Human Security in East Asia: Japan Leading the Way?
From Slave to Citizen: Iranian Identity and the Economy of Race, from 1848-1941
My dissertation explores the transitions from slave to citizen in Iran during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, seen through the trajectories of enslaved and freed peoples from the Caucasian and East African slave trades. Though ethnicity has been privileged in Iranian social history, I argue that race served an important role for defining enslaved populations in Iran, and Iranians readily identified slaves with racial labels. These racialized identities proved problematic in the aftermath of abolition, when government-led processes and social stigma demanded a reconstruction of ethnic identities for these populations. I analyze the gradual erasure of slavery from Iranian historical memory and discuss the role of abolition in the nation-building process. Finally, I present a social history of forced migrations and minorities in modern Iran, with special attention to the historical complexities of incorporating regional and racial peripheries in the nation. From the 1880s to the 1940s, as both nationalist and abolitionist efforts came to a head, government officials, journalists, secular intellectuals, and clerics negotiated or ignored racial diversity in order to assimilate formerly enslaved peoples. Each chapter of the dissertation examines a crucial period, from the last decades of legal slavery, to the dismantling of the institution in 1928, to the subsequent reverberations of abolition. The epilogue, centered upon the 1980s, explores ideological erasures of domestic slavery in the early years of the Islamic Republic and the Iran-Iraq War. My research on the racialization of group identities and its legacy expands current discourse on slavery and abolition to Iran and challenges popular and academic notions of Iranian ethnic diversity.
Young Men’s Pathways to Violence and Organised Crime: The Case of Medellín, Implications for Policy and Intervention
Restaging the Revolution: Military Media and the Contested Legacies of Revolution in Iran
If successful, every revolutionary movement eventually faces a certain dilemma: how does the commitment to the revolutionary project get transmitted from one generation to the next as historical circumstances change? In the case of the Iranian revolution, from the 1979 generation to the present, different media forms have been critical indicators of generational sensibilities, from the graffiti, posters, faxes and other "small media" that characterized the early days, to the work in feature film, television, and social media identified with the contemporary moment. My research investigates how a new generation of Iranian revolutionaries deploys these media to constitute their own generational experience as cultural activists, and as a strategy for "restaging the revolution" for younger generations who have not shared that experience. I request funding for twelve months of ethnographic research on contemporary Iranian paramilitary culture, focusing on their media practices. The Basij, a popular wing of Iran's famed Revolutionary Guards, formed in 1980 at the outset of the Iran-Iraq War, building a reserve army among Iran's civilian population. Since then, their charge has shifted dramatically from guns to media. To understand why and how that has happened, I will focus on the work of Basij media producers as they create mainstream films and television serials at the Center for the Cinema of Revolution and Sacred Defense in Tehran, their most important film studio. Due to preliminary fieldwork and relationships established while making my well-received documentary on Basij victims of chemical weapons, I have permissions from key Basij media producers to shadow them on-set in order to understand how and why they create what they call revolutionary entertainment. This work is intended to contribute to theoretical questions about how media shape political dispositions and sensibilities and how states attempt to resignify revolutions for younger generations.
Economic Reform and Voting Behaviour in Latin America
The Politics of the Ethnic Past: Kazakh belles-lettres in the late Soviet Era
Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands
The Fraudulent Family: Kinship, Knowledge, and Uncertainty in Refugee Resettlement from Nairobi
In 2008, the US government instituted a DNA pilot program to assess "fraud" in its Refugee Family Reunification Program. Over 80% of refugees "failed." While the US government took these results as confirmation of lies and deception, this research seeks to understand the social and cultural processes undergirding this social fact. In addition to genetic requirements, the Family Reunification Program rests on normative, US ideas about familial love and stable cohabitation. In what ways do ideologies of family that shape refugee resettlement policies—including the importance of genetics, and notions of "enduring love" that preclude pragmatic interests—conflict or converge with ideas about kinship and familial practices among refugees in Kenya? How do these and other discourses inform kinship as refugees living in Kenya seek resettlement in the United States? By charting how claims to kinship are articulated, negotiated, contested, or denied within an assemblage of state, non-governmental, and stateless actors involved in refugee resettlement in Nairobi, this research investigates multiple articulations of power as they shape the "family unit." Attending to uncertainties and mutual misunderstanding between refugees and the people who assess their claims, I approach "the family" as a lens into a broader paradox of the interwoven threads of humanitarianism and security that forge refugee resettlement as an ideological practice. By locating "the family" on fortified frontiers between East Africa and the US—where kinship exists as a contested sphere of knowledge—I propose an ethnography of kinship on the border.
Paving Paradise? Property Rights and Social Mobilization along an Amazonian Highway
Land rights and conflict in Uganda: A case study of Kibaale district since 1962
Territories of Life and Death: Space, Power, and Violence on a Colombian Frontier
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.
Territories of Life and Death: Space, Power, and Violence on a Colombian Frontier
The Baboo, the Bibi and the “Padri Sahib”: Christianity, Colonialism and the Creative World of Indian Intellectuals, c. 1813-1907
My dissertation examines Indian intellectuals' encounters with and response to Christianity in the nineteenth century – a relationship broadly unexplored in the existing historical literature, and critical, I assert, to India's putatively secular modernity. The Baboo and the Bibi of my title are the westernized Indian intellectuals, male and female, whose role as intermediaries in colonial India has been thoroughly investigated. Less examined, however, is the significance of their encounters with the "Padri Sahibs" – the white missionaries. Their proselytizing was the subject of debate, ridicule, but just as frequently, evoked serious engagement on the part of India's burgeoning intelligentsia. The men and women who had direct access to Western modes of education, owing to their proximity to colonial agents and evangelicals in the metropolitan centers of Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi, played a decisive role in the creation of an Indian public sphere. In the way that Christianity was approached, examined and theorized by a spectrum of Indian intellectuals, from Ram Mohan Roy to Brahmabandhab Upadhyay over the course of the nineteenth century, I see the development of a complex relationship of both overt repudiation and covert fascination. I intend to investigate how their extensive examination of Christianity, as a faith and a choice, represents not only a philosophical engagement, but a sustained set of contestations over the nature of faith's sociopolitical implications, and of the political responsibility of the colonized subject. The paradox of Christianity as the catalyst of the modernization impulse in India, and its change over the nineteenth century into a potentially conservative force, privileging the colonizer, provides a rich tension to this narrative.
What the Youth Say: Youth and the Democratization Process in Guinea
Forest Turnaround, Suburban Sprawl, and Environmental Injustice in Southern Brazil
Ethnography of Trauma, Shock, and Stress in Vietnam
Temporality, Personhood and the Techno-Political Making of Egyptian Society, 1869-1939
Comparing the locations of news articles from al-Ahram, the first private Egyptian paper, with a list of railway destinations in 1876 reveals a remarkable overlap. Within Egypt, the newspaper covered only places that were connected to the railroad. In other words, the “Egypt” that the newspaper (re) presented was that of the railway map. The dissertation-project for which I seek an SSRC-IDRF Fellowship will, like the above exercise, re-fuse the “social” and “political” (which newspapers supposedly reflect and shape) with technologies of transportation and communication that have so far been absent from the historiographical picture. While many historians label their work "social history," very few studies actually deal with the appearance of "society" in historically specific settings. This dissertation explores this question in Egypt, a key point of passing-through to India, between 1869 and 1939. Egypt's location amplified the importance of transportation, communication and other technological dimensions of the encounter between Egyptians and the British. In this colonial setting, the dissertation examines how three time-regulating technologies – the railway, telegraphy and the periodical press – introduced a new synchronicity and helped shape not only how Egyptians experienced time, but also what they came to call "Egypt" and "Egyptian society". Specifically, the project traces the emergence of novel notions such as al-Gumhur ("the public") and al-Mugtama' ("society"), alongside these new interfacing webs of transportation, communication and representation. This dissertation thus uniquely examines the relations between technology, timekeeping practices and distinctive types of horizontal connectedness which have so far been uncritically taken for granted as generic manifestations of a preexisting "social sphere".
Faith on the Margins: Jehovah's Witnesses in the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia, 1945-Present
Monopolies of Violence: Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro
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.
Monopolies of Violence: Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro
“The Darkest Place in New Granada”: The Abolition of Slavery and the Politics of Place in Chocó, Colombia, 1821-1852
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.
Testing the Role of Community Forestry in Conserving Mexico`s Pine-Oak Forests
Recreating Communities of the Faithful?: Negotiating Gender, Religion and Feminism in Egypt and Malaysia