Projects Funded in 2013

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Degree Program
Location Project Title & Abstract
Chloe Ahmann
Ph.D. Anth
Baltimore, MD Storytelling Reform in Urban America: Tension and Transformation in Curtis Bay

Advisors: Joel Kuipers, Richard Grinker, Alexander Dent, and Sarah Wagner

This project explores how communities cope with mandatory school reform, and in particular how state-imposed No Child Left Behind verdicts of “persistent failure” impact community identity, and processes of collaborative change. Through ethnographic engagement with families, teachers, and administrators at a “failing” school in Curtis Bay (a Baltimore City neighborhood) this project takes an anthropological interest in narrative responses to reform, wondering how stories serve as creative outlets for community critique—sites of friction where tension may inspire meaningful transformation.

Rachel Bell
B.A. Arch
Independence Rock, WY

The Graffiti of the Oregon Trail: The Archaeology of Memory at Independence Rock

Advisor: Jeffrey Blomster

This project will attempt to quantify the heritage of the pioneers on the Oregon Trail. It will use the archaeology of memory at Independence Rock, Wyoming, to discover the lives and personalities of the people who visited it both in the nineteenth century and today. This project will be an important step towards defining the heritage of the site, and a more physical heritage of the Oregon Trail.

Catherine Betancourt
B.A. Intl Affairs & Anth
San Juan, PR

No Longer a Jíbaro: Changing Cultural Identities in 21st Century Puerto Rico

Advisor: Alexander Dent

This study will look at how Puerto Rican identity is constructed and how it has changed from the 20th century until today. It will attempt to give an explanation of what it means to be Puerto Rican from a local perspective, touching on how people of different ages may identify with different aspects of culture, such as rurality, language, and race. It will also explore how Puerto Ricans feel about the complicated political status of the island and the United States and how this relationship affects local cultural identity.

Andrew Bove
M.A. Anth
St. Mary's County, MD

Dockside Oyster Aquaculture in St. Mary's County, Maryland, as a Response to Rapid Environmental and Socioeconomic Transformation

Advisor: Alexander Dent

In recent years, small-scale dockside oyster aquaculture for both private and commercial purposes has become increasingly prevalent in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. This region has changed rapidly as traditional ways of earning a living have declined or disappeared while the regional economy has become centered on a major military installation. My goal is to examine the factors at play in the motivation to engage in aquaculture and situate the phenomenon in a context of rapid environmental and socioeconomic transformation.

Jessica Chandras
Ph.D. Anth
India (Pune) and Washington, DC

Visual Language and Cinematic Constructs: Theorizing Identity through Marathi-English Code Switching in Marathi Film

Advisors: Joel Kuipers and Alexander Dent

Drawing on discourse analysis, interviews, and existing literature, this project analyzes code switches between Marathi and English in Marathi films. Marathi films are an embodiment of cultural ideals and therefore communicate linguistic and ideological changes of a population. This research connects ethnography of media and identity with a theoretical focus of how language is used to articulate regional identities against imaginaries of modernity, such as diachronic changes in film of social roles, characterization of class, and settings.

Shane Feifer
B.A. Asian Studies & Anth
China (Beijing)

The Meaning of Color

Advisor: Alexander Dent

The project's goal is to study and catalogue the emotional associations that Chinese people in the city of Beijing of various ages and socio-economic backgrounds have when presented color stimuli. A survey will be given to participants at two city locations and one rural village; an oral component will be available also. The survey will consist of a "swatch" of color, and a place to respond which emotion or feeling they feel or associate with it.

Hannah Fitter
B.A. Intl Affairs
Senegal (Dakar, elsewhere)

Plural Interpretations of Justice in Senegal

Advisor: Ujala Dhaka-Kintgen

My research will ask how local, national, and international interpretations of justice operate simultaneously in both urban and rural Senegal. Based on methods of Participatory Action Research, I will use photography as a form of expression to launch focus group discussions and identify community members to be interviewed at the local level. I will also analyze laws and conventions to understand national and international level frameworks of justice that are operative in this setting.

Meredith Killough
M.A. Anth
Rwanda (Karisoke Research Center), Washington, DC

Skeletal Pathology in Virunga Mountain Gorillas

Advisor: Shannon McFarlin

Gorilla beringei beringei is a critically endangered species that has the potential to provide information about human biology and evolution. This study will assess pathology in skeletal remains of mountain gorillas from Rwanda, comparing results to behavioral and veterinary records from over 40 years of near-continuous monitoring. This analysis of gorillas both before and after the introduction of veterinary monitoring will guide conservation efforts, and this research will bring insight into the evaluation of health from the skeleton in humans.

Jamison Liang
M.A. Anth
Thailand (Bangkok), Indonesia (Jakarta, Aceh) Queering Indonesia: Negotiating LGBT Rights and Development

Advisors: Joel Kuipers and Christina Fink

My research centers on the intersection of LGBT rights advocacy and international development practices in Indonesia, looking at how activists navigate the rise of "morality-based" legislation and employ rights-based strategies. I will be interning at the United Nations Development Program in Bangkok, where I will assist with their report, Being LGBT in Asia, followed by interviews with NGOs and international NGOs in Indonesia. Notably, previous anthropological scholarship on queer Indonesia has not addressed the influence of development or legal frameworks.

Elizabeth LoGalbo
B.A. Anth
Washington, DC An Ethnographic Study of Food and Food Insecurity among Mental Health Service Users in Washington, D.C.

Advisors: Neely Myers, Barbara Miller, and Michael Compton

This project will generate anthropological theory about food, foodways, and food insecurity among mental health service users in Washington, D.C. Food insecurity is the uncertainty that one experiences over their ability to access food to meet basic nutritional needs due to insufficient resources (Burkhardt et al. 2012). Over the course of three months, I will conduct 32 audiotaped interviews and ethnographic fieldwork among clinically stable service users in four safe, clinical settings across the city to further anthropological theory.

Raquel Machaqueiro
Ph.D. Anth
U.S. (Washington, DC, elsewhere), Brazil (São Paulo) Knowledge, Power, and Development in the Forest

Advisors: Stephen Lubkemann and Alexander Dent

This work will launch a multi-sited dissertation project that will "follow the network" of selected forest conservation projects through their processes of conceptualization, negotiation, and implementation locating sites of policy-making in DC and sites of implementation in Brazil, within broader networks of policy-making that defy simplistic dichotomies between center and periphery. Taking these two sites as points of entry through which to trace financial flows, this project will combine a Latourian approach, with political-economic analysis highlighting historically-constituted political conditions of dominance.

Andrea Sandor
M.A. Anth
U.S. (New Brunswick, NJ, Washington, DC), Hungary (Budapest)

Dancing Identity: Hungarian Folkdance in Three Festival Settings

Advisor: Alexander Dent

My project explores Hungarian folkdance in three festival settings: The Hungarian-American annual festival in New Brunswick, New Jersey; the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; and the Mesterséggek Ünnepe festival in Budapest.  With a focus on gender roles and improvisation, I will compare the details of the dances in their respective settings to explore how the contexts affect the semiotics of the dance and shed light on bigger issues of ethnic identity formation and the relationship between tradition and modernity.