Projects Funded in 2006

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Degree Program
Location Project Title & Abstract
J. Tyler Faith
Ph.D. Hom Paleo
Kenya (Nairobi & Olorgesailie) Hominin Meat-Acquisition Strategies: Member 11, Olorgesaillie Formation, Kenya

Advisors: Richard Potts and Kay Behrensmeyer

The goal of this study is to undertake an analysis of the archaeofaunal remains recovered from Member 11 of the Olorgesailie Formation in southern Kenya for the purpose of understanding site formation processes, reconstructing the faunal structure of the paleolandscape, and evaluating hominin meat-acquisition strategies. This will entail identification of the fossil material and traces of hominin and carnivore interactions in the form of bone surface modifications. Results will be compared to earlier assemblages from Olorgesailie Fm. Members 1 and 7 to assess the hominin adaptive response to environmental change and long-term evolutionary shifts in hominin behavior.

Adriana Freiberger
B.A. Intl Aff
Brazil (Salvador) "Jogo como Homen" ("She Plays Like a Man"): Gender and Transnationality in Capoeira Regional in Salvador, Brazil

Advisor: Alexander Dent

The Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, was developed in the early colonial period in Brazil as a reaction against slavery and as a form of cultural expression. In the last ten years, an increasing number of Capoeira students in Brazil have been women from places such as Japan, Europe, and North America. This project seeks to understand what motivates these women to practice Capoeira, and to learn how their male Brazilian instructors view them. The research will examine the roles that gender, sexuality, and nationality play in the participation and teaching of Capoeira and how they have affected its development. Participant observation and interviews will be used. The research will generate new knowledge on the anthropology of Brazil, gender, and globalization.

David J. Green
Ph.D. Hom Paleo
Kenya (Koobi Fora) Koobi Fora: Ileret Excavation of Hominin Arm

Advisor: Brian Richmond

This fieldwork is part of the Koobi Fora Research Program (KFRP). Over the past two field seasons a nearly complete hominin right arm was discovered from a site called Ileret dating to c. 1.5 million years ago. This summer, the KFRP will return to Ileret and I have been invited to join them as a morphologist to help identify potential hominin remains and reconstruct the specimens.

Abigail Greenleaf
B.S. Pub Health
Kalona, IA Pregnancy, Birth and Infancy Practices in the Old-Order Amish of Kalona, Iowa

Advisors: Mark Edberg and Barbara Miller

This project seeks to study beliefs, rituals and other practices surrounding pregnancy, birth and infant care in the Amish community in Kalona, Iowa. Most Amish do not practice prophylactic health care, but some choose to use certain medical technologies during pre- and post-natal care. This study seeks to provide understanding of how Amish culture in Iowa affects pregnancy, prenatal, and postnatal health practices and decisions. The project involves participant observation and interviews with Amish women and their families.

Catherine Haradon
Ph.D. Hom Paleo
South Africa (Florisbad) Pilot Study of South African Middle Pleistocene Fossil Assemblages

Advisors: Richard Potts and Alison Brooks

The goal of this research is to identify fossil assemblages that would be suitable for my dissertation study. Examining these assemblages, collecting preliminary data and analyzing a subset will allow me to conduct a pilot study to test a working hypotheses of my dissertation regarding faunal change at the Acheulean to Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological transition: that both MSA behavior and the versatile adaptations of associated fauna were responses to heightened climatic variability during the Middle Pleistocene.

Kathryn Hohman
M.A. Wom Stu
Nepal (Kathmandu) Sisters in Song: Insights about Agency and Songmaking in a Hindu Nepali Women's Festival

Advisor: Barbara Miller

Recognition of women's agency is essential, particularly in periods of political change when women have the opportunity to shape new social paradigms. I will conduct ethnographic research about Tij, a women's festival in Nepal. The research will provide understanding of the cultural context and social dynamics of this performance ritual by focusing on women's song construction. I will seek to learn if and how women's song in the festival create a space for contesting patriarchy and for the advocacy of women's equality. The proposed project will highlight the interrelation of gender, Hindu culture and social change in the era of the Maoist uprising.

Kristin LaHatte
M.A. Anth
Multiple locations, SC As Southern as a Sweetgrass Basket: Commodification and Cultural Heritage among the Gullah

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Catherine Allen

The sweetgrass basket, a traditional cultural item of the Gullah, is currently recognized as the "symbol" of Charleston, advertised in tourist promotional materials as the essential keepsake for any Lowcountry visitor. This study will identify how commodification of the basket has led to significant changes in its production and will explore the role of the Gullah in the promotion of the basket as a tourist item. Additionally, the study will investigate the agency of the Gullah in these decisions and explore why tourists purchase the basket and what meaning it holds in the "tourist gaze." Furthermore, this study will focus on this interaction as a mediated activity and will contribute to the ongoing discussion regarding the complex relationship between tourism and cultural heritage in anthropological literature.

Jeffrey Leon
B.A. Arch
Israel (Megiddo); Greece (Mycenae) The "Aegean-Tomb": Evidence for Mycenaean Stylistic Influence at Bronze Age Megiddo?

Advisor: Eric Cline

The goals of this research project are to analyze the so-called "Aegean tomb" at the site of Megiddo in Israel and compare it to the tholos tombs of Greek mainland, particularly those at the Bronze Age type-site of Mycenae. This comparison is important in the wider question regarding Mycenaean influence in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. If the "Aegean tomb" at Megiddo can be in fact linked with the Bronze Age tholos tombs of Greece it will present further evidence for a concrete connection between the Levant and Greece during the Bronze Age and may suggest the possibility of Mycenaean influence across the rest of the Mediterranean.

Sophia Lungu
B.A. Anth & Intl Aff
Romania (Bucharest & Constanta) Shades of Pink in Romania

Advisor: Barbara Miller

This project explores life in post-socialist Romania through participant observation and formal interviews with members of the Romanian professional class. The research questions focus on what life is like in Romania 15 years after the fall of communism as well as how communist views and ideologies affect life in Romania currently. A case study of five professional families living in two Romanian cities will shed light on their memories and their lifestyle today and how past experiences shape the present.

Smiti Nathan
B.A. Arch & Anth
India (Cochin, Kerala State) The Rise of the State of Israel and Its Effects on the Cochin Jews of Kerala

Advisors: Catherine Allen and Kannan Nambiar

The Cochin Jews of Kerala have been able to maintain a balance between adhering to the strict laws of Judaism and acculturating themselves amongst their Hindu, Muslim, and Christian neighbors. Though the Jewish population in Kerala has always been relatively small, they have had a significant presence within the society of Kerala. With the emergence of the state of Israel, many Cochin Jews have left Kerala as part of an ongoing Zionist Movement. This research project would seek to find out how the present day Jews of Cochin view the state of Israel and how they expect to preserve Jewish culture in Kerala as their population steadily decreases.

Bonnie Richard
M.A. Anth
India (Delhi & Leh) The Changing Cultural Outlook on Disability in Ladakh, India

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Richard Grinker

I hope to document the changes surrounding the culture of childhood disability in a Tibetan Buddhist region. Focusing on Leh sector of Ladakh, in north India, this project will highlight how recent introduction of western biomedical-modeled special education programs affect the lives of children with disabilities, their families, and the general community. Namgyal Institute, founded in 2000, provides access to mainstream education for physically and cognitively disabled children, by training teachers and providing transportation. Recently opened in 2006, the Enablement Center provides training to cognitively disabled children who cannot succeed in mainstream educational environments. Through participant observation in homes and classrooms, as well as interviews about religious-based attitudes towards disability and explanatory models of health and illness, I will describe how these communities accept or reject the new programs.

Alexander Steffler
B.A. Intl Aff
Argentina (Buenos Aires) Finding Chipa in Buenos Aires: Paraguayan Immigrants to Argentina

Advisor: Alexander Dent

At a time when people are on the move worldwide more than ever and immigration policy is at the forefront of many national agendas, this project seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of a specific but understudied community: Paraguayan immigrants to Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the end of the project, I would expect to know more about how the people in this community construct individual and community identities, experience life in Buenos Aires, and maintain ties to their home communities. Within these areas, I am particularly interested in examining the way Paraguayan ethnicity affects their experiences in race-conscious Argentina. Finally, the project will seek to make connections to other immigration research in an effort to understand what this community's experiences mean in the wider context of Latin America and broader regional economic integration under MERCOSUR, in part by making my findings accessible via an on-going blog.

Dana Thomson
B.A. Intl Aff
Washington, DC Comparative Study of Two HIV/AIDS Care Organizations in Washington, DC

Advisors: Robert Shepherd and Barbara Miller

The proposed fieldwork will investigate and compare the institutional cultures of two HIV/AIDS organizations in Washington, DC: the Whitman-Walker AIDS Clinic and Food & Friends. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is high in Washington, with 1 in 20 adult residents infected with the virus. Through participant observation and interviews, I will create mini-ethnographies of each organization, documenting institutional culture as it is shaped by the history, structure, and daily activities of each organization. In the spirit of applied anthropology, I will collaborate with leaders at each organization to ensure that my fieldwork supports their mission and activities.

Jamie Wescott
M.A. Anth
Cherokee, NC Cultural Tourism and Heritage Marketing among the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians

Advisor: Robert Shepherd

This research will take place on the Eastern Band of the Cherokee reservation in Cherokee, NC. For decades, Cherokee has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Western North Carolina, attracting outdoor enthusiasts, gamblers, and cultural tourists throughout the year. This research will examine the nature of the tourist industry in Cherokee, particularly the marketing of Cherokee heritage. It will examine the effect of a constant tourist presence on the Cherokee community. At the conclusion of the project, I hope to understand how Cherokees cope with their heritage on display, and how tourism is incorporated into the Cherokee identity.