'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
The Collective People's Politics: Mobilization, Radicalization, and Political Change in Argentina (1966-1973)
Narco-rulers and Civilian Choice
The Creation of Local Order: Armed Groups' Strategies and Civilians' Collaboration in Civil Wars
Nations and Migrations in the Pacific: Peruvian Chinese Contributions to Nationalism and Nation-Building in China and Peru
Violence, Fear of Crime and the Transformation of Everyday Life in Monterrey, Mexico
Making Families Through Adoption: Legal Imaginaries and Cross-Class Adoption Practices in Morelos, Mexico
My project explores (1) how new legal initiatives and governmental practices that encourage the “full” adoption of poor children are reconfiguring the relationship of family and state in Mexico; and (2) the ways in which new legal conceptions of kinship reshape or censure other existing informal cross-class adoption practices related to domestic service. With the Mexican state’s adherence to international adoption conventions since the 1980s, and the shift towards the right in Mexican politics since 2000, federal and state-level governments adjusted existing codes starting in 1998, to facilitate the “full adoption” (adopción plena) of poor children. The reforms –which define “full adoption” as the creation of family ties that extinguish all previous kinship of the adopted child-, mark a move away from earlier “simple adoption” laws, which conceived adoption as form of “civil kinship” between two individuals that could be revoked. These previous laws provided tenuous regulation of widespread practices of informal adoption or “entenado”, in which wealthier families took in poor children either as domestic servants or because the mothers of those children worked as servants for the adopting mother. Through ethnographic research with adoptive families and the government agents charged with implementing adoption laws in the central Mexican state of Morelos, this research will provide an account of (1) the legal and administrative structure of adoption and the forms of inclusion and exclusion that they make possible; (2) the manner in which the state’s legal provisions of adoption are interpreted and translated into governmental practices within state agencies in charge of adoptions; and (3) the forms of relatedness that earlier and new adoption laws make possible, paying special attention to forms of belonging and exclusion that are created in different families.
Taxonomies of Nature: categories for an interspecies environmentalism
The Empire of Apostles in the Old World and the New: Jesuits in Brazil and India, 1542-1697
The age of discoveries, which conventionally inaugurates the early modern era, begins with the seminal voyages of Christopher Columbus to America in 1492 and Vasco da Gama to India in 1498. The “Indies,” as these newly discovered parts of the world were called, symbolized any place which presented a challenge to Christian missionary activity. Under its framework, India, Brazil, southern Italy and other European regions occupied the same plane. Nonetheless, by the seventeenth century, this dispersive geography of the "Indies" was transformed into a hierarchical framework of global European, Christian empire. This project will trace this historical process through the lives of six Jesuit missionaries: Francis Xavier, Thomas Stephens and Baltasar da Costa in India and Manuel da Nóbrega, José de Anchieta and António Vieira in Brazil. The careers of these Jesuits, spanning the mid-sixteenth to the late seventeenth centuries, frame two key moments of crisis in the Catholic notion of universal Christian empire: the dissolution of the unity of the Church, and the end of Iberian hence Catholic domination of the enterprise of European empire, in the face of Dutch and English imperial ambition. Their lives thus parallel and reflect the arc of the first phase of European imperial enterprise in which the Roman notion of imperium was adapted to include the profession of Christianity as a mark of civility, a project in which the Jesuits played a crucial role. By examining how these three generations of Jesuit missionaries adapted to and were changed by their colonial context, I hope to trace both the development of the role of the “colonial” European and the concomitant evolution of the imaginary of global empire. On the level of methodology, the project also represents an attempt to bridge world history with biography, a resurgent field in the historical profession.
The War Against Trachoma: Ophthalmology between Jews and Arabs, 1914-1973
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.
Networks of Exchange: Propaganda and Information Society in Modern Chinese Literature
Networks of Exchange: Propaganda and Information Society in Modern Chinese Literature
In focusing on the emergence of literary propaganda as a central site of information management, my dissertation will explore the development of a modern, transnational information state in China between 1920 and 1960. Along with news media, literature constituted a crucial vector in states' involvement with information. The confrontation between state institutions devoted to managing information (including both censorship and propaganda) on the one hand, and the urban media environments and readerships on the other, precipitated both new literary sensibilities regarding the production, circulation, and exchange of information, as well as new modes and genres of writing, such as socialist realism and the spy novel. A central figure in the linkage of literature to information is the prolific author, Mao Dun (1896-1981), who throughout his career remained keenly aware of new practices involving information. By examining the institutional backdrop to the production and circulation of the works of Mao Dun and other Chinese authors, as well as two key Japanese propagandists in China, I explore how literature simultaneously engaged in and reflected a new paradigm about knowledge work as both a form of labor and a textual object. Historically, such literature represented negotiations between new figures of information labor, embodied by the propagandist working for the Nationalist government’s Propaganda Bureau, the official censor, or the Japanese authors (J: jugun sakka; C: congjun zuojia) embedded within the imperialist occupying forces in the Chinese mainland. By identifying and following the emergence of information-related practices in modern Chinese propaganda literature, my research will combine disciplines of institutional and sociological historiography, close textual analysis, and new media and print culture studies to contribute to our understanding of the development of a Chinese information state.