Shaozeng Zhang and Ather Zia, both anthropology Ph.D. recipients in 2014, were named among  anthropologyworks’ best 50 cultural anthropology dissertations of 2014. The blog defined “best” as dissertations on topics relating to major global issues. Dissertation descriptions can be found below. Zhang is currently a special assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Colorado State University and Zia is an anthropology instructor at the University of Northern Colorado. anthropology works is a project of the Culture in Global Affairs (CIGA) research and policy program of the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. It is currently run by Barbara Miller, cultural anthropology and international affairs professor, George Washington University.

“The Financialization of Amazonia: Scientific Knowledge and Carbon Market in Brazil,” by Shaozeng Zhang. University of California, Irvine. Advisor: George E. Marcus.
This dissertation is about the epistemic and policy evolution of the environmental financial mechanism of REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) in Brazil. Zhang examines the mobilization, production and competition of various forms of knowledge(s) in designing and testing this economic invention. Ethnographic accounts of REDD+ knowledge production and mobilization reveal that multiple modes of knowing collaborate and negotiate with each other. Ethnographic research brings forth the productive, but yet informal, culture of cross field collaboration in scientific knowledge production.

“The Politics of Absence: Women Searching for the Disappeared in Kashmir,” by Ather Zia.  University of California, Irvine. Advisor: Victoria Bernal.
This study focuses on the Kashmiri women activists of the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared Persons who organized in 1994 to search for the disappeared. The everyday gendered politics of mourning emerges as what Zia conceptualizes as affective law, which reveals a fine-grained understanding of women’s agency. The women use performative politics which converges in the spectacle of mourning and allows them to transcend the limitations of the heavily militarized society.

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