Martin, Keir J., U. of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Housebuilding in Rabaul: The Reconstruction of Sociality in a Papua New Guinean City,' supervised by Dr. Karen M.Sykes
KEIR J. MARTIN, while a student at University of Manchester, Manchester, England, received funding in January 2002 to aid research on 'Housebuilding in Rabaul: The Reconstruction of Sociality in a Papua New Guinean City,' supervised by Dr. Karen M. Sykes. The research supported fieldwork to research transactions centered around land and house building at Matupit, Papua New Guinea, as a focus for examining the commodification of Melanesian social life. Research began with a survey of house building at Matupit, and at the Matupit-Sikut resettlement camp where many villagers had moved after Matupit was damaged by volcanic activity in 1994. The survey found out how people had mobilized labor, land, and materials as they rebuilt after the eruption, and asked why so many people had returned to Matupit despite the risks. This survey was followed by in-depth case studies of eight persons building houses during the fieldwork period. This involved continuous re-visiting over a two year period. This enabled a much more detailed analysis of the attitudes towards the transactions outlined in the initial survey. In particular it was possible to examine the extent to which compensating others for their assistance was presented as 'payment' for labor in different contexts. This work was complemented by case studies of a number of land disputes at Matupit and Sikut. As with the house building case studies, this enabled an examination of the different moral perspectives taken towards different relationships or transactions depending upon the person's relationship to others involved in the dispute. For example, the extent to which some people attempted to 'commodify' the customary land transaction of kulia in order to secure their rights over a piece of land was made clear in the context of this research.
Braun, David R., Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Ecology of Oldowan Technology: Koobi Fora and Kanjera South,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris
DAVID R. BRAUN, then a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, received funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Ecology of Oldowan Technology: Koobi Fora and Kanjera South,' supervised by Dr. John W.K. Harris. The ultimate goal of this project was to determine if the archaeological record of Oldowan tool use could be used to determine the impact of stone tool use on hominid adaptive strategies. The two sites investigated in this study (Kanjera South and two localities from the KBS member of the Koobi Fora Formation) are particularly relevant for a description of the significance of stone tool manufacture because of their varied environmental and geographic context. We examined Oldowan technology through three major avenues: 1) experimental and archaeological studies of flaking patterns used by early hominids to extend the use-life of their tools; 2) geochemical and engineering analyses to determine the effect of raw material availability and quality on artifact production and discard in the terminal Pliocene; and 3) comparison of how these factors influenced the industries found in these two different contexts in northern and western Kenya. The synthesis of these three avenues of study have shown that Pliocene hominids were possibly adept at selecting high quality raw materials and may have preferentially transported rocks that had particular physical properties that made them ideal for making stone artifacts. Furthermore, these behaviors seem to be reflected in both basins of varying ecological context, suggesting that this may be an underlying pattern found in the earliest archaeological traces.
Braun, David R., Michael J. Rogers, John W.K. Harris, Steven J. Walker. 2008. Landscape-scale Variation in Hominin Tool Use: Evidence from the Developed Oldowan. Journal of Human Evolution 55(6):1053-1063.
Ruette, Krisna, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Law-Making Processes of Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Movements in Falcon Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Ana Maria Alonso
KRISNA RUETTE, then a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, received funding in October 2006 to aid research on 'Law-Making Processes of Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Movements in Falcon, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Ana Maria Alonso. Dissertation fieldwork was conducted between January-December 2007 in Falcon and Yaracuy, Venezuela, in order to examine how law-making processes shape the discourses and practices of social movements competing for state resources. By conducting archival research, participant observation, household surveys, and semi-structured interviews, this comparative study illustrates how members of an Afro-descendant and an indigenous movement: use, articulate, and circulate different definitions of legal multiculturalism and ethnicity; employ distinct political and legal strategies for negotiating resources with state institutions; enact divergent representations of political agency; and transform their ethno-racial identities as they mobilize. Ethnographic data showed that members of the Afro-descendant movement have developed a wider range of verbal and bodily practices for negotiating access to land in spite of their ethno-racial legal marginality. In contrast, members of the indigenous movement have not been successful in accessing land, even when the state has recognized indigenous peoples land rights. Instead, the indigenous movement has focused on developing strategies for obtaining cultural resources and political visibility. In sum, this study shows how neo-socialist multicultural legislations and state definitions of ethnicity-race shape social movements capacity to access both, material and cultural resources.
Godoy, Irene, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Mechanisms of Inbreeding Avoidance in Cebus Capucinus,' supervised by Dr. Susan Emily Perry
Preliminary Abstract: My research project combines behavioral and genetic data to test the hypothesis that early social familiarity is the mechanism by which capuchins avoid inbreeding with close paternal kin. Alternative hypotheses include phenotypic matching and the use of cues such as age proximity and adult male rank. Additionally, I attempt to determine (1) whether females are more responsible than males for behaviors that prevent inbreeding and (2) what stages in development are crucial for co-socialization to occur in order for sexual aversion to arise later in life. Research will take place over two field seasons. Study subjects will be from two habituated groups of wild, white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) from the Lomas Barbudal population in Costa Rica. Capuchins are excellent models for studying the mechanisms underlying paternal kin recognition because adult males are frequently co-resident with sexually mature full siblings, paternal half siblings, daughters, or granddaughters. Because capuchins' social groups resemble those of human societies in one incredibly important dimension -- the existence of extensive networks of both maternal and paternal kin - research on how capuchins develop sexual aversion toward certain kin types will help shed light on the origins of and variation in incest avoidance across human societies.
Zadnik, Laurel, U. of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid research on 'Converting to Mormonism in Madang, Papua New Guinea: Self, Kinship, and Community,' supervised by Dr. Sandra C. Bamford
LAUREL ZADNIK, then a student at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, received funding in August 2004 to aid research on 'Converting to Mormonism in Madang, Papua New Guinea: Self, Kinship, and Community,' supervised by Dr. Sandra C. Bamford. Field research was carried out from October 2004 to October 2005 and explored the sociocultural implications of the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or 'LDS' Church) in Papua New Guinea. The project focused on the multiple ways that LDS Church members in Papua New Guinea have altered their discourses and practices of self, kinship and community. The data collected from this project will be used to contribute to debates on religious conversion processes, as well as 'modernity' and globalization issues.
Lempert, William David, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'Broadcasting Indigeneity: The Social Life of Aboriginal Media,' supervised by Dr. Jennifer Shannon
Preliminary abstract: In the opening months of 2013, the first national 24-hour Indigenous Australian television networks were launched, representing two distinct sensibilities of Aboriginal media aesthetics and economics--grassroots community vs. polished professional--that have emerged at the local, regional, and now national levels. These Indigenous mass media represent less than 3% of the total population, yet have received desirable slots on the national satellite network that is newly capable of reaching all remote Aboriginal communities. To follow the social lives of Indigenous video projects from initial idea through local reception, I will participate within the production teams at Goolarri and PAKAM, two cohabiting Indigenous media organizations that closely map onto, and disproportionately contribute to, these national networks. Rather than asking what identity is, I seek to complicate and illuminate anthropological understandings of indigeneity by revealing how Indigenous media makers negotiate the manifold often-paradoxical pressures that shape their final products. With unusually high levels of media productivity and success in Aboriginal political activism, the regional hub of Broome and the Aboriginal community of Yungngora in Northwestern Australia will provide an ideal backdrop for articulating the stakes that are at play in the ways in which Indigenous peoples represent different visions of indigeneity.
Barnes, Jessica Emily, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West
JESSICA BARNES, then a student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Farming Fayoum: The Flows and Frictions of Irrigation in Egypt,' supervised by Dr. Paige West. This research asks how farmers' everyday practices of water use in the Fayoum, Egypt, are affected by changes in the national and international context in which they make their decisions, and how farmers' decisions, in turn, shape this context. The research explores the relationship between government policy shifts, international donors' agendas, and farmers' decision-making on water management through analysis of four central themes: 1) water scarcity; 2) management of excess water through drainage; 3) participatory water management; and 4) the diversion of water to irrigate newly reclaimed desert lands. Through participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, this research follows the flows of water across time and space, highlighting the points of friction where the water does not flow. The research builds on the anthropological literature on irrigation, extending it in new ways through bringing in insights from science and technology studies and embedding the study of local irrigation practices within the broader context of national and international, political and economic transitions.
Putt, Shelby Stackhouse, U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - To aid research on 'Experimental Investigation of the Co-evolution of Language and Toolmaking in the Brain: A fNIRS Study,' supervised by Dr. Robert G. Franciscus
Preliminary abstract: Early Stone Age tools offer an indirect window into the cognitive behaviors of early Homo. This study will investigate which regions of the brain are most active in novice and expert flintknappers as they progress from making expedient flakes similar to those made by the first hominin toolmakers 2.5 million years ago to producing large core bifacial stone tools and debitage output similar to the earliest handaxes in the archaeological record around 1.6 million years ago. Specifically, a neuroimaging technique known as functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) will be used to test whether the presence of spoken language during learning conditions leads to measurable differences in neural activation patterning. This study aims to increase the current understanding of the co-evolutionary relationship between technology and language during the time frame of early Homo and to assist in the interpretation of fossil and archaeological evidence for the evolution of cognition and language in human ancestors.
Fiske, Amelia Morel, U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC - To aid research on 'The Making of Harm in the Ecuadorian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Wiener
AMELIA M. FISKE, then a student at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, received a grant in October 2012 to aid research on 'The Making of Harm in the Ecuadorian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Wiener. In 1972, the U.S.-based Texaco Corporation began oil production in the upper Ecuadorian Amazon. For 20 years, the company extracted oil unhindered by regulations designed to protect the health of oil workers or the environment, resulting in widespread environmental destruction and human suffering. The resulting contamination and relationship between oil and health have been widely disputed in the 18-year Aguinda v. Texaco lawsuit, as well as in ongoing conflicts around oil. Since Texaco, oil production has expanded with operations by the state company PetroEcuador, as well as dozens of foreign companies. Harm from oil, in the forms of contaminated water, toxic gas emissions, continual oil spills, health problems, and social division, remains a pressing concern for people in the Amazon today. This project follows contemporary interventions into the question of harm, paying attention to how harm is defined and formed by practices of measurement, documentation, and presentation. This project makes 'harm' the subject of an ethnographic investigation in order to raise questions about the consequences of extractive activity, and how these forms of evaluation may themselves be changing the way life is lived in the Amazon today.
Warner, John Giffen, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Fluid Markets: Citizenship, State Power, and the Informal Water Economy in Contemporary Yemen,' supervised by Dr. Michael Blim
Preliminary abstract: Environmental discourses often locate the origin of Yemen's water crisis in the parallel problems of waning state power and a discordant national identity. Set in the capital Sana'a and the watershed in which it sits, my project is an anthropological study of Yemen's water regime that explores how Yemenis negotiate and understand their increasing reliance on informal urban water markets as they emerge within a proliferating skein of state juridical and regulatory mechanisms. Rather than accept at face value a 'failed state' or 'weak state' hypothesis in the Yemeni case, this project considers how the everyday practices of water provisioning produce and reconfigure the state and economic citizenship under rapidly changing environmental conditions. Through an analysis of archival material and ethnographic research with bureaucratic officials, enforcement officers, well owners, traders, and consumers, I trace the circulation of water through various relations of value, il/legality, and regulation and across multiple and layered technological architectures. In so doing, I investigate how understandings of entitlement, general welfare, and basic human needs articulate with ideas of belonging -- in other words, the material conditions of citizenship -- and with varied modes of rule employed in the ideological and technical development of urban water infrastructures. My research thus interrogates how, through the proliferation of informal market relations, the presence and power of the Yemeni state is still recognized, and perhaps reinforced.