health. Through the particularities of biomedical research and drug development in the Bay Area, I will contextualize and make visible the underlying conceptual framework of the broader American humanitarian biomedical project and its humanitarian business strategies. Taking the results of ethnographic research done in both sites along with research and analysis of official documents released by partners and of popular media regarding AP, I propose to undertake a mapping of the pathway designed to move a scientific pharmaceutical object from academic lab to an individual experiencing malaria in order to parse out the basic assumptions and points of contention within biomedical humanitarian projects themselves.
- Jennifer Tucker
- University of California, Berkeley, Urban Planning
State Informality in Paraguay's Frontier Economy: Bureaucrats, Border Agents and Entrepreneurial Subjects [ project summary ]
Ciudad del Este's informal economy likely circulates as much capital as Paraguay's entire formal economy, but little is known about these economies of trans-border commodity circulation. Against the common imaginary of lawlessness, I argue that the state is a key player animating and regulating the frontier economy through processes of “state informality,” defined as a purposive mode of active re-regulation, deregulation and/or the deployment of regulatory ambiguity.
The Paraguayan state is re-organizing and re-regulating the trans-border circulation of commodities, slowly shifting towards export-processing. To study how state authority is being reconfigured, I investigate a partial process of regulating street vendors involved in informal, trans-border trade and one emblematic export processing factory. While street vending is understood as symptomatic of disorder, export processing promises formal sector jobs and is thus imagined as informality's antidote.
I use an ethnographic approach to study the “everyday state,” tracking how the state is animated through iterative practice and the everyday spaces of state rule. I ask two main questions: 1. How does state informality shape the Paraguayan frontier economy and manage circulations of commodities and trans-border traders and 2. How is state authority enacted through everyday practices of bureaucrats, border agents and entrepreneurial subjects?
I will contrast state-society articulations within the frontier economy across three decades from the boom-years of informal, trans-border trade to the expansion of re-exportation. To do this, I use archival research, participant observation and in-depth interviews with a range of state and society actors imbricated in the frontier economy. My research will contribute to urban studies and other disciplines by theorizing state informality and the restructuring of state authority within a frontier economy and from an understudied region.
- Susan B. Vanek
- State University of New York at Binghamton, Anthropology
The Cost of Independence: National Identity and Economic Autonomy in Greenland [ project summary ]
The oft-asserted decline of the nation-state in an increasingly globalized world has been a matter of considerable scholarly debate over the past two decades. Such disputes rightfully destabilized the fixity once embedded in the idea of the nation but fail to account for new national movements, the continuation or resurgence of older nationalisms, and the schisming of existing states. The proposed project builds on the work of scholars researching borders who find globalization has not diminished the role of nation-state but, instead, has reordered our understanding of it. The nation-state, here, is conceptualized as ongoing and contested "bordering" process which allows for the imagining and re-imagining of an internal national community while simultaneously projecting an external national face toward a world audience (Donnan and Wilson 2010; Linde-Laursen 2010; Johnson et al. 2011). Nowhere is the changing nature and continued relevance of the nation-state more evident than in the contemporary Arctic, characterized not only by climate change accompanied by increased resource development and growing international attention but also by decolonization, with Northern peoples becoming increasingly vocal in their demands for recognition and inclusion in state and international forums (Dahl et al. 2010; Nuttall and Callaghan 2000). Greenland’s (Kalaallit Nunaat) independence movement is at the forefront of these trends, driven by nationalist sentiment and supported by the island’s largely indigenous Inuit population. The proposed project focuses on Branding Greenland, the island’s nation-branding campaign, as part of its nation-building efforts, in order to explore new permutations of the nation as part of global political and economic shifts in the neoliberal decolonizing Arctic.
- Srigowri Vijayakumar
- University of California, Berkeley, Sociology
Viral Politics: AIDS, Public Health, and Citizenship in India and South Africa [ project summary ]
This project uses multi-sited ethnographic methods to study the ways in which the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in relation to gendered, sexualized, and racialized political structures in India and South Africa, shaped new kinds of citizenship claims in each place. India and South Africa provide useful cases for comparison because, though both have large epidemics, their HIV/AIDS responses differ historically and structurally. In India, the state has opened itself up to a neoliberal biomedical, NGO-driven understanding of the disease, and HIV/AIDS funding and expertise come largely from Northern donors; in South Africa, the state has attempted to define AIDS on broader social terms, and the response has drawn largely on domestic funding. South Africa also mounted a full-scale response to HIV/AIDS later in the course of its epidemic than did India. My project will examine qualitatively the ways in which these differences shape the terrain on which risk groups are defined and how those risk groups turn their status into claims for economic and political rights. Paradoxically, given the orientations of their national states, in South Africa, AIDS activism has centered on treatment and biomedicine; in India, it has coalesced in broader claims from marginalized groups for collective well-being. Tracing the relationships between both public health discourses and/or flows of public health funding as they move from South Africa to India and back, and from global institutions to local groups and back, will allow me to chart how social movements formulate and contest discursive frames and strategies over time, working across scales and constituencies. My project sits at the intersection of political sociology, medical sociology, and the sociologies of culture and gender, and promises to yield important insights into processes of global social movement formation and transnational feminisms.
- Carol Wang
- New School, Anthropology
Entitlement Claims and NGO Professionalization in the Making of the Chinese AIDS Epidemic
- Brendan Joseph McKinney Weaver
- Vanderbilt University, Anthropology
“Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands”: An Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Labor on the Jesuit Wine Haciendas of Nazca, Peru [ project summary ]
This project will archaeologically explore the institutions of coerced labor and slavery and the daily lives and practices of indigenous and African workers and residents on Jesuit wine haciendas in Nazca, Peru’s Ingenio Valley in the 17th and 18th centuries. Through a combination of historical documentation and archaeological evidence the daily lives of the multiple participants of the hacienda system will be reconstructed. This will be the first archaeological project in Peru to explicitly carryout an investigation of Afro-Andean material culture.
- Delia Duong Ba Wendel
- Harvard University, Urban Planning
Rebuilding after the Genocide in Rwanda: Space and the Ethics of Transition [ project summary ]
Framed by the title, ‘Rebuilding after the Genocide in Rwanda: Space and the Ethics of Transition,’ my dissertation will identify precise relationships between spatial and sociopolitical rebuilding strategies, in the context of Rwanda’s post-conflict transition. With the SSRC’s support, I will undertake empirical and historical research in Rwanda, focusing on the post-genocide period from 1994 to the present. My research engages with the interdisciplinary field of Conflict and Peace Studies, and contributes a spatial perspective – developed from Cultural Geography and the History of Architecture and Urban Planning – to this field. Space has received little critical attention in Conflict and Peace Studies literature. This is despite the history of strategic roles that space has had in sovereign territory provision, ethnic partitioning in urban areas, material reparations, and the preservation of cultural heritage (e.g. in monuments). To address the gaps in the literature, I will research four post-genocide strategies in which governmental and non-governmental institutions have rebuilt settlements, housing, and civic spaces for survivors, perpetrators, and returnees. I am focusing on these rebuilding strategies because they have been explicitly designed to address ethical issues related to trauma, national citizenship and reconciliation – all of which are critical to peacebuilding. I am focusing on ethics to identify the moral and political values that have guided Rwanda’s peacebuilding policies and projects. My central argument is that spatial and sociopolitical rebuilding strategies are inextricably linked in post-conflict contexts. The value of my dissertation research is its combined focus on space and ethics, its cross-disciplinary development, and its close study of a culturally specific context that will provide the basis for cross-national comparisons.
- Kevin Woods
- University of California, Berkeley, Environmental Science
Ceasefire Capitalism: Military-Private Concessions, Counterinsurgency, and Territorialization in the Burma-China Borderlands [ project summary ]
Greater territorial control by the Burmese military-state in northern Burma’s former war zones have been met with increasing flows of Chinese finance capital. These new post-war alliances between Burmese military commanders and Chinese state-backed private investors have resulted in large-scale Chinese resource extraction concessions. I hypothesize that Chinese land investments along Burma’s northern borderlands act as strategic territorial interventions, or counterinsurgency mechanisms, which strengthen Burmese national military-state institutions in the country’s politically-contested ethnic periphery. This combination of Chinese investment and military-private alliances coming together in ceasefire zones constitute what I call “ceasefire capitalism”. I hypothesize that regional political histories and narco-economies simultaneously invite and challenge Chinese land investment, but the political effects of these spatial productions cause military and state building. Three case studies have been selected that each covers a different resource commodity in different ethnic territories: Chinese timber concessions, Chinese rubber concessions, and villager-led community forests meant to block land dispossession from Chinese concessions. My political ecology of war and political geography disciplinary approaches advance a theoretical triage among Marx-Lefebvre-Foucault that seeks to territorialize governmentality while decentering “the state” to explain how a military-state captures private capital to produce new violent governance regimes. I document state and non-state actors’ roles in military and state building through interviews, surveys, GPS, and community mapping. This study will contribute to the global land grab debate, resource curse literature, state-sovereignty-territory debates, counterinsurgency literature, and understanding the instruments of state building in post-war, indigenous territory.
- Christopher Austin Woolley
- University of Florida, History
Crown, Colony, and the Forests of New Spain [ project summary ]
My project exposes the relationship between imperial expansion, changes in normative practices of forest conservation, and the process of colonization in central New Spain between 1521 and 1650. I argue that as a result of the negotiation of Crown sovereignty between the Spanish colonial government and local elites in central Mexico, unsustainable practices were institutionalized at all administrative levels and buttressed by complex patronage network that increasingly aligned the interests of colonial authorities in Mexico City with the economic ambitions of regional elites. Using a conceptual model I call the “colonial pyramid,” I demonstrate that political and ecological change were inexorably bound up within the process of colonization, since the negotiation of imperial sovereignty allowed for the extensive illegal abuse of indigenous woodlands that often served indigenous Nahua peoples to offset poverty and onerous tribute obligations. Because of their unique position within the colonial system, indigenous leaders were often complicit collaborators in this process. Using both legal and extra-legal methods, indigenous people fought to protect their communal forests, but their successes and failures were often conditioned by their subordinate position within New Spain’s great patronage networks. My project integrates methodologies from historical ecology, geography, and social history to provide an in-depth analysis of how shifts in Hispanic governance and resource management in New Spain influenced the establishment of Hispanic power, how indigenous communities responded to ecological, cultural, and political pressures, and how ecology and history came together within this process.
- Adrian L. Yen
- University of California, Davis, Anthropology
Psycho-pharmaceuticals and Traditional Medicine in Acholiland: Emerging Forms of Therapeutic Citizenship In Postwar Northern Uganda [ project summary ]
Today in the Acholi region of post-conflict northern Uganda, international peacebuilding initiatives intersect with national health reforms to make generic psychotropic drugs, like benzodiazepine—an anti-anxiety drug, an important part of the care that government hospitals and NGOs provide for one of the highest rates of “war-related” mental illness recorded in clinical history. The recent influx of psychotropic drugs raises questions about why and how these medicines are made available to affected Acholi as well as how different Acholi engage these biopsychiatric technologies as they grow to complement and compete with other popular forms of care. Underscoring the recent extension of these drugs within new trends of humanitarianism and understandings of citizenship, my project will examine contemporary encounters between Acholi and psychiatric medicines and how they unfold within larger assemblages of medical expertise, humanitarian aid, and traditional Acholi healing practices. Situated in Gulu district, the launch site of several major international mental health initiatives, I will investigate the social, political, and medical networks that constitute the region’s mental health care, focusing on how psychotropic drugs circulate through these networks, and how they shape the strategies by which different actors deal with the mental health crisis there. At stake is the question of the kind of person and community that is reconstituted through the heterogeneous practices and resources that an international concern for Acholi mental health assembles, and the relationship that is emerging between Acholi, the state, and NGO agencies, as psychotropic drugs come to mediate efforts to repair the social and psychic life of Acholi society.
- Cagri Yoltar-Durukan
- Duke University, Anthropology
“Paying the Price”: Moral Economy and Citizenship in the Kurdish Region of Turkey [ project summary ]
This research examines the encounter between state welfare programs and local culture in the Kurdish region of Turkey. During the last decade, the Turkish state has attempted to address a history of violence against Kurds by implementing social assistance programs on a large scale, thus hoping to create a respectful Kurdish citizenry. Kurds, on the other hand, feel that they are “owed” such assistance, precisely because of that history, and are less sanguine about prospects for their inclusion into the Turkish polity. I will conduct ethnographic research into state-local interactions around state-administered welfare programs in the Kurdish cities of Diyarbakir and Van, and will explore the hybrid forms of citizenship and claim-making that result. I am interested in the ways in which critical vernaculars might disrupt the depoliticizing effects of welfare and development discourse and bring into being new political subjectivities. My project seeks to contribute to the literatures on debt, state and citizenship, welfare and development.
- Amy Zhang
- Yale University, Anthropology
Recycled Cities: Remaking Waste in Post-reform Urban China [ project summary ]
Post-reform Chinese cities have transformed from centers of production to centers of consumption, and large urban centers like Guangzhou and Beijing currently face a mounting waste crisis as official treatment facilities near capacity. This project traces the circulation of waste objects through official schemes such as Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incineration and formal recycling, grassroots recycling projects, and informal scavenging networks; it aims to uncover the entangled values, aspirations, and desires of three groups of actors as they transform waste into something of value in urban China. By examining the debate among waste experts, waste activists, and informal scavengers over how to manage waste, this project addresses what state technological projects, grassroots environmental initiatives, and everyday survival practices suggest about how the urban environment is being remade in contemporary China and in the rapidly developing cities of the global south.