Every year, the Wenner-Gren Foundation awards the Wadsworth African Fellowship to a young African scholar, enabling them to undertake graduate training in anthropology at a world-class institution. This year’s recipient is Njabulo Chipangura of Zimbabwe, who will be commencing studies at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
I was born in 1984 in Mutare, Zimbabwe. I did my undergraduate honours degree in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe between 2004 and 2008. In September 2009, I joined the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe as a curator in the archaeology department at Mutare Museum. Since then I have been involved in a number of archaeological researches which touches on conservation of all archaeological and historical sites, exhumations, rescue excavations and archaeological impact assessments. In 2011, I was awarded with the National Heritage Council of South Africa Scholarship and the Robben Island Museum Grant to study for a Master’s Degree in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape.
For my PhD in Anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand, I am interested in understanding artisanal and small scale mining practices (ASM), technologies and processes in Eastern Zimbabwe using ethnographic and archaeological methodologies. The research seeks to pursue the significant lack of knowledge of all aspects of ASM in Eastern Zimbabwe, and the little knowledge of its history. Contemporary ASM activities have identifiable historical continuity with the past. This might be, for instance, include contemporary re-exploitation of nineteenth century or even much earlier mine workings and shafts, and there may be oral traditions or indigenous memory in some form.
The University of the Witwatersrand will be an ideal place for my study because of its reputation as one of the best universities in Africa. Moreso, the anthropology department at the university is a place with renowned scholars who will help me in achieving my own career goals. The diversity of anthropological issues that the department is involved in also places me at a vantage position in terms of learning and gaining new knowledge.
I have a BA degree in History from Alemaya University in Eastern Ethiopia in July 2004. Some of the basic archaeology courses I have taken in my undergraduate study helped me to develop an initial interest in this field of study. Hence, I eventually took up the chance to study my graduate study in Archaeology in Addis Ababa University from 2010 to 2011. I have worked as a lecturer of Ancient History of Ethiopia in Arba Minch University in Southern Ethiopia between 2009 and 2011. I have also been lecturing Archaeology in the same university since 2011.
The research project for my graduate study focused on the analysis of MSA/LSA lithic artifacts excavated from the site of Aladi Springs in the Afar Rift. The research proved to be successful where the major findings of the research were published in an international journal (Gossa et al 2012). Besides, this study provided me with best opportunities to have continuous contact and communications with foreign and Ethiopian researchers working in the country and thereby participate in various paleoanthropological field projects organized by those international team of researchers. To this end, I have participated in the expedition to the Blue Nile Basin of northwestern Ethiopia in 2010, the Main Ethiopian Rift system (Gedamotta MSA site) in 2011 and 2012, and the Ledi-Grearu research project in the Afar Rift system in 2013.
Besides elevating my interest in the discipline, these field engagements also greatly shaped my future research interests. The research project I have proposed for my PhD training is going to be held in the newly discovered site of Melka-Wakena located at the headwaters of Wabe-Shebelle River found in South-central Ethiopia. This site appears to be one of the few highland hominin occupation sites at world scale with an elevation of about 2400 m.a.s.l. In the exploratory survey we have conducted in the site in 2013 and 2014, we already identified numerous localities rich in Early Stone Age lithic artifacts and faunal remains along the banks of the river. Hence, the research project is going to revolve around lithic analysis and Early Stone Age hominin foraging strategies. This relatively unique site is expected to produce important paleoanthropological and paleoecological data pertaining to the Lower and Middle Pleistocene hominin highland adaptations.
The latest Institutional Development Grant brings together four Baltic-region universities, three of which have already entered into a collaborative framework for the implementation of tertiary level education through establishment of the Baltic Graduate School in 2008. The project will support the establishment of a separate doctoral program in anthropology within the framework of the Baltic Graduate School and thus will also contribute to strengthening the discipline of anthropology in the Baltics. Our Foundation Anthropologist for International Programs, Judy Kried, spoke to Dr. Aivita Putnina, chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Latvia, to learn more about the program, the grant, and anthropology in the Baltic region.
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 first met anthropology at Vytautus Magnus University in Lithuania where I went as a philology exchange student. I had studied general medicine before but soon realised that it offered a limited view. I switched to the humanities. I was so excited to find that there actually was something that I longed for and which encompassed both perspectives. Vytautus Magnus was a brand new university (re-)established by expatriate Lithuanians to help their newly-liberated country. Quite a few of them, including the acting rector Liucija Baskauskas, were anthropologists. I did not get a degree in Anthropology but in Sociology, which I did not study, simply because anthropology was not included in Lithuanian science nomenclature. I am grateful to my undergraduate teachers as they gave me good foundations in anthropology and inspired me to continue my studies. My further studies at the University of Cambridge were made possible by Soros and Chevening grants in 1995. The next year I received a William Wise studentship to continue my studies at doctoral level. Cambridge is an incredibly intense place where you literally can do so much. I cannot name here all the anthropologists – my professors and peers – that I met there. I received enormous support from Professor Marilyn Strathern. Her personality, her style of writing and speaking made her one of the most important teachers I have ever met in my life. In my doctoral research I focussed on childbirth practices in Latvia, capturing and theorising societal change at a family, health care and political level. However, I realised that my informants did not get as much from our encounters as I did. Thus, there was one more consequence of my Cambridge experience. I realised that a sterile academic environment does not attract me and since then I have tried to make anthropology public and engage with the field which I study. I am glad I could partly “repay” my informants in helping to establish home birthing or introducing cancer screening in Latvia based on my research data. This kind of engagement has gone along with the establishment of anthropology in Latvia.
Can you tell us a little about anthropology in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania? What are the pressing questions and concerns for the discipline there?
The history of anthropology in the Baltics starts in 19th century when most of the area which now forms the Baltic states was part of the Russian Empire. The word ‘anthropology’ itself was used mostly in the context of physical anthropology. Culture and society were mostly the domain of ethnologists and folklorists, either in the Volkskundeor Soviet traditions, depending on the era. Since the beginning of the 1990s social and cultural anthropology, informed mostly by the British and American schools, started to be taught across the Baltics as separate subjects, partly due to the influx of Western-educated local people. Latvia now has one Bachelors program and two Masters programs and these have developed in the last eight years. Estonia has had a Bachelors and Masters program for about ten years. It is producing PhDs – although these have to be done in another program in Humanities. Lithuania has had some Anthropology courses since the 1990s and PhDs can be done, but in Sociology. Anthropology is not considered as a separate field of science and rigid science classification procedures inherited from the Soviet period influence both the opportunities and funding for the development of anthropology education and research here. We will try to solve this frustrating issue with the establishment of the joint doctoral program.
Is anthropology a subject that attracts students in the Baltic States?
Indeed, and increasingly so. As time as progressed we are now teaching people who have done both their Bachelors and Masters studies in anthropology, who wish to go further. This IDG comes at the right time to meet this need for doctoral students. However, at every level, anthropology attracts people because it offers interesting and alternative perspectives in changing societies. We try to be as publicly visible as possible, getting involved in debates within society at parliamentary, other political, media and general public engagement levels so this encourages students as they can see that what anthropology does can have some impact.
Can you tell us about your department, its specialties and how the award will help your department as it moves forward?
The department at the University of Latvia is very keen to develop its public role, and has adopted public anthropology as its specialisation within our joint doctoral program as a result. We have staff who have researched in Latvia itself, but also in Germany, Russia, Norway, the UK on themes of morality, violence, gender, medical anthropology, economic anthropology, rhetoric culture, business anthropology among other things. Our partners in Latvia and the other Baltic states add greatly to our joint expertise. This is one of the main benefits of the grant for a doctoral program as students can receive supervision and training in many things, but geographically fairly closely. It also helps create a critical mass in anthropology in the broader region as we will become more visible and attractive to students at home and hopefully abroad. On that last note, it must be said that this is a problem for the Baltic states in general and not only for anthropology. The ‘brain drain’ towards Western Europe is only one aspect of the massive emigration all three countries have faced in the light of EU expansion and financial crises. We hope that more students from this region stay and study here and help to build up a beacon of anthropology in the Baltic states.
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.
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 expertiseand 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.
Part Three of ourintroductions 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.
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.
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.
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!
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).