Nalley, Thierra Kennec, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Suspensory Locomotion and the Neck: Analysis of Cervical Vertebrae in Living Primates and Fossil Hominins,' supervised by Dr. William H. Kimbel
THIERRA K. NALLEY, then a student at Arizona State University, Tucson, Arizona, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Suspensory Locomotion and the Neck: Analysis of Cervical Vertebrae in Living Primates and Fossil Hominins,' supervised by Dr. William H. Kimbel. This project examines the functional morphology of cervical vertebrae (i.e., the bony neck) of extant primates, with the goal of using the cervical spine to test hypotheses regarding positional behaviors in early hominins. Three biomechanical models guided the study's extant component: the suspensory, postural, and head-balancing models. Broadly, results were equivocal and no specific predictions were supported across all vertebral levels for both sexes. However, some patterns did emerge from the results. Specifically, analyses demonstrated that the suspensory and postural models received more support in the lower half of the cervical spine (C4-e7) compared to the upper (CI-e3). Results also revealed that the head-balancing model received the strongest support; in contrast to the suspensory or postural models, this evidence was concentrated in the upper half of the cervical spine. Fossil analyses revealed that early hominins, including Homo erectus, were clearly distinct from modern humans. Univariate analyses found that fossil morphology could generally not be distinguished from other anthropoid taxa, but multivariate analyses of overall cervical shape demonstrated that fossil taxa were most similar to extant apes. Overall, these results suggest that modern human cervical morphology did not appear in the hominin fossil record until late into the Pleistocene.
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.
Semel, Beth M., Massachusetts Inst. of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Speech, Signal, Symptom: Psychiatric Diagnosis and the Making of Algorithmic Listening in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Graham M. Jones
Preliminary abstract: While traditional techniques of psychiatric diagnosis in North America pivot on clinicians' capacity to interpret the content of patients' speech, this dissertation follows mental health research teams in the academic, commercial, and military arenas that have enlisted the work of computer engineers to develop alternate means of deciphering the biomedical significance of behavioral symptoms. These teams of psychiatrists and signal analysts--computer engineers trained to parse, extract, digitize and process complex signals--are all working to produce technology that they hope will identify connections between inner, psychological states and paralinguistic features of speech (pitch, intonation, prosody, etc.), bypassing the content of speech altogether. I investigate these multidisciplinary research projects with attention to researchers' talk about language and mind and to how the software is designed and tested. Why do researchers insist that their technologies will be agnostic to culture, language, and gender differences, and how are these assumptions objectified in the algorithms they build? How do they envision this diagnostic technology in terms of its capacity to reconfigure the relationship between the speaking and listening subjects in the diagnostic encounter? Moreover, how does the flow of techniques, technologies, and technologists across the domains in which the researchers work pave the way for the permeation of the models of listening, speaking, and self that signal analysts enact into other arenas of listening? Against the backdrop of increased ambivalence toward technologies of surveillance in the U.S. after 9/11, this dissertation considers how signal analysis itself may reinforce linkages between mental health, national security, and commerce.
Hota, Pinky, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'From Forest to Nation: Tribal Youth's Participation in Hindu Nationalism,' supervised by Dr. Richard Schweder
PINKY HOTA, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding at May 2007 to aid research on 'From Forest to Nation: Tribal Youth's Participation in Hindu Nationalism,' supervised by Dr. Richard Schweder. This dissertation analyzes the ways in which a violent Hindu nationalist pedagogy has spread in the tribal majority district of Kandhamal in Orissa, India. In so doing, it describes processes through which Hindu nationalist ideologues prescribe an ethical framework of piety and violence against Christian Others in the region, which when followed, index the 'good Hindu' status of tribal communities. The dissertation demonstrates that tribal participants follow such an ethical framework, not just to perform their Hindu morality, but to manage and channel their experiences of marginalization in their everyday lives marked by social and state abandonment. It argues that Kandha participation in Hindu nationalist piety and violence cannot be explained merely by the social, material, and historical forces that structure the lives of Kandha tribals. Rather, it posits that an affective framework is essential in analyzing the participation of Kandha tribals, as these forces impact the affective experiences of communities in ways that exceed the mere sum of their individual effects. Further, it points to the formation of a new subaltern sociopolitical identity in contemporary India, as tribal subalterns transition from 'victims' to violent aggressors through participation in hegemonic nationalist politics.
Meierhoff, James Walter, U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Historic Tikal: Refugee Exploitation of the Last Maya Frontier,' supervised by Dr. Joel Palka
JAMES W. MEIERHOFF, then a student at University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Historic Tikal: Refugee Exploitation of the Last Maya Frontier,' supervised by Dr. Joel Palka. The project investigated the remains of a nineteenth century village at the ancient Maya City of Tikal. This village is contemporaneous with the migration of Yucatec-speaking Maya who were fleeing the violence of the Caste War of Yucatan, and settled in the sparsely occupied frontier zone on the edge of three distinct colonial and national entities: Mexico, Guatemala, and British Honduras. It is hypothisized that the positioning of this village in an area conceived of as frontier space by the surrounding societies facilitated the ability the inhabitants to renegotiate trade and social relationships with these groups. In 2014, four historic households were investigated by locating their stone hearths and associated trash deposits with metal detectors. The trash deposits surrounding the habitation sites suggest a robust trade relationship with the outlining societies. Foreign trade items of metal, glass, and 'white wear' ceramics were found in abundance, and often in reusable condition. Local forest products, such as diverse animal remains and possibly reused ancient stone tools, were also present. Continued analysis of the artifacts from the historic Tikal village will continue to inform on life in the Last Maya Frontier, and the materiality of the refugee experience.
Cowgill, Libby Windred, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Ontogeny of Long Bone Diaphyses in Immature Late Pleistocene Postcrania,' supervised by Dr. Erik Trinkaus
LIBBY W. COWGILL, then a student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded a grant in April 2006 to aid research on 'Ontogeny of Long Bone Diaphyses in Immature Late Pleistocene Postcrania,' supervised by Dr. Erik Trinkaus. While studies of adult remains have identified patterns of temporal variation in postcranial robusticity, relatively less research has focused on possible differences in developmental trajectories that result in variable levels of skeletal robusticity in the adult form. This study aims to clarify the developmental basis for the acquisition of adult postcranial strength in both Late Pleistocene and Holocene humans by addressing two research questions: When during growth do the differences in postcranial strength that differentiate Late Pleistocene and Holocene adults manifest themselves in subadults? Are immature Late Pleistocene individuals attaining postcranial strength at the same rate and following the same pattern as Holocene subadults? Cross-sectional geometry was used to compare the developmental trajectories of humeral, tibial, and femoral growth in Late Pleistocene Neandertal and modern human subadults (N=104) to a sample of immature humans from seven geographically diverse Holocene populations (N=621). The results of this research indicate that populational differences in postcranial robusticity emerge early in development. While many of these differences are likely related to activity pattern variation, the early onset of populational variation during growth implies that other factors, including nutrition and genetics, may play an important role in the development of long bone strength. While individual variation is common, cross-sectional geometric properties of immature Late Pleistocene individuals generally show modestly elevated levels of postcranial strength. These results highlight the complex mosaic of processes that result in adult postcranial robusticity, and suggest that further exploration of the developmental interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic influences on skeletal robusticity will likely enhance our understanding of adult postcranial morphology.
Cowgill, George L. 2015. We Need Better Chronologies: Progress in Getting Them. Latin American Antiquity 26(1):26-29.
Cowgill, Libby W. 2010. The Ontogeny of Holcene and Late Pleistocene Human Postcranial Strength. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 141(1):16-37.
Cowgill, Libby W. 2007. Humeral Torsion Revisited: A Functional and Ontogenetic Model for Populational Variation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 134(4):472-481.
Cowgill, Libby W., Erik Trinkaus, and Melinda A. Zeder. 2007 Shanidar 10: A Middle Paleolithic Immature Distal Lower Limb from Shanidar Cave, Iraqi Kurdistan. Journal of Human Evolution 53(2):213-223.
Cowgill, Libby W., Anna Warrener, Herman Pontzer, and Cara Ocobock. 2010. Waddling and Toddling: The Biomechanical Effects of an Immature Gait. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143(1):52-61.
Cowgill, Libby W., Courtney D. Eleazer, Benjamin M. Auerback, et al. 2012. Developmental Variation in Ecogeographic Body Proportions. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148(4):557-570.
Roy, Arpita, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Particle Physics and the Anthropology of Right and Left,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow
ARPITA ROY, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'Particle Physics and the Anthropology of Right and Left,' supervised by Dr. Paul Rabinow. In November 2009, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland, is slated to start high-energy proton collisions as a probe into the structure of matter and forces of nature. The research project inquires into modern cosmology through a specific and concrete concept -- chirality or handedness -- with the underlying question, 'What does physics admit of orientation?' If physics presupposes a separation of mind and matter, or subject and object, then how can it base a physical universe with a preferred orientation? If it does not, then what is the relevance of handedness in its discourse? As an object of study in symbolic classification, handedness has a rich genealogy in anthropological thought. The project draws upon and integrates classical anthropological themes with ongoing fieldwork experience at CERN to establish how the concept acquires its present rationality in the framework of relativistic quantum mechanics and symmetries of space-time. Not only are particular concepts (of physics) like momentum, velocity or spin implicated in the study of chirality, but also other abstract ones of space, substance, relation, and form. It is to this discussion that the research makes a contribution. The research is timely both for what it says about the substantive nature of physics and about collaborative practices more generally.
Wille, Sarah J., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'The Social Role of Objects: Investigating Artifact Life Histories at Chau Hiix, Belize' supervised by Dr. K. Anne Pyburn
SARAH J. WILLE, while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, received funding in November 2004 to aid research on 'The Social Role of Objects: Investigating Artifact 'Life Histories' at Chau Hiix, Belize,' under the supervision of Dr. K. Anne Pyburn. Analysis of Maya ceramics and other artifacts addressed specific questions concerning the function and meaning of an elaborate, site-center deposit near an important civic-ceremonial structure, while also considering the social role of deposited objects. Research provided a clearer picture of Later Classic period (ca. AD 800-1100) artifacts at Chau Hiix. Preliminary analysis of material in 2003 suggested the deposit served as an offering. Three systems of artifact classification (typological, analytical, and biographical) were employed to help evaluate the hypothesis that the deposit resulted from ritual termination action in the Terminal Classic, a period in Northern Belize characterized by continuity and change. Additional research involved intra-site comparative analysis of the data with similar ritual artifact assemblages from Later Classic burials and several caches. Over 5200 diagnostic ceramics and approximately 3700 lithic fragments were analyzed, and a representative sample was illustrated and photographed, as were all unique material finds including modified bone and shell, jade, and obsidian. While research will require further scrutiny of the data, preliminary results suggest the huge quantity of open vessel forms, stylized blackware vases, and unique material items do not indicate the deposit was an everyday midden, and instead represent the remains of some type of termination ritual, feasting event, or deposited 'specialized' trash.
MacLeod, Joshua Peter, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Mega-Projects, Nature, and Social Movements in Post-Conflict Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Kay B. Warren
JOSHUA P. MacLEOD, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Mega-Projects, Nature, and Social Movements in Post-Conflict Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Kay B. Warren. This dissertation fieldwork grant funded ethnographic research realized in 2012 based in Guatemala City and in the highland towns of Nebaj and Chajul, Quiché, on changing forms of social mobilization and violence in Guatemala. The research project focuses on the construction of natural resource based 'mega-projects'-such as hydroelectric dams or open-pit mines-by the Guatemalan government and transnational corporations and the communal and national responses to these mega-projects, especially by indigenous communities and organizations. The research involved three areas of investigation: an analysis of the politico-economic transformations that have contributed to the current emphasis on the extraction and accumulation of natural resources; an investigating into what extent recent indigenous mobilizations are a resurgence of identity politics or a new socio-political moment where indigenous peoples are articulating an alternative political agenda for all citizens; and an exploration of how historical memories of counterinsurgent violence are resonant with contemporary conflicts. Fieldwork was unexpectedly extended by two occurences towards the end of the research period: the eruption of massive social protest in the town of Barillas over a hydro dam and the consequent declaration of martial law; and the trial, conviction, and posterior annulation of the conviction of former head of state, Efraín Ríos Montt, for genocide and crimes against the Ixil-Maya during the Guatemalan civil war in 1982-83.