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.

Undergraduate Students

The department permanently established four annual "Wienker Awards" for undergraduate distinction, through the generous donation of department alumnus, Curtis Wienker. Each year we recognize, with financial awards, the Best Undergraduate Honor's Thesis and Best Anthropology Essay - one each for archaeology, biocultural anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. A faculty committee selects the papers for each award. 


Best Honors Theses in Anthropology 2014-2015


Fiona Stefanik

Thesis Title: 
"Eating for Who? Disordered Eating, Distress, and Resilience In Narratives of Pregnancy and Birth"

Advisor: Dr. Rachel Chapman


Best Anthropology Essay Awards 2014-2015

Sociocultural Winner

“Health Care For the Elderly”
Tracy Yeung
Professor: Dr. Janelle Taylor

Biocultural Anthropology Winner

Risky Buisiness: "The Effects of Reason For, and Tisk of Hunting Nonhuman Primates and Other Bushmeat in Central and Western Africa"
Teague Thomas
Professor: Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel

Archaeology Winner

"Stone Artifacts and Mobility in Pulau-Pualu Bomba"
Megan McCrea
Professor: Dr. Benjamin Marwick

Graduate Students

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 location, and undertake preliminary data collection. These awards are made in amounts ranging from $168 to $1,400 each. This research is funded directly by donations to several department gift accounts.

One significant source of support comes from the Student Training in Anthropological Research Tools and Skills (STARTS) endowment fund. In January 2014, the department hosted an event to honor its founders, David Notkin and Cathy Tuttle. (You can read Cathy’s comments here.) To see the many ways in which STARTS has supported graduate student research, the department created a 45-page booklet that highlights 21 of the STARTS recipients with descriptions and photos of their research.

The students and projects funded for the 2015-2016 academic year are:


Ian Kretzler

In 1856, over 27 bands and tribes from across western Oregon were forcibly relocated from their homelands to the Grand Ronde Reservation in northwestern Oregon. This event, Oregon’s Trail of Tears, was the culmination of a decades-long effort by settlers and politicians to relocate Native communities far from Euro-American settlements and transfer western Oregon’s productive agricultural lands to non-Native parties. It was also among the first examples of then-new federal Indian policy that stipulated confining Native communities to small federally-administered reservations. Isolating Native communities on reservations not only extended the government’s control over what it viewed as a potentially dangerous population, it furthered the implementation of assimilationist policies aimed at replacing Native lifeways and beliefs with Christianity, agricultural economies, and Euro-American gendered divisions of labor. By all accounts, the government’s assimilationist goals went unrealized at Grand Ronde. Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, the diverse peoples of the Grand Ronde Reservation not only maintained many pre-reservation practices, they also formed a new community identity.

My dissertation research focuses on the relationship between imposed reservation policies and Native settlement patterns and food practices. The goal of this pre-dissertation project is to obtain baseline data about the nature of Grand Ronde archaeological deposits, specifically as they relate to reservation food practices. Though existing documentary and ethnographic sources note the presence of traditional foods in Grand Ronde diets, key details—such as the ratio of traditional to introduced foods, whether and how diet composition changed through time, and the link between food practices and emergent Grand Ronde identity—have not been seriously explored.

This summer, I will travel to Grand Ronde and, in collaboration with tribal archaeologists and students, conduct archaeological survey and excavation of reservation households occupied during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These efforts will focus on recovering material culture related to food acquisition, preparation, and consumption as well as faunal and floral remains. Post-field work analysis of these data will yield important insights about Grand Ronde food practices through time, which in turn will facilitate further refinement of dissertation research questions and analytical strategies.


Acquanda Stanford

This pilot research funds will be used to begin to construct and understand a more complex framework surrounding Black breastfeeding as it relates to the history of oppression and resistance. My methodology includes implementing approaches that will be conducted in Mississippi, USA, where more than 70% of the total population is African American. The state is also one of the poorest in the union and coincidentally has the lowest rates of women who have ever encountered breastfeeding, either exclusively or combined with other feeding methods; less than 50% of women ever initiate breastfeeding (CDC, 2013). As of now the racial make-up of breastfeeding disparities are not apparent, but my research will begin to answer this question on how Black women are situated within these figures. 

Because of the historical legacy of racial and political turmoil as well as the various ways Black people have worked to counter oppressive forces, I am interesting in drawing connections to Black breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, in this case, operates as a site that will allow me to gauge the larger framework around the trajectory of Blackness and community, where it once served as a framework of domination, during enslavement when Black women’s reproduction was directly controlled. Today, there are various organizations and individuals who work at rectifying this legacy through getting more Black babies to the breast. My interest looks at these facets, as well as how breastfeeding is experienced by Black people as a whole. 


Christopher Chan

This pilot research asks: what human meanings and cultural ideologies are encoded within visual machines? What material transformations do these images make upon life, landscape, and the signifying practices of programming? I propose blending traditional ethnographic methods (participant observation of workplaces and conferences, as well as semi-structured interviews) with a close and literate discourse analysis of the code that they write, share, and revise in real time. This methodological combination allows me to document how their code is informed by organizational and professional politics, funding and financing structures, and ontologies that organize seeing and knowing. In turn, I will observe how the execution of these algorithms make material transformations in these scientists’ conditions of labor, the construction of the observatory, and the flow of actors to Cerro Pachón. I anticipate this ethnographic study will generate new questions: how is global science embedded in geopolitical discourses about the circulation of capital, knowledge, and labor? How is an understanding of the cosmos always a function of human epistemologies? And finally, how does code reveal material dimensions of the semiotic process of signification?

I will use the findings and the relationships developed in my pilot research to design a larger dissertation project’s research. To do this, I will spend my time building rapport with scientists in this large, international science collaboration so that I can have points of access in later research. I will also use this time to immerse myself in the epistemic culture of astronomical and astrophysical knowledge production, to fully understand and articulate the stakes of their labor, and to begin to identify the complexities of their politics and professional ideologies. Practically, this pilot research will identify (1) key subjects for future interviewing and observation, (2) scientific projects whose developments can be tracked through software, presentations, and demos, and (3) larger thematic questions that will orient my dissertation’s research design. 


Eileen Sleesman

My dissertation research addresses the return of later generations of the Turkish diaspora to Turkey from Germany and the ways that transnational migration influences conceptions of nation and ethnicity. In spite of perceived similarity and ethnonational affiliation, German-born youth of Turkish descent never lived in Turkey, complicating the meaning and experience of “return.” Moreover, after they relocate to Turkey, their cultural and linguistic knowledge is highly sought after in sectors such as the expanding call center industry in Turkey that services German markets. This labor reemphasizes connections to Germany and ascribes value to an ability to navigate the “borderlands” (Anzaldúa 1987) of German and Turkish identity. The evaluation of this linguistic and cultural “fluency,” however, also produces potential for contested authenticity. Workers must interact with and convincingly assume multiple identities, making the call center a place where migration and technology intersect, potentially bringing narratives of belonging to a nation, a state, and often a religion into stark and contested relief.

Pilot research funds will allow me to conduct an 11 week pre-dissertation project in a Turkish call center to provide the experiential foundations and practical connections necessary for my dissertation research success. Through ethnographic research among call center workers in Turkey, I will consider how the transnational labor and practices of German-born Turkish heritage migrants to Turkey influence constructs of Turkish identity and how that impinges on larger understandings of individual subjectivities and discourses of nation.


Rodrigo Solinis Casparius

It is well documented that the study of the urban layout of a city can help to better understand some social aspects of living in community like economic and religious activities, interaction, and socialization (Hillier, 2007). In other words, among other social phenomena, there is a relationship between social organization and the spatial configuration of cities (Arnauld, et al, 2012; Cowgill, 2004). City planners, sociologists, urbanists and recently archaeologists, are paying special attention to the form and functioning of built environments and particularly to the architectural features that shape a city (Smith, 2010; Smith, 2003). The urban plan then, is formed by three components: the landscape (topography and environment), the architecture (functional locations) and the communication networks, that is: the roads (segments and intersections), paths and trails that allow people and goods to move around these locations. Roads and intersections guide and generate social interactions at different scales. Hence, in addition to being the material manifestation of human movement, road networks should be understood as resources that guide inhabitants within a settlement and define different levels of social interaction and social organization (Hillier & Hanson, 1984; Richards-Rissetto & Landau, 2013). In this way, roads become an important geographic anchor for social interaction, a relevant unit of research for understanding a city’s configuration (Lynch, 1960), and powerful instrument for the archaeological investigation of ancient cities. My dissertation research focuses in exploring the road network and its role in urban configuration for the recently discovered Prehispanic city of Angamuco, Michoacán (430–1530 CE). The funding from this pilot research will be used in its entirety for the laboratory analyses of five C14 dating samples within the three main roads of the site and contribute establishing a temporal framework of the roads towards a better understanding of the urban development of Angamuco.

Pilot research funding will be used in its entirety for the laboratory analyses of five C14 dating samples within the three main roads of the archaeological site and contribute with fundamental analytical elements for the understanding of the urban development of Angamuco.


Lauryl Zenobi

My dissertation research will clarify the timing of the commodification and increased trade of sago, an edible palm starch, during the proto-historic (500-1500 BP) and Dutch colonial periods (1600-1945) in Maluku, Indonesia. This palm has a long history of use in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA). At Kuk Swamp in the highlands of New Guinea there is archaeological evidence of sago exploitation that dates to at least 7000 BP. This early evidence indicates a low-level use of sago, with other plants such as taro, banana, yams, and perhaps rice (likely wild) forming the carbohydrate component of people’s diets (Denham et al. 2003). However, by the Dutch colonial period the importance of sago shifts and it becomes the staple crop of Maluku (Ellen 2006, Lape 2000). As such, precisely when sago became an important staple crop and when it became a standardized commodity is not yet known. In order to answer these questions and complete my dissertation, it will be crucial for me to receive training on archaeobotanical methods. Pilot funding would allow me to allowed me to spend two weeks in London at the University College London to train with mentors who are experts in archaeobotanical analysis.

Pilot research and testing will contribute to the quality of my dissertation in two ways – one: by providing me with the necessary experience to process and identify archaeobotanical remains, especially from contexts directly related to my region of study, and two: by providing insight into the status of macrobotanical preservation in Maluku.


Jiun-Yu Liu

This research will focus on the formation of trade diaspora communities and the impact of these communities on local society in prehistoric Taiwan and Luzon, Philippines. Trade diaspora are created by merchants groups who travel overseas or to alien places far away home, then establish themselves in a foreign community to trade goods and provide services. I plan to explore the interaction and bi-­‐directional influences between trade diasporic communities and local host communities in Eastern Taiwan and Northern Luzon in the Philippines between 2200 and 1000 years ago.

The primary archaeological materials utilized for this study are the ceramic assemblages, particularly the so-­‐called “black pottery” that was found in Eastern Taiwan and Northern Luzon. 劉 益昌 Liu (2010) proposes that the black pottery as material marker of people from Northern Luzon by the style of ceramic assemblage

In order to compare and confirm the relationship of black pottery in Eastern Taiwan and Northern Luzon, I will also have to access the raw ceramic data from Northern Luzon, thus a pilot examination of Northern Luzon ceramics will be the important first step of my dissertation research.


Jacob Deppen

My specific research interest is in studying the early dynamics of contact between indigenous Iron Age Mallorcans and the greater Mediterranean. Evidence suggests that during most of the Bronze Age and part of the Iron Age, Mallorca was mostly isolated from the rest of the Mediterranean. While we might expect a Mediterranean island population to be naturally seafaring and to make extensive use of marine resources, dietary evidence suggests otherwise.

Overtime, it seems clear that the locals were participating in new networks where they could acquire and consume Punic goods without the direct presence of Punic peoples. I am interested in understanding the consequences of this new, connected way of life. Some questions include: Did these new connections cause a shift in the kinds of activities that were occurring across the landscape? Were any new activities taken up? Were any old activities abandoned? Were there changes in the spatial organization of activities? I would like to examine these questions beginning around the end of the Talaiotic Period (ca. 550 BC) up to the time of Roman colonization of Mallorca (123 BC).

Pilot research will allow for the shipment of materials from Mallorca to Seattle, and allow me to create and test a framework for understanding Iron Age activities and their distribution on the landscape.