Your Contributions at Work
Your contributions to the department are used to support activities that facilitate training, research, and teaching in anthropology. The most important of these are the awards that the department gives to undergraduate and graduate students.
Each year we recognize the Best Undergraduate Honor's Thesis and Best Anthropology Essay with financial awards. A faculty committee selects the papers for each award. We give out three awards for Best Anthropology Essay - one each for archaeology, biocultural anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology.
Best Honors Theses in Anthropology 2011-2012
Winner: Kaitlin Banfill
"Mobile Narratives: Social Mobility Strategies of Rural
Migrant Workers in Shanghai"
Advisor: Dr. Stevan Harrell
Winner: Ian Ostericher
"Islam and Dutch Conquest: Archaeological Evidence of
Islam from BN1, Banda Naira, Maluku, Indonesia"
Advisor: Dr. Peter Lape
Best Anthropology Essay Awards 2011-2012
Sociocultural WinnerBiocultural Anthropology Winner
“A Man Without a Dream is Nothing but a Creature:
Authenticity and teh Native Cultural Experience at Tillicum Village
Professor: Dr. Miriam Kahn
“Can Chocolate Help Relieve Stress? A Look at Dark
Chocolate's Effect on Cortisol Levels in Young Females
Professor: Dr. Kathleen O'Connor
"Geoarchaeological Analysis of Kaho Toh Chong Rockshelter"
Professor: Dr. Benjamin Marwick
The department helps to support pre-dissertation pilot research projects and travel to national academic conferences for graduate students. The awards provide graduate students with critical support that is not typically available from any other source of funding.
Each year we fund as many graduate students as possible to conduct pre-dissertation pilot research. This research is used to identify a field site, make important connections at the field site, and undertake preliminary data collection. These awards were made in amounts ranging from $168 to $1,400 each. The students and projects funded for the 2012-2013 academic year are:
- William Brown
Anthropologists and demographers of the late 20th century argued that ancient hunter-gatherers led a relatively disease-free existence. However, recent research has begun to show that this argument holds true only for their experience of acute, epidemic diseases such as smallpox and influenza. Even sparsely distributed, highly mobile hunter-gatherers sustain burdens of chronic disease resulting from infection by low-virulence pathogens such as protozoa and gastrointestinal helminths. Archaeoparasitological research in the Aleutians and in coastal British Columbia has confirmed that helminth infections extend to the pre-contact era in the Northern Pacific Rim. Yet, current accounts of paleopopulation growth dynamics in this region continue to focus primarily on the influence of subsistence productivity and nutritional status, with much less attention paid to the health outcomes and demographic implications of infectious disease. I hypothesize that a number of observable transitions in the population history of the Kodiak Archipelago might alternatively represent epidemiological transitions, associated with reorganizations of the subsistence economy and land use practices over time. My pilot funding will allow me to conduct microanalysis of bulk midden samples from a handful of Kodiak sites, with the goal of detecting and taxonomically classifying helminth eggs present in these anthropogenic sediments. This pilot work will allow me to train my eye to identify these telltale signs of parasite infection. If successful, I will expand this approach with my dissertation research to include other sites spanning the archipelago’s occupation history, with the intent of detecting temporal correspondences between changes in population growth dynamics and qualitative or quantitative changes in disease burden.
- Anna Cohen
In ancient polities, territorial expansion is often followed by a process termed ‘consolidation,’ which involves co-opting local institutions or creating new administrative structures and ideological systems. My dissertation will focus on the impacts of imperial consolidation by investigating how the daily activities of people living near an emerging state capital change as they are incorporated into a new regime. In western Mexico, current archaeological and historical data suggest that the Tarascans created the most centralized and consolidated polity in Postclassic Mesoamerica (1000-1520 CE). However, archaeological research on Tarascan regime formation has not focused on changes to existing daily activities. For my dissertation, I will excavate at Angamuco, a recently identified urban site in the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, Michoacán, located near the former Tarascan imperial capital. Using excavation data, I will compare changes in artifact production and consumption before, during, and after Tarascan consolidation. With pilot funds, I plan to identify excavation areas with clear stratigraphic integrity and to generate a preliminary occupation sequence at Angamuco. This pilot research will allow me to determine where I will excavate for my dissertation, and will help demonstrate that I will be analyzing artifacts from temporally and spatially distinct contexts.
- P. Joshua Griffin
My dissertation project regards the existential dimensions of climate change across multiple domains of human life and will consider the means by which various communities navigate their experiences of climatic risk and the implications of these for the environmental/climate justice movement and climate ethics at large. Pilot funding from the Department of Anthropology will enable me to visit the Native Village of Kivalina, AK. in June 2012. Together with community leaders, I will discern the feasibility, scope, and methodology for a continued ethnographic approach to environmental change and sociocultural resilience in Kivalina. In particular, I will engage in a series of conversations with members of the Kivalina Epiphany Church around the role of Iñupiaq Christianity in coping with environmental vulnerability and the constructive role that the Episcopal Church (the denomination to which Epiphany belongs) might play in supporting Kivalina's struggle for environmental/climate justice.