Archive for Grant Programs

Interview: Michael Chazan on “The Harvard Kalahari Project”

Dr. Michael Chazan is professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto and director of its Archaeology Center. Dr. Chazan’s history with the Foundation goes back to 2007, when he received a Post-Ph.D. Research Grant to aid research at Wonderwerk Cave in Northern Cape Province, South Africa, which helped establish it as one of the most important archaeological sites in Southern Africa. In 2011, he and colleague Dr. Susan Pfeiffer co-organized the 2012 Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) at UToronto with Wenner-Gren support. During the meeting, Chazan and Pfeiffer took the opportunity to organize a retrospective of the Harvard Kalahari project, commemorating its wide influence on the field, and saving for posterity the reflections of the scholars involved.

 

What is/was the Harvard Kalahari Project and why was it important in the development of archaeology and anthropology in Africa?

From 1963 to 1976 a team of researchers led by Richard Lee and the late Irv Devore studied the Ju/’hoansi of the Kalahari. Their collective work gave rise to insights about diverse topics from child care to nutrition.  For archaeologists this project, including the archaeological and ethnoarchaeological research by Allison Brooks and John Yellin, has been a critical resource for understanding hunter-gatherer societies.

What are the main legacies of the Harvard Kalahari Project? How does it relate to the Kalahari Peoples Fund, which is one of the oldest anthropological advocacy groups in North America?

There is of course a tremendous scientific legacy that stretches across the social sciences.  There is also the literary legacy left by Margerie Schostack’s book, “Nisa: the Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, and the many other books and articles written by the members of the project.  What is clear in the film is that the research team collectively saw the need for social advocacy, leading to the establishment of the Kalahari Peoples Fund – still very active today.  This linkage between a strong program of empirical research and social advocacy is the hallmark of this group’s work. I think quite an interesting model for anthropology as a discipline.

Why was it important to hold a retrospective of the project 2012, who participated, and what were the outcomes of the meeting?

Susan Pfeiffer and I felt that the meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists in Toronto would be a great opportunity to bring together members of the Harvard Kalahari Project to talk about their experience.  Brooks and Yellen are active members, while Richard Lee and Nancy Howell are emeritus U of Toronto faculty. We thought that this would be a natural venue for a reunion. Once we suggested it, momentum arose within the group. All we had to do was secure a venue and arrange for the taping. Part of the motivation for me was the sense that there have been high profile negative stories emerging about anthropological fieldwork, so we can benefit from a reminder of how collaborative research teams can make a fundamental, positive contribution.  We also felt that the so-called Kalahari Debate that had swirled through the 90′s had simmered down to an extent where it would be possible to get a more balanced perspective on the experiences  of the members of the Kalahari Project.
What can we learn from the Harvard Kalahari Project as anthropology and archaeology move into the second decade of the 21st Century?

I think we learn quite a bit from the Harvard Kalahari Project and the initiatives it started.  The project shows the rich potential of collaboration. What we see in the film is how human this collaboration is.  For me, the film is quite inspiring.  We see a group of senior scholars who have been profoundly shaped by the experience they had doing fieldwork. At the same time, we see their deep conviction that research matters– that there is an empirical reality and that gaining new scientific insight is in and of itself important.  Their experience reminds us of the vastness of human experience and the vital contribution that anthropology can make.

Meet our 2014 Wadsworth International Fellows: Enquye Negash

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Our 2014 Wadsworth International Fellows: Nasrin Khandoker

Part Three of our introductions of 2014′s class of Wadsworth International Fellows – Nasrin Khandoker of Bangladesh, an anthropologist working on questions of gender, colonialism, and inequality. Khandoker will complete her doctoral studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

Being an anthropologist of Bangladesh, my interest area is the interdisciplinary connections between gender and colonialism. I am working as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh and I just completed my MA in Gender Studies from Central European University, Hungary. Before that, I completed my Master’s from the Department of Anthropology in Jahangirnagar University where I am teaching now. Besides that, I am also a founder editorial member of a Bengali journal named ‘Public Nribiggan’ (Public Anthropology) in Bangladesh.

I did my master’s research in Anthropology in a quest to understand marital inequality and the resistance to it. My recently completed Master’s thesis is about the historical construction of the ideal images of ‘Muslim’ and ‘Bengali’ woman. All of my previous research experiences have been related to gender, sexuality and the subversion of identity. Likewise, it is from here that my PhD interest emerges as well.

My PhD research will focus on the codification of marriage in the context of colonial trasformation. In my research I will problematise the colonial narrative of ‘progress’ of woman through the emergence of modern ideas of ‘love’ and will deconstruct the ‘victim’ images of colonised women. For that, I will enalyze the other forms of sexual/passionate relations articulated in some folk songs which have been marginalized by institutionalization of marriage.

I have been working as a teacher for more than ten years in the Dept. of Anthropology and having a PhD will help me for further advancement of my professional goals. During my teaching years I have offered a varied range of courses in undergraduate and postgraduate level in a variety of Anthropological areas like Biological, Linguistic, Economic, Educational, Urban, Philosophical and Gender Anthropology. I have chosen to go to the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, for my doctoral training since it has a vibrant Anthropology Department in another postcolonial country with a strong interdisciplinary tradition in the study of the British Empire. I will be working with Dr. Chandana Mathur, an engaged anthropologist who has directed several other doctoral projects focused on gender and South Asian themes.

Meet Our 2014 Wadsworth International Fellows: Mariel Garcia

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 this second post on the 2014 class, we meet Mariel Garcia of Peru.

My scholarly work has been mostly engaged with two fields of interest: (1) the relationship between media and politics through how events and actors are represented by Peruvian media outlets and, (2) extractive industries and the conflicting relationship between different forms of appropriating nature around mining sites.

My current research emerges at the intersection of these two academic interests; it explores the relation between extractive industries and media practices and technologies of representation. I am studying how Peruvian media produces representations of ‘development’ through ‘mining’, which has become a widespread neoliberal ‘truth’ in my country. I want to learn about how and with what tools, human and non-human interactions become ‘information’ that travels to the press rooms (or media laboratories); how ‘information’ is gathered to constitute ‘facts’ of ‘development’; and how they acquire the form through which they are disseminated.

I am convinced that in order to do this I need the close inquiry that ethnographic approaches offer, both conceptually and methodologically. This was my main reason to study Anthropology. I chose the University of California at Davis (UCD) because it offers me the combination I need: a strong emphasis in Latin American Anthropology and in Science and Technology Studies.

Before starting the PhD Program in Anthropology at UC Davis, I obtained my BA in Communication Studies from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and from 2008 to 2011 I studied the MA in Cultural Studies at the same university. I am  a researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, as well as a lecturer at PUCP and at the Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas.

I am deeply rooted in Peru; after the completion of my degree, I expect to return and work towards the opening of new fields of study for sociocultural anthropology, and also to strengthen interdisciplinary studies. More specifically, I want to connect anthropology with media studies, and with science and technology studies.

Meet Our 2014 Wadsworth International Fellows: Celso 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 Celso 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 of 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.