Ana Siegel’s AHSS Summer Research Project

Hello again,

As noted in multiple previous posts, students at the University of Puget Sound can compete for funding to support their summer research endeavors. Our department’s students were particularly successful in past years, and again this year we’ve had numerous proposals successfully funded. In short, the AHSS Summer Research Awards, varying from $3250 to $3750, allow students to pursue an in-depth research project over the summer months. I’ve asked each of this year’s batch of students to tell us a little bit about what they’ll be doing with their time, energy, and grant monies in the coming summer. Here’s what Ana Siegel had to say about her new project:

23659520_1555458447880198_6005133534512447888_n

Ana Siegel perched on the remnants of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River.

Though initially overlooked by Euro-American settlers as an arid wasteland, the Four Corners region of the American Southwest has historically been held sacred to countless stakeholders, specifically those with a pro-conservation stance. Many of the region’s indigenous groups—including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, Uinta, and the Ouray Ute—attribute immense cultural significance to the land, as many of their traditional territories, reservations, and sources of cultural heritage lie in the region. For outdoor recreants, the region is a haven for climbing and trekking; for locals, the land has been used for generations of cattle grazing. Yet, in the last hundred-or-so years, the Four Corners region has been recognized for its natural resource extraction potential, as it is rich in uranium, vanadium, oil, and coal deposits. As a result of the conflicting cultural and economic interests, this region has often been played as a battlefield between contesting groups, toiled over by those who wish to either capitalize upon, or to protect those assets. Bears Ears National Monument is one such landmark, of which has recently come to the forefront of this familiar quarrel. After years of advocacy and petitioning of the federal government, in 2016, the Obama Administration placed Bears Ears under federal protection, by means of the Antiquities Act. But, on December 4, 2017, President Donald Trump made the executive decision to drastically reduce the land protected by Bears Ears National Monument, by 85%. Paired with the simultaneous reduction of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, this ruling was “the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history” (Turkewitz 2017).  

There seems to be a vast disconnect between the understandings and interests of the seemingly-economically-driven decision-makers, and those of the pro-conservation stakeholders; my research will bridge that disconnect by not only drawing attention to, but also making more legible, the narratives of those pro-conservation stakeholders. With this disconnect in mind, the aim of my research is to explore the ways the shifting status, and resulting vulnerability, of Bears Ears has affected the relationship–the sense of place–that connects pro-conservation stakeholders–such as the region’s indigenous groups, environmentalists, outdoor recreants, and locals–to this landmark of the Four Corners region. 

Over the course of the summer, I will be spending time conducting fieldwork in Southeastern Utah; I will be working alongside pro-conservation stakeholders, using varying qualitative ethnographic research methods—conducting semi-structured interviews, engaging in participant observation, as well as organizing transect walks—to explore the ways in which these stakeholders’ relationships are shifting along with the shifting status of the National Monument.The ultimate goal of this research coincides with the fields of public and applied anthropology: I intend to both highlight and amplify these voices by creating a platform, that will be legible to the public and policymakers, through which pro-conservation stakeholders can vocalize their resistance to the reduction, as well as elucidate the reasoning behind their impassioned campaign to protect Bears Ears.​

We’re so excited for you, Ana, and can’t wait to see how your research develops once you get to Moab. We’ll look for an update from you in a few months!

Andrew

Advertisements

Sam Lilly’s AHSS Summer Research Project

Hello again,

As noted in the previous posts, students at the University of Puget Sound can compete for funding to support their summer research endeavors. Our department’s students were particularly successful in past years, and again this year we’ve had numerous proposals successfully funded. In short, the AHSS Summer Research Awards, varying from $3250 to $3750, allow students to pursue an in-depth research project over the summer months. I’ve asked each of this year’s batch of students to tell us a little bit about what they’ll be doing with their time, energy, and grant monies in the coming summer. Here’s what Sam Lilly had to say about her new project:

IMG_9852

Sam Lilly found a book

I have always been intrigued and concerned about mental health, illness, and suicidality, as macabre as that sounds. As a philosophy major utilizing the tools of ethnography, this summer I will happily put on the hat of the philosophical anthropologist and hopefully gather stories and qualitative data that push past the empirical and didactic academic literature that is wildly available to the public.

My summer research project will be an extension of the research I am currently working on in SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods, and is entitled “Mental Health Care Professionals’ Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Suicidality.” The goal of both the current project and my upcoming summer research is to begin a lifelong exploration to ask a fundamental question of philosophy and life, which is:

Is suicide wrong? If so, how do we know?

The research that I will conduct in the summer will turn from my current research (concerned with the institutionalization of mental health care) to focus on individuals who have lost loved ones by suicide. I hope that these interviews will allow me to explore the varied and diverse perspectives and attitudes Americans’ have toward suicide and hopefully help elucidate how these perspectives relate and are shaped the medical model of mental illness and other institutionalized frameworks that permeate our everyday lives that I believe create a societal apprehension to understand suicide both as a social problem and social fact.

Sam, this project sounds fascinating, poignant, and perhaps treacherous — we look forward to hearing about some of the challenges and initial findings you encounter as the project commences.

Andrew

Gigi Garzio’s AHSS Summer Research Plans

Hi all,

Students at the University of Puget Sound can compete for funding to support their summer research endeavors. Our department’s students were particularly successful in past years, and again this year we’ve had numerous proposals successfully funded. In short, the AHSS Summer Research Awards, varying from $3250 to $3750, allow students to pursue an in-depth research project over the summer months. I’ve asked each of this year’s batch of students to tell us a little bit about what they’ll be doing with their time, energy, and grant monies in the coming summer. Here’s what Gigi Garzio had to say about her new project:

picture

Gigi Garzio

This summer I will be gathering data and conducting research for my project, titled Values, Justifications, and Perspectives Connected to the Anti-vaccination Movement. A large portion of the anti-vaccination movement is headed by upper to middle class, educated individuals who are able to comprehend professional medical information, yet they continue to adhere to anti-mainstream modes of thought (Geggel 2017). I am curious as to what mechanisms allow these individuals to continually justify their medical decisions and what contributes to making people so immovable in their beliefs, even in the face of accessed medical research and scientific discovery. The goal of my research would be to answer the question: How do people justify anti-vaccination perspectives, especially in the face of scientific research, and through what mechanisms do they accomplish this? I will look at the resources people utilize to spread information, such as online forums, as well as the personal accounts people give to justify their belief systems, and the presented logic behind their truths.

The anti-vaccination movement is diverse and is made up of a variety of motives and explanations for justification. This array of reasons for drifting from mainstream medical advice surpasses a lack of comprehension, but rather stems from the propagation of alternative ideologies and the rationalization of these perspectives through different modes of thought. This is extremely important because the distribution of inaccurate information by certain groups in the population can be detrimental for the whole. Vaccinations are a prime example of this because they work under the condition that everyone is getting vaccinated in order to protect the minority of people who are not able to for any number of medical or social reasons. In order to protect the efficiency of herd immunity, and the well being of the general US public, there is a demand for an increased understanding of the conflicting viewpoints, in order to move forward and display effective public health improvement. In a larger sense, we can apply this research to better understand how people justify anti mainstream modes of thought, not just in relation to medicine, but also to society as a whole.

This project is extremely important to the field of public health in the US. Because vaccinations are effective within the context of ‘herd immunity,’ or when 90-95% of the population is vaccinated in order to assure the safety of the whole population, a decrease in vaccination compliance may be detrimental to the immunity of our country. Recently, and specifically in the wake of the most recent presidential election, non-medical immunization exemptions have significantly increased in many states. In the past, this rejection of the advice of modern medical institutions has resulted in outbreaks in vaccine-preventable fatal diseases such as measles or pertussis.

Increasing general understanding of the modes of thought that lead individuals to stray from mainstream, modem medical guidance will aid in the public health field’s ability to reach a wider audience when discussing these issues.

Gigi, your project sounds great! Good luck, and we look forward to touching base a little bit later in the summer.

 

Andrew

Charlotte Parker, SOAN Class of 2018, Fulbright Scholar!

Hi all,

Charlotte Photo 3

Charlotte Parker on a previous trip to Taiwan

As noted in our previous post, the Department of Sociology and Anthropologywas pleased to learn that two of our graduating seniors had been awarded Fulbright scholarships for the coming year. The Fulbright program has long endeavored to connect America with the diverse cultures of our world by funding Americans’ time abroad. Indeed, several faculty in the SOAN department began their careers with a Fulbright cultural exchange. We asked Charlotte Parker, one of our two awardees, to tell us a little bit about what the Fulbright award has in store for her. Here’s Charlotte’s response:

大家好!My name is Charlotte and I will be traveling to Taiwan in August of 2018 on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). While in Taiwan I will be living in a city called Changhua (彰化) located in the center of Taiwan. Just an hour away from Taiwan’s two largest cities, I will be living and working in the most densely populated county in Taiwan! I am especially excited to be working in Changhua because this is the first year a Taiwan ETA will be placed there! Although many details are still to come from Fulbright, I will be working alongside a Lead English Teacher (LET) instructing a class of elementary or middle school students. I also plan to maintain a steady diet of bubble tea (which was invented in Taiwan!), spiced tea eggs, and soup dumplings!

Changhua Photo

A temple in Changhua

I also really value my experiences in the SOAN department at University of Puget Sound. As a SOAN major with a Chinese minor, I spent the last four years learning about the connections between language, culture, and identity. My interests concern linguistic anthropology, where questions regarding how language shapes our interactions and our perceptions of the world are explored. Taking SOAN classes also helped me think critically about my responsibility as a teacher and as a cultural ambassador. I feel very strongly that it is my responsibility to explore how we as anthropologists can work to improve the quality of life for those around us. 

Charlotte Photo 2

Charlotte (lower right, center) walking a dachshund through verdant Taiwanese pastures

In addition to my experience in the SOAN department, I have spent the last four years teaching Spanish and Chinese at a number of local Tacoma and Gig Harbor schools. Because language is my passion, I am very excited to continue sharing this passion with young students. During my time in Taiwan, I hope to gain a better understanding of the Taiwanese education system, and to bring this knowledge back home so that the American education system can continue growing and improving. Additionally, I have spent the last few years training as a marathon runner in Tacoma, and I hope to join a local running team while in Taiwan. If all goes well, I will also run in the Wulai Gorge Marathon in January 2019! I am very much looking forward to this upcoming year and all the experiences to be had during my time in Taiwan!

加油!

Charlotte, we’re so very proud of you, and we’ll be in touch again for an update from Taiwan.

Andrew

Charlotte Photo 1

Charlotte and friends in Taiwan

Hannah Borgerson, SOAN Class of 2018, Fulbright Scholar!

Hi all,

IMG-20170304-WA0002

Hannah Borgerson (lower right, center) blending in with the local fauna

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology was pleased to learn that two of our graduating seniors had been awarded Fulbright scholarships for the coming year. The Fulbright program has long endeavored to connect America with the diverse cultures of our world by funding Americans’ time abroad. Indeed, several faculty in the SOAN department began their careers with a Fulbright cultural exchange. We asked Hannah Borgerson, one of our two awardees, to tell us a little bit about what the Fulbright award has in store for her. Here’s Hannah’s response:

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be traveling to Argentina in March 2019 as a Fulbright scholar with an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant. What exactly my time in Argentina will look like is still up in the air. Because March is almost a year away, I don’t yet know what city I’ll be living in or at what school I’ll be teaching. However, I do know that Argentina ETA grant recipients are appointed to assist in English teacher-training colleges or universities –- which means I’ll be working with young students like me who are also interested in education and language learning.

Hannah Photo

Hannah in front of impressively ornate banos

As a SOAN major with an emphasis in Education Studies and a minor in Spanish, I’ve studied education in relation to questions of institutional inequality as well as transformative pedagogy. Classes here at UPS have sparked my curiosity in the cultural implications of language learning for older youth and adults, and I am therefore honored to get the opportunity to work with language learning and teaching methodologies in another country. While I know that my skills as a native English speaker will be useful in the classroom, I’m also confident that the students I interact with will have much to teach me about their experiences with language teaching and learning, and for this I couldn’t be more exited.

Outside of the classroom, I hope to engage with all that the Argentinian community has to offer. Two things that I’m eager to learn more about while abroad are dance and geography. The first may seem fairly obvious – Argentina is known for their seductive yet sassy tango dance. When done well, this dance gracefully portrays lovers’ most romantic moment as well as their worst fight. However, when I attempt the tango, I look like a frazzled ostrich … this is something I hope will change with time and practice.  

In terms of geography, I imagine there is much to explore. As any good cultural geographer would tell you, culture is both influences and shapes the place it inhabits. While in Argentina, I hope to gain a better sense of place of the area I’m assigned by listening to the stories and histories of the community. Particularly, I have great interest in exploring the economic, cultural and political impact that the Rio de la Plata has had on the city of Buenos Aires. This body of water has a rich trade history that has affected commercial relations between four prominent South American nations — Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Currently, the river region is is facing major energy policy alterations due the proposed deconstruction of hydroelectric plants in the La Plata basin. Not to mention, there is a bridge called Puente de la Mujer (bridge of the woman) just off one of the river’s deltas –- and I just adore bridges. Yet there is a chance I will placed somewhere other than Buenos Aires, and if so, there are probably other fascinating bridges, bodies of water, and places to experience! Adventure awaits, I suppose.

It sounds like you have an amazing adventure in front of you, Hannah. We’re so happy for you, wish you the best of luck, and we’ll be in touch next year to hear about how it’s going in Argentina.

Andrew

Funded Research Opportunity in China

editor

Wei Xing, editor of Sixth Tone

The English-language Chinese new site Sixth Tone recently announced funded research positions for the summer in China. Notably, they express a particular interest in anthropology and various environmental research themes, and clearly discern the close relationship between journalism and the social sciences. Have a look at the information they provide about the application process. The ability to speak Chinese is a prerequisite.

Here are the details provided:

The Sixth Tone Fellowship for field research is calling for applications.

What is the Sixth Tone Fellowship?

The Sixth Tone Fellowship is a field research program on contemporary China initiated and sponsored by Sixth Tone, an English-language news website based in Shanghai, China.

Through fresh takes on trending topics, in-depth features, and illuminating contributions, Sixth Tone covers issues from the perspectives of those most intimately involved to highlight the nuances and complexities of today’s China. In 2017, Sixth Tone won five SOPA (The Society of Publishers in Asia) awards for its excellent reporting on China.

At Sixth Tone, we believe that solid fieldwork and academic discussions are crucial to the work of reporting on China. That’s why we started the Sixth Tone Fellowship together with Fudan Development Institute, an outstanding research organization based in Shanghai. We encourage research into and understanding of China by young scholars from around the world, and we welcome inventive solutions to the challenges China is facing.

The Sixth Tone Fellowship will provide funding for 8 young scholars to come to China for a six weeks’ research trip and conduct fieldwork in locations all over the country.

Does the Sixth Tone Fellowship have a specific research agenda?

Every year, Sixth Tone will pose a fresh research question to young scholars from across the globe. Emphasis will be placed on topics at the cutting edge of Chinese society, including technological innovation, industry and the economy, youth culture, and societal change.

The research topic for the 2018 Sixth Tone Fellowship is “Technological Innovation and Rural China”.

Recently, Chinese technological innovation has attracted media interest from around the world. Meanwhile, the Chinese countryside continues to face significant challenges, such as poverty, depopulation, and backwardness. How can China use technology and innovative thinking to change the impoverished appearance of its vast countryside, improve the lives of its rural population, and close the gap between urban and rural areas?

We encourage applicants to frame their research proposal with the following fields in mind:

1)  E-commerce and the change of rural Chinese society

2)  Agricultural transformation in China

3)  Environmental protection in the countryside

4)  Big data and the transformation of industry in impoverished areas

Successful applicants will participate in a one-week group tour of several Chinese technology ventures and then be split into small groups by research theme and conduct fieldwork on selected topics for four weeks. Sixth Tone will cooperate with the Fudan Development Institute to facilitate academic support and find field site locations for the fellows. During the last week of the program fellows will return to Shanghai to give lectures and attend workshops.

Am I eligible?

This program is open to doctoral students and young scholars with less than five years’ research experience. We will not exclude applicants on the basis of nationality or academic field, although those with backgrounds in economics, sociology, anthropology and environmental science will be given preference for the 2018 fellowship. Applicants should possess a strong command of written English and spoken Chinese. An active presence on social media is a plus.

How much financial support will I receive as a fellow?

Sixth Tone will pay for a round trip airline ticket to Shanghai, all fieldwork related transportation costs incurred within China, as well as food, housing, and health insurance.

Are there any publication requirements?

While in China, each fellow will be responsible for writing at least two approximately 800-word commentary articles, to be published on the Sixth Tone Website. At the end of their fellowship, each of them must submit a 2,000-word policy report based on their fieldwork to both Sixth Tone and the Fudan Development Institute. In addition, fellows will give a seminar at the Fudan Development Institute, reporting on the results of their research. Fellows are encouraged to use their field notes in their future academic work.

What are the dates of the program?

May 20 to June 29, 2018

How to apply?

Applicants should send the following materials to fellowship@sixthtone.com.

1)    Personal resume (1 page)

2)    Two letters of recommendation

3)    Research proposal (4-6 pages, double-spaced)

4)    A writing sample.

Sixth Tone will invite a steering committee comprised of experts from the Fudan Development Institute to review candidates’ application materials and make the final selections.

What is the deadline for applications?

Applications will be reviewed starting March 1st, 2018. To receive full consideration, applications should be received by that date.

Borderlands Summer Research Experience for SOAN Students

Hi all,

While there are good opportunities for research via the Puget Sound AHSS Summer Research Program, my friend Dr. Joe Heyman (UTEP) just sent along this amazing opportunity for you to consider. Please drop by and chat with me if you’re interested!

IMG_9659

The Immigration and Border Community:
Research Experience for Undergraduates

This is a unique opportunity to learn social science research methods while collaborating with local organizations to conduct in-depth research about the unique challenges faced by border communities in the Paso del Norte region of southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.

The U.S. Mexico border is currently at the center of political controversy, one that has threatened to further disrupt border cities that were once closely integrated. Immigration is an important part of the Paso del Norte region and the increase in border enforcement has significant impacts not only on those passing through the border, but those who live here as well. This is a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to learn social science research methods through hands-on collaboration with local organizations about border enforcement and its impacts on immigrants and border communities.

Work will be fully funded by the National Science Foundation and is an excellent opportunity for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree or a variety of career paths. By collaborating closely with organizations already involved in advocacy for civil and human rights, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Border Network for Human Rights, your work will have a greater impact. Sample topics include:

  • The impacts of repealing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Alleged abuse and mistreatment of migrants and community members by law enforcement
  • Asylum seekers in the borderlands: Access to due process and basic human rights
  • “Know Your Rights” campaigns
  • The history of community organizing and leadership development in the borderlands

Successful applicants will spend 10 weeks in the El Paso/Las Cruces/Ciudad Juárez region during the summer (May 21-July 28, 2018). Positions are fully funded by the NSF. Students will receive a stipend of $5000 and meal expenses. In addition, students traveling from outside the region will receive accommodation and $500 towards their travel expenses. We will also have several excursions, including a one-week intensive field-trip through the Arizona/Sonora borderlands.

(Please note, because this is federally funded, there are citizenship/immigration limitations—very sorry.)

For more information please contact Neil Harvey, (575) 646-3220, nharvey@nmsu.edu or Jeremy Slack, (915) 747-6530 jmslack@utep.edu