Projects Funded in 2014

← Browse other years

Degree Program
Location Project Title & Abstract
Chloe Ahmann
Ph.D. Anth
Philippines (Manila area)

Teach for All: Transplanting Market Logics of Learning Abroad

Advisors: Joel Kuipers, Alexander Dent

This project explores how global education interventions are locally interpreted. Focusing on Teach for All and its market-oriented approach to education, the project interrogates local readings of this program among recruits to Teach for the Philippines. Here, entrepreneurial approaches to education are doubly inflated—transplanted first from financial sectors onto American schooling, then adapted and differently understood in systems abroad. This double inflation reveals the assumptions embedded in market logics of reform, and the effect of their movement across contexts.

Görkem Aydemir
Ph.D. Anth
Georgia (Tbilisi)

Remembering the Lost Land: Long-term Displacement, Identity and Memory in Georgia

Advisors: Sarah Wagner, Stephen Lubkemann

Drawing on in-depth interviews and personal narratives, this project seeks to explore the question of long-term displacement in Georgia as a "transformative social process," and understand how displacement shapes and changes identities, practices, and experiences as well as generational differences and the perceptions of the past, present, and future. Broadly, this research aims to contribute to the anthropology of displacement, social transformation, identity, and memory studies through ethnographic data on both self-settled and collective center IDPs in Georgia.

Rebecca Biermann
M.A. Anth
Kenya (Nairobi)

New Approaches to Understanding Human Behavioral Evolution from Stone Artifacts: Applying Photogrammetry at Olorgesailie

Advisor: Alison Brooks

Much stone tool research focuses on standardization in production and form, with implications for our ancestors' cognitive abilities. Edge shape and angle are notoriously difficult to quantify, and studies of pre-Homo sapiens artifacts have yielded equivocal results. Here, we propose to create digital 3D models of scrapers dating to 200-400 kya from Olorgesailie, Kenya, and to quantify shape variation using statistical shape analysis. The scrapers are from a large recently-excavated series held at the National Museums of Kenya.

Andrés Joaquin Brillembourg
B.A. Intl Affairs
Switzerland (Zurich) Swiss or European? The Paradox of the Exclusion-Inclusion Nexus in a Historically Plural Nation

Advisors: Stephen Lubkemann, Sarah Wagner, Raquel Machaqueiro

This project seeks to draw important links between Swiss nationalism and European identity construction. I will explore how Switzerland manages its plural national identity through exclusionary policies, and how this relates to the construction of European nationalism. I will be based out of Zurich. I will conduct extensive fieldwork through interviews, participant observation, archival research, and media analysis. This project has anthropological relevance to questions of contemporary nationalism in an age of increased human mobility and global pluralism.

Greyson Harris
M.A. Anth
Guatemala (Antigua Guatemala) Roya, Coffee, and the Meaning of Crisis: The Construction of Perceptions in Indigenous Maya Communities of Antigua, Guatemala

Advisors: Scott Freeman, Joshua Fisher, Alexander Dent

Coffee is a vital source of cash income for many Maya. In 2013, the Guatemalan government declared an emergency due to a severe outbreak of the coffee fungus roya that will damage the 2014 harvest. Communities now must renegotiate their economic strategies, often including intensifying handicrafts and other mechanisms. Communal perceptions of the crisis reflect a composition by multiple actors. By investigating how and by whom meaning is constructed, this project seeks to understand how indigenous communities are enabled or limited.

Raquel Rosa Machaqueiro
Ph.D. Anth
Mozambique (Maputo, Gorongosa) Knowledge, Power, and Development in the Forest

Advisors: Stephen Lubkemann and Alexander Dent

This research is part of a multi-sited project that traces forest conservation projects through the process of their conceptualization, and implementation across three countries (Brazil, Mozambique, and the USA). This project will combine a Latourian approach with political-economic analysis to investigate how historically-constituted conditions of dominance operate within environmental policy-making networks. It will explore how power and knowledge operate in complex ways that defy conventional theoretical views of the relationship between “center” and “periphery”.

Jordan Miller
Ph.D. Hom Paleo
Tanzania (Gombe) Witness Reactions to Aggression: Do Chimpanzees Know about Others?

Advisor: Carson Murray

The retention and application of third-party information may be an important tool for navigating primate social life, and a necessary precursor to the development of expansive human cooperation and ultimately culture. This project will explore the behavioral and physiological (stress) correlates of social cognition in the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, Tanzania, to address 1) how individuals respond to witnessed aggressive events and 2) the adaptive value of these reactions.

Sarah Otis
B.A. Latin Amer & Hemispheric Studies
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo)

Mídia Ninja: Citizen Journalism, Social Media, and Identity Formation

Advisor: Alexander Dent

Last year’s widespread protests in Brazil received international new coverage. But were mainstream narratives true to the heart of the protests? My study will examine the role of alternative media through an investigation into Mídia Ninja, a citizen journalism group that operates entirely over social media platforms. I will study the functioning of the organization and participants’ perceptions in order to learn about the role of online alternative media in their creation of alternative narratives and identities.

Devin Proctor
Ph.D. Anth
Online; Artemas, PA, other U.S. locations

On Being Not-Human: Technologically Mediated Identity Among the Otherkin

Advisors: Sarah Wagner, Alexander Dent

In the 21st century, our identities are often fractured through multiple levels of technological engagement, such as social media and gaming. To examine this phenomenon, I will research the Otherkin community — a group of people who identify as partially non-human. This research will take place in both digital and non-digital space in order to map the relationships between virtual and non-human forms of embodiment. The purpose of this research is to analyze new formations of identity emergent in the digital age.

Sarah L. Richardson
Ph.D. Anth
Colombia (Soacha, Bogotá)

Situated Photography and the Politics of Reconciliation: Political and Commemorative Use of Victim Photographs in Bogotá’s Center and Periphery

Advisors: Sarah Wagner and Alexander Dent

This project examines the politics of reconciliation and commemoration in “pre post-conflict” Colombia by tracing the uses of victim photographs in political protests and commemorative events in the peripheral slums and central cultural institutions of Bogotá. I analyze a particular set of victim photographs through the sites in which they are mobilized to discern how different entextualizations—discursive as well as spatial—disclose and reshape the stakes and power circuits of social life amid ongoing armed conflict and peace negotiations.

Laura Rouse
B.S. Bio Anth & B.A. Dance
Kenya (Ileret)

The Origin of Carrying: Investigating the Evidence of Carrying in 1.5 Million Year Old Footprints from Ileret, Kenya

Advisor: Brian Richmond

Fossilized footprints present a new opportunity to test hypotheses about the evolution of bipedalism, as well as the origins of human social organization. Working with habitually unshod individuals in Ileret, Kenya, extends this research to a group, similar to our extinct hominin ancestors, who are not subject to the influences of modern footwear on foot development. The end goal is to examine whether Pleistocene hominin footprints preserve evidence of carrying.

Yuting Yin
M.A. Anth
China (Beijing)

Inside a Hidden Disorder: Illness Narratives about Eating Disorders in Mainland China

Advisors: Elanah Uretsky, Neely Myers, Richard Grinker, Barbara Miller, and Sarah Wagner

This project aims at eliciting and learning from the lived experiences of people with eating disorders in Mainland China by collecting their illness narratives. The focus of this study is to examine the possible barriers to mental health care and social support based on patients’ subjective experiences. By contextualizing patients’ illness narratives, I will explore the meaning behind their social suffering to generate an anthropological reflection on available treatment methods, etiological explanations and support systems in contemporary China.