Archive for Grant Programs

Meet Our 2014 Wadsworth International Fellows: Ceslo Inguane

The Wadsworth International Fellowship provides the opportunity for students in countries where anthropological education is underrepresented to receive world-class training at a university abroad. In the first of a series of posts introducing this year’s new cohort of fellows, we meet Ceslo Inguane, a Mozambican cultural anthropologist now at the University of Washington, Seattle and working on questions of neoliberalism and crisis.

I am Mozambican and a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle. I have a BA with Honors in Anthropology from the Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique (2006), which included ethnographic research on assistance provided by social networks to people living with HIV in Maputo City. This research was part of my academic interest in documenting how socially vulnerable groups deal with life-threatening crises in a neoliberal context. In 2008, I completed an MA in Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, including a multi-sited ethnographic research on the negotiation of national memory by ‘subaltern’ social groups, local elites and the Mozambican state, with a focus on heritage sites in Mandhlakazi, Southern Mozambique.

Upon completion on the MA, I worked as national coordinator of the Mozambique Aids Indicator Survey (2008-2010) and of the integrated biological and behavioral surveys on key populations for HIV and AIDS in Mozambique (2010-2013). This work experience prepared me professionally for the complexities of managing long-term global health research projects and interactions with national and global level actors. It also suggested the complex ways in which local, national and global actors and processes relate to health issues, and how innovative multi-sited and historically oriented ethnographic research can illuminate these dynamics.

My PhD research topic segues from my work experience and from my undergraduate research. Broadly, I intend to (a) map the different social actors (patients, healthcare professionals, the Mozambican state, donors, NGOs, etc.) involved in ensuring retention of patients in HIV care, and (b) document how they mobilize strategies, and negotiate historically-established and emerging moral economies in a neoliberal context in Southern Mozambique.

I feel privileged for receiving academic training at the UW, and confident that I will complete the PhD with the highest level of academic excellence. This is because the Department of Anthropology includes faculty who are globally-renowned experts in HIV and global health research in Africa and Mozambique, with excellent track records of graduate student advising. Additionally, the department’s PhD program focuses on training students for research and teaching careers – a tradition particularly distinctive to North America.

Pauline Tapfuma is the 2014 Wadsworth African Fellow!

Each year, the Wenner-Gren Foundation awards the Wadsworth African Fellowship to an African student to receive a international-level anthropological education at a South African university. We would like to extend our congratulations to the recipient of the 2014 fellowship, Pauline Tapfuma of Zimbabwe, who will be pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Cape Town.

I was born in 1986 in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. I graduated with the Degrees of Bachelor of Arts General Degree (Archaeology, History and Geography) and Bachelor of Arts Special Honors from the University of Zimbabwe in 2010. Upon graduation, I enrolled for an interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Heritage Studies at the same institution from September 2010 to December 2011. I was the top student in my class and I got a University Book Prize for that. Currently I am working for National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe as a Curator of Archaeology.

I have an interest in generating knowledge which can empower humanity through archaeology and anthropology. For my PhD, I would like to place archaeological objects at the center of archaeological inquiry in Southern Africa. In particular, I would like to study within a combined framework of material culture theory and artifact studies the objects excavated from the World Heritage Sites of Great Zimbabwe and Khami with the hope of addressing new questions ranging from the organization of production to the elite commoner relationships at the sites.

I also choose to study at the University of Cape Town in South Africa because I will benefit from the experience and expertise of Dr Chirikure, one of the few researchers working on artifact studies in Southern Africa. In addition, he runs a world class laboratory equipped with new generation optical microscopic facilities which are essential for my project.

We wish Pauline the best of luck with her education!

Meet our New Wadsworth International Fellows: Xinyuan Wang

In this next installment of our series on 2013′s new cohort of Wadsworth International Fellows, we meet Xinyuan Wang of Hong Kong, a digital anthropologist who studies at University College London!

My research interest in Digital Anthropology developed during my master’s degree at UCL. UCL’s Digital Anthropology program is the world’s first program focusing on the use of digital media from an anthropological perspective. My master dissertation, which received a Distinction, analyzed particularly the usage and social impact of social media among Taiwanese in London.

My doctoral research pertains to a deeper examination of the use and social impact of digital media among Chinese rural migrants. Hitherto, anthropological research has only in very few instances taken on a specific inquiry of the welfare of Chinese rural migrants from a media usage perspective. Today, China has 130 million rural migrants. Under a system of rigid household registration, even today, rural migrants do not have the same rights or access to the same services (healthcare, education, housing, etc.) compared with their urban counterparts. One of the major problems rural migrants face is that they have been uprooted from their social networks back in their home villages, which has further deprived them from essential support. This study thus aims to lead to a comprehensive understanding of social consequences of social media among Chinese rural migrants.

My PhD supervisor Professor Daniel Miller is a leading anthropologist in the field of Material Culture and Digital Anthropology. My PhD research is integrated in his European Research Council project under the title Social Networking Sites and Social Science. This project is based on a comparative ethnographic study in seven different countries (www.gsmis.org). I am now doing my 15 months fieldwork at a small factory town in southeast China. Meanwhile, since 2012, I have undertaken the translation of the book Digital Anthropology (Heather & Miller 2012) into Chinese, which will be published by Chinese People’s publishing house, the most prestigious publishing house in China, later this year (2013).

Congratulations again to 2013′s other fellows introduced in this series so far, Daniel Perera Bahamón, Elisabeth Kago Nébié and Ana Majkic! All the best luck to you on your studies and continuing career in anthropology!

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Maria Cruz-Torres and “The Shrimp Ladies”

Another Engaged Anthropology Grant report is in, this time from Dr. Maria Cruz-Torres of Arizona State University! Cruz-Torres was originally awarded funding in 2008 to aid research on her project ‘The Shrimp Ladies: A Political Ecology of Gender, Fisheries and Grassroots Movements in Northwestern Mexico.’ Last year, she received the EAG to return to Sinaloa to make her research results available to the general public, and to ensure that women’s voices are central in this process.

Cruz-Torres (center) with Yaneri and Rosario in Mazatlán, May 2013.

Throughout the duration of my fieldwork in Southern Sinaloa, from 2004-2013, women shrimp traders always asked me about what will I do with the information they have given me. Was I going to write a book? Will it be published in English or Spanish? Will it be published in Mexico or in the USA? Will they be able to read and understand it? An Engaged Anthropology Grant allowed me to solve this dilemma by facilitating a closer interaction and collaboration with the women shrimp traders in order to come up with ideas on how to better reciprocate their help and support to my long-term ethnographic research. After several meetings and consultations, both individually, and in groups, with the women, we agreed that the publication in Mexico of a non-academic book in Spanish, will fulfill their wishes and rights to read about their contributions to my research.  They also wanted the book to highlight their legacies as working women, and their contribution to their households and to the local economy.

Luisa, from the community of Palmillas, reviewing her testimony, May 2013.

On December of 2012 I met with many of the women shrimp traders in Southern Sinaloa to discuss the details of the book. I visited all of the eight communities (Mazatlán, Villa Unión, Walamo, Escuinapa, Palmillas, Isla del Bosque, Cristo Rey, and Agua Verde) in which I had conducted fieldwork to contact the women who participated in the research and to seek their individual opinions and suggestions. I had brought an outline that I developed based on their previous input. Most women voiced their concerns, and many felt that the proposed book still seemed very academic, which would be difficult for them to read. There was a consensus among the women that the book should be about who they are and the challenges they face as shrimp traders, and narrated from their individual perspectives. We agreed that the book should be a compilation of women testimonies told with their own voices.  A photograph of each woman will be included in the testimony. The life histories I collected during my fieldwork in Southern Sinaloa in 2008, also funded by a Wenner-Gren Postdoctoral Grant, form the basis of these testimonies.

Rosario and Griselda choosing their photographs, May 2013.

On May of 2013 I met with the shrimp traders again to discuss their individual testimonies and photographs. During this time the women had the opportunity to review their testimonies in order to add new or delete old information. They edited what information they wanted people to learn about them. Given the violence that has been taking place in Southern Sinaloa during the last three years, some women were reluctant to reveal too much personal information and this was deleted from their testimonies. Others updated their demographic information such as age, education, and marital status; major family events, new challenges at work, and new economic opportunities. Some women became very emotional while reading their testimonies, remembering, both happy, and sad events in their lives.  Women also had the opportunity to choose their photographs to accompany their testimonies. In many cases it was necessary to shoot new portraits because women did not like the one I chose or because they needed to be updated. We also discussed and created a new title for the book.

Matilde, her daughter, and a neighbor at her home in the town of Agua Verde.

The testimonies shed light on the many struggles women overcame so they could pursue their livelihoods and these also offered a rare glimpse at their individual lived experiences. They addressed four  important questions: Who are the women shrimp traders of Southern Sinaloa?  What is like to be a woman shrimp trader? What were the complex processes by which women became shrimp traders? How do women reconcile their various roles as workers, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters? But the most common themes that emerge from these testimonies are: women’s struggles to overcome poverty; issues of health, sickness and death; Other themes such as motherhood, social and economic change, resistance and empowerment, violence, children’s education, and their hopes for the future, also stood out.

The book, now entitled, Voces en el Tiempo: La Vida y el Trabajo de Las Camaroneras del Sur de Sinaloa (Voices inTimes: The Life and Work of Women Shrimp Traders in Southern Sinaloa) compiles forty of these poignant testimonies, and it will be published by the University of Sinaloa Press. Once published, the book will be freely distributed among the women who collaborated in the study and their families, libraries, colleagues, and anthropology students in Sinaloa.

Thanks for the report, Maria!

Meet Our New Wadsworth International Fellows: Ana Majkic

In the next installment of our series on 2013′s new cohort of Wadsworth International Fellows, we meet Ana Majkic, a Serbian archaeologist who studied at the University of Belgrade and will now be embarking on doctoral studies at the University of Bordeaux 1.

During my studies of archaeology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, I have focused on Paleolithic archaeology and developed a special interest on hominins’ cognitive abilities. I was, in particular, fascinated by the debate on the emergence of symbolically mediated behavior (SMB) and modern cultures. My PhD research project is aimed to expand my previous work on the origins of SMB, by examining the earliest possible manifestations of symbolic behaviors in the Balkans, as evidenced in the archaeological record. I will accomplish this by analyzing different categories of material culture -  pigment, engraved and perforated objects, personal ornaments – from a number of the Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic sites in Serbia and adjacent regions. A variety of analytical techniques, including optical microscopy, SEM, TEM, XRF, XRD, Raman, Pixe-Pige, will be applied to the study of this material. The equipment to conduct these analyses is available at the CNRS laboratory PACEA, affiliated with the University of Bordeaux 1, and on the campus of this University. Scholars working in this laboratory have the expertise to guide my training and research, and critically evaluate results stemming from my analyses. Dr. Francesco d`Errico’s extensive theoretical and analytical background on the emergence of symbolic behavior will guarantee a high quality education and facilitate the publication of the obtained results in international peer reviewed journals. This will allow inclusion of the relevant data from the Balkans into the wider debate concerning hominins cognition and origins of modern culture. The aim of my PhD research is to understand the time and mode of the emergence of symbolic behavior in the Balkans, and contribute, by building on such results, to the understanding of the events and processes that have led humans to develop such an innovative behavior in this region of Europe.

Congratulations again to 2013′s other fellows introduced in this series so far, Daniel Perera Bahamón and Elisabeth Kago Nébié! All the best luck to you on your studies and continuing career in anthropology!

Important Program Changes for Wenner-Gren

Wenner-Gren would like to take this opportunity to let you know about important changes to a few of our funding programs.

  • The Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship. We are moving from biannual deadlines for this fellowship program to a single annual deadline. The next deadline for Hunt Fellowships will be May 1, 2014. For successful applicants, funding will be available starting in January 2015, and the start date of the Fellowship can be any time during that year.
  • The Osmundsen Initiative. We are discontinuing the Osmundsen Initiative supplement for both the Dissertation Fieldwork and the Post-Ph.D. Research Grant programs. This will allow us to provide further support for other programs, including the Engaged Anthropology Grant, which is proving to be very popular with our grantees. Click here for more information about this new program.

As always, please feel free to contact us at inquiries@wennergren.org if you have any questions about these changes or anything else related to our grant programs or the Wenner-Gren Foundation. We look forward to receiving your applications and continuing our support of cutting edge research and inquiry in anthropology.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Jessica Robbins and “Beyond ‘Active’ Aging and Abandonment”

Another grantee returns from their Engaged Anthropology Grant, with a report from Jessica Robbins of the University of Michigan!

“Beyond ‘Active’ Aging and Abandonment: Relations of Suffering, Care, and Hope in Postsocialist Poland”

On May 15-16, 2013, the University of Lower Silesia in Wrocław hosted two workshops funded by the Wenner-Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant awarded to Jessica Robbins. The workshops were based on Robbins’s doctoral research on aging in Poland, which found that experiences and ideals of aging in Poland are characterized by discursive and institutional contrasts between modern, progressive, and “active” older adults, and supposedly “backwards,” suffering, and abandoned elders in institutional care. Based on ethnographic findings that processes of relatedness provide other possibilities for moral personhood in old age, the workshops tried to avoid common practical and scholarly binary distinctions of in/dependence, East/West, and socialism/capitalism, and instead to forge connections among practitioners and scholars.

In the first workshop, entitled “Beyond Old Age: Development, Change, and Support,” a diverse and energetic group of scholars, professionals, and older Poles themselves discussed experiential and structural dimensions of growing old in Poland. Among the seventy-two participants were scholars of pedagogy, gerontology, psychiatry, psychology, and sociology; professionals in medical, educational, social work, caregiving, policy, and artistic fields; and older people who participate in Universities of the Third Age and other organizations specifically for older adults. Co-organized by Professor Elżbieta Siarkiewicz and Dr. Joanna Minta, the workshop began with opening talks given by the President of the University of Lower Silesia, Professor Robert Kwaśnica, Professors Mirosława Nowak-Dziemianowicz and Adam Zych, and Jessica Robbins. The remainder of the day was divided into three panel presentations followed by open discussion. Panelists on each of the three panels – Development, Change, and Support – approached the topic from their own particular experiential and professional position, thereby creating a broader understanding of these topics than suggested by any one discipline or experience alone.

During the energetic discussions that followed each panel, common themes emerged: the importance of education in late life; the need for physical, mental, social, and spiritual development in old age; the need for better social, medical, and educational resources for older people in Poland; the value of intergenerational relations; and the marginalization of certain populations of older people from programs focusing on activity in old age. During the coffee breaks and lunch, panelists and workshop participants had the opportunity to meet people with shared professional and personal interests in aging. During follow-up conversations, Robbins found that people who met at the workshop are already planning future collaborations. Along with a confirmation of the desire for more such interdisciplinary and creatively-structured events, a major finding of this workshop is that continued efforts must be made to include the most marginalized groups of older people in such discussions. As one workshop participant noted, the many organizations and institutions that help older people to become more integrated into society are very good at hoping those who want to be helped; however, discussions of programs like intergenerational theater do not provide much help to people such as former prisoners or the homeless elderly, who continue to face social exclusion and discrimination.

In the second workshop, entitled “Beyond Socialism and Postsocialism: Contemporary Ethnographic Perspectives on Central/Eastern Europe,” eight scholars came together for a discussion of current topical and theoretical trends and debates in anthropological studies of central Europe. Co-organized by Hana Červinková, Director of the International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education, and Associate Dean for International Education and Research at the University of Lower Silesia, and faculty at the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and Michał Buchowski, Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at Adam Mickiewicz University, the workshop brought together doctoral students and faculty from Polish and Czech universities—the University of Lower Silesia (Wrocław), the University of Wrocław, Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznań), the University of Łódź, Charles University (Prague), and the Institute of Ethnology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic—who had lively discussions on the state of anthropological studies in the region based on their own ethnographic, anthropological, and historical research.

The interdisciplinary group included scholars of anthropology, education, and history who gave short presentations on a wide range of topics: gender, disability, kinship, medical anthropology, aging, nationalism, identity, ethnicity, education, and engaged anthropology. Despite these varying topics, the scholars found common ground in their discussions of personhood, memory, activism, inequality, orientalism, essentialism, phenomenology, methodology, and the anthropology of Eastern/Central Europe. Even though not all scholars found the categories of socialism and postsocialism useful, all felt the need to respond to these categories in some way, pointing to the ongoing role of these categories as disciplining structures for the region. As a result of this workshop, scholars will develop their presentations into articles to be published in a forthcoming issue of Cargo, the journal of the Czech Association for Social Anthropology.

 

 

Meet Our New Wadsworth International Fellows: Daniel Perera Bahamón

We continue to introduce this year’s recipients of The Wadsworth International Fellowship with DANIEL PERERA BAHAMÓN of Guatemala, currently pursuing a Doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin!

Born on the Day of the Dead, 1980, I am a first-generation Guatemalan from a family of Catholic Colombians and Sephardic Jewish immigrants from Bulgaria and Palestine.  I grew up in Guatemala City during a time of great political violence, coming of age after the signing of the Peace Accords (1996).  I received my BA in International Studies and History (2003) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.  For several years, I was part of the coordinating council of Unitierra (2003-2008), a grassroots think- and do-tank in Oaxaca, Mexico inspired by the ideas of Ivan Illich and the autonomist political practices of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

I recently received my MA in Latin American Studies (2013) from The University of Texas at Austin.  My thesis focuses on elite retrenchment in response to the political and symbolic gains of black and indigenous peoples in postwar Guatemala.  I characterize the emerging neoliberal governance project as “post-multicultural.”

My doctoral research interrogates the relation between whiteness, violence, securitization, affect, and evolving forms of social belonging in Guatemala.  I draw from visual anthropology in order to examine the production, circulation and uptake of media artifacts, aesthetic forms and practices that might alternatively reflect the ascendancy of whiteness and the affirmation of life projects otherwise.  As both a critical and an expressive component of my ethnography, I also seek to produce audiovisual artifacts in collaboration with my research subjects.

I have chosen UT-Austin for my graduate studies because it is one of the premier research institutions for investigating Guatemala and the broader Mesoamerican region.  As pioneers in Activist Anthropology, faculty at UT foster research that is critical, rigorous and epistemologically innovative while remaining committed to the struggles for social change that its subjects and stakeholders undertake.  The department also pushes the envelope in ethnographic writing, encouraging literary and audiovisual experimentation for more nuanced research-creation.

Meet Our New Wadsworth International Fellows: Elisabeth Kago Nébié

The Wadsworth International Fellowship provides the opportunity for students in countries where anthropological education is underrepresented to receive world-class training at a university abroad. In the first of a series of posts introducing this year’s new cohort of fellows, we meet Elisabeth Kago Nébié of Burkina Faso, a cultural anthropologist working on the social aspects of scarcity in natural resource management. 

I was born on August 2, 1988 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I am interested by the cultural politics of natural resource management in Burkina Faso. In 2010, I received a BA in International Public Relations from Université Libre du Burkina where my ‘mémoire’ examined how Burkina Faso tackles climate change as a sociocultural issue in the international arena.

In 2011, I received a Fulbright Scholarship for a Master’s degree in International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, Massachussets where I graduated on May 19, 2013. My stay at Clark increased my interest in the cultural dimensions of natural resource management, especially water. Water is a resource that connects human beings, but how does water scarcity impact self-identification and relationships among people?

I have been accepted to the doctoral program in anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in order to explore this question. Through its pan-campus theme “Water in Our World”, UNC-CH makes major breakthroughs in water research and establishes lasting initiatives. I am particularly interested in working with Dr. Colin Thor West, whose work has concentrated on household adaptations to climate change in Burkina Faso. I would like to build on his research and add ‘joking relationships’, power and gender relations to the debate.

Burkina Faso lacks well-trained anthropologists and, more importantly, female professors and researchers. The few anthropology courses use texts written by ‘outsiders’ about customs and practices in Burkina Faso. It is time for contemporary ethnographies by burkinabe anthropologists to be part of the curriculum. I am determined to motivate the creation of an anthropology department at the University of Ouagadougou and be part of a research unit to help write contemporary ethnographies of Burkinabe.

I am very honored to be a Wadsworth International Fellow and look forward to contributing to anthropological debates and research.

Congratulations, Elisabeth!

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Dr. Catherine Hobaiter & “Without Words”

Dr. Hobaiter with Makerere University students

Primatologist Catherine Hobaiter received her Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews and is now a Lecturer in the School of Psychology & Neuroscience. In 2007 she was awarded a dissertation fieldwork grant to aid research on ‘Gestural Communication in Wild Chimpanzees of Budongo, Uganda,’ supervised by Dr. Richard William Byrne. In 2012, she received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to travel back to her field site in Uganda to share the findings of her study of chimpanzee gestural communication, and how ‘without words’ we can understand chimpanzee communication and behavior. Below is the blog post she prepared to fill us in on this exciting step in her research.

Eight-years ago, as a young volunteer, I made my first trip to the Budongo rainforest in Uganda. On the way I traveled through a landscape that was as rich and diverse in linguistic culture as it was in geography and wildlife. Having grown up in many different countries I have a strong appreciation for the usefulness of non-verbal communication. As humans we speak with much more than just our voices; gestures and body language are a universal part of human communication and an ability to explain my intentions ‘without words’ has often come in very useful. In fact the evolutionary origins of gestural communication stretch much further back than our human lineage: they are shared with the other great apes, which use gestures to communicate their intentions. Captive studies of great ape gesturing have found features shared with human language, suggesting a possible common origin.

In my Ph.D. I returned to Uganda to carry out the first systematic study of gesture in wild chimpanzees. Chimpanzees in Uganda are coming under pressure both through increasing human pressure on their forest habitat and increasing international tourism. In applying to the Engaged Anthropology program I hoped that I could use the common window of communication to provide a perspective on the close connection humans and chimpanzees share, and, in doing so, provide knowledge, skills, and a desire to help in their long-term conservation.

Hobaiter at the Nyakafunjo primary school.

One of my first visits was to the Nyakafunjo primary school which sits only a few hundred meters from the edge of the Budongo forest; on a quiet morning the chimps can be heard pant-hooting in the distance, and occasionally seen sneaking into the local fields to raid crops. The increasing chimpanzee-human contact in Uganda is largely unavoidable and children, who are often sent into the forests to fetch firewood or water, are vulnerable to attack. But, critically, with a little basic knowledge of chimpanzee behaviour contact does not have to escalate into conflict and may even generate a lasting scientific interest in great apes. Joined by an experienced field-assistant and one of our wildlife vets, we were armed with a series of slides and videos with ‘fun chimp facts’, and had included time for plenty of questions. Although attentive and interested the children were rather shy and quiet and it was hard getting them to share their experiences or ask questions, I felt like I’d come up against a communication barrier I didn’t know how to get through. Then, only halfway through, we suffered a ‘technical malfunction’ with the projector; after a quick huddle we decided to carry on with a ‘live’ demonstration. As it turns out it is immensely, hysterically, entertaining to see a visiting ‘professor’ stand up and pant-hoot like a chimpanzee, even more so when she pant-grunts and gestures respectfully to the dominant alpha-male – ably portrayed by their head-teacher. Questions and discussion started flowing: what does it mean when they show their teeth? did you know they raise their hands to get attention, or reach out their hand out to beg for food? do they dream? what makes them sick, or angry, or happy? We answered as best we could and only after the planned 1-hour talk took the whole 4-hour afternoon did we say a final good-bye, chimpanzee style: with a pant-hoot and drumming chorus.

A class at Makerere University.

We visited several more schools over the next few weeks, bringing talks, books, and posters; but we realized that there was only so much we could explain in the classroom. We decided to invite 10 of the keenest pupils from each school to join us on a ‘primatologist training-day’ inside the forest. We met early in the morning at the gate to the forest reserve, and over the next few hours, in small groups accompanied by researchers and field assistants, we walked slowly up the trail collecting data on the monkey groups in the canopy above, and answering questions on anything and everything to do with forest life. When we reached camp the group toured our new wildlife health-monitoring laboratory staffed by interns from the Makerere veterinary school, and we sat down together for a slap-up lunch and a screening of the movie ‘Chimpanzee’. A huge success, that will become a regular event at the research-station, we hope that these children will become our ambassadors, taking their new knowledge back to their communities.

A guide demonstrates chimpanzee behavior at a training day.

Another significant part of the program was to offer training days for guides at chimpanzee tourism sites. Often these guides have worked with chimpanzees for years and are extraordinarily accurate observers of chimpanzee behavior, but don’t have the knowledge or vocabulary to explain this to their visitors. Non-vocal cues such as ‘bare-teeth displays’, or ‘nose-wiping’ provide an early, easily observable indication of increasing stress; understanding these not only allows the guides to modify the behavior of their group reducing any negative impact on chimpanzee welfare, but it also allows them to improve the visitors’ experience (a more relaxed chimp is less likely to disappear into a swamp). Initially we had planned to have workshops at our research-station but the level of interest was so great that we decided it would be easier to take our small mobile team to them, and in doing so reach a much greater audience. The sites were extremely accommodating – often closing for a day in order that all of their guides could participate. It was a privilege to be able to share knowledge with people who were as genuinely curious and passionate about chimpanzee behaviour as I am, and who had decades of accumulated observations. One indication of how rapidly chimpanzee tourism is developing in Uganda is that every site we visited was habituating a new community of chimpanzees, and a regular comment from the guides was that they felt that the site-managers were pushing them to follow too intensely (it is tempting to try and follow chimps when they run away thinking it increases your contact time, but the increased stress this causes can actually delay habituation). Having recently completed research on the early stages of habituation, with a particular focus on success through stress-reduction, I was able to leave behind materials and guidelines that our vet team will continue to monitor and develop in their visits to these new sites.

Over the course of the trip we offered more advanced practical sessions at the field-station on behavioral observation and statistical analysis for university students, and a class at the campus on research opportunities in chimpanzee behavior, but it is hard to top standing with 80-children pant-hooting and drumming our feet on the concrete floor until the noise bounced off the tin-roof. Hopefully the positive energy that spilled out of the classroom that day will continue to motivate and encourage the generation who will inherit responsibility for the forests to remember their chimpanzee cousins with whom, without words, they share so much.