As usual, I did a key word search in Dissertation Abstracts International to find dissertations that address topics related to the anthropologyworks mission. Unfortunately, this source provides information almost exclusively on U.S. dissertations – it is not at all “international.” I invite other anthropologists around the world with access to more international databases to provide their own picks. Furthermore, “best” means my “best” picks…dissertations that I think connect to major global issues. I searched for anthropology dissertations related to human rights, justice, migration, gender, health, violence, conflict, environment, and energy.
I confess that I do not read the entire dissertations, only the abstracts. So, yes, as one commenter said a while ago, this post is actually “Best Dissertation Abstracts.” But shouldn’t an abstract be a pretty good indication of the subject matter of the dissertation as a whole?
The dissertations are ordered alphabetically by the author’s last name. Dissertations are not generally available through open access.
I am very pleased to report that Lauren Carruth, one of my picks from 2012 was also awarded the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) Dissertation Award for her dissertation, In the Aftermath of Aid: Medical Insecurity in the Northern Somali Region of Ethiopia. The SMA Dissertation Award is given biannually to the author of a dissertation which is judged to be a significant and potentially influential contribution to medical anthropology. Lauren Carruth is currently a postdoctoral fellow teaching with the Elliott School and the Department of Anthropology.
Here are my 50 picks for 2013. They are wonderful set of studies with much to offer to scholars and public issues alike.
And, Happy New Year 2014!
- Prolonged Humanitarianism: The Social Life of Aid in the Palestinian Territories, by Sa’ed Adel Atshan. Harvard University. Advisor: Arthur Kleinman. Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are among the highest recipients of international humanitarian aid per capita in the world. I examine the impact of Western aid on Palestinian society in the phase of de-development in the OPT (2010-2013). I consider medical relief, psychosocial humanitarianism, gender-based interventions, and security-sector support. The research provides an ethnographic account of contemporary Palestinian subjectivity under prolonged humanitarian governance. It shows the blurring of development and humanitarian assistance in the OPT.
- Public Health Controversy of Radioactive Warfare: Depleted Uranium and Displaced Discourse in Medically Unexplained Chronic Syndromes (MUCS), by David Bell. State University of New York at Buffalo. Advisor: Donald Pollock. Using illness narratives and ethnographic observation, I examine biomedical liminality with poor disease legitimization and high anxiety in the context of three different populations with similar quantifiable exposures: U.S. Gulf War veterans, residents of Niagara Falls industrial contamination with Manhattan Project legacy, and Iraqi and Afghan immigrants to Western New York. Ultimately this dissertation is about strategic presentations and uses of uncertainty, from both individual and societal points of view.
- Claiming space, Redefining Politics: Urban Protest and Grassroots Power in Bolivia, by Carwil Bjork-James. City University of New York. Advisor Marc Edelman. This dissertation analyzes the role of space-claiming protests by primarily left grassroots social movements in Bolivia’s current political transformation, including g mass protests that physically control or symbolically claim urban space through occupations of plazas and roads, sit-ins, blockades, and other measures. This dissertation is based on ethnographic engagement and oral interviews with protest participants and their state interlocutors. Findings show that the political import of these protests arises from their interruption of commercially important flows and appropriation of meaning-laden spaces in cities like Cochabamba and Sucre.
- Conceiving Porkopolis: The Production of Life on the American “Factory” Farm, by Alexander Blanchette. The University of Chicago. Advisor: Joseph Masco. This ethnography of corporate agriculture in the American factory farm elaborates the politics of labor, planning, and aspiration in a 100-mile radius zone of the Great Plains, a rural area that is socially and economically dependent on the industrial pig. The basis of “Porkopolis” lies in developing work regimens for commodifying the meat, fat, organs, bones, blood, feces, viruses, growth, reproduction, diets, behaviors, instincts, and sentience of the porcine species. The study tracks the making of the industrial pig at the annual scale of 7,000,000 from pre-life in genetics to post-death as 1,100 distinct commodities.
- “Small Village/Large Hell”: Cocaine & Incarceration in Lima, Peru, by Stephanie Campos. City University of New York. Advisor: Leith Mullings. The Establecimiento Penitenciario de Mujueres de Chorrillos in Lima is the largest female prison in Peru. An intersectional analysis of prisoners’ narratives demonstrates two inter-related processes. First, inequality was produced and reproduced inside the prison through the interconnections of race, gender, class and citizenship. Second, women’s labor was the linchpin between the transnational cocaine commodity chain and the prison. Women’s labor created a symbiotic relationship between the prison and the commodity chain where each side helped the other expand. Once incarcerated, the women faced a hierarchy that shaped options for survival as they served their sentences.
- Protective Action and Evacuation Responses during Hurricane Katrina: A Gendered Analysis, by Angela Dovil. Howard University. Advisor: Terri Adams-Fuller. This study assessed the impact of informational warnings, protective action recommendations, and receiver characteristics on the protective actions by men and women during Hurricane Katrina. Results revealed that gender did not have a significant impact on taking protective actions. Although women were more likely to take protective actions than men, in some cases the differences were not significant.
- Birth after Death: Men and Reproduction in Two K’iche’ Maya Communities, by Matthew Dudgeon. Emory University. Advisor: Carol Worthman. I explore patterns of reproduction and reproductive loss in Maya communities after the Guatemalan civil war, focusing on men. Working with predominantly K’iche’ Maya communities, I investigate how men influence decisions about family size and men’s experiences of reproduction as an integral part of their masculinity and an area of risk that lies outside the domains defined as masculine. I trace four important elements of K’iche’ Maya masculinity: productivity, growth, control, and respect.
- “A Mass Conspiracy to Feed People:” Globalizing Cities, World-Class Waste, and the Biopolitics of Food Not Bombs, by David Giles. University of Washington. Advisor: Daniel Hoffman. This dissertation is based on participant-observation within Food Not Bombs chapters and some of the larger political and cultural communities in which they are embedded–Dumpster-divers, squatters, homeless advocates, punks, anarchists, and so on–in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Melbourne, and several other cities. It describes the link between urban globalization and the proliferation of Food Not Bombs chapters, many of which have been located in “global” cities whose post-industrial economies are intimately entangled in global circuits of elite business investment, high-end consumption, and tourism.
- Imagined Places: Politics and Narratives in a Disputed Indo-Tibetan Borderland, by Swargajyoti Gohain. Emory University. Advisor: Bruce Knauft. This dissertation concerns cultural politics and place-making in the “Monyul corridor,” a Tibetan Buddhist cultural region including Tawang and West Kameng districts in west Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India. I show how new ideas of community among the Monpas emerging through their politics of local autonomy, discourses of transnational origin and migration, and struggles over language and renaming, construct Monyul as a Himalayan Buddhist place, even as such spatial imaginations are consistently undercut by internal oppositions and external pressures.
- Changing Birth in the Andes: Safe Motherhood, Culture and Policy in Peru, by Lucia Guerra-Reyes. University of Pittsburgh. Advisor: Kathleen DeWalt. The present study analyzes the Peruvian Intercultural Birthing policy, which sought to provide culturally competent care to Andean women by changing health center birth care and incorporating elements of traditional Andean home birth. I conclude that the framework of interculturalidad in its current iteration does not change birthing in the Andes, does not promote intercultural dialogue, and does little to create culturally appropriate birth care.
- Illness and Uncertainty: Situating HIV in Huli Experience of Cultural Change, by Kevin Henner. University of California, San Diego. Advisor: Rupert Stasch. A 2009 estimate by the Papua New Guinea National Department of Health estimated that 0.92% of the adult population was living with HIV. In the Highlands region, the prevalence is higher–just over one percent. Paul Farmer has written that epidemic disease is not merely a matter of biological transmission, but traces paths of vulnerability along gradients of inequality. I argue, however, that inequality must be understood in ways that are culturally and historically specific. Pacification, conversion, and participation in wage labor and the cash economy led to rapid and significant changes in Huli lifestyle.
- The Politics of Envy: Progress, Corruption, and Ethical Kinship among Bolivian Immigrants in Escobar, Argentina, by Randall Hicks. University of Michigan. Advisors: Matthew Hull, Bruce Mannheim. I chart the rise, corruption, and attempted restoration of the Colectividad Boliviana de Escobar (CBE) as a way to examine ethics of solidarity and terms of human recognition among Bolivian immigrants in Escobar, Argentina. While founded to cultivate Bolivian community, and indeed standing in for it, the revenue-generating CBE shaped a socially divisive complex of envy that frustrated its mission, undergirded an internal usurpation, and led to the reflexive critique that Bolivians in Escobar have lost their humanity.
- Governing Uncertainty: Foreclosure, Finance, and the American Dream in Michigan, by Anna Jefferson. Michigan State University. Advisor: Elizabeth Drexler. Michigan accounts for more than one of every eight foreclosures nationwide since the housing crisis began in 2006. This dissertation argues that widespread foreclosure undermines American cultural citizenship. Research shows that homeowners’ experiences strained their loyalty to financial institutions they believed served their interests and, as they negotiated under the auspices of state or federal programs, their trust in public institutions. These mediations refigure the locations and practices of governance and citizenship.
- The Politics of Affliction: Crisis, the State, and the Coloniality of Maternal Death in Bolivia, by Brian Johnson. Columbia University. Advisor: Kim Hopper. I examine personal suffering and the impact of a local crisis on a group of Quechua speaking communities in rural Bolivia. I consider the ongoing processes of both sudden social ruptures and “permanent” crisis, inherent in the unique evolution of a (post)colonial state as it coexists in association with “traditional” Andean society. I study how relatively rare, extreme, “deviant” events may illuminate larger issues of social, political and cultural forces at work. I focus on chronically elevated rates of maternal mortality in Bolivia, and the local instance of an unexpected and dramatic surge in deaths.
- Islands of Sovereignty: Haitian Migration and the Borders of Empire, by Jeffrey Kahn. The University of Chicago. Advisor: Jean Comaroff. I examine how U.S. responses to the arrival of Haitian asylum seekers on American shores created a laboratory of sorts in which exceptional but now foundational and exportable jurisdictional and border policing paradigms were tested and normalized. The dissertation traces the historical development of this border regime through the lens of the Haitian rights lawfare of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. While excavating this history, I focus on the cosmological dimensions of what I call “law space” practices.
- Brand Kerala: Commodification of Open-Source Ayurveda, by Chithprapha Kudlu. Washington University in St. Louis. Advisor: Glenn Stone. This dissertation aims to understand formal and informal ayurvedic knowledge and practice through the framework of commodification, in the context of the recent emergence of global ayurvedic tourism in Kerala, India.. I argue that the trajectory of commodification in Kerala provides a stark contrast to the national mainstream with its focus on classical vis-à-vis proprietary medicines. This therapy-centric business model maintained the integrity of traditional ayurvedic practice by keeping the ayurvedic doctor within the loop.
- Ties that Mobilize: Migration, Native Place, and the Politics of Belonging in Urban Vietnam, by Timothy Karis. University of California, San Diego. Advisor Suzanne Brenner. This dissertation examines how Hanoi’s many “unofficial” immigrant residents navigate a system of differentiated urban citizenship by forging communities around common provincial origins and by mobilizing native-place relationships to find employment, housing, services, and social support. It pinpoints changing relationships to native places among more established urbanites, as material interdependence transforms into more symbolic expressions of “returning” through ancestor rites, periodic trips to natal villages, or membership a native-place association.
- “In Today’s China, You Don’t Starve, You’re Poisoned”: Consumer Welfare and Citizenship in Urban China, by Erika Kuever. Indiana University. Advisors: Rickard Wilk, Sara Friedman. This dissertation investigates the role of the consumer protection apparatus in shaping consumer grievances. The domain of consumer protection is emblematic of an important characteristic of the relationship of the Chinese government to the Chinese people. In order to preserve its power the party-state must maintain economic growth while finding ways to alleviate its side effects. I argue that claims grounded in consumer-citizenship force the state to choose between disregarding the laws they created or empowering citizens with the tools of the law.
- Soil Practitioners and Vital Spaces: Agricultural Ethics and Life Processes in the Colombian Amazon, by Kristina Lyons. University of California, Davis. Advisor: Marisol de la Cadena. This dissertation is an ethnography of human-soil relations that examines the cultural, scientific, political-economic, and ethical stakes of alternative agricultural practices and life processes that resist military-led, growth-oriented development. Moving across laboratories, greenhouses, forests and farms, it weaves together an analysis of two kinds of local-practitioners–soil scientists in Bogotá and small farmers in the southwestern frontier department of Putumayo. I track how soils emerge with political importance in the construction of what I call agro-life proposals for peace in the Colombian Amazon.
- Youth in Movement: The Cultural Politics of Autonomous Youth Activism in Southern Mexico, by Rafael Magana. University of Oregon. Advisor: Lynn Stephen. I analyze how processes of neoliberalism and globalization have influenced youth organizing and shaped experiences of historical marginalization. What makes youth activism in Southern Mexico unique from that occurring elsewhere is the incorporation of indigenous organizing practices and identities with urban subcultures. The movements share characteristics with other social movements including reliance on direct-action tactics such as occupations of public space and sit-ins, and the creative use of digital media technologies.
- The Role of Social Networks in Marine Conservation: A Case Study of Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia, Jaime Matera. University of California, Santa Barbara. Advisor: Michael Gurven. In research conducted on the Caribbean islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia, I used social network analysis and regression analysis to determine the rationale guiding individual decisions regarding marine conservation programs. I focus on artisanal fishermen’s livelihoods and their social networks. I found that environmental policies create distrust within artisanal fishing communities and that fishermen’s knowledge of declining marine resources does not necessarily increase their willingness to conserve.
- Local Food and Power Dynamics in Southeast Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Christina Mello. The University of New Mexico. Advisor: Beverly Singer. Various types of “food security” projects deliver little to alleviate food security among Southeast residents in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nonetheless, developers who purport to reduce food insecurity justify their gentrifying efforts and are increasingly funded through large grants. A grassroots activist organization, Our Kitchen Table (OKT), has developed a local food-growing model to confront the structural racism and inequality underlying food insecurity and health disparities among Southeast residents. I situate OKT’s activism within a discussion of the politics of exclusion and inequitable distribution of power.
- Topographies of Risk: Social Practice and Environmental Capitalism in Patagonia, by Marcos Mendoza. The University of Chicago. Advisor: Joseph Masco. This dissertation investigates the rise of environmental capitalism in Patagonia organized around the expansion of protected areas, the flourishing of ecotourism markets, the strengthening of conservation institutions, and the emergence of sustainable development as a model for regional growth. This project scrutinizes environmental capitalism in terms of its constitutive social groups: alpine mountaineers and adventure trekkers, service workers and tourism entrepreneurs, park rangers and land managers.
- The Anthropology of Airports: Security and the Apparatuses of State Borders, by Jeanette Moreland. State University of New York at Binghamton. Advisors: Thomas Wilson, Melissa Gauthier. For anthropologists, airports are both physical and symbolic sites of complex social, political, and economic activities. This thesis examines several functions of airports as contemporary borders, concentrating on the security apparatus. Building from this view, three aspects of security are highlighted: personal security, economic security, and state security. An examination of airports and the related security initiatives demonstrates how important it is for anthropologists and other scholars to build on existing research through ethnography.
- Fighting the Wall: Understanding the Impact of Immigration and Border Security on Local Borderland Identity in Brownsville, TX, by Laura Neck. City University of New York. Advisor: Kirk Dombrowski. As part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 approximately 850 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border was slotted for the construction of a border wall. This dissertation explores how the U.S federal government’s actions had direct consequences on its relationship with local borderland residents. I follow the story of the border wall’s construction in south Texas in order to trace out how the state’s actions to strengthen its claims over local spaces and citizens resulted in weakening those citizens’ connections to the U.S.
- The Goffal Speaks: Coloured Ideology and the Perpetuation of a Category in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe, by Kelly Nims. Columbia University. Advisor: George Bond. This dissertation examines the category and ideology of Coloured, or mixed race, peoples in post-colonial Zimbabwe. The framework takes a socio-historical perspective, considering the political history of colonial settler policy in Zimbabwe, its subsequent racial ideology, and its effects on the social reality of the Coloured population today. The conceptualization of race is restricted to settler societies and is not meant to be addressed on a global scale, as the term Coloured in this sense is a Southern African phenomenon.
- From Muslim Citizen to Christian Minority: Tolerance, Secularism and Armenian Return Conversions in Turkey, by Ceren Ozgul. City University of New York. Advisor: Talal Asad. This dissertation examines the manner in which Turkish secularism has come to delimit, define, and calibrate minority religious practices as well as citizenship policies by tracing different categories of the secular and the religious in Turkey. It is an ethnographic study of conversion from Islam to (Armenian) Christianity, among the converted Armenian community in Istanbul. This project is a case study of the nature of secular tolerance, and the notions through which it is discussed in Turkey: justice, legal reform, and genocide recognition.
- Categories, Care, and Kin: Constructing the Vulnerable Children in KwaZulu-Natal, by Jeanne Reynolds. The Johns Hopkins University. Advisors: Lori Leonard, Jane Guyer. This dissertation describes how the lives of children and families have been constructed and depicted in the context of widespread concerns about the vulnerability of children affected by HIV/AIDS in an area of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. I explore how public health systems of measurement, classification, and categorization make claims to represent family processes, and how logics of kinship, modes of relatedness, and techniques of care are imagined, articulated, and experienced in encounters between public health systems and young people and families. I also document young people’s experiences in a region with one of the highest documented HIV rates in the world.
- Queering Biomedicine: Culture and (In)visibility in a Medical School, by William Robertson. The University of Texas at San Antonio. Advisor: Jill Fleuriet. What can the experiences of queer medical students tell us about the existence of homophobia and heteronormativity in medical environments? I explore my informants’ experiences with their medical education and training with particular focus on medical case studies as an example of the ways that heteronormativity becomes internalized by informants in medical environments. I examine the interaction between my informants’ ideas about (in)visibility in medical environments, and I introduce the concept of the irrelevance narrative as a means of making sense of how informants view the role of their queerness in their practice of medicine.
- Cultivating Local: Building a Local Food System in Western North Carolina, by Allison Perrett. University of South Florida. Advisor: Kevin Yelvington. This dissertation examines a movement in Western North Carolina to build a local food system, one grounded in the conditions and relationships of place. The primary objective of my research has been to understand how the Local Food Movement in Western North Carolina is interacting with and affecting the industrialized food industry at the local level. My dissertation reveals the significance of place-making to the strategies of movement organizers – grounding movement participants and observers in the particularities of place, developing a shared place-based consciousness, cultivating different economic subjectivities that affect different material impacts.
- Rice and Peas in the Diaspora: Food, Health, and the Body among Barbadian Migrants in Atlanta, by Jennifer Tookes. Emory University. Advisor, Peter Brown. This dissertation asks: How do diet, body and activity change when people migrate? A dual-sited project, this research compares Barbadian born women living in the Atlanta, Georgia, area and a counterpart cohort living in Barbados. This project links the lived experiences of consumption and body composition with cultural meanings of food choice and exercise, mediated by rates of physical activity and ideals about attractiveness and the body. This combination provides a synthesis of meaning and physicality as well as cultural significance and nutrition.
- The Medical Net: Patients, Psychiatrists and Paper trails in the Kashmir Valley, by Saiba Varma. Cornell University, Advisor: Annelise Riles. This dissertation examines psychosocial interventions as social, political, medical, and ontological formations in the Kashmir valley. I argue that medical humanitarianism takes the form of a “net” (jal), an object that is constituted by both its visible nodes and threads, as well as by “gaps” in between. Taking its inspiration from feminist science studies, the dissertation enacts the form of the net by moving from a focus on the visible nodes, that is, asylum and experts, to the threads that move between the clinic and the outside, namely medical cards and pills, to finally, the “gaps” in the net, that is, love stories.
- “Workin’ It”: Trans* Lives in the Age of Epidemic, by Christoper Roebuck. Advisor: Lawrence Cohen. University of California, Berkeley. Situated in the interstices of anthropology, public health, and critical theory, this dissertation pursues questions of gender, health, transnationality, and governance. It documents how trans* women create lives through “workin it,” a constellation of dynamic and heterogeneous tactics including: actions for making forms of sociality and publics in San Francisco’s rapidly transforming Tenderloin; practices for creating kinship and engaging in reciprocal practices of care outside normalizing regimes of sex, gender, and laws of alliance and descent; activities for cultivating trans* bodies and becomings utilizing biomedical technologies often in unexpected ways; and conducts for fashioning a beautiful and ethical life when such a life is often deemed diseased, foreign, and other.
- Confronting an Art of Uncertainty: Rugby, Race, and Masculinity in South Africa, by Joshua Rubin. Yale University. Advisor: William Kelly. This dissertation analyzes the intersection of the politics of post-apartheid South Africa and the politics of playing rugby. Rugby has a long and politically-charged history in South Africa. Organized and codified in England in the 19 th century, rugby arrived in southern Africa freighted with notions of bourgeois masculinity and imperial superiority. Afrikaner nationalists and the apartheid regime then refashioned the sport as a marker of Afrikaner identity. I show that sports, like artistic forms, have characteristics that recombine and challenge the symbols and sentiments they are assigned.
- Mobile Patients, Static Response: (Mis)managing Well-being amidst South Africa’s Dual Epidemic, by Amy Saltzman. Harvard University. Advisor: Arthur Kleinman. Drawing from medical anthropology’s approach to global health, this dissertation examines well-being among HIV- and TB-infected labor migrants in South Africa. Informed by long-term fieldwork, it narrates households’ struggles to make ends meet materially and morally in a context of unemployment, scarcity, and epidemic. The case of the rollout of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in South Africa reveals unintended consequences that have propelled the iatrogenic effect of drug resistance.
- Bread and Home: Global Cultural Politics in the Tangible Places of Intangible Heritage (Bulgaria, Cuba, Brazil), by Dimitrova Savova. Princeton University. Advisors: Lawrence Rosen, Carolyn Rouse. This dissertation examines the local meanings and impact of a cultural policy model, understood ethnographically and defined conceptually as the “community culture model”. This type of national policy focuses on developing community cultural centers, imagined as spaces that would inspire people of all ages to develop their artistic creativity and preserve local traditions. I trace how the concept moved from Bulgaria to the Soviet Union, then Cuba and Brazil. In the three cases people’s views on cultural heritage and community arts diverged from the national understanding, particularly on the contested issue of sharing food, especially bread as a key symbol in the Bulgarian case.
- State of Nature: Agriculture, Development, and the Making of Organic Uttarakhand, by Shaila Seshia Galvin. Yale University. Advisors: Michael Dove, Kalvanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan. Focusing on a strategy to promote commercially-oriented, globally ambitious organic agriculture in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, this dissertation examines intersecting processes of state and market formation that reshape the identities of those who cultivate them. The government of this Himalayan state has promoted organic agriculture as a key component of rural development. My central argument is organic agriculture in Uttarakhand refigures the enduring relation of nature and modernity within the region, enabling new expressions of agrarian identity and agency through interconnected processes of state and market formation.
- Navigating Pain: Women’s Healing Practices in a Hindu Temple, by Anubha Sood. Washington University in St. Louis. Advisor: Rebecca Lester. This dissertation is a study of a Hindu healing temple in North India, popular for treating psychological ailments that manifest as spirit afflictions. Such religious healing centers are the most popular pathway of mental health care for Indian women. I argue that religious healing is especially attractive to women because it offers a range of therapeutic strategies that lie within the purview of women’s everyday religion and are flexible and self-directed, making women the agents of their own healing. This research demonstrates how the women’s rhetorical practices and bodily techniques, as part of the everyday process in the temple, is efficacious for them.
- Medicina del Barrio: Shadow Medicine among Milwaukee’s Latino Community, by Ramona Tenorio. The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Advisor: Tracey Heatherington. As a result of exclusionary state and federal policy decisions on immigration and health care, marginalized immigrants often seek health care in the shadows of U.S. cities through practitioners such as curandera/os (healers), huesera/os (bonesetters), parteras (midwives), and sobadora/es* (massagers), under the radar of biomedical practice. This research focuses on this phenomenon in the context of globalized social networks and health care practices of marginalized Latino immigrants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and within the broader economic and political context in this country.
- Social capital in post-displacement reconstruction in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, by Michel Tinguri. American University. Advisors: Rachel Watkins, David Vine. This dissertation explores the relevance of social capital in post-displacement livelihood reconstruction under Project ZACA, an urban renewal project in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I examine how displacees mobilize and use socioeconomic resources to restore and attempt to improve their livelihoods after displacement. Providing a historical background of Project ZACA and urban transformation in Ouagadougou, the study details repeated dispossession leading to impoverishment, school dropouts, trauma, deaths, and the loss of social networks and infrastructure as well as revealing both open and hidden resistance to the state’s actions.
- Local Interpretations of Global Trends: Body Concerns and Self-projects Enacted by Young Emirati Women, by Sarah Trainer. The University of Arizona. Advisors: Ivy Pike, Mark Nichter. This ethnographic case study of the United Arab Emirates illustrates a much larger phenomenon that involves young women worldwide in the throes of identity negotiation at a time of accelerated global flows of information, foods, fashion, media images, fashions, health information, and health and self-enhancement products. I employ biocultural methods and perspectives to examine bodies-as-products and bodies-as-projects in this cohort, focusing on health, beauty, and self-presentation projects. I focus on the uncertainty and accompanying psychosocial stress that these women are subject to as a result of juggling globalized, “modern” opportunities and lifestyles on the one hand with local expectations and regulations on the other.
- “Less is Not Enough” Dilemma of Alternative Primary Schooling Opportunities in Dhaka, Bangladesh, by Sayaka Uchikawa. Columbia University. Advisor: Lambros Comitas. This dissertation focuses on low-income rural-urban migrant children and their families in Bangladesh, living in a severe poverty-stricken environment in the capital city, Dhaka. It addresses the dilemma of so-called non-formal primary education (NFPE) programs aimed at providing alternative schooling opportunities to children who do not attend regular school in the city. It describes how such programs do not necessarily help children integrate into the country’s formal school system, but instead continuously prepares them for the subordinate segment of the society.
- Hysteria on the Borderline: Psychiatry, Cultural Change, and Subjective Experience among Women in Morocco, by Charlotte van den Hout. University of California, San Diego. Advisors: Steven Parish, Janis Jenkins. This dissertation examines the relationship between cultural change, psychiatry, and subjective experience among women in Rabat, Morocco. I examine popular media discourse, clinical treatment practices, and subjective experiences of illness among female inpatients. By analyzing therapeutic approaches to hysteria and borderline personality disorder, two diagnoses that are almost exclusively applied to women, I show that treatment becomes an opportunity to cultivate new traits that are defined as “modern” and “healthy,” yet also culturally “authentic.”
- Between a Promise and a Trench: Citizenship, Vulnerability, and Climate Change in Guyana, by Sarah Vaughn. Columbia University. Advisor: David Scott. This dissertation examines how science is constituted as a strategic practice and site through which citizens make claims about racial democracy in Guyana. It shows how government policymaking around climate adaptation–which drew upon the recommendations of outside actors, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations (UN), and various NGOs and international scientific networks–profoundly disrupted Guyana’s delicate racial-ethnic balance. This study contributes to the critical anthropology of vulnerability.
- Ambivalent Aspirations: Aid and the Cultural Politics of Proximity in a Japanese NGO in Burma/Myanmar, by Chika Watanabe. Cornell University. Advisor: Hirokazu Miyazaki. Japanese aid has generally been understood to focus on developmentalist infrastructural projects, but since the 1990s, Japanese aid actors have also emphasized “soft” aid. One example of soft aid is hitozukuri (“making persons”): human resource development activities such as training programs. Fieldwork tracing a Japanese NGO’s activities “making persons” across Japan and Burma/Myanmar reveals the cultural politics of aspiring to create relational proximity among aid actors that undergirds hitozukuri aid.
- The Smell of Petroleum: Health, Insecurity, and Citizenship in “Revolutionary” Ecuador, by Nicholas Welcome. University of California, Riverside. Advisor: Juliet McMullin. This project explores how the environmental and health effects of energy production challenge emergent discourses of citizenship in Ecuador. I follow the relationship between Ecuador’s national petroleum refinery and the city of Esmeraldas, a largely afro-descendant and historically marginalized community, as the nation negotiated a national structural transition that would test the promise of a “revolutionary” future, new substantive citizenship rights, and new imaginaries of state care.
- Suenos Salvadorenos: Struggles to build other futures in El Salvador’s migration landscape, by Joseph Wiltberger. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Advisor: Arturo Escobar. Since El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war, the Salvadoran state has embraced a discourse and political economic strategy that favor international migration and remittances for development. This dissertation examines how this project, and the developmentalist and neoliberal logics and practices that guide it, are contested and challenged in networked and community-based ways. It uses a networked ethnographic lens that follows the experience of one rural community.
- A Critical Ethnography of Globalization in Lesotho, Africa: Syndemic Water Insecurity and the Micro-politics of Participation, by Cassandra Worthman. University of South Florida. Advisor: Nancy Romero-Daza. In spite of decades-long development programs, Lesotho faces an ongoing problem of water insecurity with far- reaching individual and social impacts. The purpose of this research was to understand how women in Lesotho are affected by the synergistic epidemics, or syndemics, of water insecurity and HIV/AIDS and how they respond to these forces. Women in the global South are not passive victims and their views are important in delineating the goals and methods of development plans
- Being Aboriginal and Taiwanese in the Pursuit of Community Well-Being: Examining the Janus-Face of Public Health among Bunun Peoples, by Shyh-Wei Yang. University of California Riverside. Advisor: T.S. Harvey. On the southeastern hillside of Taiwan where Bunun peoples, groups of Austronesian-speaking aborigines reside, the politically designed and designated Aboriginal Reserved Land system is both a sociocultural source of livelihood and a shifting context of public health. I explore the medicalization of certain plant and animal species, the asymmetric relationship between health- and wellness-seeking at local, national, and global levels, and the circulations and communications of disaster narratives in Bunun landscapes,
- Discourse and Dissent in the Diaspora: The Civic and Political Lives of Iranian Americans, by Mari Zarpour. University of Maryland, College Park. Advisor: Judith Friedenberg. This study examines the political agency of Iranian immigrants. Through the rhetorical device of “political talk” which encompasses politically- and civically- oriented discourse, action and ideology, this research follows political talk as it presents itself in two locations within the public sphere: in the life course of Iranian Americans, and through online discourse. This research found that the civic and political spheres of engagement are linked, and that Iranian immigrants use organizations to learn participatory democracy.