Projects Funded in 1999

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Degree Program
Location Project Title & Abstract
David Edwards
M.A. Anth
Peru Peru:2000

Advisor: Catherine Allen

While over half of Peru's population speaks Quechua, either as their primary or second language, Quechua is virtually shut out of political discourse, which is controlled by a relatively small Spanish-speaking elite in Lima, Peru's capital city. Quechua monolingual and bilingual speakers in Cusco were interviewed regarding the presidential elections. Mostly monolingual Quechua speakers were interviewed in a more in-depth way in a high mountain village regarding these elections and politics in general. Those interviewed are aware of their disenfranchisement and discuss the present-day political realities as a continuation of the troubles they have endured since the conquest of the Inca Empire.

Kim Ethier
Russia (St. Petersburg) Russian Home Remedies: Differences in Knowledge Across Generations

Advisor: Barbara Miller

This paper explores pluralism in medicine among women in three age groups in St. Petersburg, Russia. The types of home remedies and the extent of trust in doctors vary among the three age categories. Medical doctors and folk healers were both consulted in two cases of serious illness discussed in the paper. Women's choices in medicine have been influenced by the economic and social changes in Russia over the past 15 years.

Laura Kallus
M.A. Anth
Washington, DC The Dynamics of Latino Street Gang Culture and Its Role in the Lives of First and Second Generation Salvadoran Youth in Washington, DC

Advisor: Ruth Krulfeld

In the Washington metropolitan area there are at least ten Latino street gangs comprised of over 200 hundred first- and second-generation Salvadoran youths. Although local public officials, school administrators and community residents are aware of these gangs, very little is known about their organization, initiations, symbols, and activities. Even less is known about the youths themselves, their lives, families, aspirations and reasons for joining the gangs. This study explores interconnections between social institutions such as the family, schools and peer groups, economic factors, and community environment that contribute to the lure of gang culture, the dynamics of gang membership, and the important roles it fulfills in the lives of Salvadoran youth.

Charlene Kannankeril
B.A. Anth
India (Kerala State) Living in Darkness: Cultural Stigmatism and Associated Ostracism of Females with Vitiligo vulgaris in Kerala, India

Advisor: Barbara Miller

Regarded by some in India as "white leprosy," Vitiligo vulgaris carries with it a cultural stigma and an accompanying social ostracism. This field research is a clinic-based interview study of female Vitiligo vulgaris patients and Ayurvedic practitioners in Kerala, India, concerning their perceptions of the disorder and its social ramifications. The project explored the social stigma related to identity, sense of self, and marriage chances for females afflicted with Vitiligo vulgaris, given the high priority that Indian culture places on the female appearance.

Karen Kramer
M.A. Anth
Arizona Nicotiana attenuata: Evaluating the Cultural History of Wild Tobacco in the Southwest

Advisor: Nancy Benco

This paper is an account of the multi-faceted world of wild tobacco in the American Southwest. It examines significant traditional indigenous knowledge of and ecological information about two wild tobaccos, Nicotiana attenuata and Nicotiana trigonophylla. It reviews ethnobotanical and archaeological records regarding these plants, and describes both past and contemporary ecological and cultural histories of these two species. The cultural history of wild tobacco will encompass tobacco ideology as well as the ceremonial role of tobacco. These components are all intertwined in varying degrees.

Elizabeth Kummer
Nepal (Chitwan) Microenterprise in Chitwan, Nepal: The Changing Identities of Sex Workers

Advisor: David Gow

Nepalese sex workers are often encouraged by development organizations to participate in microenterprise projects that will provide them with economic opportunities outside the sex industry. The goal of such projects is to eliminate women's economic dependence on sex work by providing them with funds to start small businesses. I explored the ways in which access to these funds has altered the economic status, personal identity, and community relations of women in the commercial sex industry in Chitwan. By contrasting their progress in such activities with non-sex worker microentrepreneurs of the same class, caste and region, I was able to conclude that female sex workers are benefitting from their participation in microenterprise. While their economic status is only modestly impacted by their income-generating activities — most still live well below the poverty line — they all appear to have greater self-confidence and an overall sense of empowerment.

Lauren Lastrapes
B.A. Anth
Sally Tamarkin
B.A. Urban Studies, Barnard Col
Washington, DC Fight Stories and the Anthropology of "Cool"

Advisor: Joel Kuipers

Physical fighting is an integral part of the lives of pre-adolescents. It is highly ritualized in both its reality and in the retelling of the specific events of a fight. Our examination of physical violence in the pre-adolescent world focuses on both of these aspects. By looking at both the content and the particular verbal subtleties with which these narratives are told, we have determined the patterns that exist among the narratives. The fact that there seems to be a formalized method of storytelling is in itself of great importance. In addition, we found that there are specific instances of ritualization which occur in the social situation of the fight, especially in its initiation. Finally, fight narratives, through both their content and construction, suggest fundamental differences in the worldviews the older girls (ages 9 to 12) and the younger girls (ages 6 to 8) in our sample. This last point can only be analyzed superficially because of the small size of our sample.

Patricia Ochoa
B.A. Anth
New Jersey Linguistic Structuring of Freestyle Rap Battle Discourse

Advisor: Joel Kuipers

Within the past two decades a relatively new form of verbal discourse rap discourse has emerged, mainly from African-American communities. It has generally been studied culturally rather than linguistically. Rap discourse has become a channel in which performers are able to relate stories about themselves and their communities. Furthermore, some of these rappers — particularly freestyle rappers — are gaining social power in their communities by way of their verbal feats. The primary focus of my research is to give structure to freestyle rap performances by way of examining dysfluencies, repetitiveness, overall length, mean length of utterances and thematic differences. The latter information was used to create a relationship between the performers' ability to control linguistic form and their level of social power.

Erin L. Sears
M.A. Anth
Mexico (Jonuta, Chiapas) Preliminary Report on Ceramic Figurines from the Maya Periphery

Advisor: Nancy Benco

This project focused on a large collection of more than 184 figurines from the region of Jonuta, Tabasco, Mexico. Jonuta is in the hypothesized homeland of non-Maya or Mexicanized Maya who are thought to have influenced the social and political disruption of Maya polities known as the "Classic Maya collapse." Patterns of production using the stylistic attributes of figurines, figurine molds and associated pottery, in combination with data from chemical analysis of the ceramic pastes, will refine our understanding of Late Classic figurines before the domination of locally-made Fine Orange Wares, which are strongly linked with theories of the Maya Collapse. This provides a basis for monitoring the extent of continuity or change in modes of figurine technology and decorative style that accompanied the Collapse. The study not only provides an assemblage of attributes from which to view changes in the Jonuta region but has importance for interpreting the history of the northwestern Maya lowlands, including the region dominated by the center of Palenque and the site of Jaina, renowned for the artistry and imaginative treatment of ceramic figurines.