Spring 2012 Featured Scholars

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Fred Blake

2011. Burning Money: The Material Spirit of the Chinese Lifeworld. University of Hawai'i Press: Honolulu

For a thousand years (from the late Tang Dynasty) across the length and breadth of China and beyond, people have burned paper replicas of valuable things — most often money — to indemnify the spirits of the living and the dead, especially deceased family members, ancestors but also the myriads of demons and divinities. In a bigger sense, the custom let ordinary folks participate in the mysteries of imperial and cosmic order. Although frequently denigrated as wasteful and vulgar and nowadays a public nuisance and at times prohibited by medieval and modern officials, the custom is as popular as ever, although with the demise of the old imperial order and the penetration of modern capital, the spirit of the custom is undergoing profound changes. Burning Money explores the cultural logic of this common practice while addressing larger anthropological questions concerning the nature of value.

Burning Money is a multi-sited study of a Chinese custom that focuses on the emergent characteristics of the custom itself. My shoestring method of study was conducted over a long period of time in ways that are not disciplined by the ‘ticking’ of a clock. In my travels to urban neighborhoods, towns, markets, villages, temples, burial grounds, I depended on old friends, colleagues, confreres, and former students. I also depended a lot on the kindness of strangers, fellow travelers sojourning by foot, bicycle, bus, or train. I followed the trace of paper money from its production in village workshops to its wholesale and retail trade and most importantly its consecration and burning as a form of sacrifice.


Ruben Campos - MA Candidate

I have spent the last two years researching hip hop in Honolulu through participant observation and conversation analysis. My main work focuses on the local construction of race and its ethnomethodological reflections in rap battle. That is, what is the ethnic and racial context of Hawai‘i, how do local artists understand their contexts, and what does it mean for hip hop? I have found Emcees, in battle, often employ local references, ethnic humor, and color-blind ideology to garner the support of the crowd. Although these tools often lead to victory, they also reproduce racism.

Max Sandoval - Undergraduate

"An Investigation of the Surgical Referral Process Utilized by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Guatemala"

In the picture: Dr. Rachel Hall-Clifford, Stephanie Roche, Linda
Rylands, Sarah Garrett, Max N. Sandoval, and Dr. Gelya Frank

This research project conducted in Antigua, Guatemala and surrounding areas sought to answer the following main questions: what factors do NGOs identify as facilitators and barriers to quality of surgical care in Guatemala? and how can surgical services provided by visiting medical teams be improved in terms of quality of patient experience? The research team conducted interviews with various NGOs to offer feedback and recommendations for an improved coordination of services among NGOs and surgical teams which was later presented at a three day conference held by Wuku Kawoq (a NGO working to strengthen Mayan Language and Medicine) named Collective Futures (official website: http://www.futuroscolectivos.com/)