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Christopher Ball

Christopher Ball

2012 Christopher Smeall Summer Scholar


Exchanging Words: Language, Ritual, and Relationality in Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Park

While at SAR, Dr. Ball will be finalizing his book manuscript, Powerful Others: The Linguistic Politics of Intercultural Exchange in Amazonia. This will be the final stage of a long-term project that offers valuable contributions to the study of indigenous Amazonian sociocultural transformations through the lens of language. The book project is an ethnographic investigation of how Wauja people of Central Brazil use linguistic, ritual, and exchange practices in the production of social relations with powerful “others” at home and abroad. The book is based on over twelve months of research in the Wauja community and with Wauja people in multiple sites of encounter.

Affiliation at time of award:
McKennan Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Anthropology
Dartmouth College

Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Economics and Political Science
MacEwan University
Edmonton

Sharon N. DeWitte

Sharon N. DeWitte

2012 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar


The Dynamics of an Ancient Emerging Disease: Demographic and Health Consequences of Medieval Plague

This project is an investigation of the demographic and health effects of the fourteenth-century Black Death. Using data from medieval London cemeteries, Dr. DeWitte will examine whether the selective mortality of the Black Death—which targeted relatively frail people—combined with improvements in standards of living following the epidemic resulted in a population that was healthier, on average, than the pre-epidemic population of London. Comparisons across pre-Black Death (circa 1100–1300), Black Death (circa 1349–1350), and post-Black Death (circa 1350–1538) cemeteries will reveal whether people survived to older adult ages and were better able to resist dying despite exposure to physiological stress (e.g., poor nutrition and disease) following the epidemic, both of which would indicate increases in average health. Investigating the dynamics of diseases in the past is vital to understanding modern human biology and demography, given the power of diseases to shape human populations and drive human evolution.

Affiliation at time of award:
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of South Carolina

Sponsored by Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Foundation

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann

2012 Cotsen Summer Scholar


Hidden Palimpsests: Unraveling Nineteenth Century Islamic Talismans in Asante, Ghana

Hidden Palimpsests chronicles the relationship between texts, material culture, religion, and empire. The backdrop is the West African Asante state; the place is Kumasi, the capital of Asante in present-day Ghana, West Africa. Engaging artifacts and manuscripts, this project establishes the complexity of two famed “empires,” Asante and British, not only as geopolitical entities, but also as culturally created and imaginatively constructed concepts. Employing archaeological ethnography and textual analysis, nineteenth-century Islamic talismans provide a potent lens through which to investigate the relationship between colonizer and colonized from the vantage of the indigenous perspective. Placing material and social practice at the center of an historical and contemporary analysis of West African Islam, this project explores the ways in which African knowledge, writing systems, secrecy, and consumption intersect with the politics of religion, ethnicity, and diaspora formation.

Affiliation at time of award:
PhD Candidate
Department of Anthropology
Stanford University

Sponsored by UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology

Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr.

Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr.

2012 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar


Red, Black, and Brown: African American Educators in Indian Country

Khalil Johnson will be working on his dissertation, which is unveiling an unintended consequence of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision: the displacement of African American educators from Southern schools in the wake of desegregation, which sent hundreds of black teachers into Bureau of Indian Affairs schools on reservations across the United States. Excluded from the protections of true citizenship in the South, Black teachers found relative security through this federal employment, only to become functionaries in the government’s efforts to assimilate another internally colonized people. While differing statuses of inequality made African Americans and Native Americans competitors in the struggle for equal rights and self-determination, a shared sense of oppression often fostered affinities and alliances across racial lines. This migration narrative ruptures the partition dividing twentieth-century Black and Indian history and connects the educational history of both groups to shed new light on the long civil rights struggle.

Affiliation at time of award:
PhD Candidate
Departments of American Studies & African American Studies
Yale University

Sponsored by Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Foundation

Peggy Levitt

Peggy Levitt

2012 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar


The Bog and the Beast: Museums, the Nation, and the Globe

If, in the past, museums helped create national citizens, in today’s global world, do they create global citizens too? Where do they fall in the battle between multilingual globalism and parochial nationalism? Why do particular cities create internationally focused institutions, while others create museums that look barely beyond their doors? In The Bog and the Beast, Dr. Levitt travels around the world to tell the story of how cutting-edge museums are making sense of immigration and globalization. Her account is based on first-hand conversations with museum directors, curators, and policymakers; their descriptions of current and future exhibits; and the inside stories that she has collected about the famous paintings, eccentric benefactors, and iconic objects that define their institutions. Will museums walk the line between the global and the national, and will they ultimately fuel nationalist fires or help create a brave new global world?

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor
Department of Sociology
Wellesley College

Sponsored by Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Foundation

Nancy Owen Lewis

Nancy Owen Lewis

2012 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar


Selling Health in New Mexico: Evidence of Disease in the Land of the Well

Thousands of health seekers flocked to New Mexico from 1880 through 1940, seeking a cure for tuberculosis. Officials promoted New Mexico’s healthful climate, and the legislature provided tax breaks for sanatorium construction. The “lungers,” as they were called, played a critical role in New Mexico’s struggle for statehood and its subsequent development. New Mexico’s emphasis on its healing climate and healthy people, however, may have obscured its real health problems. In addition, it brought numerous indigent consumptives to a territory unable to address the health needs of its own people. Unlike previous studies, which have focused on contributions of the monied health seekers and the sanatorium experience, this project examines the unintended consequences of this movement—the indigent problem and threat of disease among native Hispanos and Indians—as part of a book manuscript titled Chasing the Cure in New Mexico: Tuberculosis and the Quest for Health.

Affiliation at time of award:
Research Associate
School for Advanced Research

Sponsored by Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Foundation

Lawrence Rosen

Lawrence Rosen

2012 William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar


Romancing the Tribe: The History of an Anthropological Problem

Anthropologists have long tested their most foundational theories against the exemplary case of tribal structures. Whether it is to measure the scope of kinship as it affects the political, to assess the implications of patterns of marital alliance, or to ascertain the boundaries of group identity through dialect or territory, the tribe has been the archetypal form that could sustain or alter one’s approach to the issue regarded as central to human society. The current book project will trace the history of the anthropological “romance of the tribe” not only for its impact on the discipline itself, but for the practical effects that changing theories have had on legal, political, and military decisions. The goal is to show that as the views of the tribe have changed, so have our views of humankind and the policies applied by Western nations in many parts of the world.

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor
Department of Anthropology
Princeton University

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