Job Opportunity at the American Museum of Natural History!

Position Description:

We are looking for a creative, talented, and energetic colleague to join the American Museum of Natural History as a full-time Anthropology Educator to develop and teach courses for middle and high school youth. In this one-year fellowship, the educator will spend ~ 65% of time teaching classes and 35% developing/revising curricula and participating in professional learning opportunities. The educator will teach 3 to 4 classes per semester throughout the year. Depending on the class, the schedule may include after school (until 7pm), Saturdays, school holidays, and summer (5-6 weeks). This position has a 1 year term with a possibility of a 1 year extension.

The AMNH is a global museum in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and we are committed to building an inclusive youth community that reflects that diversity. We believe in addressing the barriers that prevent everyone from equally participating in science, particularly on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Candidates must be committed to working towards this mission and open to learning and implementing equitable and inclusive pedagogical practices that elevate all learners. The Anthropology Educator will also work with their colleagues to apply an anthropological lens to our other science courses (e.g. Archaeo Astronomy middle school course) and seek opportunities to advance justice-centered informal STEM learning by amplifying the voices and experiences of social groups that have been historically marginalized.

Candidates must have a 4-year college degree in Anthropology (or related discipline; e.g. Sociology; Human Geography; Cultural Resource Management; Sociocultural anthropology, Applied Anthropology) and be confident in teaching about traditional and contemporary practices and theory across Anthropology and related social sciences.

Early career professionals with minimal teaching experience (<3 years) are encouraged to apply; however, candidates must have some teaching experience in either informal settings (e.g. camps, museum), formal classroom, or college (e.g. teaching assistant).

While not a requirement, ideal candidates would also bring one or more of the following: research experience in a field of anthropology, experience coding, an understanding of the role of data science within social science research, or experience or familiarity working with indigenous communities and organizations.

The Educator will report directly to the Senior Manager of Curriculum and Teaching and will work closely with other members of the full-time educator team.

Minimum required qualifications:

  • Demonstrated knowledge and mastery of anthropology content and material
  • Organization, time management, and follow-up skills
  • Commitment to continuous improvement in instructional practices through reflection and applied feedback
  • Bachelor’s degree in anthropology or related social science

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience teaching youth
  • Familiarity in collaborating with indegenous communities and/or BIPOC organizations
  • Experience co-teaching considered a plus
  • Experience with coding, computational thinking, or data science

If interested, please submit your resumé to nabowd@amnh.org

NYAS Lecture 12/6: Urban Infrastructure and Resiliency in Precolonial Mesoamerica

Mark your calendar for December 6th, 6:30 PM, EST, for the next installment of the New York Academy of Sciences Distinguished Lecture Series. Dr. David M. Carballo will be presenting, “Urban Infrastructure and Resiliency in Precolonial Mesoamerica”.  Dr. Timothy Pugh will act as discussant.

To register for this Zoom event click here.  This event will also be livestreamed on YoutTube.

As debates continue, in the contemporary US and elsewhere, about what constitutes infrastructure and the amount of resources to invest in it, what lessons might we glean from a deep historical approach to the archaeology of cities? In this talk I combine recent investigations at the pre-Aztec capital of Teotihuacan, Mexico—the largest city in the Americas of its day—with a comparative perspective to contextualize variability in urban organization, Indigenous social institutions, and the role of infrastructure in the resilience of cities in precolonial Mesoamerica. I argue that, although these premodern, non-Western cities were different in significant ways from our own, they provide meaningful points of comparison for considering the broad contours of how infrastructure at level of urban epicenters, neighborhoods, and households contributes to the variability in social relations, size, and longevity of cities we observe in the archaeological record.

FEATURED SPEAKER

David M. Carballo is Professor of Anthropology, Archaeology, and Latin American Studies at Boston University, where he is also Associate Provost for General Education.  He specializes in the archaeology of Latin America, especially the Native peoples of central Mexico and with topical interests in households, urbanism, religion, collective action, and working with contemporary communities in understanding ancient ones.  Current investigations focus on Teotihuacan’s Tlajinga district, a cluster of non-elite neighborhoods on the periphery of what was then the largest city in the Americas.

He received his BA in Political Science from Colgate University (1995) and his MA (2001) and PhD (2005) in Anthropology from UCLA.  Recent books include Cooperation and Collective Action: Archaeological Perspectives (ed., 2013), Urbanization and Religion in Ancient Central Mexico (2016), Teotihuacan: The World Beyond the City (ed., 2020), and Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain (2020).

DISCUSSANT

Timothy Pugh is Professor of Anthropology at Queens College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His archaeological research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses upon the Maya of Petén, Guatemala. His work revealed that the ancient Maya planned and built a gridded city at Nixtun-Ch’ich’ during the Middle Preclassic period (800-300 BCE). Based upon intensive investment in public works, the occupants appear to have had a much more cooperative system of governance.

Meet Our Wadsworth African Fellows: Yananiso Maposa

With the support of the Wadsworth African Fellowship Yananiso Maposa will continue his training in social cultural anthropology at the University of Johannesburg under the supervisor of Justin Bradefield.  Read about other Wadsworth fellows here.

I possess close to a decade of professional experience, having worked as one of the archaeologists stationed at the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site, one of the five museological regions within the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe. In my position, I got the opportunity to interact with different communities in Zimbabwe. I got exposed to the challenges they face, particularly in their bid to be considered capable agents of sustainable management of heritage sites. The locals have always viewed such sites as critical to their socio-economic livelihood. These interactions with communities engendered my interest in this emotive subject, which led me to pursue my BA in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and Museum Studies at Midlands State University, Zimbabwe. My BA thesis investigated the management problems of the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site allegedly posed by local communities. After completing my BA, I undertook a MA in Cultural Heritage Studies which situated heritage management at the crossroads of local politics, climate change, and geopolitical dynamics in Zimbabwe with the Central European University in Hungary.

I am now pursuing my academic career at the University of Johannesburg, with a PhD that focuses on mainstreaming biocultural knowledge into sustainable development of marginalised communities in Zimbabwe using the case of the Ndau ethnic minority of Chipinge. The Ndau people have always used their heritage as a source of inclusive social and economic development in the face of escalating socio-political and environmental dynamics. Indigenous knowledge systems are a major umbrella project at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg. I appreciate the unique research UJ conducts on endogenous knowledge practices, from how they shaped technology in earlier civilisations to its significance in the societal transformation of modern societies. My lifelong aim has been to develop a platform that bolsters government efforts in heritage conservation, exhibition, and research. I will pursue the active involvement of grassroots communities in management as a more attentive way of rethinking agency, power, and collective rehabilitation of vulnerable heritage and biophysical environments. This includes rethinking gender, particularly women, as active agents of African communities’ social and material knowledge systems and practices.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Keitlyn Alcantara

Fig. 1: Messages exchanged with Don Zeferino over quarantine.

In 2017 Keitlyn Alcantara received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant to aid research on, “The Diet of Sovereignty: Bioarchaeology in Tlaxcallan”. In 2019 Dr. Alcantara was able to build upon her Dissertation Fieldwork Grant when she received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on, “Food and Resistance in Ancient and Contemporary Tlaxcala”.

I began this project with the goal of reclaiming an understanding of ancient foodways and relationship to land in Mexico. Growing up, I would catch glimpses of this world through the crinkled brown hands of old ladies offering wild herbs from their baskets at the weekly tianguis, or the aroma of esquites seasoned with epazote wafting from the street corner. Food was a portal through time.

 

Fig. 2 – My pandemic garden, transplanted from Nashville,TN to Bloomington, IN.

I started as a bioarchaeologist studying burials from the site of Tepeticpac, Tlaxcala, curious about the role of foodways in building community sovereignty, particularly as a tactic to resist the encroaching Aztec Empire. Around 1280 AD, Nahua migrants settled in the hilltop city of Tepeticpac, which sits above the contemporary urban sprawl of Tlaxcala city. The site was a crossroads for trade routes that connected the Gulf to the Basin of Mexico and the Aztec Empire. For years, the market of Ocotelulco, Tlaxcala was known as one of the largest of ancient Central Mexico – until the Aztec expansion sought to punish Tlaxcalteca defiance by cutting off access to trade routes. Yet the Tlaxcalteca continued resisting.

Combining dietary isotope analysis and ethnographic interviews with local producers and traditional chefs, I was able to show the Tlaxcalteca’s shrewd reliance on the abundance of the local landscape was key to their resistance. Shadowing growers on hillside hunts for maguey worms, I collected plant samples to recreate ancient foodwebs, while experiencing a whole new way of being in the world. I’d never really thought very deeply about the experience of living from, with, and alongside the landscape. Yet, this is exactly what the Tlaxcalteca did. Multigenerational knowledge cultivated the ability to recognize sustenance not only from acres of terraced fields, milpa thick with beans, corn, squash, but also the wild quintoniles that grew along paths. Cacti like nopal and maguey served as both fence and food, edible fleshy leaves housing protein-filled insects within.

Fig. 3: Nopal cactus transplanted into Indiana soil, with the Instagram caption “My poor Indiana nopal” and “You can do it!”.

In the summer of 2020, I had planned to return to Tlaxcala, Mexico to co-host a cultural fair and community colloquium with my community partners as part of the Wenner Gren Engaged Anthropology grant. But, as I wrapped up my dissertation in the spring, the world shifted amidst growing panic about the pandemic. Instead of returning to a celebration, I sat isolated in lockdown, while endless hours of worry spread out ahead of me.

During this time, I remember the persistent *ding* of a Whatsapp message from Zeferino, the nopal farmer, who would share images of the latest brilliant magenta cacti blooms, or rainbow array of tunas (cactus fruits) (Fig.1-3). I sent back photos of my extensive pandemic-garden, cultivated from the abundant time I now had to slow down, be at home, and find new rhythms. In addition to photos, Zeferino would invite me to talks he was a part of on Facebook Live – conversations I’d had to miss before distance was made null by a world reshaped online. Later, concineras Dalia and Nicolasa were featured on an Instagram Live series hosted by our mutual friend Chef Irad Santacruz (@irad_santacruz), centering the work of cocineras tradicionales. My homesickness for Mexico was slowly quelled.

Fig. 4: A grocery cart full of ingredients for our cooking episodes, bought from El Guanajuato grocery store – the closest Latinx market an hour away in Indianapolis.

In our original community colloquium, we had planned to have each person share from their unique skillset; inspired by their active presence on social media, I reached out to plan a series on Instagram Live to take place in February 2021, the coldest, loneliest month in my current home of Indiana. The series was divided into four episodes (Atole with Maguey Nectar with Doña Adriana; Mole de Fiesta with Nicolasa and Dalia; Grilled Nopal with Zeferino; Prehispanic Art with Felipe. These episodes can be found here). Cooking and creating together, this series pushed me to re-think how we create community across space and time, with food as catalyst (Fig. 4-10).  People from the Latinx diaspora across the US and Latin America joined each episode, chiming in with comments in the chat, filling my inbox with stories about their own food histories.

Unscripted, sometimes with poor reception, and more than one occasion of technical difficulties, the conversations we had while we cooked together stayed in my mind, echoing especially loudly as I watched the food and social systems around us shift and adapt to COVID-era supply chains and labor shortages.

Fig. 5 Promotional material for the cooking series

From Indiana, I spliced together pieces of the Instagram Live events with follow-up phone interviews. Film-maker and Tlaxcala local, Yolin Corje, filmed footage to accompany the audio.

By summer 2021, we had all been vaccinated and I returned to Mexico to join in the filming of some final scenes and share a draft of the documentary with my collaborators. We met in a coffee shop across the street from the green-tarped stands of the Alternative Agroecological Market of Tlaxcala (Fig. 11 &12). Six bodies hunched around my laptop, straining to thear the full-blast volume that fell just short. As the final credits rolled, they giddily complemented one another – even living in the same city, it was rare to see one another’s work in such an intimate way. The images of the campo sparked memories, and for the next hour I took a backseat to listen as they shared stories about how things used to be, how changing climate was shifting the patterns of the natural world.

Fig. 6: Promotional material for the cooking series

What had originally been planned as a 10 minute documentary linking my isotopic findings to community interests turned into deep reflection about what has been lost in the past 500 years. And yet, we also talked about the possibilities of reclaiming, reviving, and transforming the ways that we live in the present and look towards the future – the past as a reminder of alternative ways to live in the present.  

Postscript:

Our forthcoming projects include a plan to create ethnographic story-maps of ingredients on the landscape, linking their deep histories to their uses in the present. The influence of my collaborators also helped shape my own Healing Garden project at Indiana University – a space dedicated to embodied pedagogy and deep reflection about our relationships to land.

At the time of publication, I plan to screen the completed documentary to my collaborators in December 2021, with a virtual screening in Spanish in January 2022 at the National Institute of History and Anthropology’s Diplomado de Antropologia e Historia de Tlaxcala, followed by a virtual screening in English in February 2022 (Fig. 13).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Sanaz Shirvani

With the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship Sanaz Shirvani will continue her training in archaeology at the University of Montréal, hosted by Julien Riel-Salvatore. Read the previous entries in the series here.

As an archaeology student, my scholarly work has been mostly engaged with evolutionary cognitive archaeology/anthropology and study of the ancient mind in prehistoric societies. I am especially interested in a key transition in the history of our species; the transition to an agricultural lifeway beginning some 11,500 years ago in the Middle East. Along with this shift, several other fundamental changes took place, including the emergence of domestic plant and animal species; the development of sedentary villages; the increasing importance of places for ritual and interment; the introduction of clay objects; and the emergence of new belief systems and ideologies.

My current research emerges out of the intersection of these academic interests and focuses on one of the most important archaeological sites in the Central Zagros Mountains of Iran, Ganj Dareh Tapeh, which was originally excavated from 1965 to 1974 and has yielded some of the earliest evidence of goat domestication in the region.

I chose the PhD program at Université de Montréal (UdeM) to continue my education in Anthropology for several reasons. Iranian universities do not provide four-field anthropological training like that found in North American universities. This has resulted in a lack of interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeology and the other sub-disciplines of anthropology. Another reason is that my research on the Iranian Neolithic falls under the Ganj Dareh Project (GDP), which is led by my host supervisor, Prof. Julien Riel-Salvatore. Most of the Ganj Dareh archaeological collections and primary field documentation are curated at the Laboratoire d’archéologie de l’Anthropocène at UdeM which affords me training in the unique combination of North American and French conceptual frameworks that the UdeM Anthropology program provides.

My PhD project examines ancient clay objects (e.g., tokens, figurines, vessels) from Ganj Dareh Tapeh as cultural proxies for reconstructing and gaining insights into key  dimensions of the Neolithization process. In particular, I focus on how new media such as clay allowed the creation of new forms of material culture that became extensions of the human body and the human mind.

NYAS Lecture 11/8: Building Strong Bonds: Lessons from Baboons

On November 8th, 6:30 PM, EDT, the New York Academy of Sciences will host, “Building Strong Bonds: Lessons from Baboons.”

To register for this event click here. This event will also be streamed live on YouTube.

Sociality has evolved in many animal taxa, and reflects a balance between the benefits of living in groups (such as lower risk of predation and greater success in contests with other groups) and costs (greater competition over resources and exposure to infectious disease). Evolution has favored traits that enable individuals to increase the benefit/cost ratio. In some species, close social bonds may have evolved because they provide a means for individuals to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of social life. Baboon females form strong, equitable, supportive, tolerant, and stable social relationships with selected partners, particularly close kin, peers, and the sires of their offspring. These social ties help females cope with various sources of short-term stress, and females with close social bonds also reproduce more successfully and live longer than other females. I will discuss these findings and their implications for understanding the importance of social connections in humans.

FEATURED SPEAKER

Joan Silk moved to ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change in 2012, from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is interested in how natural selection shapes the evolution of social behavior in primates.

Most of Silk’s empirical work has focused on the behavioral and reproductive strategies of female baboon. She recently initiated a comparative study of the structure and function of close social bonds in four baboon species (anubis, hamadryas, gelada, and chacma).

In particular, Silk is interested in questions that explicitly link studies of nonhuman primates to humans. Experimental work she conducts with chimpanzees and children focuses on the phylogenetic origins and ontogenetic development of prosocial preferences.

Silk received her doctorate from University of California at Davis in 1981, and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Altmann’s lab at the University of Chicago. She then joined the Department of Anthropology at Emory University.

Silk moved to UCLA in 1986, where she remained until 2012. At UCLA, she was a founding member of the Center of Behavior, Evolution, and Culture and served as department chair for six years.

DISCUSSANT

Jacinta C. Beenher is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is broadly interested in hormones and behavior, specifically as they relate to reproductive success. She founded and currently directs two field sites focused on wild primates: the Simien Mountains Gelada Research Project in Ethiopia (studying geladas) and the Capuchins at Taboga Research Project in Costa Rica (studying white-faced capuchins). She also directs two hormone laboratories – one at the University of Michigan (Beehner Endocrine Laboratory) and one at the Capuchins at Taboga field site (TREX Endocrine Laboratory).