Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (February 3 - May 22):
Walshe's work sits at the intersection of law, governance, and popular media, and he is interested in how these cultures produce and augment ideas of citizenship, identity, and sacrifice. His dissertation project follows the founding, development, and controversies surrounding the Iraqi Martyrdom Foundation (musassat al-shuhada), a post-invasion public institution tasked with regulating and standardizing the state’s legal definition of martyrdom. Cobbled together from digital ethnography, archival research, and visual media analysis methodologies, his project focuses on the political economy of commemoration and asks how the intertwining of supposed profane governance and sacred memorial practices produce and or/augment political solidarities and subjectivities. Concurrent with his usual digital archival work, his work will focus on two field sites in China, the first Longhua Municipal Park, which was redeveloped as a martyrs memorial in the 1990’s, and where a subsequent conflict has developed between long-time recreational users (guǎngchǎng wǔ), and the families of the martyrs who see the re-development as a sacred consecration of Longhua Park. The second component of his research in China will involve archival research in Quanzhou Maritime Museum’s Islamic Tombstone Collection, which holds a trove of martyr gravestones from China’s 12th and 13th centuries Islamic history. At present he is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Middle East & Islamic Studies Department on the Culture and Representation track.