Brant, Erika Marie, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Ancestors and Aggrandizers: Modeling Political Power and Ancestor Veneration in a Post-collapse Andean Society (AD 1000-1450),' supervised by Dr. Stephen Plog
Preliminary abstract: Anthropologists have long viewed ancestors as a source of kin-based authority which leaders draw upon to validate claims to power. An alternative viewpoint posits that ancestor worship may prevent the emergence of centralized authority and provide the ideological foundations for more equitable forms of sociality. The proposed research evaluates contrasting theories of ancestor veneration in the Titicaca Basin of Peru through surface collection and targeted excavations at Sillustani -- the foremost necropolis of the Colla ethnic group (AD 1000-1450). Following the collapse of the Tiwanaku state, the proliferation of modest forms of burial and commemoration in the Colla region seems to indicate a rejection of aggrandizing ideologies and the use of ancestors to promote more equitable social relations. Such a model is supported by local lore and limited archaeological research which describe Sillustani as an empty pilgrimage center where varying groups gathered periodically to honor lineage forebearers. Conversely, colonial documents characterize the Colla as a highly centralized kingdom and raise the possibility that Sillustani was a political capital. If the Colla were as centralized as Spanish documents attest, and Colla leaders resided at Sillustani, it is probable that much of their power derived from their proximity to Sillustani's ancestors, thus casting doubt on an egalitarian model of Colla ancestor veneration. Employing faunal and ceramic analyses to gauge status and wealth inequalities at Sillustani, my project evaluates the extent to which ancestor worship promoted or constrained the development of centralized authority in Colla society. Research at Sillustani also places ancestors at the center of debates surrounding the regeneration of hierarchy in post-collapse societies.
Starr, Julie Elisabeth, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Cultivating the Ideal Body in China: Race, Suzhi, and Beauty in Contemporary Shanghai,' supervised by Dr. John R. Shepherd
Preliminary Abstract: Over the last decade China has seen sales of skin whitening products and cosmetic surgical procedures mushroom into billion dollar businesses. Thousands of upwardly mobile young Chinese women have sought to change their bodies in the pursuit of career and personal advancement. This ethnographic research project examines cultural practices of cosmetic body modification and improvement in China's largest and most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. I am interested in two interrelated topics for understanding contemporary Chinese society: the ways the categories of 'China' and the 'West' may be mobilized in racial ways and the ways state projects of improving the quality of the population in China are interpreted and negotiated by women in daily practices of bodily improvement. My project focuses specifically on the social processes of everyday body culture and the local production of racial categories. This research builds on and contributes to anthropological literatures of race and embodiment in China, and beauty and body modification. I propose to conduct a twelve-month ethnographic project in Shanghai, where I will focus on the social space of beauty salons, an ideal site for my research because of the plethora of body treatments salons offer, from haircuts and facials to minor cosmetic surgeries (e.g., double eye-lid surgery). My project will contribute to anthropological interests in the social construction of race and how culturally constructed ideas of the body, including distinctions between the 'natural' body and the modified body, incorporate racial categories.
Detwiler, Kate M., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Hybridization Between Sympatric Cercopithecus Species in Gombe National Park, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Clifford J. Jolly
KATE M. DETWILER, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in August 2005 to aid research on 'Hybridization between Sympatric Cercopithecus Species in Gombe National Park, Tanzania,' supervised by Dr. Clifford J. Jolly. The project's objective is to investigate the genetic consequences of interspecific hybridization occurring among guenons (Cercopithecus ascanius and C. mitis) in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. The first research phase, field observation and collection of material for genetic analysis at Gombe and other East African sites, was completed in September 2005. The second phase, laboratory analysis of species-specific markers in mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA, was scheduled to finish in August 2008. To date, mitochondrial data support reciprocal monophyly of C. ascanius and C. mitis populations outside the Gombe hybrid zone, yet within Gombe this pattern is not observed. The samples from Gombe show unambiguous evidence for introgression of C. ascanius mitochondrial DNA into C. mitis. The data indicate that C. mitis monkeys at Gombe originated from C. ascanius females. Samples from outside and within the Gombe hybrid zone show no evidence of Y-chromosomal introgression, however, Y-chromsomal data from Gombe show both C. mitis and C. ascanius males cross mate, as hybrid males have Y-chromosomal DNA of both parental species. This is the first genetic study of Cercopithecus hybridization and the preliminary results demonstrate that the species boundary between these two guenons is semipermeable.
Hodges-Simeon, Carolyn Randolph, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Life History Trade-offs Affecting the Development of Human Sexual Dimorphism,' supervised by Dr. Steven J. Gaulin
CAROLYN R. HODGES-SIMEON, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, was awarded a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Life History Trade-Offs Affecting the Development of Human Sexual Dimorphism,' supervised by Dr. Steven J. Gaulin. The human vocal voice is sexually dimorphic in two primary ways: males have lower 'fundamental frequency' (F0, the perceptual correlate of which is 'pitch') and more closely spaced 'formant position' (Pf; also termed 'resonance'). These characteristics exhibit a pronounced and abrupt change during adolescence, marking the advancement of puberty. Research and data gathering target the developmental associations between dimorphic vocal characteristics (F0 and Pf), testosterone, immune functioning (secretory IgA and CRP), and energetic status (BMI and height) in adolescent boys in a non-industrialized population: the Tsimane' of lowland Bolivia. In doing so, this project uses the ontogeny of male vocal characteristics as a model system for examining two major theories in human evolutionary biology: 1) Life history theory (by examining trade-offs between reproductive and somatic investment); and 2) Immunocompetence handicap theory of sexual selection (by investigating whether sexually dimorphic signals are honest indicators of immunocompetence). Results indicate that males in better condition -- with better energetic and immune investment -- have higher testosterone levels, which are associated with lower voices. This research presents the first evidence that male vocal features are linked with condition, and that this association is mediated by testosterone.
Barks, Sarah Kate, Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'The Neural Bases of Social Cognition in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),' supervised by Dr. James Kelly Rilling
SARAH K. BARKS, then a student at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, received a grant in May 2007 to aid research on 'The Neural Bases of Social Cognition in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),' supervised by Dr. James Kelly Rilling. Social cognition has been suggested as a driving force in human brain evolution. Its neural substrates in humans are well known, but have not been explored in apes. This study examines the neural areas that support social cognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) using fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]-FDG PET) imaging. Four adult chimpanzees were scanned in two test conditions: high and low social complexity (performing tasks featuring videos of conspecifics engaged in social and non-social behaviors, respectively). These data, compared to images from a non-social condition, show activation in areas associated with social processing in humans: the superior temporal sulcus (detection of biological motion), insula (empathy), and amygdala (emotional arousal). A second aim of this study was to compare chimpanzee social and resting cognition -- a comparison that is well-described in human neuroimaging literature. This literature suggests that humans engage in social cognition at rest; further, chimpanzee resting brain activity is very similar to that of humans. However, the social cognitive data collected here show significant differences with the chimpanzee resting state. While resting activation is mostly cortical, the social activations relative to rest are largely limbic (including the amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus), possibly suggesting more emotionally driven processing than in humans.
Barks, Sarah K., Lisa A. Parr, and James K. Rilling. 2013. The Default Mode Network in Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) is Similar to that of Humans. Cerebral Cortex (doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht253)
Minichillo, Thomas J., U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Middle Stone Age Lithic Study, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Angela E. Close
THOMAS J. MINICHILLO, then a student at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on 'Middle Stone Age Lithic Study, South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Angela E. Close. The Middle Stone Age began around 300,000 years ago and continued to around 35,000 years ago in Africa. During this period anatomically modern humans emerged in Africa. Also during this period increasingly sophisticated technological innovations and the earliest evidence for symbolic thought entered into the archaeological record. All of these events are critical for our understanding of modern human origins. The research funded focused on the lithic technology of the Middle Stone Age from the Cape coast of southern Africa and presents new data from the region, helping to place this important period of our evolution in context. It was found, through the use of innovative methods and previously unreported curated assemblages that, during the Still Bay sub-stage, stylistic boundaries are apparent in the stone tools at the same time as the earliest recorded instances of worked ochre and shell beads. As this socially constructed bounding co-occurs with the earliest evidence for symbolic thought and personal adornment in the global archaeological record, it suggests that at least by this time, 74,000 BP, Homo sapiens in southern Africa were behaving in thoroughly modern ways. This overturns one of the widely held explanations for modern human origins, the Neural Advance Model.
Minichillo, Tom. 2006. Raw Material Use and Behavioral Modernity: Howiesons Poort Lithic Foraging Strategies. Journal of Human Evolution 50(3):359-364.
Minichillo, Tom. 2007. Early Marine Resources and Pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene. Nature 449:905-909
Bird, Catherine, Tom Minichillo, and Curtis W. Marean. 2007. Edge Damage Distribution at the Assemblage Level on Middle Stone Age Lithics: An Image-based GIS Approach. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:771-780.
Thompson, Erin, Hope M. Williams, and Tom Minichillo. 2010. Middle and La Pleistoncene Middle Stone Age Lithic Technology from Pinnacle Point 13B (Mossel Bay, Western Cape Province, South Africa). Journal of Human Evolution 59(3-4):358-377.
Schuster, Caroline Elizabeth, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Making Good Money: Microcredit, Commercial Financing, and Social Regulation in Paraguay's Tri-Border Area,' supervised by Dr. John Comaroff
CAROLINE ELIZABETH SCHUSTER, then a student at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Making Good Money: Microcredit, Commercial Financing, and Social Regulation in Paraguay's Tri-Border Area,' supervised by Dr. John Comaroff. This ethnographic dissertation research examines the challenges and possibilities of 'Living on Credit' in Ciudad del Este, a booming commercial center on Paraguay's triple-frontier with Argentina and Brazil. Paraguay's economic landscape is configured by extreme poverty and economic inequality as well as extensive economic liberalization. Microcredit-based development projects-small group-based loans collateralized through joint liability-sit at the intersection of free-market orthodoxies and social concerns for poverty and financial exclusion: twin tendencies that mark the contours of Ciudad del Este's commercial economy. The research finds that, even in a minimally regulated free trade zone, economic relationships are highly regulated in social practice through the exigencies of development aid, the logics and accountabilities of financial instruments, ideologies of gender and women's economic participation, and the economic priorities of people enmeshed in a dense web of obligations and redistributive networks. Through eighteen months of fieldwork at a Paraguayan microcredit non-government organization (2009-2010), the grantee tracked the cultural forms and theories of value that anchor the accounting practices and financial instruments of microfinance. The research highlights the fundamental dilemma of banking on social relationships while constantly managing and containing the unstable 'social unit' that threatens to exceed the narrow terms of the loan.
Chua, Emily Huiching, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on ''Culture Can Solve Problems': Communitarian Media Ethics and the Cultural Ambitions of Television Production in China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong
EMILY H. CHUA, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2009, to aid research on ''Culture Can Solve Problems': Communitarian Media Ethics and the Cultural Ambitions of Television Production in China,' supervised by Dr. Aihwa Ong. As economic reform transforms China's mass media from a formidable Party-propaganda apparatus into a teeming culture industry, how are state-employed media producers responding to the changing political and economic conditions of their work? In the early twentieth century, Chinese journalists saw themselves as intellectual-activists who gave voice to the conscience of society and guided the country towards self-improvement. During the Mao era, the Communist Party's claim to exclusive ideological leadership turned the mass media into a mouthpiece of the Party-state. The end of Mao's revolutionary project and the rise of Deng's market-based approach have left China's media producers struggling to redefine the nature of their work. On the one hand, commercialization depoliticizes the media, allowing it to operate more like a forum of society than an instrument of the state. On the other hand, media producers are themselves now at the mercy of commercial forces. In the struggle for economic survival, they cannot afford to play the social critic they aspire to be. Political propaganda comes to be replaced by consumer entertainment instead, and society's conscience remains in need of a voice. From this situation spring the many new and difficult ethical problems with which China's idealistic and energetic young media producers now grapple.
Hall, Jennifer Lee, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Building Bridges: Language Ideology and Passerelle Literacy Education in Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
JENNIFER L. HALL, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Building Bridges: Language Ideology and Passerelle Literacy Education in Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. This dissertation research looks at mother tongue adult literacy education in Morocco through a case study of a new methodology called 'passerelle.' The grantee tested the hypothesis that passerelle -- by promoting Standard Arabic script as an ideologically neutral instrument for representing mother tongue languages -- presents an ideological conflict for learners and educators who may hold differing ideas as to the appropriateness of portraying traditionally oral languages in written form using Arabic script. Twelve months of comparative research was conducted on the ideologies of learners and educators in passerelle classrooms, in both urban and rural settings. The grantee observed that passerelle literacy educators tended to avoid utilizing mother tongue literacy activities in the classroom and instead relied on normative methods of Standard Arabic literacy teaching. They restricted the use of mother tongues languages in the classroom to oral activities and the use of Standard Arabic to writing activities, thus indicating that passerelle methodology did indeed present an ideological conflict. In contrast, most adult literacy learners did not express a similar ideological conflict and embraced opportunities to write in dialectical Arabic. This is partially due to the fact that many did not hold any preconceived notions about distinctions between oral and written Arabic.
Mahadev, Neena, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das
NEENA MAHADEV, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in October 2008, to aid research on 'Buddhist and Christian Ethical Endeavors: Charitable Works, Conversions, and Unstable Religious Commitments in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das. The rise in global Pentecostal Christianity has begun to affect Sri Lanka over recent decades, inciting Buddhist nationalists to revive their efforts to protect against the possibility that Christianity will supplant Buddhism as the majority religion of the country. This research attended to the discourses and practices involved in protecting Theravada Buddhism, as well as to new practices of evangelism and charismatic Christianity in Sri Lanka. The fieldwork considered sub/urban religious landscapes where conversions to charismatic Christianity have been relatively concentrated within certain socioeconomic demographic groups, in contrast to predominantly Buddhist tsunami-affected areas where conversions have been gradual, limited, and dispersed across southern districts. In the crosscut between Buddhist nationalism and Pentecostal evangelism in Sri Lanka, this project took up the following ethnographic tasks: 1) to study the events that have caused a resurgence of exclusivist religious doctrines and practices, exacerbating Buddhist-Christian discord in Sri Lanka; 2) to study the impacts of heightened tensions on Buddhist and Christian institutions and individuals; 3) to gain knowledge about the workings of both harmonious and discordant inter-religious relationships; and 4) to understand how experiences of belonging within families and within village communities did or did not match ideologies of exclusivity promoted by religious authorities.