The Sounds of Revolution: Improvisational Labor and the Independent Music Scene in Egypt
The last thirteen years have witnessed a renaissance in global independent music production. In Egypt, this scene took shape through the practices of a younger generation of musicians rooted in western musical styles that sought to produce an alternative to the commercial values of the mainstream music industry – a process enabled by the adoption of neoliberal and entrepreneurial models of productivity. Although this emerging music scene has become a driving force within Egyptian youth culture, it has received no scholarly attention among anthropologists. This project centers on fieldwork with independent musicians and music studios in Cairo in order to provide a broad picture of the intersections of art, publics, labor, and economy in a deeply uncertain post-revolutionary Egyptian context. I will examine the creative labor and economy of independent music production, asking how musicians' improvisational musical and entrepreneurial practices generate new public spaces and forms of identity. This project challenges the common assumption that neoliberalism is destructive of the social, arguing that independent musicians make use of the grammar and resources of neoliberalism by altering its logics and values to suit their own needs and musical aspirations. Furthermore, this research argues that in constituting alternative publics and markets, musicians' creative labor should be understood as eminently political acts.
Cosmopolitan Terror: Secular Imaginaries, Transnational Governance, and the Security State in Urban Kenya
My research explores the ethical and political subjectivities of Kenyan Muslims as they grapple with their nation's entanglement in the 'war on terror.' Working in a range of leadership capacities (parliament, NGOs, media) urban middle class Kenyan Muslims are torn between daring to challenge controversial state practices of counter-terrorism on the one hand, and invoking the very discourses of security that reinforce state-sanctioned violence on the other. Deploying an ethnographic lens to cosmopolitan spaces of politics and public engagement in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, I will examine how socially invoked categories of 'moderate' and 'radical' Islam emerge in relation to contemporary forms of state-craft, historical memory, and transnational governance to shape new understandings of religion, politics, and violence.
Environmentalists with Guns: Conservation and Counterinsurgency in the Petén, Guatemala, 1960-1996
My dissertation examines the development of environmental conservation in northern Guatemala as a strategy of counterinsurgency during its long civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. The research on which it is based unfolds across three levels of analysis: the institution of the army, which directly governed the region and established conservation policies with enduring legacies; the discourses of conservation and development generated by the army, environmental NGOs, and development agencies; and the practices of conservation on the ground as enacted by actual people in their daily lives as subjects to and enforcers of environmental law. The counterinsurgency priorities that guided conservation policy in northern Guatemala during the civil war weighed heavily on the postwar legacy of environmental protection and the demands for justice that came out of the Peace Accords in 1996, yet debates about conservation in Guatemala regularly ignore this violent past. Grafting together the methods of political ecology with those of social, cultural, and institutional history, I attempt to show how the conservation landscapes of northern Guatemala are both the product of a bloody counterinsurgent war and the continuation of it by other means. My evidence is drawn from national, municipal, and private documentary sources, as well as oral testimony, collected from sites in Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. The implications for this project speak to both academic and policy debates on conservation in the underdeveloped world, challenging scholars and practitioners to grasp the social problems at the heart of conservation.
Crafting the Self in the Shadow of the Turkish State: The Formation of Yurtsever Subjecthood in the 1990s
My research explores the building of the yurtsever (patriot) youth movement in the 1990s when the Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan - Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) mobilization was at its height in Turkey. I specifically focus on the formation of yurtsever subjecthood in the high school setting when Kurdish youth, whose parents were deemed "backward" and "ignorant", were invited to be part of "civilization" and participate in the project of building the Turkish nation. My research investigates the processes that constituted yurtsever subjecthood as a historical process of subject formation that rejected assimilation and instead chose to be a part of struggle for recognition, even at the cost of their own lives under state of emergency conditions. Today, the youth of the 1990s refer to themselves as the "lost generation" to highlight the massive loss of lives and tutunamayan (disconnected) attitude of survivors towards life. I suggest that this critical moment in the mobilization of Kurdish youth and their struggle for recognition speaks to us about how subjectivities challenged and also reconfigured the Turkish political landscape where their experience of difference and inequality continue to be neglected, denied, or uncounted. I combine in-depth and semi-structured interviews with students and teachers who attended Ziya Gökalp High School in Diyarbakir, one of the main centers of yurtsever youth mobilization, archival research of PKK publications, as well as auto-ethnography, to examine the practices and discourses that shaped young people receptive to the PKK's mobilization efforts. Together, these research approaches will enable me to interpret in what ways the political practices of yurtsever youth challenged and reshaped the Kurdish movement in particular and Turkish politics in general. I expect that my study will contribute to interpreting the production of "the political" and also to comparative understandings of political mobilization and subject formation.
“A Mediocre Utopia”: Artistic Interventions, Migration, and Making of Urban Publics in Lima, Peru, 1978–1989
My dissertation investigates public roles of broadly understood architectural and artistic interventions realized in Lima, Peru, between 1978 and 1989. Artistic collectives that emerged from the radicalized scene in and following 1978—Paréntesis, EPS Huayco, Los Bestias, and Taller NN—insisted on the radical redefinition of artistic publics in Peru. Their concerns exceeded the need of a formal renovation of artistic languages. They searched for new, alternative bases of support and—more importantly—aimed to reclaim the "illegitimate" and "unauthorized" publics, by drawing upon material practices of the marginalized and excluded social groups. Through a chronological study of their most important projects, I investigate how these artists understood, engaged with, and shaped the public body in the context of a volatile decade. The period of my analysis constitutes the pinnacle of a demographic explosion of Lima, which resulted from internal migrations from the Peruvian provinces, altering the social and ethnic makeup of the city. It is also the decade of immense political turmoil, ranging from struggles and enthusiasm preceding the 1980 democratic elections to violence of the Peruvian Internal Conflict (1980–2000), in which neo-Marxist guerrilla groups sought to overthrow the government. Arguably, the battle over the definition and control of the Peruvian public sphere, as well as political subjectivities that comprise it, was at the core of these social and political transformations. I hypothesize that the impetus behind my case studies was to render visible a multitude of neglected publics while forging new, self-organized, flexible collectivities. Thus, these projects challenged the monolithic body politics imposed by the modernizing nation-state and the guerilla insurgence. Methodologically, I examine how various cultural forms—texts, images, buildings, and urban space—construct their publics by shaping the flows of discourses between social agents.
Contested Development: Itaipu and the Meanings of Land and Opposition in Military Brazil
My project will use the history of the Itaipu hydroelectric dam to trace the layered contours of development, land, and opposition during Brazil's dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Itaipu marked a distinct shift in Brazilian development ideologies; rather than taking an urban-industrial approach, the dictatorship began to view the countryside as a new fulcrum for growth. However, the military's perception of Itaipu clashed with that of the 42,000 people whose lands it flooded, galvanizing a struggle of small-scale farmers, landless peasants, and indigenous communities. By looking at Itaipu from the margins, we can grasp the manifold ways that dictatorship and development insinuated themselves into the lives of rural Brazilians. My project is premised on three hypotheses. First, Itaipu must be understood as an experience rather than a project—one that was contested by the military and various rural actors. Second, the question of land determined much of Itaipu's history and its consequences. For the dictatorship, Itaipu was an experiment in rearranging rural landscapes by displacing local farmers under the banner of national development, and for enabling the cross-border colonization of Paraguay's fertile agricultural lands. For local Brazilians, diverging relationships to land resulted in unique forms of social mobilization at particular stages of the protests against Itaipu. Finally, these movements reveal an unexplored genealogy of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) that emerged toward the end of the dictatorship, elucidating the meanings of Brazil's political transition and the social realities that persisted after the return to democracy. By exposing the broader realities of development, the image of land as a social catalyst, and the complexities of Brazil's path toward democracy, my project will articulate Itaipu's role in the transformation of modern Brazil.
Beyond the Bilad al-Sham: Images of Hunting in the Umayyad Empire
This dissertation will explore the polycentric nature of artistic production within the Umayyad empire by focusing on three examples of architectural decoration found in present day Jordan, Iran, and Tajikistan. All three contain representations of hunting and slaughter; a popular iconographic feature of aristocratic interior decoration. Although the Jordanian monument of Qusayr Amra has been at the center of the Umayyad canon for almost a century, Chal Tarkhan-Eshqabad in what is now Iran and the frescoes of Penjikent in modern Tajikistan have not been integrated into the prevailing narrative of Umayyad art because their patrons and artists were probably not Muslims. This selective erasure produces a distorted image of art within the Umayyad caliphate, producing an artificial interpretive vacuum around central monuments such as Qusayr Amra. The encounter between humans and animals represented in early medieval images of hunting provided frameworks for modeling structured relationships between other hierarchically or ontologically distinct entities, e.g. women and men, lover and beloved, self and other, civilization and wilderness, and, most relevant in the period of the Arab conquest, military victors and defeated foes. Differences in the standard iconographic treatments of hunting in Sasanian, Roman-Byzantine, Umayyad, and Sogdian art emphasize hunting as either a venue for spectacular displays of idealized masculinity and aristocratic athleticism, a quotidian seasonal labor, or a round-up and slaughter to be followed by celebratory consumption. Differences in the content and form of these hunting scenes are in fact the product of specific and complex negotiations of documentary details, idealizing aristocratic masculinity, and contingent ideological assumptions about the nature of human-animal relationships. They may also reflect the attitudes of their patrons towards the crystallizing visual culture of the Muslim elite.
Remaking Argentina: Labor and Citizenship During the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional
This study focuses on the enactment and effects of labor and economic policies during Argentina's last military dictatorship, the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional (1976-1983). Emphasizing the state's efforts to reorganize Argentine society, I examine the impact of these new measures on the day-to-day experiences of workers from both the private and the public sectors, as well as low-level government bureaucrats. Despite an extensive and nuanced historiography on state violence during this period, we know very little about the ways in which the Proceso operated as a government, or the consequences that its reorganizational product had for Argentines' everyday lives. Concentrating on its labor and economic policies, I argue that the military regime attempted to establish a new praxis of citizenship by restructuring the parameters of work. Using archival sources from around Argentina together with oral histories of former workers from various industries, I will examine the changing relationship between individuals and the state, through the lens of work, as it played out on a daily basis. My research situates Argentina at the end of the 1970s within a broader conversation about the possibilities and limitations faced by the ruling junta with respect to political practice. Given the historical importance of work in Argentina as a fundamental criterion for citizenship and political voice, I contend that the Proceso, in fact, sought to redraw the ideological boundaries of the nation and redefine what the role of "the worker" would be within this new construct. This dissertation intends to explore the borders of this new Argentina which the military envisioned. Critically, it also engages the ways in which workers from various backgrounds and economic sectors received and challenged that vision—and, just as importantly, the ways in which they did not.
Genetic Nationalism: Ethnic Mythmaking and Human Biology Research in Iran, Turkey, and Israel
How are nationalist ideologies indebted to scientific concepts of heredity? Why do the structuring assumptions and interpretations of human genetics research seem to be embedded in nationalist understandings of history? While these issues are currently hotly debated with regard to the Israeli state and the question of a Jewish biology, I argue that a comparative regional perspective is necessary to understand the political stakes involved in academic research and how these stakes affect the working environment of scientists. My project offers a historical juxtaposition of the human biology research conducted in Israel alongside that of Iran and Turkey, focusing primarily on the decades of nation-state formation and consolidation between 1930 and 1980. As a trained geneticist, I contribute to the field of national identity studies by applying discourse analysis to the rarefied rhetoric of scientific publications. Taking my analytical approach from the history of science, I collectively evaluate the published research output of Iranian, Turkish, and Israeli academics not only with regard to terminology, but also to the mechanics of their studies. I observe the selection of study populations, the labeling and manipulation of samples, and most importantly, the underlying assumptions which inevitably shape both the initial questions that drive the study and the ultimate interpretation of the results. I further situate these researchers within their global intellectual and social networks, using their personal papers and correspondence, to understand how the participation of Middle Eastern researchers within an international scientific community has integrated globally standardized terms and concepts of human biology with localized understandings of heredity, identity, and nation. Ultimately, the study offers transformative implications for Middle Eastern studies, the history and current practice of biological science, and theories of political ethnic nationalism.
The Art of Life at the Margins of Ürümchi: Aesthetics, Minoritarian Politics and the City in Chinese Central Asia
Following a series of riots in 2009, officials of Ürümchi, an ethnically-diverse border city in Northwest China, announced (1) plans to resettle 250,000 indigenous Turkic-Muslim (Uyghur) inhabitants from "slums" to state-subsidized public housing, (2) new incentives for migration to Han settlers from Eastern China, and (3) multi-million yuan investments in art projects across the city which address the official goal of "ethnic harmony." Routing my research through Uyghur and Han art collectives that have been created as supplements to this urban revision, this project will focus on the lived experience and cultural expression of these processes of cityscape revision. How is urban upheaval and resettlement shaping the future of a durable existence among the marginalized inhabitants of Ürümchi? How are artists who arrive in Ürümchi from different class and ethnic positions negotiating insider-outsider lines of demarcation? How does their repertoire of art practices and objects which they produce address the particular histories of the three million inhabitants of the city? Aimed at the intersection of urban studies, expressive culture, minority and migration politics, this research will consider the way late-Socialist Chinese planning policy is deployed and, in turn, how the embodied experience of the resulting upheaval gives rise to new forms of sociality and aesthetics.
The Once and Future Past: Petitioning Historical Grievances in Post-Mao China
In the decade following the Cultural Revolution, local government institutions received thousands of petitions from party cadres, work units, and ordinary citizens of the People's Republic of China. These petitions called upon the state to reverse past political verdicts and render official redress for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution's mass campaigns. As past targets of persecution and factional struggle, petitioners presented historical grievances as the basis of appeals for the revocation of 'black category' labels and the restitution of benefits and privileges associated with good political standing. Through this process, former 'enemies of the people' succeeded in clearing their names and reversing the judgments of Cultural Revolution-era. Utilizing new archival resources and document collections, this dissertation aims to investigate the genre of petitions to engage problems of ideological transition, historical reckoning and contentious politics. A critical reading of these texts will illuminate attempts by petitioners to press claims against the state while utilizing rhetorical strategies of remonstrance to formally align their interests with those of power-holders. Straddling the ground between reportage and litigation, petitions mobilized a combination of private historical narrative and the ethical ideals of socialist society to demand transformative political reforms. In focusing on letters and petitions as expressions of the public and grassroots impetus for revisionism, this project seeks to understand how public agitation contributed toward a critical discourse on the Cultural Revolution as 'state failure' that necessitated a reappraisal of official history and ideology. This account of how civil discourse shifted the balance of the post-Mao transition suggests new possibilities for conceptualizing categories of state and society in a nation where the tensions between the needs of the past and the needs of the present still remain.
Overcoming the Challenges of Diversity: Institutional Solutions to Dilemmas of Collective Action
My dissertation examines how societies reach new cooperative equilibria following an exogenous shock to their structure. I seek to further our understanding of the effects cultural diversity on societal capacity to cooperate and explain why diverse and homogenous societies might choose different solutions to dilemmas of collective action. Rather than suggesting that cultural diversity has a qualitatively positive or negative impact, I propose that it creates incentives to invest in different forms of cooperation. Communities at various levels of diversity are likely to develop different social models over time. Diversity at the time of communities' inception is likely to affect what type of goods communities are better at providing and what type of rules they rely upon to maintain cooperation. I propose to study the evolution of cooperation in the Polish counties that experienced complete population turnover in the 1940-50s. In the wake of WWII, Polish borders were shifted westward, and six million people of diverse origins – over one-fifth of all Polish population – were resettled to the new territories, from which the German population was expelled. The migrants came from places as diverse as USSR, central Poland, and western and southern Europe, and in most cases had little agency in choosing their residence. Initially, dubbed "The Wild West" due to numerous social problems, the diverse post-migration societies in western and northern Poland have achieved high levels of development over time. At the same time, they demonstrate social features that differ markedly from areas without a history of migration. My dissertation aims to explain the differences between communities with different migration histories by tracing how coordination mechanisms and social norms have evolved since the formation of these communities. I plan to collect seven decades of rich archival and interview data and conduct a survey to understand how cooperative arrangements developed at the micro and macro levels.
Vehicle of Progress: The Santiago Metro and the Techno-Politics of Military Rule in Chile, 1965–1990
My dissertation is a history of the Santiago metro system in the context of changing techno-political regimes in Chile. My central question is why public transportation became a shared concern among diverse actors between 1965 and 1990 and how their proposals changed over time. Planning for the metro began in 1965, during a period of democratic state-led development under President Eduardo Frei. Transnational from the start, the metro united Chilean engineering with French technology, funding, and expertise. Construction proceeded during the democratic socialist government of Salvador Allende. After the 1973 coup that ousted Allende, the military junta continued to support the project, as did the French funders and consultants. Both before and after the coup, metro planners made claims for the project's importance in terms of apolitical technical criteria. The first metro line opened in 1975, the year that the neoliberal "Chicago Boys" began to occupy influential positions in the new government. Amid a climate of economic austerity and boom and bust cycles, construction proceeded slowly throughout the 1970s and 1980s. My research ends in 1990, just after the metro was converted to a state-owned corporation, and as the dictatorship came to an end. Given this shifting political terrain, why did the metro remain a viable project? What social and political work did the technocratic discourse of metro planners accomplish? My research examines collaboration and conflict between Chilean and French professionals, state agencies and private businesses, technological experts and users, and planners and urban residents. Cutting across democratic and authoritarian periods, this project illuminates degrees of continuity and discontinuity in Chilean state formation. At the same time, it historicizes contemporary debates about the role of the state in providing transportation as a public good.
Fairy Tales of Good Reception: The Educational Mode in Chinese Cinema, 1931-1966
Cinema made its appearance in China at a time of political turmoil and immense social unevenness. For the larger part of the twentieth century, Chinese cultural institutions and governmental prerogatives invested the medium with inflated pedagogical powers in hopes of combatting the nation's "semi-feudal semi-colonial" condition. Accordingly, the idea of the "educational film" in China encompassed more than a genre of non-fiction films destined for classrooms or employee training programs. It was a function that could be applied to all films, fiction or non-fiction, and used as a standard for their criticism and censorship. This project is a study of cinema's educational vocation between 1931 and 1966, years that witnessed a cycle of crisis, war, communist revolution, and socialist reconstruction. In it, I develop a historical and conceptual account of what I term "the educational mode," a complex notion of film's pedagogical effectiveness developed in the 1930s in coordination with contemporaneous US, European, and Soviet programs and which would persist deep into the first seventeen years of the socialist State. Through the concept of the educational mode, I examine the synergies and conflicts between cinematic institutions and the programs of social reform and revolution that would define the contours of modern Chinese culture. My project argues that cinema's educational mission was not simply a program to be implemented but also a site of contestation and contradiction. In its effort to create a non-market relationship between film and its audiences, to make true the "fairy-tale of good reception," cinema education would internalize the social contradictions that it attempted to solve.
Poetic Investments: Public Finance and the Fiscal Sociology of Anglophone Poetry Since 1945
During the second half of the twentieth century, poets around the world confronted new challenges to financing their art and livelihood. Public funds became an important source of support for poetry, as well as an important topic in poems of the period. While literary scholars have noticed ways in which poetic texts circulate alongside economic concerns, the most influential work on literary aesthetics assumes that poems achieve a strong degree of aesthetic autonomy from fiscal issues. My dissertation challenges this status quo by historicizing and contextualizing public investment in Anglophone poetry after 1945. By examining transnational circuits of public funding that link the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, and Nigeria, I explore the impact of public finance on the Anglophone poetic field in a comparative manner as well as ways in which poetic projects respond to values that underwrite public funding for the arts. My proposed research focuses on consulting archives and individuals in Nigeria and Jamaica, with shorter periods of research in the UK and US. Analyzing the routing of public funds, the poems they enabled, and personal accounts of gatekeepers and poet-beneficiaries will offer insight into how public finance shaped cross-cultural poetic flows and how poets aspired to intervene in cultural imaginaries. Archival records and in-depth interviews with gatekeepers will index and symptomatize fiscal policies and institutional values. Consideration of publication and distribution networks and close analysis of poetic texts will show how public finance impacted poetic production and the extent to which institutional and cultural values correspond to the poems they enabled. Taken together, these considerations will allow me to show how state spending has influenced Anglophone poetry in a comparative manner as well how poems have critiqued and contributed to repertoires of value that bear significantly on fiscal policy and cultural identity.
The Cancer War(d): Onco-Nationhood in Post-Traumatic Rwanda
In Africa, the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, rapidly expanding industrial and extractive economies, uncontrolled economic growth, environmental and lifestyle changes, and the rising age of populations with better access to medicine have occasioned rising rates of cancer. Rwanda's national cancer program has been hailed as a unique example of how to build clinical oncology into a public healthcare infrastructure. The twelve-month ethnographic study will address three sets of questions: 1. What historical, economic, social, and political factors have shaped the development of the country's cancer program? 2. How do local clinicians and patients experience cancer as a treatable chronic disease? And how is that experience affected by the development of a national oncology infrastructure and new biomedical technologies? 3. As an instance of the transnational private-public partnerships characteristic of global health interventions in postcolonial Africa, what successes, limitations, and challenges does this cancer program present for envisioning oncology programs elsewhere in the global south? What are the ethical, political, and epistemological stakes involved in different models of cancer care? This project will contribute to a new chapter in medical anthropology, one focused on rising rates of cancer in contemporary Africa. I shall argue that Rwanda's cancer project is an exercise in the construction of a new sense of sovereignty, rendered through the politics of life as onco-nationhood; that it is an effort to create a postcolonial polity whose citizen body is gifted care of a international caliber provided by a paternal state. In a critical moment of post-traumatic social reconstruction, national biomedicine is becoming the entity through which government seeks to fuse sovereign statehood and nationhood in the cause of a healthy Rwandan future. Theorizing this relationship holds at least one key to developing an anthropology of cancer in contemporary Africa.
Sweet Socialism in the Chocolate Factory: The Last Attempt to Create the New Soviet Person, 1985-1991
My dissertation investigates Perestroika, a period of intense reform in the Soviet Union that began under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and ended when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. This study reframes new government policies as a response to what reformers perceived as a moral crisis that they set out to solve by reinvigorating socialism. This dissertation then asks one central question: How did Soviet people respond to reform? I answer this question through a microhistorical case study of the Red October Chocolate Factory in Moscow, which offers the opportunity to trace responses across the social spectrum, from the highest members of the Politburo to rank-and-file workers and their children. The primary analytical apparatus of this study is the concept of engagement. Drawing on ideas of historians Jochen Hellbeck and Igal Halfin developed for an earlier period in Soviet history, this concept allows us to consider a multiplicity of responses to reform, including belief and disbelief, support and criticism, as part of a rigorous conversation between the Soviet state and people. This study extends existing literature that frames Perestroika as an economic initiative aimed to revamp a flagging economy by emphasizing the moral and humanistic center of reform. Further, it offers a detailed empirical investigation of popular responses to reform that includes but is not limited to high ranking officials and the intelligentsia. It challenges the argument that the Soviet Union collapsed because nobody believed or cared about socialist. Instead, this study suggests that the Soviet collapse was an unintended consequence of reform. This dissertation offers a way to think about continuities across the 1991 quandary and the ways in which the last years of Soviet history remain relevant today, particularly with respect to contemporary moral discourse in the Russian Federation.
Coca Nation: The Protean Politics of the Coca Leaf in Bolivian Nationalism (1900 – 1961)
This dissertation is a cultural history of the development, in the twentieth century, of Bolivian coca politics in relation to U.S.-led international anti-narcotics regimes. It investigates the processes through which Bolivians constructed- or reconstructed- coca as an indigenous drug. Challenging essentialist notions of coca as embodying autochthonous Andean culture, my research examines the roles of a broad array of Bolivia's social groups, including but not limited to Indians, in the formation of the cultural politics of the leaf. In order to trace the processes through which coca emerged as a symbol of Bolivian nationalism, I pursue five primary lines of research. These include the development of Bolivian Creole indigenismo, medical and pharmacological modernization, positivist criminology, urban popular and worker culture, and international drug diplomacy. From the point of view of Creoles,I investigate the formation of ambivalent ideas about coca and indigeneity at the intersection of transnational discourses of medicine, criminology, and modernization. I also examine Indian engagement with, and resistance to, Creole efforts to define and regulate coca. Additionally, I examine the entrance of coca into the popular culture of urban mestizos. From a transnational perspective, I consider not only Bolivian geo-politics of drug interdiction, and the impacts thereof, but also the engagement of Bolivians with international discourses on the meanings of both drugs and indigeneity.
Objects of Pity: Art and Emotion in Archaic and Classical Greece, c. 520-380 B.C.E.
My dissertation investigates the relationship between the increasing realism of art in Greece in the 5th c. B.C.E. and contemporary shifts in the cultural role of the emotion of pity. I argue that as innate human empathy for both other humans and for material objects was increasingly politicized in the form of pity, and as the definition of who could feel pity and under what circumstances was increasingly clarified, pity emerged as a powerful cultural agent that depended on visual, but not physical, interaction. In this way, artists worked hard to modify their creations so as to make them match cultural expectations – to make them more pitiable. The special ability that figurative art appears to have held in the 5th c. to provoke pity speaks to a cultural understanding that figurative art was particularly good at articulating the relationship between individuals and the world around them. In order to carry out this project, I propose to take up the position of Associate Member at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for nine months. My research will take place in museums and archaeological sites in Athens and more widely in Greece, and Athens will additionally serve as a base for trips to specific collections elsewhere in Europe. Direct access to the wide array of archaeological material included in my dissertation – including sculptures, vases, inscriptions, and architecture – is crucial for my research, which will attempt to show how fine-grained aspects of works of art revealed in visual analysis are configured so as to be especially pitiable according to ancient understandings as revealed in textual sources.
Objects of Veneration: Music, Materiality, and Marketing in the Composer-Cults of Nineteenth-Century Germany and Austria
My dissertation explores the popular veneration of nineteenth-century German and Austrian composers as figures akin to saints. The project's seven case studies focus on material "relics" as encounters with the composer's body, along with the museums that housed relics as sites for these encounters. While the project takes objects and spaces as its focus, I will also draw upon other "sites" of popular reception, such as panegyric poems, memoirs, obituaries, and biographies. An important aspect of my study will be to situate these genres and practices in the growing consumer culture of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, where the Romantic ideal of aesthetic transcendence was transformed into a commodity that combined artistic prestige with personal veneration. I will show that the proliferation of hagiographic biographies, enshrined objects, and mass-produced souvenirs in the nineteenth century were part of a growing tourism industry that promoted "pilgrimage" to birthplaces and gravesites. At its core, this study reveals a critical tension in nineteenth century aesthetics: the seeming incompatibility of the tangible (relics, body, composer) and the intangible (music, genius, the divine). This tension underlies many of the concerns about authenticity and kitsch that dominated nineteenth-century aesthetic debates. My project also contributes to the narrative of canon formation where textual and material objects, pervasive in nineteenth-century popular culture, functioned alongside monumentality and the "work concept" to crystallize the pantheon of (primarily German and Austrian) composers and a core of musical masterworks.
Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal
How are borderlands produced in the intersections of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through twelve months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in everyday life as a part of the economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between historically constituted regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.
Transnational Practices and Cultural Legacies of the Ateliers Varan Documentary Training School: Media Activism in Mozambique and Brazil
This dissertation explores the transnational practices and cultural legacies of the Ateliers Varan documentary training school, a dynamic field of cultural production (Bourdieu 1993) bridging anthropology and media activism since its foundation in 1981. My focus is on the workshops it has carried out in Mozambique- the first to be established in 1978- and Brazil, where workshops were held in the 1980s and where, 30 years later, a new workshop is being developed for 2014, offering an opportunity for ethnographic observation. Conceived by the groundbreaking anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, the Ateliers Varan has trained over one thousand novice filmmakers in twenty-three countries, creating a transnational circuit of influential ethnographic and activist filmmakers without formal academic training. My research focuses on an aspect of Jean Rouch's influence that has been largely overlooked by scholars in anthropology and cinema studies alike: his pedagogical legacy. By examining the specific cases of workshops held in Mozambique and in Brazil, from the 1980s to the present, my study is designed to understand how teachers and students have adapted and indigenized Jean Rouch's training methodologies in ways that are culturally relevant to their particular national locations, becoming part of local audiovisual and cultural legacies. This work builds on the robust new field of ethnography of media, by examining a particular part of the "Lusophone media world" using ethnographic methods in order to understand how people are engaged in these methods of self-representation (Ginsburg, AbuLughod, Larkin 2002). It will also expand the framework of scholarship in the field of ethnographic film, which has not paid sufficient attention to work outside the Anglophone and Francophone traditions. Finally, this dissertation will contribute to our understanding of a transnational Lusophone arena of cultural production in two key post-colonial locations: Mozambique and Brazil.
Blood and Bone: Kinship, Science and the Imagined Body in "Humanitarian Exhumations" of the Dead
Exhumation of the dead has become a normative human rights intervention and a requisite aspect of transitional justice. In the wake of political violence, exhumation aims to provide judicial evidence of mass atrocity and to return human remains to families. Understood as bringing closure to families, "humanitarian exhumation" may be carried out even in situations in which there is little or no hope of judicial recourse. Yet, the relationship between forensics teams and families has proven to be complex and often fraught. While some exhumations have received clear support from families, others have been sites of intense controversy. This project asks why there has been persistent tension between families of the missing and forensic teams. Attentive to the polysemy of the dead body, which at different times and places can be understood to be judicial evidence, a medical specimen, a scientific object, a political symbol, a religious relic, a site of the uncanny, a social subject, a dense site of mourning and more, this project explores what humanitarian exhumation means to those most intimately involved: forensic teams and families of the missing. Based in Argentina, location of the earliest and longest continuously excavated humanitarian exhumations, this project takes the complex relationship between families and forensic teams as a generative site to explore how we conceptualize exhumations as "humanitarian," how we expect science to serve social ends and how we imagine relationships of care between the living and the dead.
Integration and Resistance: North Caucasus Refugees in the Ottoman Empire, 1860-1914
Property Rights, Land, and Rule in Central Asia
What explains variation in property rights security in developing autocracies? My dissertation addresses this question by focusing specifically on land rights, which directly impact the approximately 70% of the developing world's population that is rural and agricultural. Most political and economic literature either takes secure property rights as given, or relies on assumptions that property rights are uniformly secure within states and regime types, or among kinds of property. These assumptions rarely reflect reality. Instead, property rights vary cross- and sub-nationally, with cross-national variation reflecting average country conditions; they also differ among autocracies or democracies and by property type. I draw on approaches from economics, anthropology, and political science to examine conditions which influence the security of land rights between and within two developing Central Asian autocracies, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. I hypothesize that two overarching factors influence political elites' incentives and ability to secure land rights: the economic resources on which they can draw to fund patron-client networks; and the nature of ethnic and kinship ties between central and local government leaders. I propose to test these hypotheses using survey experiments and qualitative data from interviews, media analysis, and ethnographic observation during ten months of fieldwork.