Orr, Caley Michael, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Evolutionary Morphology of the Anthropoid Wrist and the Evolution of Knuckle-Walking Locomotion in the Hominidae,' supervised by Dr. Mark Alan Spencer
CALEY M. ORR, then a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Evolutionary Morphology of the Anthropoid Wrist and the Evolution of Knuckle-Walking Locomotion in the Hominidae,' supervised by Dr. Mark Spencer. The evolution of knuckle walking bears crucially on our understanding of hominin evolution including the evolution of bipedality and human manipulative abilities and tool use. Demonstration of a knuckle-walking hominin ancestor would limit adaptive explanations for the origins of bipedality and tool use from those consistent with a stiff-wristed and semi-terrestrial ancestor, but identifying knuckle-walking features from fossils has proven controversial. The research conducted sought to further our understanding of wrist biomechanics in nonhuman primates in an effort to better understand knuckle-walking adaptations and aid in reconstructing wrist function in fossil hominins. The results of the study, which used three-dimensional imaging techniques to study wrist joint motion and shape, indicate that knuckle-walkers and digitigrade baboons (that use their hands in a similar position during locomotion) have reduced mobility at most of the individual joints of the wrist, and 'lock' the bones of the midcarpus (in the middle of the wrist) at a lower angle of wrist extension. A number of anatomical features were identified that contribute to this function, and humans and our fossil ancestors appear to have more African-ape like midcarpal structure and range of motion.
Dolph, Charles, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Terror of Debt?: Soft Law and the Politics of Money in Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman
Preliminary abstract: This ethnographic and historical study analyzes how conflicting notions and historical narratives of 'terror' are intertwined with political and legal struggles over Argentina's sovereign debt. Argentina faces default for the second time in thirteen years, precipitated by the June 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a ruling that Argentina could not pay bondholders who accepted debt restructuring without satisfying holdouts demanding payment at the bonds' face value. The parties did not reach an agreement, setting off a complex political and legal dispute playing out through the UN, banks, and courtrooms in New York, on the pages of newspapers and on TV screens from Argentina to the U.S. and Europe, through legal maneuvering by hedge funds and the Kirchner administration to label one another as criminal terrorists, and in mass demonstrations and public debates in Argentina. Through documentary analysis and interviews with functionaries charged with elaborating soft law regulations aimed at combating 'terrorist financing'; participant-observation at mass demonstrations and public debates over debt and financial speculation in Buenos Aires; analysis of the role of media and its coverage of the debt dispute; and archival research at Argentina's Ministry of Economy, this project analyzes how populist debt politics in Argentina are mutually imbricated with soft law financial regulations and conditioned by the country's history of terror during dictatorships. By studying Argentina's sovereign debt dispute, this study illuminates the changing and contradictory institutional, moral, and political landscapes of money and debt in the contemporary world.
Stone, Naomi Shira, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Human Technologies in the Iraq War,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick
NAOMI S. STONE, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Human Technologies in the Iraq War,' supervised by Dr. Brinkley Messick. In a new contribution to contemporary scholarship on war, this project explores the ethical, epistemological, and affective dimensions of 'human technology'-local wartime proxies, mediators, role-players, and translators-employed by the US military as embodied repositories of Middle East knowledge to: 1) facilitate military forms of seeing; and 2) act as the faces or visible manifestations of partially masked American projects. These Iraqis are part of a broader phenomenon in contemporary war, which this study identifies as 'elsewhere-optics,' wherein seeing as well as bodily risk are outsourced: both machines (i.e. drones) and human bodies are situated and maneuvered remotely by the US military. Employed by the American Department of Defense as exemplars of their cultures, but ejected to the peripheries as traitors by their own countrymen and as potential spies by US soldiers, human technologies negotiate complex injuries and claims for recognition. Drawing on 26 months of fieldwork across the US and in Jordan, the project focuses on the wartime labor of Iraqi former interpreters and current role-players, as they theatricalize war for US soldiers in pre-deployment simulations in mock Middle Eastern villages across America. Zooming in on the haunted and uncanny spaces of the simulations, in tension with their wartime referents, the research delves into these Iraqi intermediaries' affective and imaginative worlds.
Ibrahim, Ahmed Sharif, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Scriptural Interpreters in Somalia: and Anthropology of Islam,' supervised by Dr. Vincent Crapanzano
Preliminary abstract: Shortly after the collapse of the central government in Somalia in 1990, there began to sprout up clan-based Islamic or Shari'a courts in southern Somalia. The courts began a process of centralization which culminated in the formation of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in 2004. By 2006 the ICU was in control of all of southern and central Somalia. An Ethiopian invasion of the country in 2006 resulted in the disintegration of the ICU as a unified political movement and governing entity. The Shari'a courts did not only represent different clans and sub-clans but also distinct schools of thought and theological positions within Islam in Somali society. This project will approach the emergence of the courts and their unification as an entry point to study how local Islamic orthodoxy is established. It will do so by focusing on the role and position of authoritative scriptural interpreters. How did kinship and politico-economic conditions influence who and how scriptures are interpreted, understood, and lived? This project will utilize historical and ethnographic methods to pursue these questions and engage with the anthropological debate regarding the relationship between Islam as a world religion and it's manifestation in local contexts.
Morehart, Christopher T., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Agricultural Landscapes and Political Economy at Xaltocan, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth M. Brumfiel
CHRISTOPHER T. MOREHART, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Agricultural Landscapes and Political Economy at Xaltocan, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth M. Brumfiel. Understanding the intersection between farming households, the state, and intermediate social relationships is central to the anthropological and archaeological study of agriculture. This project examined these issues by examining the creation, persistence, and decline of chinampa agriculture at Xaltocan, Mexico. Drawing on multiple data sources, this work articulated chinampa farming with the configurations of political, economic, social, demographic, and ecological factors that shaped the trajectory of this landscape. Xaltocan was a kingdom that developed in the Early and Middle Postclassic periods in central Mexico. By the Late Postclassic period, however, Xaltocan was conquered and its status as an independent political center had collapsed. Archaeological data indicate that intensive agriculture was contemporaneous with the political independence of Xaltocan. When Xaltocan's political system collapsed, however, chinampa farming was abandoned. This pattern does not indicate unequivocally that the state controlled agriculture but does suggest that farmers and their cooperative relationships were conditioned by its political stability. Investigations at a shrine in the farming system, by contrast, revealed ritual continuity despite dramatic social, political, and cultural change. This shrine helps reveal how ritual was integrated into changing historical circumstances as well as how people may have re-interpreted the pre-existing landscape.
Morehart, Christopher T. 2012. What if the Aztec Empire Never Existed? The Prerequisites of Empire and the Politics of Plausible Alternative Histories. American Anthropologist 114(2):267-281.
Morehart, Christopher T., Abigail Meza Peñaloza, Carlos Serrano Sánchez, et al. 2012. Human Sacrifice during the Epiclassic Period in the Northern Basin of Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 23(4):426-448.
Cooper, Jessica M., Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Care by Conviction: An Ethnography of California's Mental Health Courts,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth A. Davis
Preliminary abstract: Across the United States, incarcerated individuals whom the state deems mentally ill are receiving mental health care not in a clinic, but in a courtroom. My research will examine mental health courts (MHCs), criminal courtrooms that move offenders with a diagnosed mental illness from jail and into courtroom-based mental health care. MHCs maintain regular contact with offenders, whom the court now recognizes as patients, and employ psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers to provide care for patients. If courtroom clinicians believe that patients are noncompliant with treatment, the judge may return patients to jail. In a yearlong ethnography of two of California's MHCs, I will examine the experience of MHC adjudication. How do courtroom offender-patients experience care distributed through a state system that has the power to punish? How do courtroom clinicians negotiate therapeutic and carceral roles? In the course of providing health care within the courtroom, relationships develop between patients and providers. My research will highlight these social relationships, characterized by care, to investigate how they simultaneously open a space for the state's intimate governance of offenders with psychiatric diagnoses, and a space for care providers to challenge the elements of state control which they find inhumane.
Selby, Don F., Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Human Rights and Political Change in Contemporary Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
DON F. SELBY, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in January 2005, to aid research on 'Human Rights and Political Change in Contemporary Thailand,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. This research studies the emergence of human rights in Thai politics. It emphasizes, on the one hand the efforts of national institutions like the National Human Rights Commission to domesticate human rights to local social imperatives by identifying them with Buddhist ethics and the protection of national symbols like the village community. On the other hand, it follows human rights advocates at the grass-roots level to study how they draw on human rights as a new political resource with institutional authority (in the Commission), while at the same time drawing on long-standing social conventions like patron-clientage, maintaining face, and avoiding shame, to give human rights their force. Finally, ethnographic work at state institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the Commission suggest that the study of human rights in Thailand throws into question, first, ideas of a unitary state, or a homogeneous human rights movement, free, in either case, of internal contests, fissures, and competing strategies, and second, conceptualizations of human rights that deny the inevitability of cooperative state-advocate projects.
Haskell, David L., U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'The Incorporation of Local Level Elites in the Tarascan State,' supervised by Dr. Susan D. Gillespie
DAVID L. HASKELL, then a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, received funding in June 2005 to aid research on 'The Incorporation of Local Level Elites in the Tarascan State,' supervised by Dr. Susan D. Gillespie. The research seeks to illuminate the Tarascan administrative hierarchy, at least as it existed in the political and demographic core of the Tarascan State, the Lake Patzcuaro Basin. This research has helped to confirm obsidian lapidary production at the secondary administrative center of Erongaricuaro. With this confirmation, researchers are starting to better understand the control of status markers of utmost importance to the construction of authority in the Tarascan State. The presence of lapidary production at Erongaricuaro differentiates this site from its subordinate, Urichu, a tertiary administrative center, at the same time that it renders nobles at Erongaricuaro less dependent upon the royal dynasty at Tzintzuntzan for such items. The research also holds the potential, however, for examining the procurement strategies of the nobility at Erongaricuaro as they supported the lapidary specialists. It remains a possibility that the nobles of Erongaricuaro still relied on the royal dynasty to provide them with the raw materials needed to produce these markers of nobility.
Martindale, Christine L., Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid 'Peopling of Northern Asia: A Study in Cranial and Dental Nonmetric Traits, ' supervised by Dr. Christy G. Turner
CHRISTINE LEE MARTINDALE, while a student at Arizona State University, received funding in February 2005 to aid research on 'Peopling of Northern Asia: A Study in Cranial and Dental Nonmetric Traits,' supervised by Dr. Christy G. Turner ll. The objective of this research is to use inherited morphological variants in the skull and teeth to evaluate the microevolution of the populations within China and Mongolia from Neolithic times (3000 BC) to the present. Data was collected from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and the Institute of Archaeology (Beijing, China), the Center for Frontier Research, Jilin University (Changchun, China), the Department of Anthropology, National University of Mongolia, the Institute of History, and the Institute of Archaeology (Ulan Baatar, Mongolia). Slightly under 1500 crania were scored, for up to 66 cranial traits and 35 dental traits each. Preliminary analysis suggests three major population divisions, the Chinese and proto-Chinese, Northern Asians (Mongolian, Xiongnu, Xianbei, Qidan), and Caucasians (Turkic, Scythian, possibly European). These three populations appear to have remained distinct from each other for the entire time span of this study. The Chinese skulls exhibited high frequencies of supernumerary ossicles, failure of suture closure, and complex dental morphology (Sinodonty). The Caucasian skulls had low frequencies of supernumerary ossicles, failure of suture closure, and simplified dental morphology, indicative of populations originating from Central Asia and Europe. The Northern Asians exhibited frequencies intermediate between the Chinese and Caucasians. Northern Asians were unique in their high frequencies of mandibular, maxillary, and palatine tori.
Campoamor, Leigh Miranda, Duke U., Durham, NC - To aid research on 'The Cultural Politics of Child Labor in Peru,' supervised by Dr. Orin Raymond Starn
LEIGH MIRANDA CAMPOAMOR, then a student at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'The Cultural Politics of Child Labor in Peru,' supervised by Dr. Orin Starn. The research moved between various archives and ethnographic sites to examine the place of children, as both symbols and agents, in imaginings of modern Peru. The project focused on child labor, a highly contested social issue transnationally, situated at the nexus of historical and contemporary debates about national belonging, development, and modernity. Archival research traced how children have been constructed as a symbol of Peru's future since early 20th century nation-building projects began disciplining and differentiating their bodies according to their presumed value to society. Ethnographic research focused on two groups: children who participate in a nation-wide movement that defends children's right to work under dignified conditions, and children who work on the streets but do not belong to formal organizations. Participant-observation uncovered the ways working children employ diverse practices of self-representation in response to material and discursive forces that have made them into the site and stake of struggles over modernity and national development. The research elucidates the tensions between institutional efforts to produce and manage children as disciplined bearers of an imagined future and working children's efforts to attach new meanings and values to modernity, childhood, and survival.