Projects Funded in 2005

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Degree Program
Location Project Title & Abstract
Kirsten Benham
B.A. Anth
Washington, DC Compartiendo el valor de niños y del embarazo: Colliding Discourses around Teen Pregnancy by U.S. Service Providers and Pregnant Latinas in Washington, DC

Advisor: Amanda Weidman

This project examines the role that reproduction and child-bearing play in the construction of identity of young Latina women in the Columbia Heights area of Washington, DC. From prior research in DC, I hypothesize that, while teen pregnancy is often viewed as a "social problem" by health and social service providers as well as within American society at large, Latina women's decisions to allow or even pursue pregnancy may represent a response to understandings of children and womanhood that are informed by different cultural values. This project seeks to challenge social stigmas and to explore how pregnancy factors into subcultural construction of identity; the role of childbearing in creating and mediating Latina women's social relationships, identities, and status; and the economic value of children in this subcultural context.

Arianna Fogelman
M.A. Mus Stud
Mozambique (Metangula) The Metangula Museum Project: Multiple Roles of Heritage in a Post-conflict and Developing Region of Northwestern Mozambique

Advisors: Stephen Lubkemann and Julio Mercader

This research is part of a community archaeology project in northwestern Mozambique. As an anthropologist and a student of museums, I will identify stakeholders, evaluate infrastructural capacity, and engage in community collaboration to establish foundations for a museum to serve as a repository for archaeological discoveries as well as a local heritage center. The research will identify ways in which heritage has been and can be utilized to confront the post-conflict economic, political, social, and cultural challenges facing the Niassa province, and ultimately aid in archaeological analysis and the design of a locally relevant institution.

Andrew Frerking
B.A. Anth
Mexico (San Bernardo Mixtepec) What Binds What Breaks: A Study of the Importance of the Extended Family in Regards to Rural Oaxacan Social Institutions and Migration

Advisors: Jeffrey Blomster and Barbara Miller

A family, among other things, is an intermediary between the individual and the institution. This is a case study of one extended family in the Oaxaca village of San Bernardo Mixtepec. Through a diachronic perspective, the birth, potential collapse, and function of the extended family will be understood in relation to local institutions such as the cargo system, and specifically the larger phenomenon of migration.

Anoka Gray-Jung
B.A. Anth
Washington, DC Through the Looking-glass: Role-playing on the Internet and Alternate Conceptions of the Self

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Catherine Allen

This is a mini-ethnography of select role-playing communities on the Internet, with a survey of the roles participants assume online. While a great deal of anthropological work has focused on the subjects of self, social interaction, and personality development, this project examines through observation and interview the nexus between these subjects and virtual community; specifically, how the perceived role of the individual offline is reflected in their online role-playing choices and conversely, how as the actors interact in their online roles, they are either consciously or subconsciously influencing their offline identities and future roles.

Jonathan Greenberg
B.A. Arch
Washington, DC Human Skeletal Material from Megiddo, Israel

Advisor: Eric Cline

The goal of this project is to assess and analyze the human skeletal material discovered by the University of Chicago in tombs at Megiddo, Israel, from 1925-1934, and to link it with the associated grave goods. The initial phase is examination of the documentation sent with the skeletal material by P.L.O. Guy of the University of Chicago (Oriental Institute) to Ales Hrdlicka of the Smithsonian in 1934.

Musue Haddad
M.A. Intl Pol & Practice
U.S. (various localities) Media Culture and Reconciliation in War-torn Liberia: Diasporas and the Politics of Journalistic Practice

Advisor: Stephen Lubkemann

Far from providing an independent voice that the public can trust to hold public officials accountable, the Liberian media have a long history of being co-opted to serve the political ambitions of powerful elites. This project examines the "culture of journalism" that affects how news is produced and consumed by the Liberian public. The news media will be studied as an important social institution that has played a vital role in shaping public life in Liberia. This project will focus on how journalism has contributed to the political turmoil that has shaken Liberia over the last 25 years. Drawing on Johan Galtung's theories of Peace Journalism, it will examine how the Liberian media have generated a journalistic practice that is sensationalistic, partisan, and politically provocative, and thus has strengthened the power of rumor while weakening the capacity of civil society.

Adrienne Lagman
B.A. Anth
Alabama (Birmingham) Imagining Possibilities: Exploring New Futures for Women in the Deep South

Advisors: Mark Edberg and Catherine Allen

This project explores the topic of Southern women's conceptions of their own possible futures. The main questions are in what directions do white, middle-class women see their futures going and what are the underlying social pressures that lead their decision-making. Expected trends of growing autonomy and a widening of acceptable options will be assessed by examining groups of women in college, in their late twenties, and in their fifties. Women's concepts of modern and traditional gender roles, the influence of religion, and the impact of education in providing or ruling out certain options will be explored.

Rika Prodhan
B.S. Bio Anth
Washington, DC Indicators of Dietary Mechanics among the Crania of Vietnam Leaf Monkeys

Advisor: Barth Wright

This is a comparative study of craniodental variation among several Vietnam leaf monkeys and other colobines of Asia and Africa. The central prediction is that the craniodental system of leaf monkeys will vary in relation to the annual percentage of leaves and seeds in their diet. The ultimate goal of this research is to permit the development of dietary hypotheses that will be tested by collecting data on plant food toughness and stiffness in Vietnam.

Andrew Siddons
B.A. Anth
India (Tamil Nadu) An Ethnographic Study of a Volunteer Disaster Relief Organization in Tamil Nadu, India

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Amanda Weidman

Disasters typically result in an altruistic global response, and the Indian Ocean tsunami of December, 2004, was no exception. The most direct involvement comes from humanitarian workers and organizations at the site of the disaster. Tamil Nadu, a coastal state in southern India, was hit particularly hard, and the humanitarian response in this area provides a unique opportunity for a reflexive ethnographic study of volunteer disaster relief workers in the context of an organized effort. Research, conducted through participant observation and interviews, focuses on organizational dynamics, cultural understanding, and personal experiences of the workers.

Trinh Tran
B.A. Intl Aff
DC, Maryland Shaping Dreams: Vietnamese Women and the Nail Salon Industry in the Washington, DC, and Maryland Region

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Patricia Chu

A trend in the Vietnamese American community today is the growing number of women working in the nail salon industry. This project is an in-depth study of Vietnamese immigrant women in the nail salon industry in the Washington, DC, and Maryland area. Major research topics are the circumstances that caused the women to come to the United States, what shaped their decision to enter the manicure industry, and how their lives have changed through their involvement in it. The results will shed light on how women's work in this particular field has affected their lives and their perceptions of "the American dream."

Emily Tumpson
M.A. Anth
Washington, DC Neoliberal Policy and Health Care Delivery in the U.S.: Unique Risks for African Americans Living in Poverty

Advisor: Barbara Miller

This research seeks to show how political and social structures, particularly neoliberal capitalism and institutionalized racism, come to be experienced in the quality of life and health of poor and working class African Americans living in urban areas. This project analyzes the narratives of 5-10 poor and working class African Americans in Washington, DC. Participants will be asked about access to health care facilities, credit and debt, and how these issues are experienced in daily life. This project is designed to add to the literature in critical medical anthropology that deals with both privatization and unequal access to health care, as well as literature in urban anthropology, the anthropology of African American life, and the use of narrative in ethnographic research.

Meg Weaver
M.A. Anth
Spain (Sevilla) Passionate Performance or Contrived Commodity? Ethnicity and Nationalism through the Lens of Andalusian Flamenco

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Amanda Weidman

Flamenco has emerged as a product of the dialectic confrontation between Gypsy and non-Gypsy societies in Andalusia. This project addresses how flamenco works to undergird Spanish and Gypsy identity; how flamenco performers consciously/unconsciously conceptualize it/its origins; how Spanish society comes to terms with a performance culture that intensely appropriates and may even co-opt the cultural traditions of its much-maligned "other." It investigates whether there is a distinction from emic (the performers) and etic (the tourists) perspectives between flamenco puro and that which is performed in the commercialized venues.

Erin Marie Williams
M.A. Anth
U.S., France (various localities) Power and Precision Grips in Middle Stone Age and Upper Paleolithic Lithic Production

Advisor: Alison Brooks

This project investigates 1) whether precision grips are necessary in the production of Middle Stone Age and Upper Paleolithic tools and 2) whether there are significant differences in production methods between the periods, evident in finger movements, positions, and the force used for removals. Different tools with be knapped, the knapping filmed, and the movements and velocity of the knappers analyzed. The results may contribute to discussions on the origin of modern human behavior, in terms of the relative complexity of the tools and abilities of the tool-makers from their respective periods.

B. Justine Williams
B.A. Anth
U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism and the People of St. John

Advisor: Amanda Weidman

This project examines the sociocultural implications of mass tourism in the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically St. John, which has experienced a significant increase in the number of white residents (not only tourists, but mainlanders who have learned to share their home with an increasing number of tourists. Their lives, economy, and culture have changed because of this. This project will involve interviews with a variety of workers in the hospitality industry in order to discover how they view themselves and mainlanders. The focus is on how tourism has shaped their perceptions of race, gender, and class.

Christopher Wong
B.A. Anth
New York City Tourism and Cultural Representation in Chinatown, NYC

Advisor: Robert Shepherd

New York City's Chinatown, like other ethnically-associated communities, conveys a characteristic mystique. To the popular imagination, it exudes an aura of color, vibrancy, and the culturally exotic. Millions crowd Chinatown's narrow blocks every year as they support a burgeoning tourism industry centered on restaurants and small vendors. At the same time, Chinatown as a residential community is home to thousands of immigrants and recently settled families who inhabit a reality far divorced from the outsider imagery. The goal of this research is to explore the boundary between projected appearance and reality for Chinatown residents associated with the tourism industry. It will examine the underlying beliefs and practices involved in their negotiation of cultural identity as it fits into their everyday lives.