Romer, Johanna Ilene, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Constructing Violence: Risk, Security, and Criminal Justice Professions in Catalonia,' supervised by Dr. Bambi B. Schieffelin
JOHANNA RÖMER, then a graduate student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Constructing Violence: Risk, Security, and Criminal Justice Professions in Catalonia,' supervised by Dr. Bambi B. Schieffelin. Spain has one of the highest rates of incarceration in Europe, and 45% of Catalan inmates are foreign. Nonetheless, Spain has maintained a rehabilitative prison system that originated in the post-Franco era. This ethnographic research (2012-2013) investigated the production of concepts of civil society in a prison bureaucracy in Barcelona. Focusing on the activities of prison treatment teams, composed of psychologists and other professionals, it shows how teams demonstrated civic values and moral stances towards prisoners and the state. The project highlighted teams' efforts to care for a diverse population of violent offenders also at risk for self-harm. It found that prevention practices focused on self-harm were an important component in violence treatment programs. It also found that teams sought to develop ideologies of sincerity in treatment relationships, which in practice situate sincerity as the embodiment of a particular political-economic relationship to the state. Teams lacked shared communicative resources with inmates, as well as stances toward government and authority. Showing how teams typified and communicated Spanish and Catalan ideas about the appropriate expression of emotion and violence to inmates, this project contributes a perspective that incorporates ideas of personhood to ongoing scholarship on the construction of civility and security in Europe.
Hamada, Shingo, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Network, Biotechnology, and Cultural Consensus in Conservation Projects in Coastal Fishing Communities in Northern Japan,' supervised by Dr. Richard R. Wilk
SHINGO HAMADA, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Network, Biotechnology, and Cultural Consensus in Conservation Projects in Coastal Fishing Communities in Northern Japan,' supervised by Dr. Richard R. Wilk. Examining herring restoration efforts in northern Japan as a case study, this research focuses on consensus and variation in the perceptions and practices concerning conservation. Sea ranching projects, fisheries scientific researches, and community-based reforestation efforts for ecosystem recovery have developed in coastal fishing communities in the last two decades, despite the economic and ecological uncertainty of harvests from restoration projects. This ethnographic research describes under what conditions humans engage in conservationist behaviors after experiencing a crisis in coastal common pool resources. This research applied Actor-Network Theory to navigate in and not through a priori defined 'fishing communities,' and it examines how inshore fishers, fisheries managers, fisheries scientists, and seafood buyers interpret local resource issues and restoration and values of conservation. The researcher used qualitative text analysis and questionnaires to understand how fishery techno-sciences influence actors' decision-making processes concerning fisheries management. Ultimately, this research explores how the acts of cultivating seascape through transplanting fish species blurs the boundary between the natural and cultural while becoming an anti-politics machine that blurs locations of environmental stewardships among different social groups.
Wepfer, Elvira I., U. of Manchester, Manchester, UK - To aid research on 'Living 'Free and Real': Eco-Communities' Socio-Economic and Environmental Responses to the Euro Crisis in Greece,' supervised by Dr. Michelle Obeid
Preliminary abstract: The twenty-first century's Great Recession has, in a series of financial turmoil, come to contest the notion of success of politico-economic liberalism from within its western foundations. At the same time, the unravelling of climate change is profoundly reshaping livelihoods across the globe. Detecting common sources in the consequential socio-economic and environmental crises, civil society enacts a multitude of responses, some of them proposing explicit alternatives to the techno-industrial consumption patterns that frame much of our society. My project focuses on one such alternative emerging in the heart of the euro crisis: Greek eco-communities, where citizens experiment with socially just and ecologically sustainable modes of production, exchange and consumption. Such communities are a very recent phenomenon in Greece, where many are grappling with the dire consequences of austerity. Addressing both the changing climate and the collapsing capitalist enterprise, they propose compelling instances of how people locally tackle global issues. I am investigating how communal attempts to live sustainably influence and reshape people's relation to their environments and to each other. A particular focus on relations of production and consumption will shed light on how lifestyle choices are negotiated from within the space of liberal society.
Lowen, Jessica, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Good Girls, Bad Acts: How Sex-Workers-Turned-Missionaries are Redefining Moral Personhood,' supervised by Dr. Alaina Lemon
Preliminary abstract: Despite statistics suggesting an increased attitude of sexual tolerance among evangelicals under age 30 (53% of whom now support same-sex marriage) this same demographic also exhibits a significant concern for sexual purity, corresponding with a high degree of street-level social service outreach. As a result, religious conservatives are experiencing new face-to-face interactions with sexually stigmatized populations. At the same time, members of stigmatized groups are in a position to stake new moral claims. Such intersections have been institutionalized at the national level by coalitions between U.S. government and religious groups in sex policy. They also suggest fascinating changes in evangelical conceptions of sexuality. I suggest that the shift in missionary pedagogical practice towards achieving conversion through 'solidarity,' in combination with the expansion of the missionary target population to include 'sex workers,' responds to the perceived failures of more militantly fundamentalist faith-based sexual reform efforts. Moreover, I hypothesize that this shift is made possible by the nature of what I call the 'evangelical language ideology,' wherein formal linguistic features associated with testimonial speech and NOT behavioral practices are the primary means by which sincere Christian belief is claimed and evaluated. This project builds on models of performativity, inter-subjectivity and anthropological linguistic methods to explore missionaries' pedagogical and discursive practices. While this is not a project on sex workers per se, this research will also explore how missionaries and current and former sex workers navigate Church community, the economic demands of their lives, and their own sense of moral personhood.
Cakirlar, Canan, Tubingen U., Tubingen, Germany - To aid research on 'Coastal Adaptations of Troy: The Molluscs,' supervised by Dr. Hans-Peter Uerpmann
CANAN CAKIRLAR, while a student at Tubingen University, Tubingen, Germany, was awarded a grant in November 2005 to aid research on 'Coastal Adaptations of Troy: The Molluscs,' supervised by Dr. Hans-Peter Uerpmann. A coastal survey was conducted in the vicinity of Troy, Turkey, between February 2006 and November 2006 in order to establish a modern mollusk collection that could serve as an analogue to delineate the patterns observed in the archaeomalacological record of Troy. The goal of the survey and subsequent laboratory analyses was to elucidate the mode of shellfishing, with special reference to cockle (C. glaucum) gathering at Bronze Age Troy. Archaeological cockle remains were analyzed in the light of ecological data attained from periodical observations of extant local populations. Seasonal patterns of shell growth disclosed by observations on the internal shell increments of modern cockles were correlated with those of the archaeological cockles in order to determine the harvest time of archaeological shells. The results suggest that the annual pattern of cockle gathering shifted from a seasonally balanced mode of collection in the 3rd millennium BC to a mode of procurement emphasizing summer collection during the 2nd millennium BC in Troy. This shift is related to changes in other areas of subsistence economy at Troy and the geomorphological changes that took place in the Trojan Bay during the course of the Bronze Age.
Prassack, Kari Alyssa, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Paleoecological Significance of Fossil Birds at Olduvai: An Ecologically-Based Neotaphonomic Approach,' supervised by Dr. Robert John Blumenschine
KAN ALYSSA PRASSACK, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Paleo-Ecological Significance of Fossil Birds at Olduvai: An Ecologically Based Neotaphonomic Approach,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine. This dissertation research addressed bird bone survivorship across modern landscapes to determine the paleo-environmental utility of fossil avifaunal accumulations for understanding early hominin habitats. Field research occurred in a range of environments in northern Tanzania. Surveys were conducted to determine where bird bone is most likely to be deposited and become fossilized and bones were collected and analyzed for taphonomic marks produced by feeding carnivores, microbial bio-erosion, weathering, and other bone-modifying processes. Controlled studies involved submersion and burial of bones in water and sediments taken from many of the surveyed field sites and exposure to sub-aerial processes in the southern Serengeti region of Tanzania. Carnivore feeding observations were also conducted, using several carnivore taxa, including smaller carnivores never before studied in this manner. The culmination of these data is now being utilized in the taphonomic analysis of Olduvai fossil birds recovered during excavations by the Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project.
Prassack, Kari A. 2014. Landscape Distribution and Ecology of Plio-Pleistocene Avifaunal Communities from Lowermost Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 70(1):1-15.
Giusto, Salvatore, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Neomelodic Notes: Commodified Aesthetics and Illicit Political Economy in Naples, Italy,' supervised by Dr. Andrea Muehlebach
SALVATORE GIUSTO, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, received funding in October 2013 to aid research on 'Neomelodic Notes: Commodified Aesthetics and Illicit Political Economy in Naples, Italy,' supervised by Dr. Andrea Muehlebach. The term 'neomelodic' defines a local pop-music and aesthetic genre dominating the mediascape of Naples, Italy, since the early 1990s. Neomelodic media productions hinge on narratives seeking to depict the experiences of Neapolitan lower class subjects, with a remarkable preference for those engaging with organized crime. In spite of the structural poverty illustrating the life conditions of the Neapolitan underclass, the neomelodic media industry brings in millions of euros per year. Most of this money eventually flows into the pockets of the Camorra, which is one of the most violent and financially dynamic Italian criminal cartels. Camorra affiliates participate in the neomelodic scene as singers, authors, sponsors, media owners, loan providers, and fans, while influencing this genre's aesthetics, economic value, and socio-cultural meaning. In so doing, they re-signify the illicit cultural landscapes that neomelodic media iconizes into licit performance, neoliberal 'branding,' social aesthetics, and collective identity. This research focuses on the coalescence between neomelodic aesthetics, Neapolitan political economy, and the cultural sphere to offer insight into the construction and diffusion of 'illicit' collective imaginaries in neoliberal Italy. In so doing, it explores the commodified aesthetics leading to the entrenchment of organized crime as a 'branding' cultural producer in contemporary Italy.
Tryon, Christian A., U. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT - To aid research on 'The Acheulian to Middle Stone Age Transition in the Southern Kapthurin Formation, Kenya,' supervised by Dr. Sally McBrearty
CHRISTIAN A. TRYON, while a student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in June 2001 to aid research on the Acheulean to Middle Stone Age transition in the southern Kapthurin Formation, Baringo, Kenya, under the supervision of Dr. Sally McBrearty. Excavations at Koimilot (GnJh-74) have revealed two stratified, in situ, early Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological assemblages in the southern Kapthurin Formation. Tephrostratigraphic correlation has shown that these assemblages are the youngest known from the formation and overlie a sequence of interstratified Acheulean, Sangoan, and MSA sites dated by 4OArp/39Ar to more than 284,000 years ago. The Kapthurin Formation preserves one of the few well-dated, continuous sedimentary and archaeological sequences appropriate for assessing the nature of the Acheulean-MSA transition, a technological shift reflecting profound behavioral changes in the later middle Pleistocene, the likely time and place of the appearance of modern humans. Preliminary sedimentological data from Koimilot, artifact size and distribution studies, and analysis of refitted flakes suggested an intact flaking floor at Koimilot Locus 1, with hominid activities directed toward raw material acquisition and the production of typically oval flakes by Levallois methods. The stratigraphically younger Koimilot Locus 2 showed a technology that targeted the production of large Levallois points or elongated flakes. These data suggested a diversification during the early MSA of methods initially developed within the local Acheulean. Additional landscape-scale studies of sites and paleoenvironmental features linked through tephrostratigraphic studies were expected to contribute to an understanding of this variability and to facilitate extraregional comparisons of the end of the Acheulean.
Kutty, Omar, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Gift of Society: Social Welfare Programs and Political Identity in an Indian Megacity,' supervised by Dr. John L. Comaroff
OMAR KUTTY, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in April 2005 to aid research on 'The Gift of Society: Social Welfare Programs and Political Identity in an Indian Megacity,' supervised by Dr. John L. Comaroff. While this project was originally designed as a multi-community study, prior to receipt of Wenner-Gren funds it had been decided that it would be more fruitful to focus on the caste of sanitation workers known as the Valmiki Samaj. Because this community is one of the most ostracized and marginalized in Delhi, analysis of the many governmental and non-governmental welfare programs that target the Valmikis provided extremely rich ethnographic data pertaining to the changing policies and culture of welfare provision in contemporary India. Among the data collected under the auspices of the foundation were interviews with members of the internationally recognized NGO, Sulabh International, whose mission is to improve the condition of this community through a business model incorporating pay-and-use toilets which then also act as self-sustaining sources of employment. Other exemplary data pertained to a special governmental financial program that provides business loans specifically to the Valmiki community. Middle Class Resident Welfare Associations, who have recently begun to organize their hitherto informal, local sanitation workers on a business model were also observed. The tentative conclusion reached from this data is that new models of welfare provision are gradually but dramatically changing the nature of labor among the Valmiki community.
Bigham, Abigail Winslow, Penn State U., University Park, PA - To aid research on 'Signatures of Natural Selection among Populations of the Andean Altiplano and the Tibetan Plateau,' supervised by Dr. Mark David Shriver
ABIGAIL BIGHAM, then a student at Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, received a grant in October 2006 to aid research on 'Signatures of Natural Selection among Populations of the Andean Altiplano and the Tibetan Plateau,' supervised by Dr. Mark Shriver. This research's focus was to identify gene specific evidence for genetic adaptation to high altitude hypoxia using independent, highland populations from distinct geographic regions. This includes the populations of the Andes (Quechua and Aymara) and a population from the Tibetan Plateau (Tibetans). Three major questions were addressed: 1) Is there gene-specific evidence for natural selection among populations of the Tibetan Plateau? 2) Is there gene-specific evidence for natural selection among populations of the Andean Altiplano? 3) Do the Tibetan and Andean populations exhibit similarities and/or differences in genes or functionally different changes in the same genes involved in high altitude adaptation? In order to answer these questions, a variety of molecular assays were performed on the study populations. These included: 1) Using high density multi-locus genome scan data to identify natural selection candidate genes and gene regions; 2) Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) typing in each of the candidate genes to further scrutinize these regions for evidence of selection; 3) DNA sequencing of one gene showing strong evidence of selection in both Tibetans and Andeans; and 4) Association analyses that control for admixture to test for genotype-phenotype correlations.