Harper, Kristin Nicole, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'The Origin of Syphilis and the Evolution of the Treponema Pallidum Subspecies: A Phylogenetic Approach,' supervised by Dr. George John Armelagos
KRISTIN N. HARPER, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'The Origin of Syphilis and the Evolution of the T. pallidum Subspecies: A Phylogenetic Approach,' supervised by Dr. George Armelagos. Comparative genetics was used to examine the long-standing question of where and when syphilis originated. Did Christopher Columbus and his men bring syphilis from the New World to the Old, as believed for five hundred years? Or did syphilis always exist in the Old World, only to be differentiated from other diseases such as leprosy around the time of the first recorded epidemic of the disease, in Naples in 1495? Strains of the bacterium that causes syphilis, as well as those that cause the related but non-venereal diseases yaws and bejel, were gathered from around the world. Various locations around the genome were analyzed, and the sequences were used to build a phylogenetic, or family, tree of the bacteria. The results were used to demonstrate that syphilis arose most recently in human history and that its closest relatives were yaws strains gathered from South America. This evidence, combined with paleopathological studies, provides compelling evidence for the Columbian hypothesis for syphilis's origin. In addition, genes that have undergone strong positive selection, consistent with an important role specific to syphilis strains, were identified.
Marchesi, Milena, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Remaking Subjects: Cultural Politics, Practices, and Technologies of Fertility in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Louise Krause
MILENA MARCHESI, then a student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Remaking Subjects: Cultural Politics, Practices, and Technologies of Fertility in Italy,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth L. Krause. Through multi-sited research that included participant observation and volunteering in a family planning clinic, feminist organizations, immigrant associations, and the training of cultural mediators, the grantee traced the intensifying politics and discourses of reproduction in contemporary Italy, which include anxieties over immigration and over low fertility rates among native Italian women. This dissertation project aimed to answer the following question: How do contested and contradictory politics of reproduction materialize and contribute to remaking new and old reproductive subjects in Italy? Participant observation and interviews with Italian native women and immigrant women engaged in cultural mediation and immigrant activism shed light on the intersections of the projects of 'integration' of difference. The reordering of social reproduction in contemporary Italy engenders resistance among those who recognize themselves as targets of re/integration and its inevitable corollary of exclusion: most obviously immigrants, but also those who do not fit into the heteronormative and reproductive family model. In foregrounding the narratives and practices of those identified as a threat to cohesive social reproduction, this research sheds light on the effects of political attempts at coherence-making.
Butler, Ella Patricia, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Producing Taste: Expertise and the Senses in the US Processed Food Industry,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Masco
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates scientific concepts of taste and sensory experience in the processed food industry in the United States. It examines how scientists develop research into the senses in order to find ways to make 'health and wellness' products palatable to the tastes of American consumers. In this context of innovation in both commodities and scientific knowledge, the project asks how scientific concepts of the senses are being transformed at the same moment that new commodities are made possible. To explore this question, the project is an ethnographic study of the work of three kinds of professionals most concerned with the sensory experience of processed food products: food scientists, flavor scientists and sensory evaluation scientists.
Rockman, Marcy H., U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid 'GIS Modeling of Landscape Learning in Late Glacial Britain and Northern France,' supervised by Dr. Steven L. Kuhn
MARCY H. ROCKMAN, while a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a grant in June 2001 to aid research on 'GIS Modeling of Landscape Learning in Late Glacial Britain and Northern France,' supervised by Dr. Steven L. Kuhn. Familiarization with and adaptation to new landscapes has been an integral part of colonization and settlement throughout human history. This funded research is the first attempt in the field of archaeology to directly assess the physical traces of the landscape-learning process and consider its significance in the overall lifeways of colonizers, using the case example of the recolonization of England at the end of the last Ice Age. The specific activities supported by this grant included fieldwork documentation of the topography of flint-bearing chalk in England, archival and museum research based at the University of Southampton, and GIS analysis of European flint-bearing landscapes at the University of Arizona. The fieldwork successfully sampled flint-bearing deposits across England, which contributed significantly to an ICP-MS trace element testing project. The archival research provided provenience histories for tested artifacts and a contextual framework of late glacial lifeways. The GIS analysis compared origin and destination areas of the recolonization and identified strong landscape similarities between the Paris Basin and the ICP-MS-identified primary flint-source region of southwestern England. Therefore, the activities supported by this grant provided three major lines of evidence toward the identification and interpretation of landscape learning in the late glacial recolonization of England. When considered fully in the context of colonization theory and ethnographic information about information transmission, the funded research stands to make an important and useful contribution to our understanding of past colonizations and the development of environmental knowledge.
Goldstein, Ruth Elizabeth, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Plants, Prostitutes, and Pharmaceuticals: By the Edge and at the End of the Inter-Oceanic Road,' supervised by Dr. Charles Leslie Briggs
RUTH E. GOLDSTEIN, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in October 2010 to aid research on 'Plants, Prostitutes, and Pharmaceuticals: By the Edge and at the End of the Inter-Oceanic Road,' supervised by Dr. Charles Briggs. Latin America's Inter-Oceanic Road stretches from Peru's Pacific Coast to Brazil's Atlantic Coast, dipping into Bolivia. The road changes the physical and the social landscape, opening up previously inaccessible land in the Peruvian Amazon, flush with streams of gold. A stumbling world economy has stimulated a resurgence in the importance of gold. The gold attracts miners and the miners bring women. Women, ensnared by promises of working in restaurants, end up in debt-peonage sex-work, by the side of the road. Plants trafficked along the road-often sexual stimulants-go to laboratories for pharmaceutical testing and intellectual property evaluation. The gold travels along the road and then worldwide as the currency to buy and sell everything from gasoline and food, to women, plants, and pharmaceuticals. This project situates the trajectories of the women-plant-gold assemblages within the history of the taxonomic narrative and the current economic crisis, analyzing how particular groups of people have come to be treated as less-than-human. Understanding how differences among humans, animals, plants, and minerals come into being and affect national and international politics and public health policies highlights how particular groups of people have come to matter less politically-as well as the possibilities for changing that.
Wilbur, Alicia K., U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'Genetics of Susceptibility to Tuberculosis in Native South Americans,' supervised by Dr. Anne C. Stone
ALICIA K. WILBUR, then a student at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was awarded a grant in June 2003 to aid research on 'Genetics of Susceptibility to Tuberculosis in Native South Americans,' supervised by Dr. Anne C. Stone. Tuberculosis is a significant health problem for the majority of the world's populations. Evidence indicates that host genetics play an important role in determining susceptibility to tuberculosis, and research in various populations worldwide indicates that multiple loci are usually involved, and that these loci differ by population. Although incidence in Native American populations since European contact has been high, little research into the genetics of susceptibility has been undertaken in these groups. Here, the role of host genetics in tuberculosis susceptibility was examined the Ache and Ava of Paraguay. Three candidate genes (the vitamin D receptor, SLC11A1, and mannose binding lectin) were analyzed for association with three measures of tuberculosis status. For both the Ache and Ava, strong evidence for host involvement in tuberculosis susceptibility was found at all three candidate genes. Discordant results between the three measures of TB status indicate that future research should concentrate immune history at both the population and individual level, nutritional status, and exposure and disease status of household members. Finally, patterns of nucleotide variation at each of the loci studied point to reduced genetic variation at these immune loci, and point the way toward future studies in population history and natural selection.
Lee, Hyeon J., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Suicide Intervention and Gendered Subjectivity in Rural China,' supervised by Dr. Bradley P. Stoner
HYEON JUNG LEE, while a student at Washington University in St. Louis, was awarded a grant in May 2005 to aid research on 'Suicide intervention and gendered subjectivity in rural China,' supervised by Dr. Bradley P. Stoner. The aim of the research was to explore local meanings of suicide as understood by different social actors, such as local officials, doctors and nurses, NGO activists, religious practitioners, and male and female villagers, as well as perceptions of gendered subjectivity related to the different practices and discourses of suicide. Specifically, the researcher focused on how suicide prevention programs construct new concepts of gender as they seek to change local ideas about suicide in rural areas. Fieldwork was carried out from July 2005 through September 2006 in two rural villages in northeastern China, one that has a suicide prevention program and another that does not. Data were gathered through multiple complementary methods, including participant observation, focus groups, in-depth and life story interviews. Additionally, the researcher collected media sources related to suicide and gender in order to develop a more complete understanding of the discourses in Chinese society relating to suicide and gendered subjectivity. Findings reveal that local discourses and practices of suicide are closely related to local conceptions of gender. Suicide prevention programs in rural areas thus focus on changing indigenous ideas about of gender among rural village residents.
Berman, Michael David, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Empathy and the Spread of Neoliberal Selves in the Volunteer Work of a Japanese Religion,' supervised by Dr. Joseph Hankins
Preliminary abstract:In my research, I examine the relationship between empathy and the spread of neoliberalism in contemporary Japan. The relation between new forms of caring engagement and alienation are poignantly expressed in the experience of Rissh? K?sei-kai (RKK), a new religion working to maintain families and communities in Japan. RKK was formed in 1938 as a way to form connections in a time of displacement caused by modernization and war. RKK's members see themselves as continuing this tradition of forming connections, but the ways that members are working to bring people together are different than they were in the past. Members are increasingly interested in short-term volunteering as a way to reach out to suffering others, particularly in areas devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. I will research the ways that empathetic volunteerism affects RKK on an individual and institutional level. I argue that empathetic relationships formed in volunteerism can, paradoxically, undo the types of relations that formerly sustained family and community in Japan. Understanding the effects of such volunteerism on people and groups trying to maintain a way of life based on family and community is vital for understanding the limits of empathetic engagement and the spread of neoliberalism.
Pobiner, Briana L., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Oldowan Hominid Carnivory: Bone Modification Studies at Koobi Fora and Olduvai Gorge,' supervised by Dr. Robert J. Blumenschine
Pobiner, Briana L., Michael J. Rogers, Christopher M. Monahan, and John W.K. Harris. 2008. New Evidence for Hominin Carcass Processing Strategies at 1.5 Ma, Koobi Fora, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 55(1):103-130