Zohra Ismail Beben

2012 Kushner Award Winner

kushner_beben.jpgZohra Ismail Beben is a doctoral candidate in environmental anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. Her areas of interest include anthropology of disaster, discourses of risk, place and space, natural resource management and anthropology of development.  Her dissertation focused on how discourses of risk are formulated in post-Soviet rural Tajikistan. 

Her dissertation, based on seventeen months of field research supported by IREX Individual Advanced Research Opportunities and Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, investigates the processes of place-making and knowledge production in post-Soviet Tajikistan, focusing on how the understanding of the environment is influenced by social and political factors. Specifically, she evaluates the discourses of disaster, risk, and danger that exist both as ideologies and as a set of enacted practices, and that have defined the relationships of people to their mountain homes during both the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. She discusses the expert production of risk typologies that influence decisions about development funding and more broadly attempt to define the nature of life in rural Tajikistan, and compares these with indigenous conceptions of risk drawn from ethnographic data. Through her study she seeks to shed light on the various ways in which community members, local and national elites, and development agents are vying to shape the perspectives on place and history in Tajikistan

Her work speaks to the concerns of Gilbert Kushner in exploring the question of how in the face of such overwhelming political reconfiguration, brought by the collapse of the Soviet Union, a sense of place and a community survive in the mountainous regions of Tajikistan, especially in places such as Gorno-Badakhshan and Zeravshan.  In the future she hopes to engage in work that finds sustainable local ways to mitigate the long-term damage to the life and livelihood of mountain communities facing increasing threats from natural disasters. 


Catherine Sanders

2012 Kushner Award Winner

kushner_sanders.jpgCatherine Sanders has a Master’s degree specializing in medical anthropology. She has done ethnographic and applied work with populations in the US, East Africa, and South Asia, on topics ranging from drug use to agricultural intensification to post-conflict health and development. Her research focuses on the role of social supports in alleviating vulnerability, and the relationships among health and development in regions impacted by scarcity. She is interested in applications of anthropology for improved implementation of health and development projects in the developing world, and in understanding local responses to risks and innovations. She has helped teach a wide variety of courses for undergraduates in the Anthropology Department at the University of Montana, Missoula. While she finishes her PhD in medical anthropology, she is assisting in data management and analysis for the ISIS Foundation’s health development projects in Nepal and Uganda.