Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

Filter Dissertations and Theses By:

 
 
  • From Muslim Citizen to Christian Minority: Tolerance, Secularism and Armenian Return Conversions in Turkey

    Author:
    Ceren Ozgul
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Talal Asad
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the manner in which Turkish secularism has come to delimit, define, and calibrate minority religious practices as well as citizenship policies by tracing different categories of the secular and the religious in Turkey. It is an ethnographic study of conversion from Islam to (Armenian) Christianity, among the converted Armenian community in Istanbul. Since early 1990s, hundreds of citizens claiming Armenian descent have submitted petitions to Turkey's secular legal authorities to change their existing name and religion in the public records. They trace their ancestry to Christian Ottoman Armenians who converted to Islam during the genocide of 1915. Given that the Turkish state refuses to recognize the genocide, the return conversion of Islamized Armenians points to the violence that is still largely unmentionable. This project is a case study of the nature of secular tolerance, and the notions through which it is discussed in Turkey: justice, legal reform, and genocide recognition. It is also an ethnographic study of the descendents of the forcibly Islamized Armenians and their return conversions through an examination of accompanying court cases and conversion procedures, participant observation in several Armenian churches, interviews with converts and their lawyers, court officials and Armenian clergy of different ranks. I explore in detail the process of claiming Armenianness. These return conversions provide a unique perspective for understanding the crisis of citizenship in the heart of Turkish secularism; simultaneously they illustrate the recent shifts in the identities of the citizens under the government of Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP (Justice and Development Party) since the early 2000s.

  • The development and function of the nasopharynx and its role in the evolution of primate respiratory abilities

    Author:
    Anthony Pagano
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Jeffrey Laitman
    Abstract:

    The nasopharynx is a centrally located region of the upper respiratory tract (URT) integral to several physiological functions. However, few have focused on this area within the context of human evolution. This study investigated osseous morphology, soft tissue histology, development, and evolutionary change of the nasopharynx. Multimodal analyses were performed: Analysis 1: This study tested hypotheses on the morphological relationships of the osseous nasopharyngeal boundaries with the splanchnocranium and basicranium among dry crania representing humans and non-human primates using 3D geometric morphometrics (3D-GM). Results showed that humans, the most orthognathic group, exhibited the widest nasopharynges. Over human development, the nasopharynx grows vertically taller and anteroposteriorly shorter while the path of the cartilaginous Eustachian tube (CET) grows longer and more vertically oriented. Timing of these growth changes coincide with changes in frequency of otitis media. Analysis 2: The nasopharynx was hypothesized to warm and humidify air only via its bony, non-contractile surfaces. Air conditioning capacity was assessed by presence of submucosal blood vessels, mucous cells, and serous cells on histological slides of nasopharyngeal surfaces. Results indicated that all of these microstructures were present on all nasopharyngeal surfaces, rather than being restricted to non-conctractile bony surfaces. Analysis 3: Ambient climate was hypothesized to influence URT growth. Two groups of adult male Macaca mulatta raised in Oregon (cold climate) and California (warm climate) outdoor colonies were used. CT imaging and 3D-GM were performed. Results revealed no shape differences but the Oregon individuals exhibited larger airway size and smaller body mass than the California individuals. Thus being raised in cold climates appears related to development of larger URT proportions relative to body size. Analysis 4: Nasopharyngeal morphology of fossil hominins, including Neanderthals and mid-Pleistocene Homo (MPH) from Europe and Africa, were reconstructed using 3D coordinate data and analyzed via 3D-GM. Neanderthals exhibited greater CET length than MPH and modern humans while the horizontal CET orientation of Neanderthals resembled the human infant condition. Results strongly suggest that Neanderthals possessed CET morphology and physiology distinct from modern humans, likely impacting susceptibility to middle ear disease and supporting species-level distinction.

  • A GIS Image Analysis Approach to Documenting Oldowan Hominin Carcass Acquisition: Evidence from Kanjera South, FLK Zinj, and Neotaphonomic Models of Carnivore Bone Destruction

    Author:
    Jennifer Parkinson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Thomas Plummer
    Abstract:

    This dissertation presents taphonomic analyses of human- and carnivore-modified bone assemblages in order to elucidate the timing of hominin access to carcass resources in the African Early Pleistocene. One of the defining adaptations of the genus Homo is the routine incorporation of animal tissue into the diet with the aid of tools. As a nutritionally dense food source, the addition of meat to the diet is often associated with important changes in the morphology and behavior of early hominins. Yet the ecological and behavioral implications of meat consumption for hominins are not well understood. This study tests competing hypotheses of hominin carcass acquisition and hominin-carnivore competition through a comparative study of carnivore- and hominin-induced modifications in the zooarchaeological assemblages from Kanjera South, Kenya (ca. 2 Ma) and FLK I Level 22 (FLK Zinj), Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania (ca. 1.84 Ma). Patterns of bone preservation and the distribution of bone surface modifications from these two sites are analyzed within a comparative framework of new and existing taphonomic models. The new taphonomic models presented here include the largest modern bone assemblages documenting large felid and canid bone damage to date. A GIS image analysis method is used to analyze patterns of bone damage in experimental and archaeological assemblages. The GIS method originally described by Marean et al. (2001) is expanded here to incorporate ArcGIS Spatial Analyst tools, and this method is applied for the first time to analyze patterns of hominin and carnivore damage. Results of these analyses suggest hominins at both Kanjera South and FLK Zinj had early access to carcasses. At both sites, small and medium bovid carcasses may have been obtained through hunting, while remains of larger carcasses may have been obtained through active scavenging. Despite the evidence for early carcass access at both sites, overall frequencies of both hominin and carnivore modifications are lower at Kanjera South compared to FLK Zinj, suggesting differing competitive regimes at the two sites and potentially signaling differing behavioral strategies.

  • Ordinary Hardworking Folks: Economic Restructuring and the Making of Populist Identities in a Maine Small Town

    Author:
    Claudine Pied
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Leith Mullings
    Abstract:

    The economic recession and the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 unleashed right-wing movements characterized by populist claims that political leaders are neglecting the interests of American "ordinary folks." Though recent developments have spurred this reaction, even before the economic recession, populist ideas and politics influenced the people and communities struggling to adjust to the insecurities of the new economy. Based on research conducted in 2006 and 2007, this dissertation explores the relationship between conservative populism and economic decline through the story of a predominantly white former manufacturing town in central Maine. Though there was not an organized populist movement in central Maine when I was conducting research, appeals to "the people" for limited government influenced political battles over community development and town budgets. Well-intentioned community revitalization leaders deepened the divide between themselves and "ordinary townspeople" as they worked to develop a competitive post-industrial town with a thriving downtown, bustling farmers market, and expanding population of artists and "professionals." Several sets of ideologies informed these politics; namely, individualism, valuing hard work and struggle, whiteness, and the idea of the small town as a place safe from poverty. But this dissertation counters perceptions of individualism and hard work as prefigured American or small town cultural ideals. First, these ideas are contested. Just as workers attributed value to working hard, struggling, and persisting through difficult times, they also blamed their economic troubles on structural economic change, their employers' low wages, and greedy corporations. Second, decades of neoliberal politics and the experience of surviving on low wages influenced individualism and class consciousness. Alongside increasing economic insecurity, for example, local programs taught "soft skills" and state and national campaigns demonized welfare recipients and praised the hardworking Mainer. Ultimately, reacting to economic decline as "ordinary hard working folks" weakened the role of class as a framework to explain life in central Maine under advanced capitalism.

  • Ordinary Hardworking Folks: Economic Restructuring and the Making of Populist Identities in a Maine Small Town

    Author:
    Claudine Pied
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Leith Mullings
    Abstract:

    The economic recession and the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 unleashed right-wing movements characterized by populist claims that political leaders are neglecting the interests of American "ordinary folks." Though recent developments have spurred this reaction, even before the economic recession, populist ideas and politics influenced the people and communities struggling to adjust to the insecurities of the new economy. Based on research conducted in 2006 and 2007, this dissertation explores the relationship between conservative populism and economic decline through the story of a predominantly white former manufacturing town in central Maine. Though there was not an organized populist movement in central Maine when I was conducting research, appeals to "the people" for limited government influenced political battles over community development and town budgets. Well-intentioned community revitalization leaders deepened the divide between themselves and "ordinary townspeople" as they worked to develop a competitive post-industrial town with a thriving downtown, bustling farmers market, and expanding population of artists and "professionals." Several sets of ideologies informed these politics; namely, individualism, valuing hard work and struggle, whiteness, and the idea of the small town as a place safe from poverty. But this dissertation counters perceptions of individualism and hard work as prefigured American or small town cultural ideals. First, these ideas are contested. Just as workers attributed value to working hard, struggling, and persisting through difficult times, they also blamed their economic troubles on structural economic change, their employers' low wages, and greedy corporations. Second, decades of neoliberal politics and the experience of surviving on low wages influenced individualism and class consciousness. Alongside increasing economic insecurity, for example, local programs taught "soft skills" and state and national campaigns demonized welfare recipients and praised the hardworking Mainer. Ultimately, reacting to economic decline as "ordinary hard working folks" weakened the role of class as a framework to explain life in central Maine under advanced capitalism.

  • HIV/AIDS, LOCAL POLITICS, AND THE LIMITS OF TRANSNATIONAL GOVERNANCE IN SOUTH AFRICA

    Author:
    Theodore Powers
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Donald Robotham
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes the social and political contestation that surrounded the implementation of a new national HIV/AIDS policy in South Africa. I contend that that the African National Congress developed new institutional forms and cultivated alliances with non-governmental organizations to limit the influence of organizations and international donor funding through the implementation of the new AIDS policy. At the national level, my research on the National AIDS Council found that intransigence on the part of government officials undermined the implementation of the national policy. In the Western Cape province, I discovered that a consultative process for the new policy was deeply influenced by the transfer of the Global Fund grant from the provincial health department to a single non-governmental organization. In the townships located outside of Cape Town, I found that local branches of ruling party developed alliances with local non-governmental organizations to disseminate alternative AIDS treatment. However this association between the African National Congress and non-governmental organizations focused particularly on initiatives and organizations that were supported by international funding. As such, I argue that the politics of the South African AIDS epidemic were partly oriented around the influence of transnational political and economic forces. The conclusions I reach in my dissertation offer a critical perspective on the ways that contemporary theories of globalization and transnational governance characterize the capacity of states to maintain political autonomy. Here I argue against those who see a growth in non-governmental organizations or global interconnectedness as marking a retraction of the state. This trend has been particularly emphasized in developing countries, where the privatization of social services has been viewed as an essential ingredient in macroeconomic stabilization. While the capacities of the South African state have been diminished due to privatization, the ruling party has expanded its influence through alliances with non-governmental organizations and by strategic control over institutions that can be used to limit transnational political influence. Thus, rather than a weakening of state power, in South Africa the influence of neoliberal globalization has precipitated a transformation of the modes through which political power is achieved and/or maintained by the African National Congress.

  • Palestine is Throwing a Party and the Whole World is Invited: Private Development and State Building in the Contemporary West Bank

    Author:
    Kareem Rabie
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Neil Smith
    Abstract:

    This dissertation argues that the present push towards privatization and state building in the West Bank, while enabling new forms of profit and accumulation in parts of the landscape, is generating new forms of political instability, stability, and political economic relationships between Palestinians, as well as between the West Bank and Israel. Organized around an ethnographic account of the process to create Rawabi, a $1 billion privately funded new city for 40,000 Palestinians, it argues that new political, economic, and social forms are emerging in relation to new types of investment, debt, and accumulation in new types of physical spaces. The new town is the flagship initiative of recent state building and reform projects for the West Bank. It will comprise a government municipality under developers' authority, a political development that could drastically alter the built environment, the geographies of political administration, land ownership structure, and daily life for West Bank Palestinians far beyond it. This dissertation is based on field research conducted between September 2009 and December 2010, and on shorter trips in 2007, 2008, and 2013, among real estate developers, representatives of finance capital, government bureaucrats, ordinary Palestinians, and Palestinian and Israeli supporters and opponents of the project. Interview data and readings of documents from various initiatives and pro-privatization NGOs point towards the different directions that Palestine is moving, and the alternate excitement or anxiety that different people in different places feel about images of the future of Palestine. The day after the occupation is constantly invoked, but different Palestinians are unequally incorporated into it. A focus on the creation of housing and land markets, and the ways that people are integrated into those markets, draws attention to some of the issues that are elided in many local-scale critiques of privatization in Palestine. State building is a Palestinian elite project to manage the dynamics of occupation and to create a functioning state-scale economy with enough stability to protect and encourage ongoing investment and accumulation. Despite the unlikelihood of a clear, territorial, Palestinian state in the West Bank emerging in the near-term, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian capitalists are not simply waiting for the day after, they are producing it. This dissertation represents the first substantive and critical account of the state being produced through privatization in the West Bank.

  • " A New Way of Doing Politics": The Movement against CAFTA in Costa Rica

    Author:
    Jeremy Rayner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    David Harvey
    Abstract:

    In October of 2007, Costa Ricans voted in a referendum to ratify a Free Trade Agreement with the United States (DR-CAFTA, or CAFTA). The first referendum in their nation's history--and the first referendum ever held on a Free Trade Agreement--marked the culmination of a cycle of contention over liberalization that transformed practices and expectations of politics in a country often considered an exemplar of representative democracy. In this dissertation I provide an account of the opposition to CAFTA (the NO), based on two years of ethnographic research with the Patriotic Committees (Comites Patrioticos), the decentralized, grassroots network at the heart of the movement against the treaty. I emphasize the contested meanings of democracy invoked in the struggle between the grassroots NO campaign and the transnational elite coalition that promoted the treaty (the SI). I argue that the opposition to CAFTA in Costa Rica was a movement to defend the “social state” (Estado social) against a globalizing neoliberal property regime, while challenging existing forms of political representation in the name of a more authentic popular democracy. I show how the struggle over CAFTA was shaped by an ongoing process of contention over liberalization and representation in the context of Costa Rica's particular social democratic institutions and traditions. I argue that, as the struggle evolved, the SI and the NO appealed to different aspects of the country's “institutionality” (institucionalidad), raising some fundamental contradictions within and between liberalism and democracy. One outcome was a controversial and ambiguous popular consultation, an exercise in “direct democracy” that paradoxically highlighted the limits of an elite-dominated political order. Drawing on theory and scholarship of populism and direct democracy, I show how protagonists of the NO turned a diversity of interests into unity of purpose, enabling them to nearly win a markedly asymmetrical contest. I also explain how the Patriotic Committees worked with established social idioms to pioneer new forms of political participation as they challenged the limits of existing representative institutions. I argue that in doing say they articulated a conception of democracy and social state that makes a distinctive contribution to discussions of post-neoliberalism.

  • Avante, Avante Brazil: Piracy and the Public Sphere in 21st-Century Brazil

    Author:
    Yonatan Reinberg
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Marc Edelman
    Abstract:

    This work examines the practice of piracy in Brazilian urban, political and online worlds in the years 2010-2013. Through ethnography conducted principally in Rio de Janeiro and online, the work frames copying and piracy as an engagement with questions of political belonging and the construction of public spheres in the shadow of contemporary capitalism. The first chapter explores pirating and consuming pirated goods as a large part of extra-market relations in Brazil. Through pirating, vendors occupy city space and provide citizens of the city with vital media about city life. The second chapter exposes piracy as a global discourse about social values, linking transnational forces to local ones in a modernity predicated on ramping up policing of public spaces outside well-defined consumptive spheres. The third chapter unravels how different actors use the specters of piracy to discuss what makes up a Brazilian, which Brazilians - and curate - various aspects of "Brazilianness" through legal regimes. Chapter four studies a group of people who use local and international frames in combination to create a pirate commons, thinking this as a contemporary solution to a disjunctured set of legal and social norms they see as a suffocating ideology. The final chapter follows an exploration of nostalgia and ownership. Through music and technology, I suggest piracy allows different actors breathing room to speak about their surroundings, and their histories that is disallowed - or hypermanaged - by the state in other ways.

  • Law Without Recognition: The Lack of Judicial Discretion to Consider Individual Lives and Legal Equities in United States Immigration Law.

    Author:
    John Salyer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Michael Blim
    Abstract:

    Law is not separate and apart from society but exists as a unique institution within society both being directed by social change and affecting social change. The history of U.S. immigration law shows that immigrants were welcomed or rejected depending on economic, political, and social factors (such as racial attitudes) and the legal definitions of what sorts of immigration were permissible or excludable differed over time. Since the 1990s, hostile attitudes towards certain immigrants have been represented in laws to a greater and greater extent, most significantly with the 1996 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act. As a result of these laws, immigration judges often have no discretion to consider personal circumstances and equities of the individuals who come before them. The effects of these laws have resulted in greater numbers of individuals being detained and deported and a significant increase in the militarization of the border. In this work, I examine the workings of the immigration law enforcement system in New York City, including government agencies and immigration courts, from the perspective of the immigration lawyers who advocate on behalf of migrants within that system. Drawing on the experience and expertise of these lawyers, as well as my own participant observation experience as an immigration lawyer at a community based organization, I demonstrate the limitations of the current immigration law system to consider the various historical, economic, political, social, and personal factors of migrants; demonstrate where these sorts of considerations may be possible; and demonstrate the need for immigration law to be better able to consider and attend to these individual factors and equities. Additionally, this work demonstrates that consideration of the complexity of specific immigration statutes, regulations, and practices provides a clearer understanding of the limitations and possibilities in U.S. immigration law.