Nelms, Taylor C.N., U. of California, Irvine, CA - To aid research on 'Making Change and Valuing Difference: Dollarization and the Plurinational State in Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Bill Maurer
TAYLOR C.N. NELMS, then a student at University of California, Irvine, California, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Making Change and Valuing Difference: Dollarization and the Plurinational State in Ecuador,' supervised by Dr. Bill Maurer. This research investigates how projects of state transformation in Ecuador -- dollarization, on the one hand, and the institutionalization of 'alternative' economic values, on the other -- are articulated, instantiated, and contested through an ethnography of: 1) two forms of socioeconomic organization, family- and neighborhood-based savings and credit associations and an association of urban market vendors; and 2) encounters between these institutions and actors charged with making them visible to the state. During twelve months of fieldwork, more than 90 semi-structured and informal interviews were conducted across field sites in and around Quito, Ecuador: an urban marketplace; four savings and credit associations; and government offices at the national and municipal level. Participant observation was also carried out in these sites and at conferences, meetings, seminars, protests, and rallies. Archival research and document collection was also conducted. This research shows how dollarization and contemporary state transformation in Ecuador are interconnected, especially in discourses of change and stability. It demonstrates the emic importance of 'trust' in vernacular institution-building and how discourses of solidarity, sovereignty, and suspicion are linked to institutional practice, which then provides the infrastructure for political participation. Finally, this research highlights the role of money in debates about legal and institutional change, the scope of government, and 'representation,' political and semiotic. It does so by exploring the pragmatics of money's diverse uses.
Douny, Laurence, U. College London, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Perspectives on Dogon Cosmogony: An Archaeoethnography of Architectural Space and Forms,' supervised by Dr. Michael J. Rowlands
LAURENCE DOUNY, while a student at University College London in London, England, received funding in February 2003 to aid archaeoethnographic research on Dogon cosmogony as expressed in architectural space and forms, under the supervision of Dr. Michael J. Rowlands. Through fieldwork in the Dogon land of Mali-West Africa, Douny explored the Dogon worldview, or cosmogonic system, as reported in the 1950s by the French ethnologist Marcel Griaule and objectified in Dogon domestic architecture. Instead of producing an elaborate construction of symbolic knowledge embodied in materiality, he offered a more pragmatic and ontological exegesis of Dogon habitat and worldviews. Through systematic observations of embodied praxis and experience of materiality, he examined the nature, structure, and transmission of Dogon ontological worldviews. The bodily, tactile experience of materiality in the making and daily use of a compound revealed Dogon conceptions of the body, the self, and identity. It gave access to Dogon people's perceptions and conceptualizations of their habitat, which they identified as a container for life that provided ontological security, constituted the individual's self, and generated a particular sense of home and an attachment to it. Finally, by recontextualizing in situ an archaeological database provided by the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunden (Netherlands), Douny was able to itemize material changes in Dogon habitat over a period of twenty years, which told of changes in Dogon perceptions, definitions, and conceptualizations of society, the individual, and the environment.
Shabel, Alan B., U. of Berkeley, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Ecology of the Robust Australopithecines: Testing the Wetland Model with Dental Microwear and Isotope Analysis,' supervised by Dr. Anthony D. Barnosky
ALAN B. SHABEL, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in October 2005 to aid research on 'Ecology of the Robust Astralopithecines: Testing the Wetland Model with Dental Microwear and Isotope Analysis,' supervised by Dr. Anthony D. Barnosky. The habitat and dietary preferences of the robust australopithecines (Paranthropus) have been a central concern of paleoanthropologists for over 5O years. No fewer than eight paleoecological reconstructions of Paranthropus have been advanced, including the new durophage-ecotone model. The durophage-ecotone model is based on a morphological analogy between Paranthropus, on the one hand, and consumers of hard-shelled food objects (HSOs) from wetland ecosystems on the other. A unique suite of craniodental features is common to both Paranthropus and the wetland HSO consumers, including an overall massive skull, wide zygomatic arches, prominent sagittal crest, robust dentary, high ascending ramus, expanded postcanine dentition, reduced anterior dentition, and 'puffy' dental cusps. A preliminary analysis of microwear features on the chewing surfaces of robust hominin teeth from South Africa is consistent with a diet of wetland HSOs for Paranthropus in that region. An extensive analysis of trace elements (Sr, Ba, Ca) and carbon isotopes in the tissues of African vertebrates and invertebrates is also consistent with a wetland-based diet for Paranthropus. The new durophage-ecotone model fits the totality of evidence better than any other reconstruction, and the new model provides an ecological mechanism for the coexistence of Paranthropus and Homo in the Plio-Pleistocene of Africa.
Hu, Cameron S., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Bakken Formation and the Nature of American Power,' supervised by Dr. Joseph P. Masco
Preliminary abstract: The proposed study is an ethnography of petrochemical economies, ecological transformation, and imagined futures within the American 'shale revolution,' a near-doubling of US crude oil production made possible by new techniques of hydraulic fracturing ('fracking'). Focused on 'tight oil' extraction from Bakken shale formation in the northern Great Plains, the project asks a) how a powerful new natural resource is 'made' --rather than 'discovered' -- by varieties of material, epistemic, and imaginative work, and b) how the new regime of hydraulic fracturing, along with its ecological side-effects, choreographs collaborations and contentions between American industry, labor, nation-state, and citizen-subjects. This study aims to expand anthropological knowledge of the lifeworlds of energy production, of finite fossil fuels and their imagined future in American culture and economy, and of large-scale, human-induced ecological change. It is based on an anticipated 11 months of archival work, interviews, and participant-observation across critical nodes of petroleum production on the Great Plains, including university research institutes, conferences and expositions, geological surveys, and petrochemical exploration and extraction processes.
Michaels, Ben Justin, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Team Tibet: Soccer as the Performance of Human Rights in the Transnational Tibetan Exile Community,' supervised by Dr. Marvin Sterling
BEN J. MICHAELS, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in May 2010 to aid research on 'Team Tibet: Soccer as the Performance of Human Rights in the Transnational Tibetan Exile Community,' supervised by Dr. Marvin Sterling. For this phase of research, ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in Dharamsala/Mcleod Ganj, India, which is the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the major hub of Tibetan exile life. 2011 became a historic year for the transnational Tibetan exile community as the Dalai Lama announced his retirement from political life and handed over leadership of the Tibetan Government in Exile to an elected prime minister. This marked the next major step in the materialization of his long-envisioned process of Tibetan democratization and emboldened a new generation of politically active Tibetans to embrace their democratic right to disagree with their leaders. Acknowledging dissent as an essential element of the democratic process, this study examines the social mechanisms by which dissenting opinions are either muted at the local level or propagated and allowed to evolve into transnational social movements able to transcend spatial and political boundaries. At the same time, this research highlights some of the generational gaps in social and political views as young Tibetans, raised and educated in exile, use the emergence of new and globally accessible communicative media to express and circulate new ideas throughout the Tibetan world.
Cuffe, Jennifer Lynn, McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Configuring Commensurability: Number and Cultural Diversity in the Evaluation of Traditional Herbal Medicines, Ottawa, Canada,' supervised by Dr. Allan Young
JENNIFER CUFFE, then a student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, was awarded a grant to aid research on 'Configuring Commensurability: Number and Cultural Diversity in the Evaluation of Traditional Herbal Medicines, Ottawa, Canada,' supervised by Dr. Allan Young. The grantee used methods of social anthropology to investigate the measures - the statistics, standards, and numbers - used in the regulatory evaluation of traditional, herbal medicines in Canada. Fieldwork was conducted from August 2006 to September 2007 in a science-based, government directorate mandated to evaluate medicines for safety, efficacy, and quality, while 'respecting … philosophical and cultural diversity.' Participant-observation was centered on working as scientific staff in various capacities for a year. The grantee also formally shadowed the work of a dozen staff, perused internal documents, and conducted 1-3 hour interviews with 40 current scientific staff and 10 other affiliates. Based on the fieldwork experience and preliminary analysis, the research found that, wherever possible, measures in scientific evaluation were made non-manipulable; opportunities for calculation were transformed into opportunities for comparison. Respect for 'philosophical and cultural diversity' was operationalized, in part, as a complex system of classification and standards. This system shaped how scientific staff interpreted the meaning of their own regulatory judgments regarding efficacy, and how they accounted for the incommensurability of medicines from various traditions. In addition the grantee investigated the history of Health Canada's evaluation of traditional medicines, and interviewed and observed members of pertinent industry and research associations.
Ruiz, Yesenia, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'From Poor Campesinos to Tortilla Kings: Mexican Migrant Elites and Transnational Class Formation,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman
YESENIA RUIZ, then a student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'From Poor Campesinos to Tortilla Kings: Mexican Migrant Elites and Transnational Class Formation,' supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman. This research project analyzed an emerging transnational Mexican migrant elite as a new social and economic group that has emerged not from established elites or from privileged backgrounds but from poor peasant families. The majority of these (male) entrepreneur-migrants entered the United States without documents and worked in unskilled jobs for extended periods. Eventually, they began to establish their own businesses in the states of New York and New Jersey and within a twenty-year period have accumulated unprecedented amounts of wealth. Successful in both the US and Mexico, these entrepreneurs are distinct from other transnational migrant groups. They have constructed transnational forms of class mobility, and new notions of ethnicity, citizenship, nationality, as well as innovative socio-economic, political, and solidarity networks shaped by neoliberalism. This research was based on ethnographic research carried out in the Mixteca region of the state of Puebla and New York as well as in New Jersey. It examined the ways in which these transnational entrepreneurs became part of such recent emerging elite in both the US and Mexico. Furthermore, these entrepreneur migrants have established political relations with local politicians in both Mexico and the US. In the last twenty years, members of this entrepreneur group have supported former governors (as well as the current one), senators, and politicians throughout their campaigns in Puebla and in New York. These entrepreneur migrants have gone from being an undocumented worker to becoming 'Tortilla Kings' and millionaire importers of Mexican goods.
Harris, Christina H., CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid 'On the Trail of the Yak: A Social Geography of Tibetan Trade,' supervised by Dr. Neil Smith
CHRISTINA HONJO HARRIS, then a student at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York, received funding in November 2005 to aid 'On the Trail of the Yak: A Social Geography of Tibetan Trade,' supervised by Dr. Neil Smith. This dissertation research examined the past sixty years of social and economic changes along a trade route that crosscuts the eastern Himalayan region. Focusing on two generations of traders in Lhasa, Tibet, Kalimpong, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, the project investigated how infrastructural and political transformations on a larger, regional scale were manifested through three smaller scale, 'everyday' sites of trading activity: 1) The daily acquisition and distribution of material objects, 2) The representation and use of trading spaces, and 3) The facilitation of social and economic networks. In particular, it was found that traders and retailers have produced various kinds of alternative spatial narratives of trade that both take advantage of and counteract major state-centered changes in the economy of the region. In the long-term, the research attempts to contribute to the broader fields of transnational and border studies, placing at its center an explicit conversation between anthropology and geography.
Wilson, Jeremy John, State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Modeling Life and Death in Late Prehistoric West-Central Illinois,' supervised by Dr. Dawnie Lee Wolfe Steadman
JEREMY J. WILSON, then a student at State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Modeling Life and Death in Late Prehistoric West-Central Illinois,' supervised by Dr. Dawnie Wolfe Steadman. Funding enabled analysis of skeletal samples from the Morton Complex and Norris Farms, as well as a trip to the University of Southern Denmark to work on quantitative modeling of bioarchaeological data. These research components contributed to a larger dissertation project assessing demographic and epidemiological variability in the central Illinois River Valley during late prehistory. The paleodemographic analyses demonstrated elevated levels of age-specific adult mortality developed during the latter half of the Mississippian period. Reduced rates of female survivorship coincided with the emergence of large-scale, fortified villages and deteriorating socio-political relations in the valley. The paleoepidemiological analyses demonstrated an association between the demographic parameters and the lesions on bones and teeth. More specifically, significantly different age-specific rates of carious lesion development and progression were observed for the sexes and across time periods. Related temporal and sex-specific patterns were also observed for enamel hypoplasias, dental attrition, tooth loss, and abscesses. These findings support the concepts and methodological concerns established in the 'Osteological Paradox.'. Skeletal samples routinely represent the frailest individuals at a given age with significant evidence for selective mortality.
Wilson, Jeremy J. 2014. Paradox and Promise: Research on the Role of Recent Advances in Paleodemography and Paleoepidemiology to the Study of 'Health' in Precolumbian Societies. American Journal of Phyiscal Anthropology 155(2):268-280.
Maher, Sean K., U. of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Traplines and Tar Sands: An Ethnographic Study of Intersecting Economies in a Sub-Arctic Indigenous Community,' supervised by Dr. Michael T. Bravo
SEAN K. MAHER, while a student at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, received funding in December 2001 to aid ethnographic research on intersecting economies in a subarctic indigenous community in Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Michael T. Bravo. Aboriginal peoples across the Canadian arctic and subarctic have become increasingly integrated into the economic fabric of Canadian society, with concomitant transformations of social values and economic activities. Through field research at Fort Chipewyan, Canada, Maher explored the conceptual and empirical categories that organized, structured, and assigned meaning to economic activities in a 'mixed' indigenous economy. The objective was to uncover conceptual and empirical categories relevant to understanding the mixed economy as a socioeconomic system, as well as the conceptual categories constructed by members of the subarctic community to organize and mediate the intersections of economic systems and their attendant values. Maher's findings suggested that an understanding of contemporary socioeconomic change in indigenous communities can be usefully approached by exploring how those changes are themselves transformed through localized processes of social reproduction and resistance. In particular, the notion of labor-as it is constructed in discursive narratives and practiced in quotidian activities-provides a theoretically and methodologically useful lens through which to examine not only patterns of economy in contemporary northern indigenous communities but also the important links between patterns of economy and the construction of local indigenous histories and identities in former hunting and gathering societies.