LaRocque, Olivier, McGill U., Montreal, QC, Canada - To aid research on 'Ranching and Conservation Covenants in the Foothills Rangelands of Alberta Canada,' supervised by Dr. John G. Galaty
OLIVER LaROCQUE, then a student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Ranching and Conservation Covenants in the Foothills Rangelands of Alberta, Canada,' supervised by Dr. John G. Galaty. 'Conservation' certainly has a busy agenda in the southwest corner of Alberta, famous for its spectacular landscapes and wildlife. The ambitions of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) merged with intense imbroglios waged on behalf of 'nature' that often have little to do with its welfare but that of the multifarious advocates of its various uses and vocations. Through ambitious ranchland purchases, NCC became the region's largest local landlord in a short time -- lucky in timing but culturally insensitive in practice, naïve in discourse, and blundering in methods. Yet it has scored a major upset against the current trend of landscape fragmentation that serves exurban development. The NCC must now contend with the fallout of its improvised land-buying spree (which more expeditious than the negotiation of conservation easement), the legal complexities of which are propelling them towards Supreme Court. This calls for the NCC to get into the trenches of landscape production as equals with their ranching leaseholders, lest they alienate entire communities. Of fundamental research importance (because the conduct of conservation hinges on it) was the project's aim of documenting the choreography of conceptual entrenchments that occur amongst scientists -- who are cast as gatekeepers of valid ecological knowledge -- in contrast with those practitioners who make landscapes happen. Collectively, researchers waver between commitments to taxonomic purity and equilibrial ideals of nature, and the acknowledgement that nature is forever in flux, which discombobulates their world of references propped up with solid baselines and clear benchmarks.
Bogart, Stephanie Lynn, Iowa State U., Ames, IA - To aid research on 'Insectivory and Savanna Apes: Tool Use and Diet of Fongoli Chimpanzees,' supervised by Dr. Jill Daphne Pruetz
STEPHANIE LYNN BOGART, then a student at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Insectivory and Savanna Apes: Tool Use and Diet of Fongoli Chimpanzees,' supervised by Dr. Jill Daphne Pruetz. This research examined the ecology and behavior of Fongoli chimpanzees in southeastern Senegal from August 2006 to August 2008. Ecological data are essential to gain knowledge of the types of habitat at Fongoli, the availability of food resources, and the underlying ecological context of tool use and foraging. Fongoli is a mosaic habitat composed of grassland (47%), plateau (21%), woodland (16%), bamboo (10%), field (4%), forest ecotone (1%), and gallery forest (<1%) with a total rainfall of 674mm during this study. The only closed habitats available for chimpanzees within their 63km2 range are forest ecotone and gallery forest. Feeding trees are denser in these closed habitats; however, the Fongoli chimpanzees do not seem to lack fruit resources. Fongoli does not contain colobus monkeys, known to be the major prey species at other chimpanzee sites. The Fongoli chimpanzees consume termites all year, which is uncommon. This study explores the insectivorous diet and its potential as a nutritive resource for the Fongoli chimpanzees. Approximately 900 hours of behavioral data were collected in conjunction with 15 hours of video. Data obtained from observations and ecology will provide a qualitative and quantitative understanding of Fongoli's environment and its impact on the chimpanzees.
Bogart, Stephanie L., and Jill D. Pruetz. 2011. Insectivory of Savanna Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 145(1):11-20.
Bogart, S.L., J.D. Preutz, L.K. Ormiston, J.L. Russell, A. Meguerditchian, and W.D. Hopkins. 2012. Termite Fishing Laterality in the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus): Further Evidence of a Left Hand Preference. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149(4):591-598.
Pav, Brent Ryan, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Social Relationships and Gestural Communication in Wild Chimpanzees,' supervised by Dr. John C. Mitani
BRENT RYAN PAV, then a student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Social Relationships and Gestural Communication in Wild Chimpanzees,' supervised by Dr. John C. Mitani. Several theories exist about how, when, and why language evolved. One prominent theory suggests that the use of gestures played an important role in the evolution of language. Despite this hypothesis, few data exist regarding how our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, use gestures in their natural social and environmental settings. This project attempts to fill this gap in knowledge through a systematic study of wild chimpanzee gestural communication. Specifically, the kinds of gestures used by wild chimpanzees were documented, who used them, with whom, how frequently, and the responses that they elicited. A key component of this research is to test hypotheses designed to examine the effects of social relationships on gesturing behavior. Fieldwork was conducted at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda, where an unusually large community of chimpanzees resides. Focal animal sampling and ad libitum behavioral observations were used to obtain the requisite data. Results derived from this research provide some of the very first information about gestural communication by wild chimpanzees and furnish a basis for evaluating the gestural hypothesis of language origins.
Fox, Samantha Maurer, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'EisenhüttenSTADT IM UMBAU: Imagining New Futures in a Post-Socialist City,' supervised by Dr. Brian Larkin
Preliminary abstract: Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany has been a city defined by a series of imagined futures since it was founded in 1950. Originally called Stalinstadt, it was conceived as the East German state's socialist utopia. Today it is a key site in the German government's push to transform post-industrial cities in the former East Germany into icons of green urbanism, most notably via the consolidation of sparsely populated urban areas and a rapid, often disruptive push to rely on renewable energy sources. My dissertation investigates the role that housing and electricity play in the transformation of Eisenhüttenstadt. I examine how residents interact with and talk about the transformations in their cityscape, and how such engagements fulfill or subvert planners' expectations. I also examine the ideologies of state socialism that lay behind the city's planning and investigate how such ideologies were manifested and experienced. Considering that the same built space has come to serve as a model for strikingly different conceptions of society and urbanization, Eisenhüttenstadt is an ideal site in which to investigate fundamental claims in anthropology about how built space produces social subjects and collectivities, as well as how new urban futures are established and enacted.
Suhail, Adeem, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Dead Dreams and Boys With Pistols: Rethinking Urban Violence in Lyari Town, Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. David Nugent
Preliminary abstract: Within the space of a decade, the township of Lyari transformed from a peaceful neighborhood known to be a bastion of working-class solidarity to an urban war-zone marked by violence between street gangs organized along ethnic lines. This study seeks to answer the question why. Hitherto, anthropological inquiry has either taken an 'objectivist' route that explains urban violence as a by-product of 'larger forces'; or a 'subjectivist' approach that highlights the lived experience of precariousness. However, between the analytical binaries of global/local and space/place are people who constantly innovate and reorganize their lives in response to circumstances that are not of their own making. This research project explores a 'third way' between objectivist and subjectivist approaches. It tests the hypothesis that urban violence can be explained through a close study of the evolution of social organization. It further explores the merits of the claim that evolving social forms mediate between local actors and global forces and constitute the optimal analytic scale through which to understand the recurrent and ubiquitous phenomenon of urban violence in our times.
Keimig, Rose Kay, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Growing Old in China's New Nursing Homes,' supervised by Dr. Marcia Inhorn
ROSE K. KEIMIG, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in April 2012 to aid 'Growing Old in China's New Nursing Homes,' supervised by Dr. Marcia Inhorn. The greying of Chinese society is a pressing issue as models predict the population of people over age 60 will more than double by 2050, accounting for 30 percent of the total population. A combination of reduced family support due to the one child policy and reduced state support due to massive privatization of social services has increased the demand for private eldercare facilities and prompted twelve months of anthropological research on aging and caregiving in Kunming, China. During that time, interviews and participant observation were conducted with caregivers, elders, and their families in nursing homes, hospitals, and public spaces. Results from the research indicate that living in a nursing home is 'the choice when you have no choice.' The main reasons for institutionalization include illness, disability, the busyness of adult children, and a complex interaction between parental and filial love. Data also suggest that rather than weakening familial bonds, in many cases nursing homes serve as a way to maintain, or even strengthen, familial bonds in a society where needs are becoming ever more differentiated and individualized. Issues of charity, euthanasia, religion, and volunteerism also arose during interviews and conversations and point to other areas of changing moralities.
Bakker, Sarah Aaltje, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. Melissa L. Caldwell
SARAH AALTJE BAKKER, then a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received a grant in May 2009, to aid research on 'Ancient Moderns: Claiming Middle Eastern Christian Identity in the Netherlands,' supervised by Dr. Melissa L. Caldwell. This dissertation research examines debates among Syriac Orthodox Christians living in the Netherlands about how to be religiously, culturally, and ethnically distinct despite the narrative binary of Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East that dominates the secular discourse of Dutch multiculturalism. This ethnographically based project focuses on Dutch-Syriac efforts to cultivate a distinct moral identity that encompasses both their religious commitment to an ancient, sacred past -- as well as their political aspirations to achieve recognition as an indigenous ethnic group in the Middle East -- through international diasporic activism. This identity is crafted and contested through the practice of liturgical song (the focal point of Syriac religious observance and cultural performance), and then deployed via political advocacy and activism in a broader global field. In this study, musical expression and moral identity emerge as distinct yet entangled threads from Syriac Orthodox Christian engagements with the Dutch multiculturalism debates and with international geopolitical conversations about secularism, political identity, and religious identity. Even as they negotiate persistent marginalization and misrecognition, Middle Eastern Christians unsettle the racial and religious categories undergirding the popular narrative of Judeo-Christian secular Europe, defining new conceptions of religious difference within a plural Europe.
Nickrenz, Elizabeth Hadley, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Drawing the Autism Spectrum: A Multi-Method Ethnography of Neurodiversity in North America,' supervised by Dr. Richard Paul Taub
ELIZABETH H. NICKRENZ, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in April 2008, to aid research on 'Drawing the Autism Spectrum: A Multi-Method Ethnography of Neurodiversity in North America,' supervised by Dr. Richard Taub. The new diagnostic category of 'autism spectrum disorders' has risen to extraordinary prominence over the past thirty years -- and with it, new forms of neurological identities and identity politics. This study documents how individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, their families, and the professionals who work with them, draw upon ideas about culture, identity, and medicine to build new meanings for autism spectrum disorders. During 2008 and 2009, participant observation and semi-structed interviews were conducted in a number of sites where the definition of Asperger's Syndrome -- a controversial autism spectrum disorder diagnosis -- are negotiated and put into practice, including public and private school classrooms, a psychiatric clinic, a research center, and support groups. As individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders weave together narratives from medicine, bioscience, clinical psychology, science fiction, and contemporary civil rights movements, they challenge and transform divisions between self and other, between nature and artifice, and between the biological and social sciences. Yet, as this research shows, it is the conflicting demands within ideals of American selfhood -- to be both highly specific and highly flexible, both authentically spontaneous and socially appropriate -- that continue to drive deep divisions within the autism community.
Dumes, Abigail Anne, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'The U.S. Lyme Disease Controversy: Medical Knowledge, Biopolitics, and the Environment,' supervised by Dr. Marcia Claire Inhorn
ABIGAIL A. DUMES, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded a grant in January 2011, to aid research on 'The U.S. Lyme Disease Controversy: Medical Knowledge, Biopolitics, and the Environment,' supervised by Dr. Marcia C. Inhorn. This project examined the controversy that surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the United States. In particular, it investigated why, in a new era of 'evidence-based medicine' (i.e., the paradigmatic shift toward the scientific standardization of biomedical practice), there are two emergent 'standards of care' for Lyme disease and, more critically, how these standards of care are intimately linked to understandings of political power and the natural environment. Through ethnographic fieldwork conducted among Lyme disease patients, physicians, and scientists throughout the Northeast, the researcher explored: 1) the relationship between evidence-based medicine and the production and practice of biomedical knowledge; 2) attitudes toward the political regulation of Lyme diagnosis and treatment; and 3) changing understandings of the natural environment, as they affect and are affected by understandings of Lyme disease. The findings of this research suggest that, although intended to standardize medical practice, evidence-based medicine amplifies differences in opinion by creating a formula for reproducible legitimacy. In the case of Lyme disease, it also produces a platform for political legibility and the manageability of environmental risk.
Sherpa, Pasang Yangjee, Washington State U., Pullman, WA - To aid research on 'Sherpa Perceptions of Climate Change: Local Understandings of a Global Problem,' supervised by Dr.. John Bodley
PASANG YANGJEE SHERPA, then a student at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, received a grant in April 2011, to aid research on 'Sherpa Perceptions of Climate Change: Local Understanding of a Global Problem,' supervised by Dr. John Bodley.