‘Modelling’ Development: Kerala on the Global Stage

Ritty Lukose (NYU)
4/16/204

In recent debates about the post-liberalization achievements, failures, and future directions of the Indian economy, the choices before the Indian state and electorate have been cast as the “Gujarat versus Kerala” models. This discourse partakes of a longstanding construction of the Indian state and of Kerala’s development trajectory, as one pole in “growth versus redistribution” policy arguments both within India and internationally. This model came into being in the mid-1970s, linking the region to the international development apparatus, just as the transformations we currently associate with “neoliberalism” were taking shape. What was this “model” alternative to in the mid-1970s? What is it an alternative to now? This paper addresses these questions as part of a larger exploration of our understandings of gender, development and neoliberalism.

African non-State Networks, Social Capital or Social Liability? The case of DRC

Patience Kabamba (Penn)
4/09/2014

The central argument of my study is that everybody knows about the wealth of the region, currently siphoned off by Rwandan/Ugandan generals in collusion with US corporations, but they don’t know about the social wealth and dynamism of the country. I argue that the future of Africa hinges on what happens to the DRC with its huge population and natural wealth including hydroelectric energy whose transport to distant destinations will require political reorganization of Africa by Africans. Indeed, the kleptocratic alliance between Jacob Zuma and Joseph Kabila prefigures a more serious future development linking South-Africa and DRC in SADC. The case of Butembo where in the absence of state framework and in the presence of multiple contenders for power, Nande traders networks managed to build a self-sustaining and prosperous transnational enterprise in North Kivu would serve as a parable. It presents an alternative story of Congo society being built from bottom up. Spinoza’s understanding of power as “potentia” and “potestas” would frame the theoretical underpinning of the new vision of the DRC I am putting forward.

The Poetics of our Civics: Binary Tracks in Talk about Democracy and Engagement in the US

Debra Spitulnik Vidali (Emory)
3/26/2014

While many young adults in the United States would be hard pressed to provide a comprehensive definition of the word “democracy,” many engage the meanings of democracy indirectly, as they grapple with the meaning and relevance of voting. To vote or not, and to register to vote or not, are highly salient issues for many as first time voters, and as election campaigns increasingly target young voters. This paper examines the interactional alignments that occur in their conversations, around meanings of democracy and voting, particularly in relation to pervasive modes of binary or dualistic classifications of political stance and political engagement. I argue that political subjectivity is located in such interactional alignments and “stances of (dis)engagement” with the public sphere and publicly circulating discourse. Data stem from over 100 hours of recorded conversations and interviews among young adults (ages 18-25) in the Atlanta area.

Cadastral Desire: Colonialism, Capitalism, and Landscape on Nineteenth Century Zanzibar

Sarah K. Croucher (Wesleyan University)
3/19/2014

In this talk I explore the capitalist landscapes of Zanzibari clove plantations in the late nineteenth century. These were longstanding spaces of capitalist production, founded largely by Omani colonists utilizing enslaved African labor. But by the late nineteenth century British colonial rule was growing on the islands and colonial administrators stationed on the islands continually articulated their desire for an orderly landscape of capitalist production, which in turn would modernize and expand their income from taxation. However, ideas of cadastral survey remained only in the realm of desire. Omani plantation owners had no interest in such cartographic imaginaries, managing to deal with land ownership through radically different ways of understanding the landscape. In exploring British colonial desires I highlight the frail nature of European rule in this context, and the manner in which such desires also help us to understand broader subjectivies of landscapes on nineteenth-century Zanzibar.

*Co-sponsored by the African Studies Center

‘Raising Voice’ in Kathmandu: Sound, Publics, and Political Subjectivity

Laura Kunreuther (Bard College)
3/06/2014

In this paper, I explore practices associated with ‘raising voice’ (āwāj uthāune), a discourse that has become prominent in public media and popular speech in Nepal particularly since the democracy movements of 1990 and 2006. Āwāj uthāune clearly resonates with global discourses of the voice as a metonym of political agency, consciousness, and empowerment. But unlike the English term “voice,” āwāj also refers to material, “natural” or “non-human” noise and sounds that fall outside of discourse and sometimes defy intentional meaning. Many examples of ‘raising voice’ that I discuss here entail the broadcast of non-discursive sounds through various media – the FM radio, street protests, performance art. The discourse of āwāj and āwāj uthāune thus asks us to take seriously the connections between political metaphors of voice and the social politics of sound in understanding contemporary political subjectivity within Nepal and beyond its borders. What kinds of sounds do people associate with the notion of ‘raising voice’ and democracy – and what kinds of desires and subjects do these sounds animate? How might we rethink the global metaphor of voice by interrogating it through the concept of āwāj? By focusing on the materiality of the sounds of āwāj uthāune, I argue that sound plays a key role in the affective and embodied dimensions of political subjectivity. Moreover I suggest, sound itself must be recognized as having political dimensions.

The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East

Marcia Inhorn (Yale)
CANCELED

Dr. Inhorn will discuss changing expectations of manhood across the region, including men’s desires for love, conjugal commitment, and fatherhood. Dr. Inhorn will highlight the high rates of male infertility across the region, and men’s desires for the latest fertility technologies and treatments.

* Co-sponsored by the Middle East Center

Using High Altitude Adaptation to Understand Complex Phenotypes

Abigail Bingham (University of Michigan)
2/12/2013

High-altitude hypoxia, or the decrease in oxygen levels caused by lowered barometric pressure, challenges the ability of humans to live and reproduce. Human physiological responses to high-altitude have been extensively documented among long-term high-altitude residents (i.e. Andeans and Tibetans). Furthermore, recent research has begun to unravel the genetic bases for the observed physiological traits. Among Andeans, genome scans for natural selection have identified several selection nominated candidate genes or gene regions for high-altitude adaptation. This includes several genes that are part of the hypoxia inducible transcription factor (HIF) pathway involved in oxygen sensing and metabolism as well as genomic regions with previously unknown function with respect to altitude phenotypes.  In order to explore selection nominated candidate SNP genotype associations with particular altitude phenotypes, we conducted genotype-phenotype association studies among Peruvian Quechua.  Our subject participants included Quechua who were lifelong sea level residents transiently exposed to hypobaric hypoxia and Quechua who were lifelong residents of high-altitude.  Significant associations were identified for the higher arterial hemoglobin-oxygen saturation (SaO2) observed at rest and during exercise among Quechua. These results provide key insights into the patterns of genetic adaptation to high altitude in Andean populations, shed light on variants controlling this complex phenotype, and are of potential importance for public health given HIF-pathway involvement with various disease processes, e.g., regulation of tumor growth.

People, Place, and Other Primates: Integrated Anthropology in the Multispecies Anthropocene

Agustín Fuentes (Notre Dame)
2/05/2014

Humans and other primates share space and place across much of the globe; our entangled histories, desires, and ecologies lead to a myriad of relationships, conflicts and communities.  Integrating the evolutionary, the ecological, and the ethnographic facilitates a robust anthropology of the Anthropocene–an anthropology that places humans as significant features of local and global ecologies and allows space for other species as agents and co-participants in shaping niches, physiologies and futures.

* Co-sponsored by the Department of Biology and the Department of Psychology

Nature Cure, Ayurveda and Ecology: The Affective Politics of Intimate Nationalism

Joseph Alter (University of Pittsburgh)
1/29/2014

Although it was invented in Germany in the 19th century, Nature Cure, as a distinct system of medicine, is institutionalized and professionalized in India, where it is now more popular and pervasive than almost anywhere else in the world. This is very odd, for a number of reasons, including the fact that India is the “cultural home” of one of the world’s most popular forms of alternative, holistic therapy ? Ayurveda. One might say, to adapt a vintage colonial phrase, that importing Nature Cure to India was rather like bringing coal to Newcastle: redundant. So what does Nature Cure have to offer that Ayurveda does not? There are many answers to this question, some simple and others more nuanced. But the question itself and the apparent redundancy it bespeaks, highlights some interesting problems in the study of colonialism, power and the body. One of these problems concerns the nature of ecology in relation to health, and the connection between the embodiment of ecology and the affective politics of intimate nationalism. Among other things, this talk examines the embodiment of the feeling of belonging as an expression of desire in the context of nationalist sentiments.

* Co-sponsored by the Department of South Asia Studies

Leadership Talk and Language Alternation in the Indonesian Bureaucracy

Zane Goebel (La Trobe University, Australia)
12/04/2013                                               *in Rm 345

In recent years the study of the relationship between talk and the doing of leadership has gained increasing attention from linguistic anthropologists and sociolinguists. Even so, as with much research on organization talk, these studies focus on the micro analysis of situated talk in monolingual, typically ‘English’ speaking settings. In this paper I start to add to this literature by looking at how a boss moves between Indonesian and Javanese to do leadership. My empirical focus will be recordings of meetings made during five months of fieldwork in a government bureau in Semarang in the 2003-2004. I show that while Indonesian is used to do much transactional work (e.g. opening meetings, allocating turns), Javanese does both transactional and relational work (e.g. building and maintaining positive working relationships), often in ways that differ to earlier accounts of Javanese usage. In interpreting this usage I suggest that the use of Javanese fragments – along with other leadership practices – help build debts that need to be repaid, typically by the carrying out of directives and the smooth and effective operation of this bureau.