Archive for Grant Programs

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.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Dr. Frederick Kyalo Manthi

Some of the young Turkana men involved in the Engaged Anthropology Program with Dr. Manthi in the middle.

Dr. Frederick Kyalo Manthi is is a senior research scientist and head of the paleontology section at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. He has been involved with the Wenner-Gren Foundation since 2006, completing several post-Ph.D. research grants aiding investigation of Pleistocene-era Kenya and running workshops intended to spread human-evolution education in Kenya. He is also one of the very first recipients of WGF’s new Engaged Anthropology grant, which allowed him to bring his research back to the people of his fieldsite, northern Kenya’s Turkana Basin. As per the requirements of the EAG, Manthi has submitted his final report to the Wenner-Gren Blog, so that we can all gain some insight into his experience with this exciting new program. 

» Read more..

Engaged Anthropology Grant – Dr. Liubov Golovanova

Dr. Golovanova gives a lecture at Adigeayn State University.

As many of you are aware, our newest grant program is the Engaged Anthropology Grant, a special initiative we began to help anthropologists bring their research “home” to the communities that hosted them during their time in the field. Scholars who have previously been awarded either the Dissertation Fieldwork Grant or the Post-PhD Grant are eligible, with awardees receiving up to $5,000 to return to their fieldsite and share the results of their Wenner-Gren funded project in a productive way with the local community.

The first completed Engaged Anthropology Grant belongs to Post-PhD grantee Dr. Liubov Golovanova of St. Petersburg’s Labratory of Prehistory, who received funding in 2009 to aid research on ““The Study of Settlement Dynamics in the Middle/Upper Paleolithic in Northwestern Caucasus”. Below is the report prepared by Dr. Golovanova, as per the requirements of the Engaged Anthropology Grant.

» Read more..

Institutional Development Grant awarded to Addis Ababa University

image courtesy wikimedia commons

Congratulations to the department of social anthropology at Addis Ababa University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the latest recipient of the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Institutional Development Grant program. This renewable grant — providing $25,000 per year for up to five years — will support the continued development of an undergraduate and graduate program in anthropology. To learn more about AAU, anthropology in Ethiopia, and the award, we spoke to Dr. Adugna Tufa Fekadu.

 

First can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be interested in anthropology? Who have been the anthropologists that have most influential in your own personal formation and why?

I graduated in History in 1999. Soon I joined the Department of History at Dilla University, in Southern Ethiopia, to teach History. It was that time that I read Asmarom Legesse’s book: Gada: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society. This book, which changed the direction of my future academic life from History to Social Anthropology, analyzes three anthropological schools by using age and generational system among the Oromo of Ethiopia. The next year I had to abandon my job at the Department of History and joined a private college in Addis Ababa, the capital city, where the only Department of Sociology and Anthropology was found. In 2001 I registered to study Masters Degree in Social Anthropology and upon successful completion of the master’s program I joined the Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany for a PhD. Numerous anthropologists from Addis Ababa University to Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology have contributed in moulding my academic career.

 

Professor Brigitta Benzing, expatriate staff from Germany, discussing with her PhD students in a class room. Image courtesy interviewee

Can you tell us a little about anthropology in Ethiopia? What are the pressing questions and concerns for the discipline there?

Anthropology was started as an academic program in Ethiopia in 1990 when the then Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Addis Ababa University in cooperation with Christian Michelsen Institute of Norway opened Masters program in Social Anthropology. In the last decade, more than ten universities started anthropology at Undergraduate and Master’s levels, which indicates the demand. The central focus of anthropology in Ethiopia is describing, analyzing and documenting multiple socio-cultural dynamisms in the country. The key concern for anthropology in particular and for social sciences in general is how to emerge as a strong discipline that produce competent scholars in the political environment that visibly favours natural sciences and technology.

 

Is anthropology a subject that attracts students in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, anthropology has fairly a great demand. As I mentioned above, in the last decade more than ten public universities opened a Department of Anthropology. In fact, entrance to our PhD program, which is the only program in a country of eighty three million people, is very competitive.

 

Can you tell us about your department, its specialities and how the award will help your department as it moves forward?

The Department of Social Anthropology at Addis Ababa University has three programs: Undergraduate, MA and PhD. In all the three programs currently the department has 350 students, and sixteen instructors (ten PhD, including expatriates, and six MA).  Of the four sub-disciplines of anthropology, our department concentrates on Social Anthropology. Research interests of the faculty members and students emphasize on ethnohistory, development anthropology, medical anthropology, ecological anthropology, urban anthropology etc.

We are very much grateful to Wenner-Gren Foundation for this Institutional Development Grant. This grant will enable us to improve the theoretical and methodological training of Ph.D students; intensify international exposure and exchange; improve the quality of anthropological training by bringing in experienced senior professors from Europe and America; upgrade the current curriculum in consultation with partner institutions; provide modest support for student field research; and build up library and electronic resources.

Edmore Chitukutuku is the 2013 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 2013 fellowship, Edmore Chitukutuku of Zimbabwe, who will be pursuing a doctoral degree at Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand. Today we welcome Edmore as a guest-blogger to tell us a little more about his background and his future in anthropology.

I was born in Bindura, Zimbabwe in 1981. I hold a Bachelor of Social Science degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Great Zimbabwe University (2007) and a B.A. Honours (2011) and M.A. (2013) from Witwatersrand. I have worked for an international organization CARE INTERANTIONAL as a humanitarian field officer, Assistant Lecturer at the Great Zimbabwe University. I have been a Sessional lecturer in the department of Anthropology at The University of Witwatersrand in 2011 as well as in the International Human Rights Exchange Programme department in 2012.

My research interests are in understanding political violence as a complex social phenomenon in society. I am also interested in healing and reconciliation in the aftermath of political conflicts. My Honours, and Masters research have tried to make sense of political violence in rural Zimbabwe through understanding rural life and livelihoods. My Ph.D. research will continue to understand youth militia violence in rural Zimbabwe.

The University of Witwatersrand has been a university of choice to me because of the diversity it offers in anthropology. Wits University’s anthropology department has accomplished academics and researchers who have helped me to understand why anthropologists ask the questions they do and to get the interrelations of our scholarship with the questions that we face every day as citizens and as members of organizations and communities. This environment has further enhanced my genuine interest in thinking about the terms in which we can understand the organization of social and political life. The wits anthropology department hosts a colloquia presentation seminar every week where they invite scholars from all over the world to present and debate in emerging research and academic issues around the globe. The seminar offers a brilliant academic engagement forum that refreshes and enlightens our understanding of social phenomenon.

Congratulations to you, Edmore! To learn more about this program, visit our Programs page.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Deadline February 1st

As the February 1st application deadline approaches we’d like to remind you of the Foundation’s newest grant program: the Engaged Anthropology Grant.

This program is designed to enable past Wenner-Gren grantees to return to their research locale to share their research results with the community in which the research was conducted, and/or the academic/anthropological community in the region or country of research.  There are two application deadlines per year, February 1 and August 1, and the grant will provide up to $5,000 for expenses directly related to these activities.

To be eligible to apply for the Engaged Anthropology Grant, you must have already received a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork or Post-Ph.D. Research Grant, and the proposed engagement activities must be a direct outgrowth of this research.   Applications for each deadline are only accepted within five years of the approval date of the original Wenner-Gren Grant.  Applicants also must have completed their Dissertation Fieldwork or Post-Ph.D. Research Grant and fulfilled all final reporting requirements before being eligible to apply.  Former Dissertation Fieldwork grantees must also have received their Ph.D. before the grant is awarded. Applicants who were awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant last season will not be eligible to apply for a different engagement project tied to the same Dissertation Fieldwork or Post-Ph.D. Research Grant.

Everyone at Wenner-Gren is excited about this new program and its potential to facilitate continued engagement of our grantees in their research area and to ensure that the results of the research are shared locally in the most appropriate manner.

We hope that you will be equally excited about the Engaged Anthropology Grant. For more information about this program and how to apply, please visit this page.

November 1 Grant Deadline Extended to November 5

Because of Hurricane Sandy, the Foundation will be closed until power is restored in Lower Manhattan. We are all safe, but our servers are down, e-mail is not getting through and there is no one available to answer your phone questions. However, it is still possible to submit your applications through our online system. To help applicants in the hurricane affected area of the East Coast, we have extended the application deadline until November 5 for all applicants. We hope to be able to re-open the Foundation by the end of this week. Please check the website for further updates.

Leslie Aiello
President, Wenner-Gren Foundation

New Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2012

Richard C. Hunt, President of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1941-1954

Distinct from our other grant programs, the Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship is strictly provided for the writing-up of research already performed by the recipient, allowing up to $40,000 to be used towards twelve months of continuous writing.

This year we’re pleased to announce four new fellows:

Anand, Dr. Nikhil. Haverford College, Haverford, PA – To aid research and writing on ‘Infrapolitics: Public Systems and the Social Life of Water in Mumbai’

Fogelin, Dr. Lars Edward. U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ – To aid research and writing on ‘An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism’

Muehlmann, Dr. Shaylih Ryan. U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada – To aid research and writing on ‘When I Wear My Alligator Boots: Narcotrafficking In The US-Mexico Borderlands’

Tassi, Dr. Nico. University College London, London, UK – To aid research and writing on ‘Reassembling The Economic: The Aymara Economic System in the Global Arena’

We’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate these scholars, as well as the nearly 100 others who have received a Wenner-Gren grant so far in 2012!

Introducing the Engaged Anthropology Grant

The Wenner-Gren Foundation is pleased to announce a new grant program: the Engaged Anthropology Grant.

This program is designed to enable past Wenner-Gren grantees to return to their research locale to share their research results with the community in which the research was conducted, and/or the academic/anthropological community in the region or country of research.  There will be two application deadlines per year, February 1 and August 1, and the grant will provide up to $5,000 for expenses directly related to these activities.

To be eligible to apply for the Engaged Anthropology Grant, you must have already received a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork or Post-Ph.D. Research Grant, and the proposed engagement activities must be a direct outgrowth of this research.   Applications for each deadline are only accepted within five years of the approval date of the original Wenner-Gren Grant.  Applicants also must have completed their Dissertation Fieldwork or Post-Ph.D. Research Grant and fulfilled all final reporting requirements before being eligible to apply.  Former Dissertation Fieldwork grantees must also have received their Ph.D. before the grant is awarded.

Everyone at Wenner-Gren is excited about this new program and its potential to facilitate continued engagement of our grantees in their research area and to ensure that the results of the research are shared locally in the most appropriate manner.

We hope that you will be equally excited about the Engaged Anthropology Grant and take advantage of the unique opportunity it offers. For more information about this program and how to apply, visit our programs page. You may also contact our Program Administrator, Mark Ropelewski, with additional questions at: mropelewski@wennergren.org.

Albino Jopela is the 2012 Wadsworth African Fellow

We would like to extend our congratulations to Albino Pereira de Jesus Jopela, the recipient of the 2012 Wadsworth African Fellowship. An archaeologist, Jopela will be continuing his studies at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand concerning cultural-heritage management in southern Africa.

I was born in 1982 in Maputo, Mozambique. My research is focused on issues of conservation and management systems of Heritage, especially in relation to rock art sites in Mozambique and southern Africa. I received my BA Honours in History (2006) from Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique); a BA Honours (2007) and Masters Degree (2010) in Archaeology from the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). My Masters dissertation looked at traditional custodianship practises for archaeological sites in southern African heritage management and considered how the social context of heritage management has changed. This research uncovered the mismatch between public policy makers (formal heritage management systems) and local communities’ perceptions (traditional custodianship systems) in terms of the meanings and notions of ‘heritage’ (e.g. the value and meaning of rock art for contemporary African communities). My PhD research at the Department of Archaeology and the Rock Art Research Institute (RARI) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is a direct outgrowth of this research. I have chosen Wits University for my PhD training because Wits is a worldwide recognized institution for its research on Palaeo-archaeology, the Stone Age, pre-colonial farming and herding societies and the formation of modern cultural identities in the last 500 years. RARI is one of the world’s largest specialised rock art institutions and has over 25 years of expertise in rock art survey, recording, interpretation and management.

I hold a permanent position as Archaeologist and lecturer at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique). I am also the Director of the undergraduate programme for Archaeology and an active collaborator with the National Directorate for Cultural Heritage of Mozambique, which is responsible for advising on policies and strategies regarding the conservation and management of cultural immovable heritage in the country. I have also worked as a UNESCO Consultant on missions in Mozambique and Angola.

Interested in Jopela and his work? Reach out to him on LinkedIn.

For more information on the Wadsworth African Fellowship and the rest of our grant programs, please visit our Programs page.