Cepek, Dr. Michael Lewis, U. of Texas, San Antonio, TX - To aid research on 'Dureno Uno: A Cofán Politics of Oil and Loss'
Preliminary abstract: This project will investigate relations between the oil industry and the Cofán people of western Amazonia in order to explore an important challenge of 21st century indigenous politics: the simultaneous articulation of cultural loss and cultural continuity in situations of extreme environmental change. Its setting is the northeastern corner of Ecuador, one of the world's twelve OPEC nations. Utilizing participant-observation, interviews, and an analysis of household economy, the study will produce a phenomenological account of oil production from the perspective of the residents of Dureno, a Cofán community that has suffered more than four decades of oil-related contamination, deforestation, and dispossession. The project's guiding insight is the notion that culture can both provoke and trouble a response to the forces that threaten it. The central research questions derive from the idea that the same cultural structures that enabled Cofán people to constitute oil as an existential threat also complicated the emergence of their opposition to petroleum-based development. By investigating how the people of Dureno gradually came to understand their encounter with oil as an experience of ambivalent, resistible loss, this study will shed new light on the ways in which culture and politics mediate the human consequences of environmental destruction.
Riley, Dr. Erin Phelps, San Diego State U., San Diego, CA - To aid research on 'Becoming Together: Combining Ethology and Ethnography to Explore the Human-macaque Interface during the Process of Habituation'
Preliminary abstract: Ethnoprimatology explores the ecological, social, and cultural interconnections between humans and other primates. Since the field was first coined in 1997 by ecological anthropologist, Leslie Sponsel, researchers have investigated a diverse array of topics including, human-primate disease transmission, human-primate overlapping resource use and conflict, primate tourism, and the ways primates figure into human folklore and mythology. One facet of the human-primate interface that remains largely unexplored from an ethnoprimatological perspective is habituation. Habituation -- defined as when wild animals accept a human observer as a neutral element of their environment -- has long been considered a critical first step for successful primate fieldwork. Although primatologists have explored how to accomplish habituation, little attention has been paid to habituation as a relational and mutually modifying process that occurs between human observers and their primate study subjects. Drawing from recent scholarship in ethnoprimatology, human-animal studies, and science studies, my research objective is to use a hybrid methodology, integrating ethology and ethnography, to examine the habituation of moor macaques (Macaca maura) as both a scientific and intersubjective process. In doing so, I hope to encourage the practice of a more reflexive primatology and create new space for intellectual exchange across the subfields of anthropology.
Moore, Dr. Amelia, U. of Miami, Miami, FL - To aid research on 'Redeveloping the Ephemeral Islands in an Era of Planetary Change: The Politics and Aesthetics of Sustainable Design in the Bahamas'
Preliminary abstract: This research project will investigate the contemporary politics and aesthetics of sustainable destination design in The Bahamas. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas consists of over 700 islands and cays stretching for several hundred miles in the mid-Atlantic. Like many island states in the region, The Bahamas' economy hinges on the growth of international tourism, and The Bahamas has long been a Caribbean leader in the development of its 'tourism product.' There is now a growing acknowledgement amongst Bahamian and foreign ecological experts that the large-scale energy and resource consumptive resort model of the 20th Century is an unsustainable product. This realization, combined with the greening of the international tourism industry in response to anthropogenic planetary change, has inspired several Bahamian developers to design and begin to build 'sustainable island destinations.' To examine the creation of small island appropriate design models, this project will investigate the building practices, discourse, and design aesthetics of Bahamian and foreign developers, marketing officials, resort employees, tourists, and island residents. At stake are representations of the world's small islands and their future built environments as well as the livelihoods of thousands of Bahamian citizens and immigrants who depend on international travel trends for the maintenance of their standard of living.
Klaits, Dr. Frederick, State U. of New York, Buffalo, NY - To aid research on 'Life for Life: Charismatic Gifts and Social Reproduction in African-American Urban Churches'
Preliminary abstract: This project explores how members of predominantly African-American charismatic Christian churches in Buffalo, New York make tithes and donations in order to secure material and spiritual benefits for themselves and others. In a context of urban impoverishment, many church members hope to receive 'blessings' from God by 'planting a seed in the Kingdom' in the form of substantial offerings and tithes made in cash and commodities. Pastors say that these gifts are used to expand church infrastructure, as well as to accommodate parishioners' direct requests for material assistance. My hypothesis is that believers regard tithes and offerings not merely as expenditures but as forms of work that they must perform to bring about well-being for themselves, their families, and their communities under circumstances that deeply jeopardize them. I expect popular debates about the meanings and merits of these offerings to turn on the perceived significance of giving life (construed as a substantial portion of one's assets) to God in hopes of receiving life (construed as survival, prosperity, healing, salvation, and/or supportive kinship relations). In particular, I ask how the meanings of tithes and offerings shape and are shaped by exchanges within households and churches, efforts to achieve healing, and understandings of spiritual power and discernment.
Goldstein, Dr. Melvyn C., Case Western Reserve U., Cleveland, OH - To aid research on 'Nomadic Society in Tibet: A Study of Twenty Years of Change and Adaptation in Pala'
DR. MELVYN C. GOLDSTEIN, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, was awarded a grant in May 2005 to aid research on 'Nomadic Society in Tibet: A Study of Twenty Years of Change and Adaptation in Pala.' The project set out to address the impact of major economic and social changes on nomadic society and pastoral subsistence on the Tibetan Plateau. The study was conducted in July and August 2005, in Pala, a Tibetan nomadic pastoral group located about 200 miles west of Lhasa on the Tibetan Plateau at altitudes between 15,500 and 17,500 feet. Using a diachronic, case study, research design, the project built on previous research in Pala to investigate how families in a nomadic pastoral community have adapted to the changes that have occurred over the past 20 years with regard to traditional nomadic culture, social organization, economics and pastoral management. Since the project collected data equivalent to that collected during previous studies, we were able to compare the same villages, households and individuals diachronically. The study found that the nomads have adopted new technical innovations such as motorcycles, trucks and tractors in their management system and have experienced a substantial improvement in their standard of living due to their integration into national and international markets. It also found that despite strong government pressure to privatize pastures on a household basis, the nomads successfully resisted this initiative and continued to herd more traditionally in small groups of 5-15 households sharing a common pasture. In sum, despite many important changes and adaptations, the traditional social organization and culture of the nomads was on the whole still intact.
Tucker, Dr. Catherine M., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Cultural, Institutional and Environmental Dimensions of Conservation in Honduran Lenca Communities: The Montaña Camapara Reserve'
DR. CATHERINE TUCKER, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded a grant in October 2007, to aid research on 'Cultural, Institutional, and Environmental Dimensions of Conservation in Honduran Lenca Communities: the Montaña Camapara Reserve.' This project explored the creation and management of a strictly protected, communal reserve on a cloud forest in Honduras. Formation of the reserve seemed improbable; the three communities that share the forest had border disputes and tensions, and coffee growers were clearing the forest. How did three communities, at odds with each other, achieve a strictly protected area in circumstances that have compelled deforestation elsewhere? The research encompassed interviews, archival research, surveys, biological assessments in the reserve, and mapping. It found that the primary motivation to create the reserve initiated with the 24 villages that draw water from the cloud forest. A decade of negotiation among local authorities, village water committees, and farmers on the mountain eventually succeeded in demarcating the reserve and relocating 19 farmers. Opposing factions coalesced around shared need for water and ideals of shared responsibility, which had roots in communal values, traditional beliefs, and a history of local governance. Some farmers refused to leave the mountain, but stopped clearing. Biological assessments found that the reserve's cloud forest compares favorably with others, and is expanding with forest regrowth. Common property theory has viewed strictly protected reserves skeptically, because they often fail. In this case, the decision to impose strict protection represented a merging of western environmentalism with traditional beliefs. It protected water sources and facilitated monitoring and enforcement by local forest guards. The research shows that water scarcity can be a powerful incentive for joint resource management, but the circumstances raise questions for theories of common property and institutional analysis of common-pool resource management.
Cleghorn, Dr. Naomi Elancia, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'The Upper Paleolithic Fauna of Mezmaiskaya (Russia): Implications for Human Behavior and Ecology'
DR. NAOMI E. CLEGHORN, University of California, Berkeley, California, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'The Upper Paleolithic Fauna of Mexmaiskaya (Russia): Implications for Human Behavior and Ecology.' This project investigated the ecology of Late and Terminal Pleistocene hominins in the Northwestern Caucasus Mountains using faunal remains recently excavated at Mezmaiskaya Cave. This locality is unique within the region in preserving a comprehensively dated stratigraphic sequence from the Middle Paleolithic, through the Late Upper Paleolithic, to the Epipaleolithic. It thus provides a critical perspective on the changing ecological parameters, as well as subsistence and social strategies of Late Neanderthals and Modern Humans at the boundary between the temperate Near East and the unstable glacial climate of Eastern Europe. The new analysis of the Upper and Epipaleolithic fauna from Mezmaiskaya is being used to address four significant questions: 1) Is there evidence for faunal resource intensification across the MP to UP boundary or later? 2) Is there evidence for intensification of site use over this period? 3) Is there a relationship between these variables and local environmental variation? and 4) What are the implications of the richer-than-expected bone industry for human social networks and technological adaptations in the Caucasus? In addition, the new analysis allows the development of a broader inter-regional comparison across the Caucasus with comparably dated sites in Georgia, particularly Ortvale Klde and Dzudzuana.
Sadr, Dr. Karim, U. of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Dating the Archaeological Sequence of the West Coast, South Africa'
DR. KARIM SADR, of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, received funding in January 2003 to aid research on the dating of the archaeological sequence of the west coast of South Africa. Sadr's objective was to test an archaeological sequence through the radiocarbon dating of surface marine shell samples from sixty-three sites. Ninety-seven shell samples were processed by the Quaternary Dating Research Unit of the CSIR in Pretoria. Preliminary results, combining the new marine shell dates with the corpus of published dates for the area, revealed a large increase in the number of radiocarbon dates for the period from about 500 to 1500 c.e. Assuming that the number of dates from any period serves as a proxy for population size, it can be suggested that this area experienced a major and rapid population increase in the second half of the first millennium c.e. This correlates with the period when sheep-rich sites are found in this landscape, though it does not correlate with the earliest appearance of livestock there. At face value, this finding refutes the currently accepted idea that livestock were originally introduced to the west coast of South Africa by a wave of migrants. Whatever the meaning of the late-first-millennium population peak, it clearly represents a major event in the history of this area.
Sadr, Karim. 2003. Feasting on Kasteelberg? Early Herders on the West Coast of South Africa. In Before Farming. [online version] 2004/3 article 2.
Bon, Francois, Karim Sadr, Detlef Gronenborn, and F. Fauvelle-Aymar. 2006. The Visibility and Invisibility of Herders’ Kraals in Southern Africa, with Reference to a Possible Early Contact Period Khoekhoe Kraal at DFS 5, Western Cape. Journal of African Archaeology 4(2): 253-271.
Sadr, Karim and Garth Sampson. 2006. Through Thick and Thin: Early Pottery in Southern Africa. Journal of African
Archaeology 4(2): 235-252.
Sadr, Karim and Francois-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar. 2006. Ellipsoid Grinding Hollows on the West Coast of South Africa. Southern African Humanities 18(2): 29-50.
Abarbanell, Linda Beth, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Spatial Language and Reasoning in Tseltal Mayans'
DR. LINDA BETH ABARBANELL, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Spatial Language and Reasoning in Tseltal Mayans.' Does language shape speakers' experiences and perceptions? Some of the strongest yet most controversial claims for linguistic relativity concern the frames of reference speakers use to talk about locations and directions. English speakers use an egocentric perspective (e.g., left/right), where speakers of other languages use fixed aspects of their geocentric environment. In Tseltal (Mayan, Mexico), the language studied in this project, speakers use the uphill/downhill slope of their terrain. These differences are argued to affect the availability of each system for nonlinguistic thought; however, the experimental evidence has yielded conflicting results. The present research brings more systematic data to the table by: 1) replicating and extending previous studies in order to reconcile conflicting results obtained from different tasks and comparison groups; and 2) using linguistic variations within a single community to minimize environmental and educational differences across language groups while exploring speakers' ability to use both egocentric and geocentric representations. The results argue that language may help speakers encode non-salient relationships, such as non-egocentric left/right, and develop more complex and accurate mental maps of their environment; however, it does not fundamentally restructure spatial cognition. Rather, task-specific constraints may override linguistic preferences to determine which system is easier to use.