Archive for Engaged Anthropology Grant

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Kelsey Dancause

Image 1 - Central Market, Port Vila, Efate. In 2015 and 2016, we collected data on psychosocial health among women in both rural and urban areas. The central market in Port Vila, the urban capital, was an important data collection site. Image source: Collaborator Mian Li, Binghamton University.

In 2015 Dr. Kelsey Dancause received a Post-Ph.D. Research Grant to aid research on “Effects of Prenatal Psychosocial Stress on Birth Outcomes in Developing Countries: Filling the Knowledge Gap Using Validated Surveys in Vanuatu”. In 2017 Dr. Dancause received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Promoting Local Research Capacity Through Psychosocial Health Research Training and Knowledge Translation”.

In 2015, we began the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Communities” study of maternal psychosocial stress during pregnancy in Vanuatu, a lower-middle income country in the South Pacific. The archipelago had recently been hit by a Category 5 cyclone, which destroyed many villages and affected large numbers of the population. Based on studies showing links between prenatal stress due to natural disasters and infant health outcomes, we adapted questionnaires commonly used to assess post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, in order to assess distress due to the cyclone among pregnant women and women of reproductive age in Vanuatu. In 2016, we followed up on this study to assess daily stress, depression, and anxiety among similar samples. Our diverse sample included women from hospitals, clinics, and markets in both rural and urban areas (Images 1 and 2).

Image 2 - Umej village, Aneityum. In 2015 and 2016, we collected data on psychosocial health among women in both rural and urban areas. Collaborator Dr. Alysa Pomer (Yale University) collected data on Aneityum, an island with around 900 people. Image source: Amanda Roome and Elisabeth Standard, Binghamton University.

This is a unique study that allows us to assess the role of psychosocial stress in risk of adverse birth outcomes such as low birthweight and prematurity that remain elevated in many low- and middle-income countries, and to begin to tease apart differences between acute distress and chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Our analyses to date have helped us to characterize mental health patterns in Vanuatu. We observed that distress following the cyclone was very high, and that high distress among pregnant women in the sample predicted smaller weight among their infants at birth: controlling for confounding variables, distress explained 8.5% of variance in birthweight (p=0.012), and was an even more important predictor of birthweight than maternal dietary characteristics.

Equally importantly, our experience has highlighted that psychosocial health is an increasing priority, both among health professionals and community members. Thus, in 2017, we worked to adapt our assessment tools for broader use by local health professionals, and by other researchers working in Vanuatu.

Image 3 - Collaborators Amanda Roome, Kathryn Olszowy, and Elisabeth Standard. Our work in 2017 included both local and international collaborators. Dr. Kathryn Olszowy (Cleveland State University) collected data on stress among adult men and women, with assistance from graduate students Amanda Roome and Elisabeth Standard (Binghamton University). Image source: Amanda Roome and Elisabeth Standard.

From June-August 2017, we worked in Port Vila, Vanuatu to re-evaluate and refine our psychosocial health assessment measures. We met with nurses, physicians, and professionals at the Ministry of Health. We presented results of our 2015 and 2016 studies, highlighting the importance of maternal mental health in Vanuatu and the need for more detailed surveillance. We reviewed and revised our assessment tool with these key collaborators. We also updated our database in collaboration with midwives from Vila Central Hospital, and shared the full dataset with key health professionals. This provides a baseline dataset for comparison to future studies that incorporate our assessment tool.

Image 4 - Mele village, Efate. We visited villages to follow up with 100 women who completed the questionnaire in 2015 and 2016. Team members Giavana Buffa (Ross University Medical School) and Jake Rafferty visited villages all around the island of Efate. Image source: Kelsey Dancause.

We also followed up with 100 women who completed the questionnaires in 2016 (Image 3). We re-administered the same questionnaires, which allows us to assess consistency of responses over time. We also discussed women’s perceptions of the questionnaires and their suggestions. We met women in their communities, which allowed us to include chiefs and other community leaders in discussions. Finally, we administered the assessment tool among men and among older women in the same communities, allowing us for the first time to begin to assess its applicability among samples beyond women of reproductive age (Image 4). Together, these evaluations help us to refine the assessment tool, for broader use by local health professionals.

Image 5 - People complete the distress questionnaire on the island of Ambae. In October 2017, the entire population of Ambae was evacuated due to threat of a volcano eruption. In December 2017, Amanda Roome and collaborator Dr. Chim Chan used our questionnaire to assess psychosocial health among people in the evacuated communities. Image source: Amanda Roome, Binghamton University.

Recently, the entire population of one island in Vanuatu – more than 12,000 people – was evacuated because of risk of a volcano eruption. Given the increased focus on mental health in Vanuatu, a mental health team was on hand to help provide services to the displaced communities. We worked with local collaborators to collect data in the displaced communities using our assessment tool (Image 5). These studies will allow us assess the efficacy of the intervention programs, and the short and long-term effects of stress due to displacement in these communities. This could provide important insights to guide the development of similar services in other low- and middle-income countries. We are also currently adapting our assessment tools for use not only by local health professionals, but by community volunteers who could help to increase mental health surveillance resources, and also provide a first contact for people seeking mental health services. Where resources are limited, such community-focused efforts might provide a sustainable means of increasing mental health services and ultimately improving health and well-being.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Marissa Mika

Staying Alive exhibition poster, designed by Rumanzi Canon. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

While a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania Marissa Mika received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2012 to aid research on “Experimental Infrastructures: Building Cancer Research in Uganda from 1950 to the Present,” supervised by Dr. Steven Feierman.” In 2017 Dr. Mika was able to follow up on her fieldwork research when she received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Staying Alive in Photographs at the Uganda Cancer Institute”.

In August 2017, the Uganda Cancer Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary in Kampala. Since 2010, I have worked at this site as a historian and ethnographer. My work explores the past and present of the Institute to examine how scientific research shapes biomedical care on the African continent. I focus on how experiments create and shape cultures of care that take on a political and social life of their own, well after the experiments themselves have ended. I argue that there is a fundamental dynamism to experimental sites such as the Uganda Cancer Institute. Collaborations ebb and flow according to scientific interests. Political violence forces physicians and families to flee into exile. Epidemics such as HIV transform dedicated research wards into late stage palliative care triage centers.

The Lymphoma Treatment Center, 2012. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

I started working at the Institute at a time of profound infrastructural transformation. Since the mid 2000s, political negotiations to fund better cancer services for aging Ugandans and new American interests in studying the relationship between infectious diseases and cancers in east Africa remade the Institute. Through political lobbying, vision, and USAID grants, two new cancer care facilities were built at the UCI.

These latest transformations are both creative and destructive. Drug procurement patterns, records keeping systems that have not been seriously updated since the 1960s, and ward rounds are all components of infrastructures for care that are being radically reformulated by Ugandan oncologists, nurses, laboratory, and social workers. The new UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre, stands on the demolition site of the Institute’s original Lymphoma Treatment Center from the 1960s. It both ushers in a new era of research on the synergy between infectious diseases in cancer, and violently tears down over 45 years of carefully honed cancer care practices.

For the entire year I worked at the UCI, I knew the Lymphoma Treatment Center was going to be torn down to make way for a new cancer treatment center. My Wenner Gren Dissertation Fieldwork grant made it possible to trace how this experimental infrastructure was being remade in real time across multiple geographies and places. The Wenner Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant made it possible to share, publicize, and exhibit these profound transformations documented through a long-term collaborative photography project and book made with artist and researcher Andrea Stultiens. Staying Alive showcases photographs which capture continuities be they extraordinary bodily states, the physical dynamism of this experimental field, the everyday lives of patients, or the empathetic care which medical staff and families bring to the wards on a daily basis.

The New Uganda Cancer Institute, 2017. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

The book and exhibition creates a visual and historical conversation between two sets of photographs from the materials and moments that make up the Institute in the late 1960s and 2012. The first is from the personal archives of John Ziegler, the founding director of the Uganda Cancer Institute in the 1960s. These materials document major and minor events and images from around the Institute in the 1960s and early 1970s. There are snapshots of political visitors touring the wards, wildlife encountered on up country “patient safaris,” laboratory and ward facilities. The contemporary photographs are made by Andrea Stultiens. The intention was to make a series of portraits of patients, as well as a photographic portrait of the Institute as a whole through its spaces—wards, laboratories, hallways, kitchens, parking lots—and the people using them. As Stultiens says, “The images are both responses to the photographs from John Ziegler’s collection and alternative representations. People are photographed as individuals who happen to be patients or caretakers or Institute staff. Spaces are captured without anecdote or event as motivation for the production of the picture. Taken as a whole, these historical and contemporary images complement each other, and make it possible to question each other’s existence and the ethical implications of looking ‘through’ them to people and places in remote or near pasts.”

Professor Charles Olweny, Dr. Jackson Orem, and Marissa Mika at the Staying Alive book launch. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

We collaborated with the Institute to amplify the history of this hospital in Uganda during its Golden Jubilee celebrations. These events engaged with a diverse range of audiences, including the Ugandan media, government officials, medical community, and wider Ugandan public. Events included the following: the UCI@50 press conference, Radio One’s Saturday morning health awareness, the Staying Alive exhibition opening at AfriArt Gallery, interviews for the UCI’s documentary, organizing and a Health Education Journalists Network Science Café on UCI’s contributions to oncological research and care in east Africa, a series of blogposts on the HIPUganda website, shared by bi-weekly newspaper The Observer, and the keynote lecture at the fiftieth Anniversary Gala Dinner for diplomats, scientific experts, and UCI staff.

The images and words in Staying Alive open up a space for conversation about continuity and change in ways that a scholarly monograph cannot. The exhibition created a space for critical institutional reflexivity about transformations in mortar and concrete, research and care. The publication and distribution of these materials in accessible photo book form also served as a vital component of research results dissementation that was timely and accessible for an audience beyond elite academic seminars or oncology conferences.

You can read more about Staying Alive and the exhibition in the series of blog posts at History in Progress Uganda:

Staying Alive – Blog Post 1

Staying Alive – Blog Post 2 

Staying Alive – Blog Post 3

Staying Alive – Blog Post 4

Staying Alive – Blog Post 5

Staying Alive – Blog Post 6

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Adriana Carolina Borda Nino

Initial discussion

While a doctoral student at the University of St. Andrews Adriana Carolina Borda Nino received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2011 to aid research on ”When Does Incest Matter’: Ethnic, Class & Gender Discourses & Experiences About Incest among Female Patients in a Psychiatric Hospital in Bolivia,” supervised by Dr. Tristan Platt. In 2016 Dr. Borda Nino received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Healing Trajectories: Engaging Andean Indigenous Healers’ in the Promotion of Women’s Rights”.

The workshop took place in the city of Sucre, Bolivia. Thirteen traditional healers from the Chuquisaca, Potosi, and Cochabamba regions took part in the workshop. Nine men and four women between jampiris, médicos naturistas, and midwives attended the event. Most of them were over forty years of age, but also some young participants who are learning Andean traditional healing practices in order to become healers themselves participated. Thus, perspectives from experienced healers were matched by the eagerness of young apprentices who will be the future’s healing practitioners and masters. Finally, the event had the logistic support and was enriched by the participation of members of staff of PRODECO, a Bolivian NGO that has worked for more than twenty years of experience in promoting Andean medicine practices from a gender, intercultural, rights, and generational perspective.

Representative of the Qhara Qhara nation sharing his experience

Topics covered during the workshop included: definitions of incestuous sexual violence within rural communities in Bolivia and in relation to current national and international legislation; trajectories of indigenous and peasant women who have survived incestuous sexual violence, from their communities of origin to the National Psychiatric;  the psychiatric hospital as a place of in-between-life-and-death confinement for women, thus fulfilling Quechua and Aymara ideas on soul condemnation for women who have been involved in incestuous practices; the relevance of traditional healers in the definition of trajectories of violence against women within their communities; finally, we had a discussion with participants on different forms of approaching incestuous sexual violence from an Andean medicine point of view in the region.

Group discussion

The event included the participation of the eighty-year-old healer Mama Gloria, a highly regarded practitioner of Quechua medicine from Ecuador (much respected amongst Latin American traditional healers), who has a women’s rights approach to healing practices in relation to violence against women. It was suggested by all traditional healers that it is very relevant to include diverse approaches to the particular contexts where they apply their knowledge, considering local circumstances, amongst them: forms of community organization, role of traditional healers within the communities, closeness to cities, relation to judicial and allopathic medical authorities, etc. In this sense, the advice given by Mama Gloria on how to heal the effects that sexual violence might have on women and how to protect them both through healing practices and through working with judicial authorities, was very well received by the jampiris, médicos naturistas, and midwives, who took note of Mama Gloria’s advice as well as that given by their co-participants. They expressed their intention to apply what they learned at their communities. Finally, and as a result of the initiative of one of the four and oldest female healers, time was devoted to discussing the ethical protocols that should be followed by any traditional medicine practitioner when approaching a case of intrafamiliar sexual violence against women and in general any case of sexual violence against women.

Andean medicine exhibition

During this event, the research results were disseminated and discussed (day I). In 2013 the Law No. 459 of December 19 2013, on Ancestral Traditional Bolivian Medicine, was passed. This law elevated the status of traditional medicine to that of Western medicine within Bolivia’s health system. Along with this recognition, the law seeks to regulate the practice and articulation of Bolivian ancestral traditional medicine within the national health system, as well as healers’ organizations, and the rights and responsibilities of service users. Traditional medicine practitioners, as stated by the workshop participants, are allowed and some are paid a salary to work at local hospitals. This is a process that is slowly developing. For instance, within the region of Chuquisaca only approximately ten healers receive a salary for working at local hospitals. The state, though, grants a higher number of healers a sum of money to get the ingredients to prepare medicaments to sell. However, the work of traditional healers at psychiatric hospitals is still forbidden, as is their intervention in cases of sexual violence attended within local hospitals. All the diagnosis gathered during the research were confirmed by the workshop participants, as well as the trajectories followed by women who are expelled from their communities after surviving events of sexual violence.

Farewell and final words by participants

The applicability of the research results and the conclusions of the exchange that was possible during the workshop’s first day amongst the participants, were discussed during the second day. In 2013 a new law on violence against women was issued in the country. It states that all health authorities are responsible for protecting and securing the well-being of women who have experienced any form of violence. This poses a great challenge to traditional medicine practitioners, for they are not only entitled (as they are part of the health system, though not yet in equal conditions) but also made responsible to intervene in these cases. The workshop participants expressed their concern that judicial authorities should intervene first before they can approach a case, for they would be afraid of breaking the law by becoming involved. There is no guidance on how exactly it is expected that traditional medicine practitioners should intervene according to this law. Also, it was expressed by the participants that there is still a long way to go before the participation of traditional medicine practitioners within mental health settings is permitted. Still, they stated that there is a boundary between the cases in which only psychiatrists should intervene, i.e. what they called traumado or a traumatized person, and those that can be healed by them, i.e. susto, agarrado por tierra, and other ailments that occur as a consequence of events of sexual violence on survivors. In this way, traditional medicine practitioners recognized the importance of both Western and Andean traditional medicine in promoting the well-being of women who have experienced sexual violence.

At the end of the workshop a session was held with participation of traditional medicine practitioners as well as representatives of several non-governmental organisations in charge of promoting women’s rights to discuss the research results (governmental authorities were invited but did not attend the session). As during the first part of the workshop, all the findings presented were ratified by the participants. New facts unknown by them, especially on the treatment of women within the psychiatric setting, were received with surprise but were deemed plausible, given the lack of involvement of both NGO’s and healers in this type of setting. This session served to introduce Andean healers with representatives of these organisations, and it is hoped that future work might be done to develop a dialogue between these two sectors in order to promote collaboration for the protection of the rights of women who have experienced incestuous sexual [and other forms of] violence.

A final addition to the event was a small fair organised by PRODECO to promote the work of the Andean medicine practitioners at the workshop venue, which was opened for the general public. During this fair several diagnosis, healing sessions, and medicine sales took place.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Michael Cepek

 

Michael Cepek and Cofán elder Emiliano Queta discuss Cofán research issues while sharing tobacco in the community of Duvuno (photo by Bear Guerra).

Michael Cepek is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas as San Antonio. In 2012 he received a Post-Ph.D. Research Grant to aid research on “Dureno Uno: A Cofán Politics of Oil and Loss”. In 2017 Dr. Cepek received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Developing a Cofan Protocol for the Conduct of Ethical Research”.

In May of 2012, I began a three-year period of Wenner-Gren-funded research on the relationship between the indigenous Cofán nation of eastern Ecuador and the transnational petroleum industry. In 1964, the corporation Texaco began searching for oil in Cofán territory. Three years later, the company discovered a petroleum field underneath a Cofán village. By the mid-1970s, Ecuador had become an OPEC nation, and Cofán people’s lives had changed dramatically: roads and pipelines had cut through their homeland, tens of thousands of settlers had expropriated their territory, and oil-related toxins had suffused their air, forests, rivers, and bodies.

The data I gathered through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and economic diaries supplied the ethnographic material for Life in Oil: Cofán Survival in the Petroleum Fields of Amazonia, a book that will be published by the University of Texas Press in early 2018. For decades, Cofán lives and lands have served the global media as potent symbols of oil’s destructive powers. By conceptualizing oil as a simultaneously material, social, and discursive phenomenon, Life in Oil complicates existing accounts of crude’s devastation of the Cofán nation. The book describes Cofán life in the midst of the petroleum industry as a form of slow, contradictory, and ultimately unknowable violence. By attending to the open-ended quality of Cofán experiences with oil, the book treads the line between affirming the continuity of a meaningful way of life and describing how that way of life has been impacted by the petroleum industry, which, I argue, should compensate Cofán people for the losses they have suffered.

Members of the community of Zábalo discuss the proposed research protocol during a village meeting (photo by Bear Guerra).

While conducting research, it became clear that it was impossible to understand Cofán stances toward oil without investigating their perspectives on the dozens of journalists, anthropologists, filmmakers, lawyers, and activists who have come to their communities and produced representations of their petroleum-damaged lives. My Cofán collaborators expressed deep uncertainty and antagonism toward non-Cofán reporters and scholars. They told me that outsiders often portray them in problematic ways, do not compensate them for their collaboration, do not get informed consent for their work, and offer no real benefits to Cofán individuals or communities. Despite my more than two decades of involvement with the Cofán nation as a scholar and an activist, I learned that much of my fieldwork on oil was interpreted in the same way.

With the support of a Wenner-Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant, I returned to Cofán territory in 2017 to share the results of my fieldwork and to gather information on Cofán ideas concerning how they can negotiate just, equitable, and transparent partnerships with non-Cofán researchers. To help guide the project, I enrolled Cofán anthropologist Martin Criollo and Cofán university students Hugo and Sadie Lucitante as full-time collaborators. Together, we interviewed past project participants, held community discussions on the possibility of ethical research collaborations, and formulated a written protocol that Cofán individuals, communities, and organizations can use to negotiate agreements with scholars and journalists. We spent more than a month visiting the communities of Dureno, Duvuno, Sinangoé, and Zábalo. We also presented our ideas at a meeting of the Cofán ethnic federation: the Nacionalidad Originario A’i-Kofán del Ecuador (NOAIKE).

From left to right: linguists Wilson Silva, Scott Anderbois, and Maksimilian Dabkowski discuss the practicalities of a potential research project with the Cofán protocol team (Hugo Lucitante, Martin Criollo, Michael Cepek, and Sadie Lucitante) (photo by Bear Guerra).

Our investigation allowed us to complete a draft research protocol with written versions in English, Spanish, and A’ingae, the Cofán language. The protocol is intended to let non-Cofán researchers know what they must do and how they must do it if they wish to work with Cofán people. It covers many issues: contacting Cofán individuals, communities, and NOAIKE; securing permission to begin research; selecting and paying community members as research subjects and project workers; compensating host communities in material and non-material ways; sharing income from book royalties and other research-related proceeds; establishing credit and authorship in publications and other project products; securing informed consent, privacy, and confidentiality; returning copies of research products to host communities and NOAIKE; and digitally archiving copies of project data so they will be accessible to and controlled by the people and communities from whom they came.

Although our team’s work dealt with a primarily applied topic, it was deeply ethnographic. It depended on developing a subtle understanding of Cofán notions of ownership, fairness, and individual, family, community, and national rights. It also demanded a more nuanced appreciation of the concepts of autonomy and sovereignty that orient Cofán visions of self-determination and political-economic advancement.

The protocol our team composed has yet to be approved by the Cofán nation as a whole, which hopefully will meet collectively in early 2018 to discuss our draft, amend it where necessary, and certify it as an official document. Nonetheless, our draft has already served to structure discussions between Cofán people and prospective researchers, including a Colombian artist interested in producing visual representations of Cofán territorial relations and a linguistic team from Brown University and the University of Arizona who intend to document the grammar of A’ingae and to generate A’ingae school materials for Cofán students. Finally, the protocol has helped me to reanalyze my own oil-related data and to envision the politics and practicalities of my next major project, which will examine the relationship between Cofán history and Cofán shamanism. Given the protocol’s demonstrated utility, we hope to make the final version available to other scholars, journalists, and indigenous populations who seek to develop research partnerships within and beyond Amazonia.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Erin Moore

The inaugural workshop of the Kampala Critical Development Collective, a collaborative ethnographic writing project, was held at 32 Degrees East/The Uganda Arts Trust

While a doctoral student at the University of Chicago Erin Moore received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2012 to aid research on “Women into Girls? Translating & Transforming Development in Ugandan ‘Girls’ Empowerment Programs,” supervised by Dr. Jennifer Cole. In 2016 Dr. Moore went on to receive an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Race, Gender, and Geopolitics in Uganda’s NGO Economy: A Consortium”.

In Uganda, more than 15% of the national budget is controlled by foreign development agencies and multinational NGOs. In the wake of state retrenchment, Ugandans look to NGOs for employment, education, and other social and health services. Moreover, the international development industry drives both curricula and research in universities, as funds for tertiary education have been entirely privatized in recent decades. This national context – what I describe as Uganda’s “NGO economy” – hinges upon partnerships between western development agencies and local institutions.

Professor Godfrey Ddumba stands next to list of common themes that emerged from members' descriptions of their experiences working in the aid industry

These partnerships are asymmetrical: because Ugandans depend on development partnerships for income, they must work assiduously to maintain them. As I found over the course of my dissertation fieldwork in both activist and academic settings, this foreign-local partnership model explicitly shaped particular research objectives and precluded others. For example, at a 2012 meeting hosted by a Makerere University professor and her colleague from DFID, the UK’s state development agency, DFID’s desire to understand “cultural” obstacles to girls’ schooling foreclosed a prominent legal scholar’s proposed investigation into young women’s strategies for resilience.

Ugandan scholars and NGO practitioners often remark upon these experiences as structural inequalities systemic to an industry that they nonetheless rely upon for their livelihoods. Similar private conversations with Ugandan interlocutors over the course of my fieldwork suggested a need for a scholarly space outside the auspices of the development industry to critically assess the structural inequalities of Uganda’s NGO economy. To create such a space, with support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research’s Engaged Anthropology Grant, and together with six artists, scholars, and activists the Kampala Critical Development Collective (KCDC) held its inaugural meeting in February 2017.

Hosted by the Kampala arts center, 32 Degrees East, KCDC met for an ethnographic writing workshop. Before the workshop, pariticipants posted relevant articles from academics and journalists in critical development studies to a shared database and circulated short autoethnographic pieces reflecting on the intersections of economic injustice and gender, generation, and geopolitics in the NGO industry.

KCDC members workshopping each other's submissions

The workshop opened with a discussion of the history of anthropology and its relationship to colonialism and the international development industry in Uganda. We then turned to ethnography and autoethnography as methods for relating one’s personal experiences to broader structures of inequality. For many, autoethnography was a new (and fruitful) writing genre, one that the group found useful for drawing connections across individual experiences.

From these methodological convervations, we turned to workshopping each participant’s pre-circulated autoethnographic piece. One KCDC member working for a major multinational children’s rights NGO described the irony of sending NGO beneficiaries, school-aged young people, to donor events in the Unites States and Europe while refusing to distribute monies for school fees to these same nominal beneficiaries. One prominent popular author involved in literacy activism wrote about the contingencies of accepting international donor funds, which demand accountability in the number of physical books distrubted to rural schools but whose metrics cannot capture the cultivationg of a “reading culture” among young people. A feminist activist involved in Uganda’s preeminent women’s movement lamented the impossibilities for the intergenerational transmission of feminist thought between older and younger women given the costs of attending both national and international feminst consortia. Over the course of reviewing each other’s writing, KCDC together discussed shared experiences of socioeconomic injustice across an industry that has become a primary source of employment for middle class young people in Uganda.

In June 2018, KCDC will meet for its second collaborative writing workshop to further develop these initial pieces for publication and to grow the collective’s reach. Additionally, KCDC is developing a collaborative blog as well as capacity for montly networking meetings to gather more Kampala-based scholars, activists, and artists interested in purusing projects related to critical development studies.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: James Verinis

Lefteris diligently working his tomato fields and orange groves in 2016

James Verinis is an Adjunct Professor at Roger Williams University. In 2009 he received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant to aid research on “New Immigrant Farmers and the Globalization of the Greek Countryside,” supervised by Dr. Thomas M. Wilson. In 2015 Dr. Verinis received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Rural Greek Rebound in/of Crisis”.

While I researched a number of rural/agrarian problems between 2008 and 2010 in the Greek prefecture of Laconia, the roles Southeastern European immigrants play in maintaining traditional rural Greek ways of life were the most remarkable aspects of my dissertation fieldwork findings. Faced with global forces that threaten their survival (stigma and depopulation as well as cheap Argentine lemons or high quality olive oil from California, for example), unprecedented relationships have developed between Greeks and some non-Greek residents as they become kin through marriage and baptism, engage in reciprocal relations, and share community life. This has remained the case in more recent years, despite reports that immigrants are exiting Greece as a result of the financial crisis.

In my Engaged Anthropology Grant proposal I suggested that European Union, state, and local political policy can facilitate immigrant incorporation into rural development schemes. Structural integration of farming knowledge and technology across this new diversity of stakeholders is wholly absent. The Young Farmer Program, an EU-wide program to assist new farmers, is not equipped to administer aid to non-nationals despite official rhetoric. Programs in the United States such as New Farmer Development highlight opportunities within a global migratory paradigm to support values inherent to traditional agricultural landscapes, rural entrepreneurship, and diversified farming systems as well as protect biodiversity and ameliorate social conflict between groups. I proposed a pilot program to take advantage of similar opportunities that was endogenous in spirit but based on American interests in such policy initiatives.

Greeks, Roma, and Middle Eastern residents conspire to subsist in central Athens

My proposal ignored the realities of Greek experience. Rural Greek communities have been increasingly ambivalent about the state since the early 1990’s. A general distrust of core EU countries to the north has pervaded Greek life since the onset of austerity measures in 2010. The financial crisis has also undermined prospects for any rural development initiatives. In my failure to discover interest in legislative measures, I discovered solidarity networks amongst disparate groups that offset the absence of and were preferable to such public policy. All Greek farmers, non-Greek farmers, and political representatives I spoke with in 2016- even a highly respected rural sociologist, now secretary general of the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food- deflected, seemed bewildered by, or just plain ignored my queries about the potential for political intervention. The newly appointed Laconian municipal agronomist suggested he had nothing to do with the Young Farmer Program. Article 13A, added to Law 4251/2014 by the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food in 2016, now provides for the legal registration of irregular ‘third country nationals’ yet such basic measures are so relatively late in coming and without practical application or benefit to Greeks or non-Greeks that rural residents continue to rely on informal networks.

This informal ‘resistance’ is hardly a neat opposition, but it is ubiquitous to the point where I identify it as a sodality. Contemporary solidarity movements or kínisi allilegií in Greece provide a vast array of people with such essentials as health care, legal aid, and food. The ‘no middleman movement’ or ‘potato movement’ (‘kínima tis patátes’), which facilitates the direct sales of agricultural produce is one such movement or network. Such novel networks that produce and distribute food and save and exchange seeds have formed as resistant responses to neoliberal campaigns that intensify and commodify agriculture, making small-scale  food  production increasingly impossible.  In looking into new solidarity phenomena and visiting with my most evocative interlocutors in Laconia in 2016, I began to draw a connection between rural solidarity movements in global Greek countrysides and these other novel networks.

Albanian farmer Lefteris now conspires with neighboring Greeks to frighten Roma away from his fields in the village of Asteri, allowing Roma to think, as the police also suggest, that he is a ‘dangerous Albanian’. While this linguistic tool is a byproduct of an exploitive relationship in which Lefteris would historically suffer, non-Greeks such as Lefteris now wield some of these tools in a co-conspiracy with Greeks for their mutual benefit. Vis-à-vis these alliances they can pursue small-scale agriculture and maintain traditional rural Greek ways of life in light of global capitalist agri-business trends.

Mitsos, another Albanian I often worked with between 2008 and 2010, also plays significant roles in these informal rural Greek sodalities. One morning in the summer of 2016 an old Greek man named Pandelis described to Mitsos, whom he has known for nearly a quarter century, problems he had been having passing a kidney stone. Mitsos instructed him, in some detail, how to make a tea from the stomach of a chicken so as to facilitate relief. As Albanians have long had less access to western biomedicine, Greeks now rely on Albanians for alternative therapies in now desperate financial times. Beyond the obvious depth of their relationship, the exchange of this traditional rural remedy is indicative of a larger set of responsibilities that rural Greek residents of various ethno-nationalities now have to each other. They increasingly share kéfi- ‘good humor’ or ‘good life’, outside of social hierarchies, official  politics, and capitalist markets (Papataxiarchis 1994)). Is kéfi a way for scholars to comprehend new globalized rural relationships and solidarity movements in response to conventional political failings? I have been forced to reconsider the problem.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Ji Eun Kim

While a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Ji Eun Kim received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2010  to aid research on “Building the Future and Mapping the Past: Urban Regeneration and Politics of Memory in Yokohama, Japan,” supervised by Dr. Jennifer Robertson. In 2016 Dr. Kim received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Encounters: The Ethics and Practice of Care in Underclass Japan”.

In the summer of 2016 I was once again standing on the waterfront of Yokohama listening to the waves gently lapping at the pier. Turning my head to the left I could see the skyline of high-rise buildings measuring up to the name of the district as ever, Minato Mirai 21, the Future Port 21. If I turned my back from the sea, just a twenty minute walk towards the inland it would lead to Kotobuki district where I conducted my dissertation fieldwork. Once the nation’s third largest day laborers’ quarter the district had become a stronghold of homeless activism at the time of my fieldwork in 2010. Tracing the intersecting fates of the two districts I was constantly brought back to an incident that occurred at this waterfront which left an indelible scar in local history. In February 1983, when the grand land reclamation project of the Future Port was under way, a homeless day laborer was found bleeding in a garbage can in the waterfront park with his ribs broken to the extent of almost being folded into half. The assailants, the police found out, were teenage boys, who had been carrying out a series of attacks against homeless laborers in the area claiming to, “clean the garbage off the city.” The collaborative activities launched by local organizations in the aftermath of the attacks, from the nightly visits to the homeless to the open-air soup kitchen, were my focal points of engagement and research during the fieldwork period. The view of the Future Port became a reminder for me of the violence lurking behind fantasies about the future. The serenity of the waterfront seemed cruelly indifferent to the struggles of the underclass and local activists.

Returning to the field site a year after completing my dissertation I originally planned to organize a workshop inspired by the Clemente Course for the Humanities. I had envisioned a trial workshop with invited scholars in the humanities in the hope of fostering conversations about the ethics of care and existential questions beyond the issue of immediate survival. However, after consulting with several long-term activists, I realized that such a project involving external experts could reinforce the hierarchy that was likely to exist between outsiders and local people. Given the increasing media attention to externally funded projects in the district, long-term activists were wary of bringing in external experts who had not gained trust from local residents through prior commitments. Taking into account these concerns I reached the conclusion that an in-depth discussion among long-term activists and supporters about their own views of social engagement in the district would be an exercise worthwhile in itself.

In collaboration with the Kotobuki Workshop (Kotobuki Wāku), a supporters’ network that hosted regular seminars for college students and volunteers, I organized a colloquium under the title of “Living Together (Tomoni ikiru koto).” Coordinated to take place after the monthly flea market on September 10, 2016 the colloquium was hosted in a sheltered workshop located a few blocks away from the market. After offering a brief overview of my dissertation to set the ground I facilitated a discussion among a dozen of participants, most of whom had spent years engaged in respective support activities in the district. Starting with a critical assessment of the title of this colloquium, “living together,” which was a phrase often used by advocates of anti-discrimination, we further discussed the role of collective memory and shared narratives. I asked if embodying the narratives of others, like Hiroshima’s A-bomb legacy successor program would work in our context. One activist who worked for a publishing company noted the difficulty of narrating one’s own story in an intriguing manner. Others remarked that the simple act of listening could heal wounds on both sides, reflecting on their own respective experiences of listening to Kotobuki residents. Another line of discussion followed my question of whether communal burial practices in Kotobuki could work as a model of crafting alternative social ties in aging Japan. A young activist who was preparing to take over her father’s funeral business concurred with me and shared her plans of pursuing environmental activism through alternative burial practices such as scattering ashes in the mountains. Criticizing the family ideology underlying the unsustainable and exclusive ancestral burials another activist and social worker noted how the household registration system caused unwanted disruptions in the living arrangements of impoverished families when they sought welfare assistance. Wrapping up the colloquium, I added that living together in a degrowth and post-labor society might necessitate enacting various forms of mutuality and solidarity.

This engaged project intended to offer renewed insights into the existing activities of engagement in the field site. I hope that the threads of discussion be carried on by the participants as they continue their engagement in the nightly visits to the homeless, the soup kitchen, disability workshops, and youth seminars. In addition to reconnecting with key organizations and sharing copies of my dissertation I was also able to build a new relationship with a group of health activists and assist in their sessions of free medical counseling in the district. Discussing possibilities of continuing engagement in their activities I agreed to write reports for them on topics such as medical support for the Syrian refugees in Germany or mental health care in Korea. All in all, my trial and error during this project led me to rethink what it meant to be an engaged anthropologist in a field with a rich legacy of engaged activities. This engaged project explored the potentials of staying attuned to the rhythms of activities rooted in long-term commitments in the hope of amplifying their reverberations.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Nancy Moinde

Leading a focus group discussions on human-baboon conflict during the guides training workshop

While a doctoral student at Rutgers University Nancy Moinde received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2008 to aid research on “Effects of Land Use Practices on the Socioecology of Olive Baboons,” supervised by Dr. Ryne Arthur Palombit. In 2015 Dr. Moinde received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “The Human-baboon Interface: Implications for Wildlife Conservation and Management in Laikipia County, Kenya”.

In April of 2015 I returned to my fieldsite to carry out my engagement project with the aim of the project being to inform on values that would promote tolerance and foster practices to alleviate conflict towards baboons and potentially other wildlife in Laikipia.

Projects Activities

Local baboon management strategies based on research recommendations

Giving a seminar during the lecture series of the 10 days wildlife management guides raining on the influence of land use systems on human-baboon interactions in Laikipia County.

Both the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, (LWF) and Keyna Wildlife Services, (KWS) work closely together in matters pertaining to wildlife management conservation and policy in Laikipia County. The LWF is a dynamic membership-driven organization of small holders, community groups, and conservancy stakeholders focusing on integrated natural resources management. The KWS is a parastatal – which is the main arm of the government that deals with national wildlife management and conservation issues in unprotected areas. I disseminated baboon management strategic recommendations to both these organizations as they significantly contribute to implementing wildlife management conservation policy as explained in more detail below.

Dissemination of findings through various established LWF Environmental Education and Eco Literacy Program (EEELP) network structures: The LWF EEELP’s main goal is to disseminate information through formal and informal education programs in Laikipia.  Using the established LWF EEELP network, I was able to more efficiently disseminate my research findings through their various networks and membership. Another dissemination strategy the EEELP platform used to inform the public was through online blogs and newsletters. I also trained Conservancy wildlife guides on human-wildlife conflict management as part of the larger objectives of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum Strategic plan 2010-2015.

Publication of research findings using LWF EEELP network channels: I published chapter 4 of my dissertation through the well-circulated local Laikipia Wildlife Forum Newsletter, which is issued on a quarterly basis annually.

Secretariat of the National Primate Conservation Task Force (NPCTF)

Members of the National Primate Task Force (NPCTF). From Left: Prof, Shirley Strum, Dr. Isaac Lekolool, Monica Chege, Lineaus Kariuki (Chair-KWS) and on the Right side: Pam Cunneyworth, Dr. Yvonne de Jong, Dr. Tom Butynski, Peter Fundi and Dr. Nancy Moinde (Taking picture) in the last NPCTF meeting held in the Kenya Wildlife Services headquarters in 29th February 2016. Peter Fundi and Dr. Nancy Moinde (both the Institute of Primate Research) represent the NPCTF secretariat

The NPCTF is a forum where primatologists discuss matters pertaining to primate conservation and management strategies: Information is gathered from various ongoing research projects.  Some of the primatologist in the NPCTF, such as, Prof Shirley Strum (California – San Diego), Dr. Tom Butynski and Dr. Yvonne de Jong (Eastern Africa Primate Diversity and Conservation Programme)  have ongoing research sites and activities in Laikipia and are all members of LWF and the National Primate Task Force (NPCTF).

The goal of the NPCTF is to develop national strategic primate management and conservation guidelines with KWS as the Chair of all national wildlife species Task Forces. The KWS newsletter summarizes the objectives of the NPCTF since its inception in 2013.

Promoting mutualistic values by coordinating students “walking with baboons” onsite visits in Laikipia County

Onsite visit by students from different academic institutions to experience “walking with baboons” project which is part of the “baboon tourism initiatives” in Laikipia County

I taught students about the olive baboon’s social systems, feeding ecology and  the local people’s values towards baboons  in a group of habituated baboons where “baboon-tourism” is undertaken in Il Polei in Laikipia County. Topics also included the cost and benefits of living “with baboons in relation to “baboon-tourism” as a land use ecotourism endeavor. I also arranged for  students from different academic institutions to attend the baboon research project near Twala to learn more about baboon social and feeding behavior from an evolutionary perspective and inform on local people’s values in response to “baboon-tourism” as a viable land use option in Laikipia County.

The Primatology, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Field School (PWEC)

Giving a primate ecological lectures in the field (pointing the white board) on primate socioecology as part of the Primate Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Field School activities

The PWEC field school offers undergraduate and graduate students from different American and Kenyan universities a unique opportunity to learn about wildlife biodiversity across a range of diverse East African habitats. As the Field Director of the PWEC field school, I contributed to the formulation of an academic syllabus that exposed students to various conservation problems, current debates, and emerging innovative solutions that are contextually and culturally different than any they would  find elsewhere. The guest speakers were selected from a wide range of conservation interest groups and included wildlife ecologists and conservationists. Diverse  guest speakers whose wildlife and community based research activities in Laikipia also participated  and  contributed immensely to interactive discussions and constructive debate on different dimensions of wildlife conservation strategies.

The PWEC field school syllabus  outlines the diversity of conservation management themes from various national and international wildlife ecologist and conservationists whose research is based in Laikipia. Note that the syllabus also includes presentation and discussions I gave to students on my PhD findings on baboon socioecology and interactions with humans in Laikipia as part of the goal of this project.

International Primatological Symposium and Conference Presentation – January 2016, Held in Nanyuki, Kenya

I participated in a primatologist symposium that discussed issues related to human-non-human primate interactions. Topics on the symposium included human exploitation of animals as resources, their symbolic significance to humans and varied culturally constructed values and agendas around wildlife from different parts of the globe.

Symposium with Primate ecologist and conservationist: The topic under discussion was entitled,

People-primate interactions: understanding ‘conflicts’ to facilitate coexistence.

Participants: Kate Hill (Oxford Brookes University), Nancy Moinde (Department of Conservation Biology, Institute of Primate Research), Joana Sousa (Institute of Mediterranean Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Evora), Matthew McLennan (Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and Development, Oxford Brookes University), Amanda Webber  (Bristol Zoological Society).

I also presented the results of my  PhD thesis at the Pathways conference. The presentation was entitled “The effects of land use practices on human-baboon (Papio hamadryas anubis) interactions in Laikipia County, Kenya.”

 

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Carwil Bjork-James

Poster announcing academic seminar on The Sovereign Street: The City as a Terrain of Protest

Carwil Bjork-James is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Vanderbilt University. In 2010 he received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant to aid research on “Claiming Space, Redefining Politics: Urban Protest and Grassroots Power in Bolivia,” supervised by Dr. Marc Edelman. In 2015 Dr. Bjork-James received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Public Space, Self-Organization, and Indigenous Values in Bolivia’s Urban Movements”.

My engagement project, centered around an early November trip to Bolivia, brought my research back to the community where I did most of my fieldwork, Cochabamba, Bolivia. My recent work centers on urban social movements in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which became internationally famous for the Water War, a 1999–2000 campaign against the privatization of the public water system that inspired the Goya Award-winning film También La Lluvia. In the years that followed, mass mobilizations taking over central urban spaces were a vital part of nationwide political upheaval, leading to the resignation of two presidents and dramatic political transformations. My dissertation research, conducted in 2010 and 2011 with the support of Wenner-Gren and the National Science Foundation, investigated space-claiming urban protests using oral history interviews, collecting documents, and experiencing the daily realities of protest and political organizing. My research integrates an experiential understanding of mass protest with an analysis of how both racialized and governmental power function in and through public space. By focusing on social life as experienced through the human body, the meanings attached to place, and social movement practices, I explain how race and power are lived and changed through protest.

Booklet: "Voces y Visiones de La Calle Soberana"

My engagement project involved four components: a 38-page booklet Voces y Visiones de La Calle Soberana (“Voices and Visions of the Sovereign Street”), an academic presentation, a community dialogue with activists and academics, and a collection of twenty photos exhibited alongside the community dialogue. The Spanish-language booklet compiles brief ethnographic descriptions and segments of oral history interviews to document how space-claiming protests (especially road blockades) wield power by interrupting economic life, how urban and rural organizations organize internally, and the role of indigenous values in urban organizations. The booklet is illustrated with photographs and was professionally printed. I distributed 100 copies of the booklet in Cochabamba and had conversations with local contacts about producing and publishing an expanded version.

Carwil Bjork-James presents to an audience at the Centro de Estudios Superiores Universitarios (CESU), a multidisciplinary research centre of the University Mayor San Simón

The Engaged Anthropology Grant offered me the opportunity to share my reflections and research conclusions with activists and academics, two groups that are already very much in dialogue. In contemporary Bolivia, the politics of indigeneity, local autonomy, and community self-organization are well articulated and politically influential. The Documentation and Information Center of Bolivia (CEDIB) and the Centro de Estudios Superiores Universitarios (CESU) of the public Higher University of San Simón, which hosted my two events, are two institutions that reflect a local tradition of engaged research and political commitment.

I organized a research presentation at CESU presenting my findings on protest and public space and a community dialogue (or Conversatorio) at CEDIB discussing forms of self-organization among social movements. The presentation, entitled “The City as Terrain of Protest,” was attended by 20 to 25 students and academics. My research shows that the political import of mass protests in Bolivia arises from their interruption of commercially important flows and appropriation of meaning-laden spaces. These protests put forward a new model for governance of their country by inverting the historic exclusion of the indigenous majority and enacting collaborative forms of democracy in the streets.

Community activists, scholars, and advocates participate in a conversation on forms of grassroots movement organization in Bolivia at the Center for Documentation and Information of Bolivia

The community dialogue brought together over 35 community activists, students, academics, and politically involved expatriates to discuss a series of ideas that I presented about the way that Bolivian movements organize. I argued that Bolivian grassroots organizations have two distinct organizational cultures, each with their own internal ethics. Some grassroots organizations are “dense”—including labor unions and neighborhood associations. These groups are bound together by a formal organizational structure and a countervailing ethic that subordinates leaders to the grassroots bases from which they emerge. Others are “nimble,” involving individuals who join voluntarily without a joint decision by the communities where they live or work, and achieve their political effects by networking. While some of these differences and tensions were familiar to participants, I was able to use ethnographic examples to inspire activists to reflect on their own practice. In conversation, we came to a shared acknowledgement of the interdependence of these often-counterposed approaches to political action.

Photography has been an important part of my fieldwork, and I returned from my research in Cochabamba with over seven thousand still images of protests, public events, public spaces, and daily life in Bolivia. This task of re-presenting the process of protest to a Bolivian audience pushed me to make use of these photographs in a new way to illustrate the process of protest as well as to elicit the emotions associated with its most exuberant or affecting moments. The twenty poster-sized images that were hung at CEDIB during and after my presentation and the ten images that are part of the Voces y Visiones booklet range show mass mobilization as simultaneously a personal and collective activity and illustrate how protesters make the city their own.

Poster announcing community conversation on Dense and Nimble Activisms: Organization and Ethics in Bolivian Grassroots Movements

During my visit, several of my former interviewees approached me to express appreciation for making the effort to return the knowledge I gained from my fieldwork to Bolivia. While Cochabamba has attracted a fair number of social scientists from the global North, they observed, the relationship has usually been one way. For my part, engaging with on-the-ground researchers at CEDIB and getting feedback from Bolivian academics was invaluable. I’ve long been aware of the rich academic production within the country about Bolivian social movements, but this fall gave me some of my first opportunities to talk productively about my work with them. It also served to cement several relationships that will be crucial for future ethnographic work, and for dissemination of my forthcoming book in the country whose political life it describes.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Elana Resnick

Sorting through municipal waste on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria

While a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Elana Resnick received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2010 to aid research on “Waste, Work, and Racialization in Bulgaria,” supervised by Dr. Alaina Lemon. In 2016 Dr. Resnick received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “She Writes the Book of How Much We Suffer: Engaging Waste Management Research Participants in Sofia, Bulgaria”.

“She writes the book on how much we suffer.”  This was the common explanation among the Romani street sweepers with whom I worked about why I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, cleaning streets, and asking them about their seemingly mundane labor.  Despite my insistence that I wasn’t focusing on suffering, this remained a common local understanding of my presence and ethnographic engagement. With the Engaged Anthropology Grant I returned to Sofia, Bulgaria and used collaborative ethnographic film documentation techniques, public presentations, and visual narration in order to share the findings of my dissertation research.

Film still, municipal street sweeping in Sofia, Bulgaria

My Wenner-Gren research specifically examined disposal, collection, processing, storage, cleaning, and recycling of waste in Bulgaria, focusing on the capital city of Sofia.  Fieldwork addressed relations between informal waste collection (individuals collecting discarded objects for re-use or resale) and formal waste management sectors.

Through participant-observation and interviews with individual trash collectors, employees of trash firms and recycling organizations, environmental and human rights NGOs, governmental agencies, as well as through site visits to landfills, my research addresses the potential for continued life amidst waste and material “death.” Investigating waste through a multi-scale perspective, my dissertation looks beyond dichotomies of dirty vs. clean or animate life vs. inanimate objects to show how personhood, sensory phenomena, and life-death continuums are better understood through the study of waste.

Film stills, street sweeping break in Sofia, Bulgaria

The Engaged Anthropology Grant enabled me to share findings from different aspects of my fieldwork with my variously situated interlocutors so that they could learn about the findings from other participants and sites of my dissertation research. I used interview excerpts, documentary film clips, and photographic images to share my Wenner-Gren research findings with four key populations with whom I worked: 1) Romani waste workers in Sofia, 2) NGO representatives and activists, 3) politicians and policy makers in Bulgaria, 4) Bulgarian anthropologists and academics.

In order to make my results accessible to all of my interlocutors, I shared my findings through oral presentation and video documentation. Having already collaborated on creating over fifty hours of documentary film footage about municipal waste labor, I sat with my former colleagues and shared film clips, oral interview excerpts, and explained the findings I made from our work together.

Film stills, street sweeping break in Sofia, Bulgaria

In response to this, they provided critiques, recommendations, and responses. Most of the women I swept with were surprised to see me in person. They explained that my work with them marked the end of an era since most of our mutual sweeping colleagues had either found “indoor work” or moved abroad. Of the forty-two women with whom I worked sweeping streets, only about ten remained on the job. In practice, this meant that I often had to share my findings one-on-one and using Skype and Facebook as mediums for interaction.

I was able to use my interlocutors’ responses to my findings in order to add narrative text to accompany stills and clips from my film footage that I could share with the other research participants: waste company CEOs, NGO representatives, local politicians, as well as with Bulgarian academics. Since the political landscape of Bulgaria had also changed in the years since I completed fieldwork, I was able to meet with former political representatives now working in other positions. This meant that I shared my findings individually and in small groups, including at the offices of environmental NGOs, in the conference rooms of local landfills, and in the boardrooms of waste management firms with which I worked.

Landfill weigh station in Western Bulgaria

I provided short-form synopses of my dissertation and film in a variety of local venues, which catalyzed further conversations about my findings and the changes since my research ended in 2013. Finally, I was able to share my research findings with local academics and I am currently completing a Bulgarian-language publication about my research findings for a Bulgarian anthropology journal.