Wenner-Gren Sponsored Events at AAA 2014

If you are planning to attend the meetings, please join us at the following Foundation-sponsored events:

  1. Thursday, December 4, and Friday, December 5, 2014:
    Current Anthropology
    Office Hours
    (10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Exhibition Hall, University of Chicago Press Booth)
    Stop by to meet Current Anthropology Editor Mark Aldenderfer and Managing Editor Lisa McKamy.
  2. Friday, December 5, 2014:
    How to Write a Grant Proposal: An Introduction to Grants and Programs at the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Science Foundation (8:00 AM-10:00 AM, Maryland Suite A, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel)
    Featuring Leslie Aiello (Wenner-Gren), Deborah Winslow (NSF), and Jeffrey Mantz (NSF). The workshop is free but please pre-register at the AAA website or stop by the Wenner-Gren or NSF tables in the exhibition hall.
  3. Friday, December 5, 2014:
    Wenner-Gren Foundation Reception (8:00 PM-10:00 PM, Palladian Ballroom, Omni Shoreham Hotel)
    Public reception with an open bar for the first hour. Come to meet other anthropologists and celebrate the Foundation’s ongoing support for anthropology.

Please stop by and visit us in the Exhibition Hall (Booth 518). We look forward to seeing you! Our staff will be there to answer questions about our grant programs and introduce some new initiatives leading up to our 75th anniversary in 2016. These include:

  1. The Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethnographic Film. Next deadline: May 1, 2015.  More information can be found at: http://www.wennergren.org/programs/fejos-postdoctoral-fellowships .
  2. Innovations in the Public Awareness of Anthropology. To be launched in 2015. This new grant program is designed to fund innovative projects to raise public awareness of anthropology.

The Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of the following 2014 open access Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplementary issues of Current Anthropology. These supplementary issues highlight important and emerging themes in anthropology across the four fields and we congratulate the guest editors and contributors.

  1. Crisis, Value, and Hope:  Rethinking the Economy (Current Anthropology, Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplementary issue 9, Eds. Susana Narotzky and Niko Besnier). No. S9, pp. S1-S154 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/675941).

The Anthropology of Christianity:  Unity, Diversity, New Directions (Current Anthropology, Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplementary issue 10, Eds. Joel Robbins and Naomi Haynes). (http://www.jstor.org/stable/curranth.ahead-of-print)

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A Case Study of Dissertation Research Collaboration in Rural Haiti – Part 4 of 4

In the previous posts of this four-Part series on research collaboration in rural Haiti, Florida doctoral student and WGF grantee Andrew Tarter discussed the benefits to social scientists of collaborating with research counterparts at Faculté d’Ethnologie (Department of Ethnology) at L’Université d’État d’Haïti (State University of Haiti). He provided a list of steps that constitute a blueprint toward successful collaboration. Here Tarter concludes by addressing some challenges faced, and suggesting additional routes to collaboration.

Challenges to collaboration

The process of research collaboration I have discussed in previous posts of this 4-part series sounds rosy. Make no mistake about it; there were real challenges as well.  Being responsible for many aspects of the physical well-being of three individuals is a task that was new to me, and one that consumed a great deal of my time. There were daily tasks, weekly tasks, and monthly tasks. Daily, I had to offload data (audio interviews, GPS paths and points, photos and surveys) when our research team was done for the day, and reverse the process (program GPS paths and points, clear audio interviews, consult satellite photos, identify plots of land to visit, arrange motorcycle transport, and prepare blank surveys) each morning. I also had to keep on top of charging and returning student laptops and rechargeable batteries so the students could work on their memoirs in the evenings. On a weekly basis, I had to attend two weekly markets to purchase food (no refrigerator), allocate the budget for food and water (drinking and bathing), arrange to have water carried to the houses, purchase and transport charcoal, and manage the overall weekly research schedule, making occasional schedule adjustments for student trips to the capital and holidays. I also taught two weekly English classes at the community center. Then there was the task of recharging Internet USB sticks (at a crippling 2G internet speed) and purchasing and transporting gasoline for the generator.  I found myself frequently taking the 45-minute, one-way trip to the bank, spending multiple hours standing in line to circumvent bank-imposed limits on cash withdrawals, in order to pay the three collaborators, cooks, motorcycle chauffeurs, and the owner of the house where the students stayed.  And let’s not forget laundry. Naively I had not expected these tasks would consume a large portion of my free time. To top it all off, I still had multiple interviews to conduct and ethnographic film footage to shoot in my free time. While difficult, these tasks didn’t in any way negate the experience and benefits of working with research collaborators—it was still well worth it. Nevertheless, PIs working with multiple collaborators should be prepared to spend a good deal of their time on logistics related to keeping the research on schedule.

Other routes to collaboration

Collaborating can take different forms, and I would be remiss to not note at least a few other recent examples and opportunities that interested researchers should consult:

  • Due to the combined efforts of anthropologists abroad and in Haiti, Faculté d’Ethnologie has recently received an institutional building grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation.  This grant—which had not yet been approved when I started my research—now serves as one particular route to collaboration with Faculté d’Ethnologie at UEH.  To read a recent interview with Dr. Jhon Picard Byron (Chef Département Anthropologie-Sociologie) about the grant and the history of anthropology at UEH, click here.
  • Senior researchers can and should benefit from consulting Dr. Mark Schuller’s special issue in Practicing Anthropology, Vol. 35, No. 3 on the benefits and challenges to working collaboratively with Haitian-American undergraduates and their Haitian counterparts at UEH.
  • New scholars en route to Haiti might also consider a preliminary visit to the nearby University of Florida, which has the longest-standing research relationship with Haiti, boasting:


About the author

Andrew Tarter is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow, and PhD candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Florida. Tarter’s research in Haiti has been supported by NSF, The Wenner Gren Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Douglas London

Douglas London is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at Adelphi University. In 2009, while a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University, he received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant to aid research on ‘Hunter-Gatherers and Dietary Double-Edged Swords: Food as Medicine among the Waorani Foragers of Amazonian Ecuador,’ supervised by Dr. Takeyuki Tsuda. In 2013, he was awarded the Engaged Anthropology Grant to follow-up on his research with two Ecuadorian indigenous groups and the complex interactions linking their diet, health, and local economic activities. 


Engagement Grant Follow-Up to Study:

I.The Problem: The study, started in 2009, compared the diet and the health of the Kawymeno group of Waorani hunter-gatherer population still engaged in full-time foraging outside the modern food system with neighboring subsistence agricultural indigenous rain forest populations. The study focused on the pharmaceutical aspects (plant phytochemical content of their diet) rather than the nutritional aspects of their diet. There were major differences in health outcomes across the board; most of the infectious and chronic diseases present in neighboring indigenous farmers were completely absent among the Waorani hunter-gatherers. When confounding factors are controlled for study evidence demonstrated that particular aspects of the Waorani traditional diet protect against certain chronic and infectious diseases. Waorani that have abandoned their traditional diet now experience these dietary related diseases. Maintaining a traditional high dietary phytochemical intake has been discouraged by policies of oil companies, non-profits, government health and education institutions and Westernizing Waorani institutions themselves. However, many phytochemical-rich foods, such as rain forest fruit varieties, still exist near the Waorani but are just simply ignored in favor of processed and imported food. Unfortunately, westernizing Waorani are encouraged through example by their new Western role models, to discontinue their supposedly “primitive” diet. Informal dietary advice and food given to the Waorani by local Ecuadorians negatively affects health outcomes. This underlines the importance of making those institutions who provide dietary advice and food aid aware of the particular characteristics and striking health benefits of the native Waorani diet that is high in wild varied phytochemical and nutrient content that is lacking in a Western diet. Waorani are losing their foraging lifestyle due to the intrusion of oil companies and oil drilling in their rain forest homeland in previously protected Yasuni National Park.

Implementation: We were given a Wenner-Gren grant to disseminate study results with the overall goal of returning in person to the study site to start an ongoing dialogue with the Waorani, as well as Ecuadorian regional influencers and stakeholders in that region of the Amazon rain forest, regarding preservation of the tradition food system of the Waorani. Maintaining a traditional diet has been discouraged by policies of oil companies, non-profits, government health and education institutions and Westernizing Waorani institutions themselves. The Ecuadorian government has very recently giving the green flag to begin oil drilling in Yasuni national park one of the most bio-diverse regions of the world and our study site, a blow to global conservation efforts. However, armed with a small budget we wanted to make the oil companies, as much as possible, a part of the solution as oil companies officials pay for many Waorani schools, teachers, health clinics and health providers and provide limited food and employment while drilling. We had already participated in negotiations between the oil companies and the Waorani nation as a whole and through this process built up some trust with the overall Waorani population as a whole beyond our small Kawymeno community we focused our research on.

Regional visits and meetings took place in 32 remote Waorani communities, and attendant schools and health centers, as well as with local and national officials who oversee these regions. For almost two months study results were disseminated to remote Waorani communities and people most influential in affecting Waorani dietary decisions: oil companies, non-profits, indigenous representative groups, health and education providers and government officials. The goal was to encourage the preservation and recognize the value of the native Waorani diet. This also meant measures to provide continued access to the rain forest where the native food comes from. The practical emphasis of the meetings was on planting the seeds of potential future collaborations and projects with multiple stakeholder participation. Our regional “workshops” used food demonstrations, role-playing/theater, and a brief PowerPoint show where possible. In general we avoided lecturing as a medium as it is not effective with foraging communities and has less impact than more dynamic approaches for other stakeholders as well. We often had to perform on the spot with no preparation time. Our Waorani assistants and promotors often accompanied us

All these regional meetings disseminating study results and discussing the value of the Waorani native diet culminated in a conference to which both indigenous leaders and Amazonian regional and national influencers and stakeholders were invited. We set a tentative date early on during these regional meetings for a final conference to bring all the people we talked to together to form a blueprint as to how each stakeholder might participate in preserving and promoting the native Waorani diet. The conference took place in the regional capital Coca in the Hotel Auca, a hotel named after an earlier name given to the Waorani and generally sympathetic to Waorani concerns. Many indigenous leaders and regional educators, health providers, oil company and government officials, academics, non-profits and other stakeholders came.

Our goals were first to create awareness of the value of the Waorani food system and culturally appropriate ways to preserve the Waorani food system, second to generate respect for the Waorani culture via the food system and promote Waorani pride in their native diet, third to plant the seeds for future collaborations among the stakeholders to preserve the native Waorani diet. We felt we did create awareness of the value of the Waorani food system where there was previously little understanding or interest in the native diet. We also made some headway with arranging collaborative for future projects through bringing together stakeholders that rarely meet on the issue of food system preservation. Stakeholders we contacted are now more aware of the health value of the Waorani diet where before it was not considered an important issue. In reality we needed more time, money and a longer more permanent presence to make lasting change to avert the destruction of the food system that is occurring. Beyond this grant lifespan we plan to continue research, dissemination and building relationships in this Amazonian region of Ecuador

Conclusion: Wenner-Gren funds anthropological projects that go beyond studying the indigenous group and get to what matters in real life, making use of what is learned in way that really helps the people studied. An academic product discussing the lessons learned from the study returned in a written form to indigenous leaders and stake holders is a culturally inappropriate vehicle to create positive change in the local region. While benefiting the anthropologist this method of research dissemination often has no immediate useful impact on the actual indigenous participants in the study. Wenner-Gren engagement grants go the next step and give back something tangible to the indigenous participants who so generously give time to the researchers. It is hoped that more researchers will dedicate time to giving to as well as receiving from their indigenous partners and Wenner-Gren will continue to be a leader in making anthropology more relevant to the real world problems and issues.

Bottom Line: We personally feel for anthropologists to fare well in what is a changing world and appear relevant to our audiences and supporters at home and abroad we must move with the times and practice more community development along with research. We are grateful Wenner-Gren is taking a leadership role and hope more funding will be available for community development component of research. Anthropologists will move with the times to go beyond being “activists” to becoming implementer of the things we hold dear such as the preservation of global human diversity. Paid to work closely with indigenous groups we have a unique opportunity to make a difference. Our upcoming article funded by Wenner-Gren describes a pilot methodology we hope is useful in helping other anthropologists to become implementers in the preservation of diversity.


  • London D. (2014) Melding data collection methodology with community assistance: benefits to both researchers and the indigenous groups they study. Journal of Ecological Anthropology (in print)

NYAS @ WGF 11/17: Immigration and Activism Panel

November’s New York Academy of Sciences meeting will be underway next Monday, November 17th, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, as we and NYAS welcome a panel discussion featuring Daniel Goldstein of Rutgers University and Alyshia Gálvez of Lehman College, CUNY. Dr. Goldstein will present a paper entitled “E-Terrify: Electronic Surveillance of the Immigrant Worker in Obama’s America”while Dr. Gálvez will give a talk on “Vampire Capitalism: New guises of colonialism in a post-labor and post-migration age”.

A dinner reception (suggested donation $20 but free to graduate students) will precede the panel discussion at 6:00pm.

The meeting is free to attend. Please do not contact the Wenner-Gren Foundation with inquiries regarding registration.


Public Forum Features Leading Anthropologists’ Recommendations for Ebola Response

Experts on West Africa and infectious disease control/prevention will present their recommendations to assist the global Ebola crisis response during a public forum on Friday, Nov. 7. The forum will be webcast.

Convened by The American Anthropological Association (AAA) with the support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and The George Washington University, the public forum will be accessible in person and online.

Where: The George Washington University, Media and Public Affairs Building B07,
805 21st St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20052.
Online: http://bit.ly/aaaebola
When: Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, 2:30-5 pm E.S.T.

Friday’s public session will present the findings and recommendations of the Ebola Emergency Response Workshop, a two-day workshop of intensive sessions drawing together the expertise of more than 25 of the world’s leading anthropologists on implementation issues regarding the Ebola response in the United States, Ebola-affected countries and African regional neighbors. Topics will include: prevention, control, surveillance, response, treatment, clinical trials and interventions, health communications, risk factors and the streamlining of local, national and international systems of response.

Experts attending the Ebola Emergency Response Workshop include anthropologists and other social scientists from such leading institutions as the University of Florida, Johns Hopkins University, the Max Planck Institute, the University of Washington, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Arizona, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cheikh Anta Diop University, as well as other researchers who have been working in Ebola-affected regions.
Their distinctive knowledge of social and cultural institutions provides critical context in reviewing current responses and providing actionable guidance to humanitarian responders. During Friday’s open forum, practitioners, policy makers, scholars and the public will be invited to pose questions to the assembled anthropological experts.

This event is co-sponsored by:

American Anthropological Association
International Development Research Centre

Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
The George Washington University -IGIS
The George Washington University-ESIA Humanitarian Studies Program
The George Washington University-Institute for Ethnographic Research

– – AAA – –
Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists, with more than 10,000 members. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and tackling the world’s most pressing problems.

D. Rachael Bishop,
Director, Communications and Public Affairs, 703-528-1902 x 1163
2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 1301
Arlington, VA 22201
Tel 703-528-1902
Fax 703-528-3546

Meet our 2014 Wadsworth International Fellows: Enquye Negash

Meet our final new Wadsworth International Fellow of 2014 – Ethopia’s Enquye Negash.

I am a PhD student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, studying in the Hominid Paleobiology program at the George Washington University (GWU).

I graduated from Addis Ababa University with a BSc degree in Earth Sciences (2008) and a MSc degree in Paleontology and Paleoenvironments (2012). After graduating, I have been teaching at the Department of Earth Sciences at Addis Ababa University. During this time I have also been undertaking research activities focusing on understanding the paleoenvironments of early humans from fossil sites in Ethiopia.

My research interest focuses on studying early humans, their evolution, adaptations, biogeography and environments especially during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs. I am also highly interested in understanding modern environments to have a better understanding of the past.  I have a special interest in understanding the extent and the type of impact the environment had on the course of human evolution.  Thus, my graduate research focused on understanding the paleoenvironments of early humans in the Shungura Formation, a Pliocene-Pleistocene fossil bearing site in the Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia.

To pursue my PhD I chose the George Washington University because the Hominid paleobiology program in the Anthropology Department has the right set of professors and research community with expertise and interests parallel to mine. The program is one of the few anthropology programs mainly focusing on human origins and offers a multi-disciplinary approach in addressing questions in human evolution.  Thus, during my graduate study, I intend to acquire a professional training in the field of paleoanthropology and also improve my knowledge and understanding of paleoenvironments and learn new techniques in understanding the impact of the environment on early humans.

I am grateful to be one of the recipients of the Wadsworth International Fellowship. The Fellowship is helping me to pursue my PhD studies at the George Washington University. I believe this is a great opportunity for me to get the professional training I will need to contribute to the scientific community and society at large.

NYAS @ WGF 10/27: Audio Now Available!

Left to right: Peter Siegel, Stuart Fiedel, Genese Sodikoff, Brian Boyd

Listen to last week’s New York Academy of Sciences anthropology section lecture featuring Stuart J. Fiedel, Senior Archaeologist at the Louis Berger Group and author of Prehistory of the Americas to discuss the challenges recent genetic, archaeological, and paleological evidence present to attempts to unambiguously document human occupations in the Americas prior to 13,500 BP and “break the Clovis Barrier” followed by comments by discussant Peter Siegel of Montclair State University.

Part 1 (Stuart Fiedel)

Part 2 (Peter Siegel)