Secure the Family: Gender, Sexuality, and the Transnational Pro-Family Movement in Mexico
Principal Investigator: Kristin Peterson
Co‐Principal Investigator: Ann Wilkinson
Abstract: This project aims to understand the logics, appeal, and practices of emergent transnational right-wing movements through a contextualized, ethnographic analysis with those who shape one of its most rapidly growing sectors: Mexican "pro-family" advocates. Casting their appeals in idioms of security, newly emboldened pro-family advocates in 2016 mobilized some of the largest nation-wide street protests in recent Mexican history to defend "the family" from the imposition of "la ideologia de genero" (gender ideology), an emergent concept used by right-wing groups globally to reference the social construction of gender. In Mexico, this spectacular resurgence of the pro-family movement parallels the growth of one of Latin America's most emblematic security states and a deepening security culture. This project seeks to investigate the relationship between this saturation of security culture and the rise of pro-family organizing centered on gender by asking: how do Mexican pro-family advocates understand, relate, and reshape notions of gender and security in their political discourses, social movement practices, and everyday lives in the context of the evolving Mexican security state and resurgent transnational pro-family movement? To answer this question, the co-PI proposes to conduct twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork with advocates working at local, national, and international levels at three pro-family organizations based in Mexico City. Intensive and sustained participant observation in the daily work of Mexico's leading pro-family advocates will allow the co-PI to ethnographically examine how relationships between gender, sexuality, and security are being reconfigured amidst rising transnational right-wing movements.

Research in and for Africa – Qualitative Data Sharing Cultures and Practices
Principal Investigator: Kim Fortun
Co‐Principal Investigator: Angela Okune
Abstract: This project examines how knowledge is designed, performed, and contested in hyper-researched sites in Nairobi, Kenya. Despite decades of research aiming to solve Africa’s problems and billions of dollars in funding, many of those who are studied see little change in their everyday lives. Particular communities such as groups in Kibera, an infamous slum in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, demonstrate survey fatigue, falsified responses, and even feelings of being exploited by global processes of scientific knowledge production. Through a comparative study of three Nairobi-based research organizations working in and on technology and development, the co-PI will examine the negotiations over privacy, quality, commercialization, and moral duty enacted by the process of opening up qualitative research data. This research will analyze the changing ideas about data sharing among social scientists in Africa, responding both to increasing concern that scientific knowledge is not benefiting the communities studied and to growing, global interest in the possible benefits of “open data.”

Queering Body Worlds: Masculinities, Homosexual Desires, and Body Image in the Malaysian Bear Community
Principal Investigator: George Marcus
Co‐Principal Investigator: Sandy Wenger
Abstract: This ethnographic study explores the production of Body Worlds among members of the Malaysian Bear community, a gay subculture that celebrates large, hirsute bodies. In Malaysia, as in many other countries, bodies and sexualities are highly regulated by state and civic institutions. Political and societal understandings of, and responses to, non-normative forms of male body aesthetics and sexual desires are contingent on local and global discourses and trends. By investigating how members of the Bear community manage competing sets of embodied norms as they move across various social spaces, this project traces the ways in which the production of bio-political discourses is tied to contested constructions of what is natural and what is cultural on the national/transnational edge. To address these concerns, this research is guided by three questions: (1) How do Malaysian political and civic institutions, and the public formulate and enforce male body ideals and appropriate sexual desires in response to local and global trends? (2) What beliefs and practices constitute the Malaysian Bear community, and how do Bears and Chaser experience and negotiate competing norms around the body and sexuality as they move across social spaces? (3) What kinds of Body Worlds are produced in this context, and what do they reveal about the perceived naturalness regarding specific sexual desires and masculine body aesthetics? By considering how embodied experiences of divergent sets of norms are negotiated within a queer community, this research bridges scholarly debates in the anthropology of the body, queer studies, men’s studies, and Southeast Asian studies.

Leveraging Scientific Knowledge and Data in Energy Politics: Thought Collectives and Governance Style in Austin, Texas
Principal Investigator: Kim Fortun
Co‐Principal Investigator: James Adams
Abstract: Texas is the highest producer of crude oil, natural gas, and lignite coal in the United States and is widely known for its strong laws and culture supporting conventional energy industries (EIA 2017). Nevertheless, Austin, Texas’s capital, has a wealth of local residents and organizations invested in transitioning to clean energy resources. Motivations behind these investments differ widely, however, ranging from concerns about public health and social and environmental justice, to creating quality jobs and spurring economic growth. During preliminary fieldwork, the Co-PI identified four unique-yet-overlapping collectives of clean-energy stakeholders: 1) Austin bureaucrats, 2) energy scientists and engineers, 3) energy consultants and entrepreneurs, and 4) climate/social justice activists. Based upon initial observations and interviews, these collectives appear to conceive of the risks, affordances, and proper socio-technical means of energy transition in divergent, if not conflicting ways. This research seeks an understanding of how these diverse collectives interact, influence each other, and, in turn, shape energy-transition planning and practice in Austin, Texas. While the emerging field of transition studies facilitates generative debates on the logistics of energy transition, these studies tend to emphasize the technological, economic, and political challenges, to the neglect of their ethical, epistemological, and affective implications. This research proposes to foreground these socio-cultural dimensions through an analysis of how energy-transition planning takes shape in and through conversations and debates among clean-energy stakeholders, highlighting differences in the way they reference and utilize scientific knowledge and data about climate change, energy consumption behavior, and energy technologies. This will yield new insight into the ways different social groups conceive of climate change, scientific inquiry, and environmental governance. The research will also have practical implications, pointing to factors that enable and obstruct democratic environmental governance at the city scale.

 

© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766