Gendered Experiences? Assessing Women’s Music Performances in Tunisia
My research will focus on how popular and conservatory-trained female professional musicians assess their musical experiences, and on what it means to be a female professional musician in Tunisia today. I will work with female musicians active in popular music festivals and conservatories, the two contexts where they perform most prominently and publicly. Because the music festivals occur in the summer months and the conservatories are open between October and May, I will need to spend a full year in Tunisia: between September 2007 and August 2008. By working with musicians such as the popular singer Shadia Shaabene and Amina Srarfi, who founded and directs a music conservatory and all-female music ensemble, I hope to investigate women’s understandings of their gendered musical performances. My project will contribute to underserved fields of research such as studies of Tunisian popular music, detailed ethnographic studies of Arab women, and studies of women’s affective responses to music and their lived experiences as musicians.
From Political Solidarity to Human Rights: The Transformation of Pinochet’s Opposition in Europe, 1973-1998
On September 11, 1973 a military coup resulted in the death of Chile's socialist President Salvador Allende and the installation of a brutal military Junta led by Augusto Pinochet. While the Pinochet dictatorship was not the first or even the bloodiest of its kind in South America during Pinochet's reign from 1973-1988, it fomented the greatest political mobilization in Europe since 1968. My project will examine West German, British, and Spanish solidarity organizations as they transformed from more Marxist in nature, tending to employ the radical language of anti-imperialism and anti-fascism, to engendering a more "anti-political" language of human rights by the late-1970s. It will follow this opposition as it contributed to Pinochet's historic 1998 arrest in London for human rights abuse charges, issued by Spanish judge Balthasar Garzón. While legal scholars have highlighted this moment as setting the precedent for universal jurisdiction in international law, my project will historicize this moment, tracing the long-genealogy of international justice. In this way, my project will demonstrate the way that social movements can impact the structures of international law. It will also contribute to ongoing interdisciplinary debates in human rights scholarship related to the concept's transformation and widespread use in the 1970s.
Altering Asia's Banana Republic? The Making of an "Alternative" Supply Chain along the Pacific Rim
Across the Asia-Pacific, nation-states are anxiously anticipating major socio-economic changes brought about by the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership and the 2015 Association for Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement. Where intensifying regional free trade regimes pressure the agricultural sectors to view more and more of the world in terms of monocrop plantation economies, this ethnographic project between Japan and the Philippines explores the making of a supply chain of a non-plantation commodity, the balangon banana. Biological properties that make this wild, highland Cavendish resistant to monocrop-style agriculture profoundly shift the dynamics of its supply chain. These new infrastructural networks offer growers, intermediaries and consumers alternative routes to political engagement and transnational solidarity. Through them, actors seek to alter the Philippines' trademark as "Asia's Banana Republic," and reimagine Japan's "neo-imperialist" relationship to Southeast Asia. This project adopts the "commodity chain" as a heuristic to track not only infrastructural but also moral geographies along the alternative pathways from harvest, packaging, transport, marketing, distribution through consumption, and back. In describing the dynamic relationship between agro-ecological crop systems, supply chain logistics, and political processes, this research aspires to contribute broadly to global commodity chains research, economic anthropology, and the anthropology of infrastructure in the inter-Asian region.
Modernity's Garb(age): A Political Ecology of Municipal Solid Waste in Delhi
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.
Property & Politics in Transition: Land in the South African Political Imagination
Inventing locality: Returnees and reconstruction of the Eritrean social landscape
Expressive Practices and Identity Formation among Miskitu Children
Taking Sides: The Effects of Supply and Demand Driven Policies on Parent Decision Making and Education Investment in Brazil
When Democracies Elect Dictators: Motivations for and Impact of the Election of Former Authoritarians in Argentina and Bolivia
Soldiers Now, Citizens Later: Baloch Mercenaries and Bahraini State Formation
National Armies, composed of citizen-soldiers, have been an integral feature of modern nation-states. Recruitment of nationals for state institutions like the army is considered essential for tying together the nation and the state. The nation furnishes state armies with its own nationals, who in their capacity as state-functionaries, often police the nation, as much as fight external wars. Recently though, various states around the world have started employing foreign laborers for positions within critical state institutions like the army. In Bahrain, over 40% of the National Guards are recruited from the Pakistani province of Balochistan. This project asks; how do mercenaries mediate the relationship between state and society? It posits the hypothesis that mercenaries, given their connection to both the place of recruitment and place of deployment, formulate not a binary state-society relationship but a triangulated relation with the mercenary-exporting state as the third coordinate. The research follows Baloch mercenary networks in order to understand 1) how the Bahraini state, through the process of mercenary recruitment, gets woven into political struggles in Pakistan, and 2) how sections of the Bahraini society, due to political maneuvering on the part of Baloch mercenaries, forms bonds with the Pakistani state on the basis of shared sectarian identities. It argues that these two interrelated processes mutually reinforce each other, resulting in state-society aligning along sectarian lines and increasing influence of the Pakistani State. Building on previous professional experience, ethnographic fieldwork, and archival research; the project looks to conduct 14 months of fieldwork in Karachi (Pakistan), Gawadar (Pakistan) and Manama (Bahrain), on the processes and discourses around mercenary recruitment, payment and deployment.
Representing Oil Damages: Evidence, Health, and the Environment in the Ecuadorian Amazon
In 1972, the U.S. based Texaco Corporation began oil production in the upper Amazon, operating for 20 years without any environmental regulations or public health guidelines. The result was the largest and most sustained oil disaster to date, for which damages are now being sought in a class-action lawsuit by the Ecuadorian people. This project examines how damages to health and the environment from oil development in the Ecuadorian Amazon are accounted for and translated into forms of evidence in order to be mobilized and acted upon in scientific, legal, and social arenas. The translation of damages into evidence by lawyers, scientists, advocates, and residents is significant because it is a means for making claims to truth, action, and reality. Over a twelve-month period, I will conduct community-based ethnographic research and document collection in order to investigate how the practices of measurement, documentation, and narration construct the reality of oil damages. This project contributes to anthropological scholarship on disaster and response, and draws on science and technology studies to examine the production of evidence and documentation practices of oil damages. By examining how evidence of oil damages is produced and mobilized in a multi-national case in the Amazon, this project also contributes to public and interdisciplinary academic knowledge about the human and environmental costs of oil development worldwide.
'Black Spots': Roads, Accidents, and Uncertainty in Kenya
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.
ETHNIC CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: A CASE-STUDY OF THE BAWKU CONFLICT IN NORTHERN GHANA.
A Poetics of the Imagination: Dreams and Dream Interpretation in Contemporary Egypt
Commercial Surrogate Mothering In India: Nine Months Of Labor?
Recycled Cities: Remaking Waste in Post-Reform Urban China
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.
Shifting Youth Culture and the Management of Juvenile Behavioral Problems in Japan and the U.S.
Anti-Poverty Programs, Social Conflict, and Economic Thought in Colombia and the United States, 1948-1980
My dissertation asks how ideas about capitalist development evolved through the experience of implementing Cold War anti-poverty programs, and how ideas circulated between the United States and Latin America. Focusing the Latin American research on Colombia, I examine the ideas of many groups that fought over social policy in both countries: peasants, urban working classes, government officials, capitalists, international financial institutions, academic researchers, and private consultants. The project is a social history of economic thought, in which Cold War reform projects and the social conflicts surrounding them provide the context for studying ideas. I focus on three Colombian programs that generated vigorous international intervention and domestic social conflict: the creation of Colombia’s first regional development corporation in the 1950s, the construction of Latin America’s largest public housing project during the 1960s, and the transformation of the Colombian economics profession during the 1960s and 1970s. I then follow a number of participants in these projects, including Albert O. Hirschman, David Lilienthal, and the Ford Foundation, back to the United States. There, beginning in the late 1960s, they founded community development corporations, organized business school exchanges, and argued for new forms of corporate investment and public administration. These projects provide a historically grounded way of researching the origins of neoliberalism, the international homogenization of economic theory since 1945, and the rise of economists as policymakers and public intellectuals. They also provide a way of studying how different social and national groups understood economic life during the Cold War, and why most people’s ideas were never considered economic thought.
Karl Marx and the Significance of Machines in Late Philosophical Modernity
Serving the People: Department Stores and Social Change in Urban China
Feathered Identities and Plumed Performances: Tupinamba Interculture in Early-Modern Brazil and Europe
Assessing the Impact of Deliberative Processes on Electoral Reform Efforts in Two Canadian Provinces
The Privatisation of Mediation and the Political Economy of Conflict Management in West Africa
Senegalese "Making Do": Islamic Knowledge, National Schooling, and Opportunity in Dakar