The Foundation would like to introduce you to Weldeyared Reda, who recently received a Wadsworth International Fellowship to continue training in paleoanthropology at the University of Chicago, supervised by Dr. Callum Ross. Read the previous entry in this series here.
Growing up in Ethiopia, I was fascinated by the many world-renowned paleoanthropological discoveries made there. This motivated me to pursue a BA in archaeology at Aksum and MSc in Paleoanthropology and Paleoenvironment at Addis Ababa Universities, both in Ethiopia. During my study, I have gained a great deal of research and field experience in the Afar Rift, the Blue Nile highways field school, and the Koobi Fora Field School. These hands-on experiences coupled with coursework in human evolution were instrumental in further strengthening my interest in human origins. My training also included a 5 month research visit to the California Academy of Sciences which was a great opportunity. Subsequent to completing my masters, I worked as a lecturer at Aksum University for two years.
The PhD program I have enrolled in at the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago is ideal to further my knowledge and skills in human evolution. The department’s focus on an integrative approach including human evolution, and the professors’ diverse expertise and in-house research facilities are some of the best in our field. The diversity of the faculty and the possibility to train or take relevant courses in the Departments of anthropology, human genetics and geosciences is also a great attraction.
My research aim is to expand our understanding of morphological character polarity by investigating their developmental underpinnings and functional significance, with a special focus on fossil hominins and great apes. Specifically, I am interested in the link between morphology and function in fossil hominins and great apes and associated developmental processes underlying morphological changes with implications for craniofacial development and function. I will investigate craniofacial ontogeny and function in Australopithecus afarensis and contemporaneous hominins within the context of the great apes and modern humans. This will be accomplished using cutting-edge imaging techniques and statistical methods.
After the completion of my study, I expect to return to Ethiopia and work at Aksum University. I have a keen interest to work in a multi-disciplinary paleoanthropological project and open new research avenues while paving the way for the next generation of paleoanthropologists.
Christopher Morehart received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2007 to aid research on “Agricultural Landscapes and Political Economy at Xaltocan, Mexico,” supervised by Dr. Elizabeth M. Brumfiel. In 2012 Dr. Morehart continued his research when he received a Post-Ph.D. Research Grant to aid research on “Environmental Interaction and Political Transformation in the Northern Basin of Mexico”. After receiving an Engaged Anthropology Grant in 2016 Morehart began working on a, “Collaborative Development of a Book on the Archaeology of Xaltocan, Mexico for Community Members”.
This report presents an overview of a Wenner-Gren engaged anthropology grant project. Funds from Wenner-Gren were used to finance the creation of a book on the archaeology of Xaltocan. Xaltocan is a contemporary town approximately 35 km north of present-day Mexico City with a history that has lasted well over 1000 years. It is also one of the most continuously studied archaeological sites in central Mexico. Archaeologists first visited the town very briefly in the 1950s and again in the early 1970s.
However, in the late 1980s, Elizabeth Brumfiel initiated a long-term archaeological project in Xaltocan, with the promise that she would always seek to engage actively with community members and address questions that they have about their own past. Several other archaeological projects have occurred in the town over the past 15-20 years, all directed by Brumfiel’s students or former students (many funded by Wenner-Gren). Members of the town have a strong interest in their past and in the work archaeologists have been doing. This relationship is a unique example of productive, engaged archaeology. Many archaeologists have created museum exhibits (some financed by Wenner-Gren) as well as public talks and other events.
This project was planned to provide a more tangible and lasting contribution to the community. This book is based on the archaeological work of several researchers, from the United States and Mexico, as well as the experiences and leadership of local historians and organizers. This book is not an academic article or a technical report, both of which are supplied to community members and officials as part of ongoing projects. It is a book written specifically for the community of Xaltocan, written in an engaging, accessible and dynamic prose.
Plan of the book
Although I wrote the grant proposal, I worked closely with Enrique Rodríguez Alegría and Kristin De Lucia, two other archaeologists who have worked in Xaltocan. The book contains 13 substantive chapters, each written either by a researcher or group of researchers who has carried out an investigation in Xaltocan or by a local leader engaged in promoting cultural and historical affairs in the town. Each chapter is brief, 3-4 pages, and written in an accessible prose (in Spanish). At the end of the book, we have included a fairly comprehensive bibliography of publications on the history and archaeology of Xaltocan. Below is a list of the chapters:
Capítulo 1. La historia de la arqueología en Xaltocan, by Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría
Capítulo 2. El medio ambiente de la cuenca de México y del lago de Xaltocan, by John K. Millhauser
Capítulo 3. Antes de Xaltocan, by Christopher Morehart, Abigail Meza Peñaloza, and Destiny Crider
Capítulo 4. La formación de un reino, by Kirby Farah
Capítulo 5. Los grupos domésticos y la comunidad, by Kristin De Lucia
Capítulo 6. Las chinampas de Xaltocan, by Christopher Morehart
Capítulo 7. Impuestos, tributos y mercados, by John K. Millhauser
Capítulo 8. La religión y los ritos de los grupos Domésticos, by Kristin De Lucia
Capítulo 9. Xaltocan y el imperio azteca, by Lisa Overholtzer
Capítulo10. Xaltocan en el periodo colonial, by Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría
Capítulo 11. La historia genética de Xaltocan, by Deborah A. Bolnick, Jaime Mata-Míguez and Austin W. Reynolds
Capítulo 12. La casa de cultura de Nextlalpan “Cualcalli”, by Filemón Hernández Zambrano
Capítulo 13. El museo arqueológico de Nextlalpan en Xaltocan, by Sergio Maya Rodríguez Una bibliografía de la investigación arqueológica en Xaltocan
Distribution of the book
Distributing the book to the community of Xaltocan was an important goal of the project. We produced 315 printed copies and donated them to the town’s cultural center and museum. We worked with local organizers in order to plan an event to present and distribute the book. This occurred in July 2019 at the Casa de la Cultura (cultural center) in the center of Xaltocan. I gave a brief presentation of the book to approximately 60 to 70 attendees. The director of the cultural center (also one of the book contributors) decided to give a copy of the book for free to all in attendance, with the option of a small contribution (virtually everyone contributed something), after which the book would be sold at a price determined by the cultural center.
The presentation of the book was a great success, and attendees were very enthusiastic about the book.
In addition to highlighting our Wadsworth International Fellows the Foundation would also like to introduce one of our newest Wadsworth African Fellows, Theogene Niwenshuit. Funded through the Wadsworth African Fellowship Theogene Niwenshuti will continue his PhD training in social cultural anthropology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, supervised by Dr. Susan Levine.
I earned a BA (withdistinction) from National University of Rwanda and a MA (cum laude) from Wits University School of Arts in Johannesburg before enrolling in the PhD program in at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I travel extensively facilitating, lecturing, performing and campaigning for peace, healing, human rights and the prevention of genocide, war and other violent conflicts and have been the recipient of several awards, prestigious scholarships, medals and honors for my community, artistic, leadership and academic contributions.
I was born and grew up in the hills of Kanombe and Ndera in Gasabo, Rwanda, the Great Lakes – East Afrikan Region. Like other children of my generation, my studies were disrupted by war and genocide. After missing a few years of study I managed to complete high school and earn an undergraduate degree at the National University of Rwanda (NUR). I have been pursuing my academic, artistic and community engagements in various post-conflict African regions and communities. My current research is concerned with contestation over the interpretation of memory and heritage of violence. While trying to identify mechanisms and strategies developed by individuals and institutions in response to the legacies of violence, my study also attempts to make sense of the impact of this violence on mental health and the general wellbeing of individuals and communities.
In my study of memory and trauma I am interested in the relationship between body, space and memory, and understanding how it helps inform healing and recovery in a post-conflict / post-genocide context. My approach consists of interrogating how the body intervenes in the process of mapping and translating private, difficult memories from an intimate space to a public one. I hope to build on past research and gather and make use of local stories, memories, interpretations, and individual and collective experiences to make a contribution in the fields of memory, (mental) health, art, culture, performance, heritage, academia, institutional practice, governance and violence.
Since October 2018, I have been facilitating a unique academic platform entitled “Contested Spaces” Seminar Series. Several scholars, artists, health, education, heritage and museum practitioners of local and global repute have attended and engaged in critical and creative conversations during these seminars. With the support of local communities and institutions, artists, students and scholars, the 2nd series of “Contested Spaces” Seminar will be launched in the coming months.