Projects Funded in 2008

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Degree Program
Location Project Title & Abstract
Nikki-Lee Birdsey
B.A. Intl Aff & Anth
Virginia (multiple locations) Neo-Hippies, Eco-Liberals, and Crazies: Examining the Revival of Intentional Communities in the United States

Advisor: Robert Shepherd

Since 2002 there are estimates of over one thousand intentional communities in the United States alone. This resurgence has generated increasing attention to such communities in academic fields from criminal justice to anthropology. The proposed research will survey three different intentional communities in the U.S. varying in size, economic subsistence, philosophy, and level of shared income. Research will be conducted throughout an eight-week fieldwork period of participant observation, interviews, and collection of relevant demographic data. This research will contribute to the growing anthropological interest worldwide in the revival of intentional communities.

Carla Blauvelt
M.A. Anth
Peru (Lima) Women's Narrative Histories and Experiences of Illness, Healing, and Health Care Seeking in Lima, Peru

Advisor: Barbara Miller

This project concerns low-income women's perceptions and experiences of illness in the Carabayllo district of northern Lima, Peru, and how they are reflected in treatment seeking. I will conduct ethnographic research through extensive informal individual interviews and participant observation with five low-income women. In using the oral narratives of these five women I will examine their lives and past experiences with illness and healing. This project will contribute to the cultural and medical anthropology of Peru.

Adam Chamy
B.A. Intl Aff
Washington, DC Mental Mapping and Identity in Greater U-Street, Washington, DC

Advisor: Barbara Miller

While advertised by urban revivalists as the stronghold of classic African American Washington, the greater U Street area is highly diverse, containing many new residents who fall outside of this advertised definition of the neighborhood. Through in-depth interviews and observations of enduring and new residents, I will attempt to describe how neighborhood residents imagine themselves. I will attempt to identify common and contrasting points of interaction and identity. The project will contribute to urban anthropological works studying the cultural effects of gentrification and urban change.

Kimberly Cotterman
M.A. Anth
Washington, DC Words of the Midwife; A Narrative Exploration of Midwifery in the Washington, DC Area

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Eric Ross

This project will explore midwifery in the Washington, DC area. Through interviews and informal interactions with midwives, I will explore their background and interest in midwifery, their experiences, and how they serve diverse socioeconomic segments of the population. The project will contribute to medical anthropology concerning one area within the medical division of labor and social variation in reproductive care.

Nicolaas Fourie
Ph.D. Hom Paleo
South Africa (Loskop Dam Nature Reserve) Hormonal Correlates of Differing Socio-Reproductive Strategies in Wild Baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus)

Advisor: Robin Bernstein

I propose to investigate hormone-behavior interactions in relationship to differing socio-reproductive strategies in wild adult male chacma baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus). Data collection, to take place in South Africa, will utilize focal animal sampling and non-invasive collection of hair samples from which hormone profiles and paternity data will be determined. This research will provide novel data on hormone-behavior interactions in this species and provide a comparative framework within which the physiological correlates of certain behaviors in humans can be interpreted.

Alejandra Hurtado de Mendoza
M.A. Anth
Guatemala (multiple locations) The Negotiation of Gender and Ethnic Identity by the Maya Women of Kaqla

Advisors: Alexander Dent and Blenda Femenías

The project analyzes how members of one indigenous woman's group, the Maya women of Kaqla (MWK), are negotiating their gender and ethnic identities with the Pan-Maya Movement in Guatemala. It will analyze the experiences of the MWK, how they are perceived by other social actors, and the role that language plays in the negotiation of identities. In this way, the project will contribute to feminist anthropology, the anthropology of race and ethnicity, and linguistic anthropology. The methodology will consist of semi-structured interviews, qualitative media analysis, and life histories.

Kiernan McGowan
B.A. Arch
Mexico (Oaxaca) Understanding Urbanization: The Search for Specialization and Standardization in the Ceramics of the Nochixtlán Valley

Advisor: Jeffrey Blomster

The effect of urbanization on craft production is still not well understood by archaeologists. I will search for indications of a connection between urbanization and ceramic standardization and specialization in the Nochixtlán Valley during the Late Formative Period of Mesoamerica (500-200 BCE). My goal is to determine if urbanization is reflected in the archaeological record by significant changes in the quality of materials used in the production of ceramic vessels from this period of major transformation in Mexico.

Laura Myford
M.A. Anth
New Zealand (Auckland) From Hair to There: Hair and Identity Construction among Female Young Adult Samoans in Auckland, New Zealand

Advisor: Barbara Miller

The project seeks to examine how hair is related to identity construction among Samoan young adult females in Auckland, New Zealand. I will assess to what extent "traditional" notions of hair in Samoa are maintained by young adult women, and what part popular pressures and religious regulations play in influencing hair choices among these women. I will compare my findings with data I collected on this topic in Samoa in 2004 to explore how social pressures differ in traditional communities and immigrant/native-born communities.

Ashley Stinespring
M.A. Anth
Costa Rica (La Suerte) Socio-Spatial Habits of Adult Females with Dependent Offspring in White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus capucinus)

Advisor: Robin Bernstein

The goal of the proposed research is to study the socio-spatial behavior of white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus). Specifically, I will be looking at the socio-spatial behavior of adult females with dependent offspring in relation to other individuals. Observational data will be collected on a wild capuchin population located at the La Suerte Biological Field Station in Northeastern Costa Rica (10° N, 83° W). This research will lead to a longer-term research project on grandmothering in capuchin monkeys.

Nicholas Stulck
B.A. Intl Aff
Tanzania (Dodoma) Negotiating the Meaning of Water: Local Reactions to Faith-Based Development

Advisors: Stephen Lubkemann and Robert Shepherd

The Water Project, run by a mission of the Society of the Precious Blood (a brotherhood of the Catholic Church) in Dodoma, Tanzania, constructs wells for communities in need of access to drinking water. I will do ethnographic research on how local meaning is ascribed to the development project. By spending time with the mission and the village, I hope to understand how local interests modify the project's function, especially by looking at the allocation of resources as mediated by religious affiliation and competition in the context of a faith-based NGO.

Chenkai Zhu
B.A. Intl Aff/Asian Studies
China (Shaoxing) Landscaping the Mind: Tourism and the Projection of Internal Landscapes in Shaoxing, China

Advisors: Barbara Miller and Robert Shepherd

Internal landscape, an interpretation of physical landscape by those who interact with it, affects how people perceive and experience landscape and how they will react to changes in the landscape. In China, internal landscapes of different provinces are distinct and considered common knowledge by Chinese people. By studying the internal landscape of Shaoxing, characterized by jiangnanshuixiang (water country), I hope to learn about the internal landscape of older local people in Shaoxing in relation to two local sites and their reactions of the growing number of Chinese tourists at them. I will also study tourists at the two sites.