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.
Hazel, Mary-Ashley, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Sexually Transmitted Disease, Ecology, and Reproduction among the Tjimba/Himba: A Pastoral Community in Transition,' supervised by Dr. Bobbi Stiers Low
MARY-ASHLEY HAZEL, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'Sexually Transmitted Disease, Ecology, and Reproduction among the Tjimba/Himba: A Pastoral Community in Transition,' supervised by Dr. Bobbi Stiers Low. Human Behavioral Ecology predicts that certain variability in reproductive strategies will be associated with differential access to resources. If individuals who have a more ecological vulnerable resource base use reproductive strategies as a means to optimize resource access, then there should also be an accompanying, predictable pattern of variability in measurable reproductive health markers, such as burden of sexually transmitted disease (STD). This project based in Namibia conducts an interdisciplinary exploration of the association of cultural, ecological, and behavioral factors with STD risk among the Tjimba/Himba, a southern African agro-pastoral community experiencing economic and cultural transitions. This research attempts to: 1) explore the variability in viral and non-viral STD rates between villages as a function of wealth, urban proximity and frequency of migration; 2) determine how ecological vulnerability impacts STD risk; and 3) contextualize STD risk within the changing cultural landscape of the Tjimba/Himbas. STD morbidity and mortality is both an academic and practical concern for scientists. A complete study of STDs explores epidemiological and ecological correlates as well as the cultural impact at both the individual level and population level; this study therefore approaches these issues with the theoretical and methodological tools of multiple disciplines, including cultural anthropology, behavioral ecology and epidemiology.
Bernstein, Alissa Shira, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Making Health Reform Policy in Bolivia,' supervised by Dr. Charles Biggs
ALISSA S. BERNSTEIN, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Making Health Reform Policy in Bolivia,' supervised by Dr. Charles Biggs. Recent studies in the medical anthropology of global health have noted a shift away from a public health model focused on local communities towards the globalization and privatization of healthcare. In Latin America, major moves have been made in the area of health reform that explicitly react to health privatization. Health policy being developed in Bolivia seeks not only to socialize the country's strained health care system, but also to incorporate indigenous models of health into public health policy, while still negotiating reliance on remnants of health privatization of the previous 'neoliberal' government. While scholars in the anthropology of public policy have generally viewed the making and implementation of health policies as distinct phases, this research in Bolivia suggests that these processes are closely intertwined in the form of a circuit. This project suggests that the policy making process in Bolivia involved a uniquely collaborative approach to the planning, making, revising, and implementation of the policy, and pays attention to what debates, revisions, and attempts at conciliation of different ideas amongst actors in the process were involved in negotiating both local ideas and global health shifts in the process. The research also argues that health policy in Bolivia did not emerge as a singular, static document but rather proliferated both in its process of design and as it circulated, taking different forms in order to fit within different communities and sectors of the Bolivian health care system. This study thus looks not just at the impacts of a policy in practice, but also how specific practices that are important to governing are formed and debated at times of political reform. This project will advance understandings of the contingent processes of the making and circulation of health policy, and will contribute to scholarship in the anthropology of Latin America with an approach that turns upstream to understand how health reform policy is situated, engaged, and fraught along political and cultural lines.
Lewis, Cecil M., U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'Biological Affinity at Chen Chen, Peru: A Molecular Genetic Study of a Tiwanaku V Community,' supervised by Dr. Anne C. Stone
CECIL M. LEWIS, then a student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was awarded a grant in May 2002 to aid research on 'Biological Affinity at Chen Chen, Peru: a Molecular Genetic Study of a Tiwanaku V Community,' supervised by Dr. Anne C. Stone. During the Middle Horizon (A.D. 500-1000), materials belonging to the Tiwanaku tradition were present in areas of Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile. While the geographical breadth of this tradition suggests that it was one of the most influential pre-Inca polities in the Andes, the nature of the Tiwanaku culture is not well understood. Archaeological researchers suggested that within and among some Tiwanaku communities were different ethnic groups sharing a broader Tiwanaku identity. These ethnic groups may have represented Andean ayllus, a form of identity in which group membership was linked to a shared common ancestor. The primary objective of this research was to test the hypothesis that the Tiwanaku community of Chen Chen M1 was composed of multiple maternal ayllus. The assumption of this analysis was that ayllus could be recognized by correlations between mtDNA haplogroups and mortuary data. Thus, nonparametric statistics were applied to mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and mortuary attributes for 23 individuals who were buried within the Chen Chen Ml cemetery. There were no significant correlations among these variables. In conclusion, this multiple matri-ayllu model of the identity was unsupported. In addition to the first objective, the Chen Chen mtDNA data were compared to data from 26 contemporary and one ancient Native American population to evaluate temporal and spatial continuity. Correspondent analysis and chi-square results did not reject the common hypothesis that the Chen Chen community originated from a migration; however, the analyses did support significant levels of gene flow in this region before the influence of Tiwanaku people.
Lewis, Cecil M., Jr., Jane E. Buikstra, and Anne C.Stone. 2007. Ancient DNA and Genetic Continuity in the South Central Andes. Latin American Antiquity 18(2):145-160.
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.
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.
Grayman, Jesse Hession, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Localizing the Global Discourse on Humanitarianism: Indonesian NGO Workers and Tsunami Relief in Aceh,' supervised by Dr. Byron Good
JESSE GRAYMAN, then a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received funding in May 2006 to aid research on 'Localizing the Global Discourse on Humanitarianism: Indonesian NGO Workers and Tsunami Relief in Aceh,' supervised by Dr. Byron Good. The earthquake and tsunami disasters of 26 December 2004 ushered in a critical historical moment for the Indonesian province of Aceh, a moment tied inextricably to the arrival of many local and international humanitarian relief organizations working in the region. The purpose of this research is to observe and analyze the social effects of the humanitarian presence in Aceh following this unprecedented natural disaster. The research is situated within anthropological debates about humanitarian interventions that have arisen alongside the growth and increasing importance of humanitarian organizations in the management of world affairs. In particular, this study identifies the Indonesian staffs of international organizations providing tsunami relief and post-conflict assistance in Aceh as a 'site' for ethnographic inquiry into these debates. An ethnography of local NGO staffs sits within and potentially connects a triad of established ethnographic sites that characterize the humanitarian narrative: ethnographies of the bureaucratic state, the voiceless refugee, and the international humanitarian. The NGO worker is not merely a link between the three corners of this triad, but also an embodiment and bearer of local logics of intervention, always tailoring the demands of the humanitarian narrative to contingencies on the ground, often with unexpected outcomes.
Allison, Jill D., Memorial U., St. John's, Canada - To aid research on '(In) Fertile Ground: Contradictory Conceptions in Assisted Reproduction in Ireland,' supervised by Dr. Robin G. Whitaker
JILL D. ALLISON, then a student at Memorial University, St. John's, Canada, was awarded a grant in January 2005 to aid research on '(In) Fertile Ground: Contradictory Conceptions in Assisted Reproduction in Ireland,' supervised by Dr. Robin G. Whitaker. This research examined the social challenges and paradoxes that surround infertility and its treatment in relation to rapid and recent social and economic change in the Republic of Ireland. Recent changes include economic growth, new economic and political links with the European Union, and declining public confidence in social power of the Roman Catholic Church within Ireland. Less overt factors in the infertility experience emerge from debates around the traditional definition of family and its significance to Irish political identity, the long-standing issue of abortion politics, and the meaning of the constitutionally protected 'right to life of the unborn' in relation to increasingly available assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in Ireland. Based on in-depth interviews with people who have experienced difficulty conceiving, the researcher explored the way they contend with moral and ethical challenges posed by technological innovations in infertility treatment, how they make decisions between medical or social options that may or may not be available, and the impact of infertility itself in a climate of changing social values. In spite of continuing emphasis on the traditional family as the site of social, moral, and political stability in Ireland, the research suggests that women dealing with infertility are challenging the institutionally and discursively constituted meanings of motherhood, conception, and fertility that have been the cornerstones of their subjective identities.
Tabor, Nathan Lee Marsh, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'The Politics and Patronage of Urdu Poetry in the Contemporary Indian Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali
NATHAN TABOR, then a student at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded a grant in May 2008, to aid research on 'The Politics and Patronage of Urdu Poetry in the Contemporary Indian Public Sphere,' supervised by Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali. The project seeks to understand relationships among minority language aesthetics, civil society, and the state by examining the political relevance of poetic texts and the ways in which communities are built around literary circulation and consumption. The grantee examines these themes in the context of Urdu language poetry symposia (mushairah) within North Indian agroindustrial towns. The mushairah is an Indo-Persian recitational space for the circulation and enjoyment of literary and ethical knowledges. In the years following India's partition and the communalization of Urdu as a Muslim language, the mushairah has become a constituent institution of vernacular mass media that target lettered and unlettered Muslim minorities. Based on participant observation, interviews, and literary historiography, Tabor's project analyzes the importance of public Urdu poetry recitational gatherings in the circulation and enjoyment of populist Muslim politics, showing how ethical and aesthetic concerns simultaneously undergird minority publics within India's plural democracy.
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.