Anthropology Photo Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the Anthropology Photography contest!

First Prize: Amelia Howell

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Amelia is a graduating senior and an Anthropology major. This year, she wrote an honors thesis called, “Booty Hop and the Snake: Race, Gender, and Identity in an Atlanta Strip Club,” for which she also won the Undergraduate Shostak Award for Excellence and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing. The award winning photograph is called “Everything in Excess.”

Everything in Excess 

This photo is of my family’s Great Dane, Yeagar, blocking the flat screen television in our game room. Behind the dog is a wall of photos from family trips all over the world from when we were children. This photo emphasizes an aspect of the culture of wealth in the United States. Everything in this photo is in excess. The size of the dog, the size of the television, and the size of the wall covered in photographs from around the world. The irony of this image is that the excessiveness of the size and wealth in the foreground is contrasted with the images on the wall which display family trips to predominantly less affluent areas of the world in Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Mexico, and Israel. The wall offers a glimpse of other realities of the world while being displayed among the comfort of an upper middle class family in the U.S. This image speaks to the culture of wealth in the United States where people often display said wealth through conspicuous consumption but also through displaying mementos representing the contrast in economic status of the reality of majority of the world.

 

Second Prize: Aiman Mustafa

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Aiman has recently returned from fieldwork in India for his dissertation, “The Elusive Community: The Making and Unmaking of Muslim Minority Voices in Mumbai, India: An Ethnographic Account.” The second place photo was taken in Mumbai.

Who – The owner and his watch shop     What – Waiting for customers   When – 24 December 2016    Where – Opposite the bustling CST terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) a World Heritage site and tourist hotspot, Mumbai, India

The picture captures a moment in this watch shop owner’s tiring wait for customers amidst the bustling environs of the World Heritage site. With the availability of cheap mobile phones mostly made in China most people have stopped using watches and clocks to keep time and small businesses such as this one are struggling to stay afloat.

 

Third Prize: Sarah Whitaker

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Sarah is currently conducting fieldwork in the Italian Alps for her dissertation, “Climate Change and Well-being in the Italian Alps.” Her third prize photo similarly displays her interests in climate and human interactions with the environment.

 

The photo captures a bike in the middle of the 4000 square mile Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, the largest salt flat in the world. The photo suggests the presence and activity of humans in an otherwise empty and seemingly inhospitable landscape. People from nearby towns arrive by bike, foot, or truck to harvest the salt, which they collect into small piles and then transport out of the flats. The Salar is an important international source of salt and the mineral lithium, used to treat bipolar and to make electric car batteries, smartphones, and fertilizers. Bolivian president Evo Morales has promised to develop the extraction of minerals from the flats to meet worldwide demand. While increased extraction would bring more jobs and much needed economic growth to the area around the Salar, local residents worry about the environmental impact and the impact on tourism. The flats are a major tourist destination, a stop on the “gringo trail” through South America. The future of the flats remains uncertain as international, national, and local political, social, and economic interests and opinions continue to clash, some people wanting to push forward, others not wanting the Salar to change. In the meantime, local residents continue to ride their bikes into the flats, harvest its salt and show tourists its beauty, and make a living off a harsh landscape that has remained unchanged for centuries.

 

People’s Choice: Kaitlin Banfill

Kaitlin is currently conducting fieldwork in China, for her dissertation, “Clans and Classmates: Kinship, Migration, and Education in Southwest China.” Her photo was chosen by those who visited the exhibit and voted for their favorite.

KB1.jpgSichuan Province, China , 35mm black and white film

A Nuosu funeral in Dechang County. In Nuosu culture, funerals are more important than births or weddings, and they bring relatives and community members together. In this photo, women prepare fireworks to guide the funeral procession and the deceased’s soul down the “road of spirits.” This photo is “anthropological” because it shows the relationships between the living and the dead, who continue to live through constant cultivation and reinvention of the community.

Thank you to everybody who participated!

Andrea Rissing explores the ethnographically generative practice of “flipping the field” in Anthropology News

Andrea Rissing explores the ethnographically generative practice of “flipping the field” in Anthropology News

Graduate student Andrea Rissing publishes article in Anthropology News describing the approach to her research on Iowa farms, which includes letting the farmers contribute questions they feel are worth asking.

“I always found that farmers had insightful opinions on what questions merited investigation. People know what is important in their own lives, and creating space for them to flip the interview made for more interesting, dynamic research.”

Grace Veatch is interviewed by Sapiens

“What do giant rats and tiny ‘Hobbits’ have in common? They both lived on a tiny island in Indonesia and form an important piece of the puzzle for uncovering what it means to be human.”

Homo floresiensis rat bones - Veatch examines a “hobbit,” or Homo floresiensis, skull from Liang Bua Cave.

This is the focus of Grace Veatch’s dissertation research, as she analyzes thousands of tiny and giant sized rat bones that were recovered in a cave site along with a human ancestor named Homo floresiensis.

“I hope to understand how these ‘Hobbit’s’ incorporated small mammals into their diet, and how this might compare to how modern humans also use this vital resource on an island depauperate of large game. Check out my research showcased in an online article through Sapiens.org for more information about this exciting research happening here in the Anthropology Department at Emory University.”

 

 

Andrea Rissing wins AAA Culture and Agriculture essay prize

Andrea Rissing wins AAA Culture and Agriculture essay prize

Andrea Rissing (PhD candidate) won the 2017 Robert M. Netting Award, a graduate student paper prize awarded by the Culture and Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association. The award recognizes original research related to agrarian systems from a holistic, social-scientific perspective. It provides a cash award of $750 and a consultation with the editors of the journal Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment with the goal of revising the paper for publication.

Her paper, “‘Profitability’ vs. ‘Making it’: The Agrarian Realms of Market and Community,” argues that the success of beginning farmers depends on more than just profitability. Drawing on her ethnographic fieldwork with farmers in Iowa, she shows how “making it” in farming within the first five years is contingent upon economic and social factors in the market realm and the community realm.

Congratulations to Andrea!

[Photo credit: Andrea Rissing. Assorted organic produce at the Mason City farmers market, Mason City, Iowa.]

Gabriela Sheets (PhD, 2017) receives the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Dissertation Award for her 2017 dissertation on “The Developmental Ecology of the Infant Gut Microbiome”.

Gabriela Sheets (PhD, 2017) receives the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Dissertation Award for her 2017 dissertation on “The Developmental Ecology of the Infant Gut Microbiome”.

Gabriela Sheets receives the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Dissertation Award for her 2017 dissertation on “The Developmental Ecology of the Infant Microbiome”.

The Committee describes Sheets’ work as “novel meshing of anthropology and biology to explore an emerging area of general interest,” and thought it was likely to “make important contributions well beyond the medical anthropology community.”  One member called it an “exemplar in where science should go.”

“Recognition begs reflection, and reflection begs gratitude. The beast that this dissertation was to become invited me on a marvelous journey through the lives, stories and biologies of many Salvadoran families, for which I am forever grateful. Before my observing eye, life spilled out. She sometimes clumsily, but always excitedly, tripped over herself to whisper her secrets and to weave her tales through the human body. Even under and around the long shadows of death where meaning was mute, her whispers sounded. Thank you Emory for the opportunity to research questions that excite me, always supported by frameworks rooted in our anthropological and biological heritage. I hope to make even a small difference with the tools and drive that you provided for me.” Gabriela Sheets

Alexa Dietrich (PhD, 2007) publishes article on Puerto Rico

Dietrich and her co-authors, Adriana María Garriga-López and Claudia Sofía Garriga-López, point out in the article that the state Puerto Rico is currenlty in after the recent hurricanes cannot be seen without taking into account the history of this US territory. They cite mismanagement such as “extractivism, monoculture, and poor waste management”, as well as the so called Jones Act as unnatural disaster that strike the island.

The authors offer a vision for the future: “What vulnerable communities need is an infrastructure of sustainable economic development and reliable everyday public services so their existing adaptive capacities can be strengthened and supported.”

Dietrich wrote her dissertation on “The Corporation Next Door: Pharmaceutical Companies in Community, Health and the Environment in Puerto Rico”.

Dr. Jessica Thompson’s work featured in New York Times

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Finding ancient human remains in Africa is rare and most of the work done in this field is recent. A lot has happened in the last few years however. Emory’s eScienceCommons detailed Dr. Thompson’s role in the research.

Dr. Jessica Thompson hopes to learn more about migration patterns from the DNA of bones discovered in Malawi. It shows that the hunter gatherers that lived there as recently as 2,000 years ago are not genetically related to today’s population. Scientists previously relied on tools left behind to create migrations patterns. DNA now gives answers to whether populations mixed or whether one was forced out. The oldest samples from Malawi are over 8,000 years old. Dr. Thompson had help from graduate student Kendra Sirak with dating and DNA extraction of the 8,100 year old skeleton.

The work that Dr. Thompson collaborated in was featured in the New York Times.

Donate to Dr. Thompson’s research.

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Welcome to the 2017 Graduate Cohort!

The Anthropology Department at Emory welcomes four new graduate students to the program this Fall. They come from diverse educational backgrounds and have exciting research that they will pursue in the coming years.

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Bridget Hansen earned bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Classical Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Her research focuses on how cultural beliefs and practices of mental illness and health interact with the neoliberalism of Euro-American systems of biomedicine and psychology in the Arabian Gulf countries. She has conducted research in Oman and other Gulf countries with a Fulbright Fellowship and has been awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation for her work at Emory. She was recently featured in Emory News as an entering graduate student with exciting research and great accomplishments.

AJ Jones earned the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Princeton University. Her research interests include the topics of illness, disability, medicine, gender, and the body. Prior to coming to Emory, she researched the subjectivity and narratives of girls and women with Turner Syndrome, a genetic condition in which females are born with a partially or entirely missing X chromosome, rendering them infertile, among other physical effects. She hopes to continue and build upon this line of research at Emory.

Jordan Martin earned bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology at Miami University. His research focuses on the proximate and ultimate bases of social behavior and relationships in human and non-human primates, particularly with the evolution and biological underpinnings of social personality traits, the evolutionary consequences of cooperative breeding, and the determinants and functional significance of affiliative and and attachment bonds. Prior to arriving at Emory, he spent a year conducting research in Vienna, and he is a Woodruff Scholar in the Laney Graduate School.

Erik Ringen earned the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Washington State University. He is interested in comparative and quantitative approaches to understanding human behavior and health from an evolutionary perspective. While at Emory, he will focus on ingestive behavior and the natural history of human interactions with plant secondary compounds in food, medicine, and drug use. Prior to coming to Emory, he worked as a researcher with the Human Relations Area Files project at Yale University.

Kendra Sirak develops less invasive sampling procedure for DNA analysis

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Ancient DNA analysis can reveal insight into past populations on many levels. Unfortunately, accessing the osseous labyrinth inside the petrous bone, which has the highest concentration of endogenous DNA of any skeletal element, creates a problem for analysis: It requires intact skeletal remains.

PhD candidate Kendra Sirak has developed a new technique to access the osseous labyrinth without the damage done by established techniques. She details the process in her paper published in BioTechniques and has taught the technique to experts in ten different countries, which has allowed them to perform the procedure independently.