Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • From Incentives to Ayudas: Historical, Social and Political Context of Development Projects with Small-Scale Coffee Farmers in Rural Nicaragua

    Author:
    Carolyn Fisher
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Marc Edelman
    Abstract:

    In rural Nicaragua in 2006-7, most people lived in extreme poverty. Numerous development projects competed for clients in places like "Kiyenmejave Abajo," a rural locality south of Matagalpa. One project was "Taza Humeante," a coffee grower's cooperative seeking fair trade and organic certification. Rural development programs long sorted campesinos by an oversimplified class analysis that obscured their complex economic strategies. The Sandinistas initially gave privileged access to more "progressive" poorer campesinos. Projects in 2006 used similar categories, but aided the richer poor more. Development projects assume people are organized in "communities," but people see the places they live as riven by factionalism. Programs fear creating dependency, instead they encourage horizontal solidarity. But poor Nicaraguans are accustomed to wielding vertical patronage relationships, not horizontal ties, as a livelihood strategy. While working with projects, people talk the languages of both vertical patronage and horizontal solidarity. Aid does not flow towards the poorest because local leaders navigate structural conflicts. Several Taza Humeante officers occupied multiple leadership positions despite their poverty. Sandinista policies caused these leaders to gain prominence, but in 2006, constituents expected them to channel aid from projects. These expectations carry weight because local leaders compete for clients' loyalty. However, leaders must also satisfy organizations, thus projects exclude others entirely. In Nicaragua in 2010, microfinance was besieged by the Movimiento No Pago, causing several microfinancers to close and large losses to others. This movement's roots were planted earlier. The Sandinista history of competition between organizations and debt forgiveness caused campesinos not to expect to pay back debt under adverse conditions. Later, microfinancers reinforced similar conditions. I observed four inspection visits from organic and fair trade inspectors. Certifications inaccurately assume base cooperatives are "communities." Certification regimes constitute incomplete new lines of authority. Farmers often saw certification requirements as demands made by foreign countries. Development projects are not improving the situations of many and are worsening things for some, but removing projects would not solve anything. Focus on "best practices" leads to decontextualized and ahistorical plans which founder against the complexity of real social formations.

  • THE FLOWS OF SOVEREIGNTY: ITAIPÚ HYDROELECTRIC DAM AND THE ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE PARAGUAYAN NATION-STATE

    Author:
    Christine Folch
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Marc Edelman
    Abstract:

    "Flows of Sovereignty" explores the social and political nature of energy to show how the development and management of the hydroelectric resources of Itaipú Binational dam (co-owned by Brazil and Paraguay) have shaped the formation of the Paraguayan nation-state and regional state formation in the 20th and 21st centuries. The political, economic, and social structures and processes that emanate from Itaipú--"hydroelectric statecraft"--have resulted in a "hydrostate" model similar to but with important distinctions from petrostate formations. Moreover, these findings have implications beyond the energy politics of South America but for the development of renewable energy resources worldwide and global water management. Leftist former Bishop Fernando Lugo toppled the six-decade ruling Colorado Party in Paraguay in April 2008, linking popular discontent to one issue: Itaipú, the world's largest dam. In 2008 it supplied 19 percent of Brazil's electricity and 95 percent of Paraguay's and Paraguay "ceded" the vast majority of its electricity to Brazil for 1/10th to 1/40th of the price of that energy on the Brazilian market. Lugo's government promised to renegotiate this inequity and use the wealth for "social development" under the rubric of "sovereignty." This historical ethnography is drawn from unparalleled access to leaders in the government as they negotiated with Brazil and administered the dam, social movements as they mobilized for "hydroelectric sovereignty," and archival evidence within Itaipú and the Stroessner-era secret police Archives of Terror. Section I begins with the dam's founding as an expression of the Stroessner military dictatorship's dominance over nature and nation, local and international causes for construction of the dam and how Itaipú enabled the growth of the Paraguayan state apparatus, including the surveillance-torture regime. Section II turns to Lugo's dramatic rise to the presidency, new negotiations with Brazil, and promises to fight corruption by instituting "transparency." Section III offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the patronage, rent-seeking, and networks of obligation that surround the dam. Section IV explores how the political economy of energy in the Southern Cone is recrafted under "energy integration" as well as the debates within Paraguay about how Itaipú's millions should be invested socially.

  • Evolution of the Face in mid Pleistocene Homo - 3D Surface Analysis of Ontogeny, Allometry and Evolution

    Author:
    Sarah Freidline
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Eric Delson
    Abstract:

    This dissertation seeks to provide greater insight into the phylogenetic relationships among African and Eurasian Middle Pleistocene humans by placing their facial morphology in a broad evolutionary and developmental context. More specifically, the research goals are to gain a clearer understanding of the developmental variation of facial features and their covariation with size and to identify temporal trends in facial morphology that could potentially clarify the polarity (i.e., primitive or derived) of facial features during Pleistocene human evolution. To do so, I apply a recently developed method, semilandmark geometric morphometrics, to quantify the developmental and adult variability of facial features from childhood to adulthood in archaic and modern humans. Additionally, this dissertation evaluates the morphology and phylogenetic relationships of specific Middle to Late Pleistocene fossils that are often not included in morphometric analyses because of their fragmentary condition. These fossils include the early Middle Pleistocene fossil ATD6-69 from Atapuerca, Spain, the mid-Middle Pleistocene fossil Zuttiyeh from Israel, and the Late Pleistocene fossil Saint-Césaire from Southwestern France. Surface and computed tomography scans of modern and Pleistocene fossil humans were acquired and landmarks and semilandmarks were digitized on three-dimensional models created from the scans. Procrustes shape coordinates in shape-space and form-space (i.e., shape and size) were analyzed. The general results of this dissertation are that some population and species-specific features are already established at the time of birth and that postnatal facial growth further contributes to shape differences among adults. Additionally, this research shows that allometric scaling played an important role in the facial differences between Middle Pleistocene humans and Neanderthals, while modern human facial morphology is the derived condition. The distinctly modern human pattern of facial morphology is already present in Jebel Irhoud 1, dated to around 170 ka. ATD6-69 expresses a mosaic pattern of facial morphology, and several features are certainly modern human-like (e.g., infraorbital depression). Zuttiyeh exhibits a generalized morphology possibly indicative of the population that gave rise to modern humans and Neanderthals. Lastly, the results of the Saint-Césaire study do not provide morphological evidence of admixture between Neandethals and modern humans in this particular specimen.

  • When Women Migrate: Children and Caring Labor in Puebla, Mexico

    Author:
    Denise Geraci
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Ida Susser
    Abstract:

    This investigation concerns children and caregivers in Santa Ursula, a town in Puebla, Mexico from which many women have migrated to the United States in recent years. The expansion of female migration since the 1980s and children who remain behind in women's poorer nations of origin, where households, communities and governments assume their care, are salient features of global economic restructuring (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001). This study analyzes how children's circumstances change when mothers migrate, and how family, community and state representatives understand and deal with these changes. Social reproduction in a community like Santa Ursula supports not only a source of cheap immigrant labor in the global economy, but also helps produce and reproduce transnational social hierarchies among individuals, households, communities and nations. Gendered, aged and intergenerational relations and obligations are central to care arrangements in Santa Ursula. Social reproduction is primarily women's responsibility. Although men migrate in greater numbers, female migration most greatly affects care arrangements. Expectations and possibilities for childhood, a gendered and aged household division of labor, early marriage and childbearing, residence rules and in-law relations shape how family members understand and distribute carework when mothers migrate. Most often grandmothers are designated caregivers for children. However, eldest, unmarried, adolescent daughters usually shoulder the burden of reproductive labor. Girls' reproductive responsibilities sometimes supplant educational and social activities, which is more common in poorer nations' migrant-sending communities, than in wealthier receiving nations. Female migration also affects old-age care. Providing companionship and help, grandchildren-charges are often critical to grandparents' well-being as kin networks shrink. Sometimes children cannot adequately or safely carry out domestic tasks. Nevertheless, children are usually well cared for, often with help from extended family. Rarely, children end up abandoned, in which case the state intervenes to reintegrate the family. Despite neoliberal restructuring, the Mexican state has expanded social spending since the mid-1990s and supports Santa Ursulan families through several programs and institutions. Given Mexico's slow economic and job growth, increased social spending inadvertently contributes to a healthier and better educated transnational workforce, including young adults who were raised by caregivers.

  • When Women Migrate: Children and Caring Labor in Puebla, Mexico

    Author:
    Denise Geraci
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Ida Susser
    Abstract:

    This investigation concerns children and caregivers in Santa Ursula, a town in Puebla, Mexico from which many women have migrated to the United States in recent years. The expansion of female migration since the 1980s and children who remain behind in women's poorer nations of origin, where households, communities and governments assume their care, are salient features of global economic restructuring (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001). This study analyzes how children's circumstances change when mothers migrate, and how family, community and state representatives understand and deal with these changes. Social reproduction in a community like Santa Ursula supports not only a source of cheap immigrant labor in the global economy, but also helps produce and reproduce transnational social hierarchies among individuals, households, communities and nations. Gendered, aged and intergenerational relations and obligations are central to care arrangements in Santa Ursula. Social reproduction is primarily women's responsibility. Although men migrate in greater numbers, female migration most greatly affects care arrangements. Expectations and possibilities for childhood, a gendered and aged household division of labor, early marriage and childbearing, residence rules and in-law relations shape how family members understand and distribute carework when mothers migrate. Most often grandmothers are designated caregivers for children. However, eldest, unmarried, adolescent daughters usually shoulder the burden of reproductive labor. Girls' reproductive responsibilities sometimes supplant educational and social activities, which is more common in poorer nations' migrant-sending communities, than in wealthier receiving nations. Female migration also affects old-age care. Providing companionship and help, grandchildren-charges are often critical to grandparents' well-being as kin networks shrink. Sometimes children cannot adequately or safely carry out domestic tasks. Nevertheless, children are usually well cared for, often with help from extended family. Rarely, children end up abandoned, in which case the state intervenes to reintegrate the family. Despite neoliberal restructuring, the Mexican state has expanded social spending since the mid-1990s and supports Santa Ursulan families through several programs and institutions. Given Mexico's slow economic and job growth, increased social spending inadvertently contributes to a healthier and better educated transnational workforce, including young adults who were raised by caregivers.

  • Paleobiology of Protopithecus brasiliensis, a Plus-Size Pleistocene Platyrrhine from Brazil

    Author:
    Lauren Halenar
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Alfred Rosenberger
    Abstract:

    This dissertation tested several hypotheses concerning the paleobiology of the extinct platyrrhine Protopithecus brasiliensis in order to fill in many of the gaps in our knowledge of this fossil and the evolutionary history of its ateline relatives. Both cranial and postcranial morphology were examined using three-dimensional geometric morphometric (3DGM) techniques to investigate the body size, basicranial shape, and locomotor repertoire of the fossil. Regression equations based on platyrrhine postcranial dimensions support the hypothesis that Protopithecus belonged to a size class of platyrrhines that no longer survives, yielding an average estimate of 23 kg. This large body mass led to a previous suggestion that Protopithecus would have traveled on the ground, but detailed observations of the skeleton found no adaptations to terrestriality. Instead, the original hypothesis of a suspensory mode of locomotion was supported, particularly based on analyses of the elbow and phalanges. The femur and pelvis exhibit robust muscle markings, suggesting that Protopithecus, like Alouatta, also used hindlimb suspension and climbing. A phylogenetic link between Protopithecus and Alouatta was originally proposed based on suggested synapomorphies of the cranial base and mandible, traditionally related to opening subbasal space for the howler's uniquely enlarged hyoid. These features were examined in more detail to test the hypothesis that Protopithecus also had an enlarged hyoid. Based on the landmark dataset analysed here, the Protopithecus cranial base and mandible were more similar to the generalized, potentially primitive, condition seen in Lagothrix. The occipital region, however, was similar to Alouatta in shape and orientation, a potential phylogenetic link but a neutral feature with respect to the question of hyoid enlargement. The large body size of Protopithecus needs to be considered here as well, since it is possible that at 23 kg the fossil had sufficient space in the throat to accommodate a relatively large hyoid without extreme cranial base modifications comparable to those of the much smaller Alouatta. Protopithecus demonstrates derived alouattin, primitive ateline, and autapomorphic traits. Based on the fossil hip and thigh morphology, as well as the modified occipital region and small brain size, a provisional phylogenetic position as a basal alouattin is supported.

  • FAUNAL ANALYSIS OF THE EARLY MODERN BISHOP'S FARM AT SKÁLHOLT, ARNESSYSLA ICELAND

    Author:
    George Hambrecht
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Thomas McGovern
    Abstract:

    This dissertation presents the analysis of faunal material recovered from middens outside the main complex of the Bishop of Southern Iceland´s Cathedral farm at Skálholt, Arnessysla, Iceland. Issues of diet, deposition patterns, as well as participation in larger trade and intellectual networks addressed. All of these issues are examined in order to investigate larger issues centered around the early modern Atlantic world. The Skálholt material is also compared with the larger body of existing early modern Icelandic archaeofaunal data in order to investigate issues of adaptation and resilience in the face of harsh climatic as well as social and economic conditions.

  • Silk Roads and Wool Routes: The Social Geography of Tibetan Trade

    Author:
    Christina Harris
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Neil Smith
    Abstract:

    Based on fieldwork in Lhasa, Tibet, Kalimpong, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, this dissertation examines the past sixty years of social and economic changes along a trade route that cuts across China, India, and Nepal. Centered on the narratives of two generations of traders who have exchanged goods such as sheep wool (and now, household appliances) across Himalayan borders, the project investigates how infrastructural and political transformations on global and regional levels might be experienced through smaller scale, "everyday" sites of trading activity. By exploring the intersections between economic anthropology, human geography, and material culture, I address a fundamental question: how might we make connections between aspects of seemingly mundane daily life and the more abstract level of global change? Taking an approach that explores how traders "make places," this project examines the creation of geographies of trade that work against state notions of what the trade route should look like. These tensions between the apparent fixity of national boundaries and the mobility of local individuals around such restrictions are, I argue, precisely how routes and histories of trade are produced. Several recent state-led infrastructural development projects - such as the reopening of the Nathu-la mountain pass between Sikkim and Tibet and the completion of the Beijing-Lhasa railroad in 2006 - have been driven by the need to open up new markets for surplus commodities in the name of "free" trade and bilateral cooperation. In an area of Asia that has long been characterized by geographical representations highlighting its supposed marginality and remoteness, these state-led searches for new openings for capital have led to the creation of what I call "geographical blindspots," the erasure or obfuscation of certain places in tandem with the highlighting of other, more profitable places for a variety of hegemonic political and economic goals. This dissertation examines how competing groups are attempting to make their trading places more coherent in the face of such powerful economic shifts, arguing for the need to obtain a more nuanced picture of the tensions and overlaps between large-scale economic shifts and smaller-scale practices in the region.

  • Silk Roads and Wool Routes: The Social Geography of Tibetan Trade

    Author:
    Christina Harris
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Neil Smith
    Abstract:

    Based on fieldwork in Lhasa, Tibet, Kalimpong, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, this dissertation examines the past sixty years of social and economic changes along a trade route that cuts across China, India, and Nepal. Centered on the narratives of two generations of traders who have exchanged goods such as sheep wool (and now, household appliances) across Himalayan borders, the project investigates how infrastructural and political transformations on global and regional levels might be experienced through smaller scale, "everyday" sites of trading activity. By exploring the intersections between economic anthropology, human geography, and material culture, I address a fundamental question: how might we make connections between aspects of seemingly mundane daily life and the more abstract level of global change? Taking an approach that explores how traders "make places," this project examines the creation of geographies of trade that work against state notions of what the trade route should look like. These tensions between the apparent fixity of national boundaries and the mobility of local individuals around such restrictions are, I argue, precisely how routes and histories of trade are produced. Several recent state-led infrastructural development projects - such as the reopening of the Nathu-la mountain pass between Sikkim and Tibet and the completion of the Beijing-Lhasa railroad in 2006 - have been driven by the need to open up new markets for surplus commodities in the name of "free" trade and bilateral cooperation. In an area of Asia that has long been characterized by geographical representations highlighting its supposed marginality and remoteness, these state-led searches for new openings for capital have led to the creation of what I call "geographical blindspots," the erasure or obfuscation of certain places in tandem with the highlighting of other, more profitable places for a variety of hegemonic political and economic goals. This dissertation examines how competing groups are attempting to make their trading places more coherent in the face of such powerful economic shifts, arguing for the need to obtain a more nuanced picture of the tensions and overlaps between large-scale economic shifts and smaller-scale practices in the region.

  • WORLD SYSTEMS AND HUMAN ECODYNAMICS IN MEDIEVAL EYJAFJÖRÐUR, NORTH ICELAND: GÁSIR AND ITS HINTERLANDS

    Author:
    Ramona Harrison
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Sophia Perdikaris
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the potential connections between the Eyjafjörður region and the centrally located Gásir, home to a medieval trading site and a large church structure. Historical sources document the presence of Icelanders at Gásir and an interpretation of those sources suggests interactions between a seasonal trading community at the trading site made up of Icelanders and non-Icelandic (mainly Norwegian) merchants and sailors in the 13th-14th centuries. Utilizing data gathered from archaeological and environmental analyses this doctoral research project examines the inter-relationship of the medieval seasonal trading center at Gásir and the surrounding Icelandic countryside. It will contrast a potential Minimalist Scenario (small and relatively un-influential Gásir with little or no actual hinterland effect) with a Maximalist Scenario (a large and powerful Gásir with an impact comparable to a small medieval town) and an Intermediate Scenario (with a real hinterland effect but one different from the post-medieval impacts). The doctoral thesis presents evidence for settlement and economy in the Eyjafjörður-Hörgárdalur valley systems from Viking Age to Early Modern periods, with a focus upon the 13th-14th century. It is the result of a five year program of site survey and selective excavations, partially funded by an NSF doctoral improvement grant (OPP ARC 0809033, PI: Harrison). This dissertation makes use of a multi-site, landscape based approach aimed at better understanding the complex interactions of local and regional climate, Icelandic economic and social changes between Viking Age and high Middle Ages in the region, and the potential connections between local sites and economic processes to the wider North Atlantic economy of the 13th-14th c. "proto-world system". The author´s specialty in Zooarchaeology enables utilization of excellent proxy data to provide insight into the issues discussed here. It further helps address broad questions of North Atlantic pathway divergence and the role of cross-regional, inter-scale connection in a context of rapid environmental and social change with reference to one particularly well researched portion of northern Iceland.