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Anthropology Department Blog

Congratulations to Professor Dickinson on her Fulbright Award!

Posted: April 25th, 2016 by tmares

Professor Jennifer (“J”) Dickinson has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant to Ukraine from the U.S. Department of state and J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.  Her research topic is “Lviv’s Deaf Community:  Language and Identity in a Time of Transition,” a project that combines ethnographic and oral historical research to understand continuity and change in the identity of members of the Deaf community in a mid-sized Ukrainian city.  Professor Dickinson’s research is focused on adult Deaf Ukrainians and their work lives.  To better understand how use of Ukrainian Sign Language (USL), professional training and work history, and recent political changes in Ukraine all contribute to identity, Professor Dickinson will be in the field for four months, spending time with adult Ukrainians in professional training courses, at a factory owned by the Ukrainian Society for the Deaf, and at events for retired members of the community.  She will also work with graduate students and faculty in the Department of Social Pedagogy at Ukrainian Catholic University.  Her sponsor at UCU is Dr. Ihor Kobel, a leading advocate for USL use in the Ukrainian educational system.

Congratulations to Matthew Claeys

Posted: March 24th, 2016 by tmares

Matthew Claeys (2011) is expected to graduate Fall 2016 with a Masters in African Studies from the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. His thesis research surveyed perceptions and treatment of mental health in Ghana as a means to understand human rights theory in Africa. He has been involved in additional research concerning forms of modern slavery across Ghana. He was awarded a student travel award in 2015 from the African Studies Association of America with which he expanded his experience on the African continent into Morocco and the Western Sahara. He is currently residing in Jersey City, NJ awaiting graduation. Following is his pending contribution to scholarship:

Claeys, M. (2016) How “African” Are Human Rights? Experiences and Perceptions of Mental Health Practitioners in Ghana. Master’s Thesis. Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.

Congratulations to Elizabeth McLeod

Posted: March 23rd, 2016 by tmares

LizElizabeth McLeod (2012), formerly Elizabeth “Liz” Lednicky, has recently been accepted to the University of Vermont College of Medicine. She hopes to pursue a career in forensic pathology. Liz has recently graduated from Boston University School of Medicine with a MS in Forensic Anthropology. Her thesis research investigated the effect of rainfall on decomposition and blowfly activity. She has been involved in additional research investigating histomorphometric factors in human rib bone and taphonomic indicators of rodent gnawing. She is currently working in the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA awaiting the beginning of the 2016 school year.  Following are her recent contributions to scholarship:

McLeod, E. (2015) The Effect of Rainfall on Blowfly (Calliphoridae) Activity and Decomposition on Recently Deposited Animal Remains. Master’s Thesis. Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.

Pokines, J., Sussman, R., Gough, M., Ralston, C., McLeod, E., Brun, K., Kearns, A., Moore, T. Taphonomic Analysis of Rodentia and Lagomorpha Bone Gnawing Based upon Incisor Size. Journal of Forensic Sciences. In Press.

Anthropology major Cassidy Cabrera earns Outstanding Service-Learning Award

Posted: March 15th, 2016 by dblom

CUPSWe are happy to announce that Anthropology major Cassidy Cabrera earned the undergraduate Outstanding Service-Learning Award for 2016, which is administered by UVM’s office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning (CUPS). In fall 2015, Cassidy pursued two interlinked service-learning internships with HungerFree Vermont and the Integrated Arts Academy; she is currently serving as an Service Learning Teaching Assistant (SL-TA) in Prof. Jeanne Shea’s ANTH 290 Methods of Ethnographic Field Work class. Cassidy was nominated by Tom Wilson in the CUPS Office, supervisor of the SL-TA program. He writes:

Cassidy consistently demonstrated excellence in critical thinking and reflection, especially as it related to the ways in which personal and community identities inform—and are informed by—service-learning experiences. She willing to think deeply about her own identities and those of her peers and clients within the community, and regularly asked difficult questions in class discussions and written reflections that challenged the assumptions of both her peers and her professors. Always respectful, she forced the rest of the class to wrestle with some of the biggest dilemmas and challenges that arise in community-based learning.

Congratulations, Cassidy!

Maureen Scanlan on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: March 2nd, 2016 by tmares

Maureen Scanlan (Anthropology, Class of 2016)

MaureenAfter attending 12 years of Catholic school, where history and religion were romanticized and filtered, my first semester at university demystified many of the social constructs and supposed facts that had been built in to my primary education. After struggling to decide amongst sociology, history, education, or theology, I came to realize that anthropology was the culmination of these subjects and more; anthropology provides me with the necessary tools to explore the historical and cultural significance of any aspect of human life. Within my coursework in the field at the University of Vermont, I have focused on the intersections between religion, colonialism, and capitalism in Latin America and the Caribbean. My recent travels to Cuba cemented my interest in the political economy of islands and the cultural complexities, power dynamics, and forms of resistance that arise from the colonial encounter. Most recently I have explored the anthropology of food and labor, and am currently crafting a final paper on the challenges of hop farming in the northeast due to increasing demand for craft breweries in Vermont.

Cara Zhuang on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: February 24th, 2016 by tmares

CaraZCara Zhuang (Anthropology, Class of 2017)

As a first-generation Chinese American, my upbringing was characterized by the juxtaposition of two cultures. Caught between my family’s traditions and the influences of American society, my interest in cultural dynamics stems from the desire to understand the construction of various sets of values and how they can conflict with one another. This early exposure to the tensions that exist between different populations is what ignited my passion for anthropology.

I am particularly interested in how anthropology can be applied in conjunction with other disciplines to generate a more holistic appraisal of issues. As an anthropology and art history double major, my current interest is in finding ways to combine these two rarely integrated fields of study. I find the freedom of aesthetic form and politically charged content of contemporary art to be particularly interesting because it not only reflects the sociopolitical issues that interest the artist, but also encourages an exploration of the social constructions and intentions behind an artist’s individual technique. Ambiguous forms also creates space for a variety of interpretations, broadening the range of possible responses in an audience; this would also be an interesting dimension of contemporary art to explore anthropologically.

Anthropology Faculty Awarded UVM CAS Grants

Posted: February 24th, 2016 by dblom

Congratulations to three Anthropology professors, Jennifer Dickinson, Teresa Mares, and Jeanne Shea who were recently awarded research and teaching grants from UVM’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Jennifer Dickinson was awarded CAS International Travel Funds to present a paper at the Association for dickinsonEast European and Eurasian Studies/ International Association for the Humanities (ASEEES-MAG joint conference) in Lviv, Ukraine in June/July.

The Politics of Profanity in the Ukrainian Public Sphere
The past two years have seen profanity take on a special significance in Ukrainian public discourse in the context of domestic unrest and conflict with Russia. This paper examines the use of profanity in the Ukrainian public sphere, focusing both on the politicized deployment of profanity in the public sphere, and ideological metadiscourses on the use of profanity that circulate in the press and social media.


Teresa Mares received an Enhancing Excellence through Interdisciplinary Experiential Engagement Grant of $7693 for her project with Rachael Montesano (Romance Languages and Linguistics).

mares Food in the Field: Enhancing Collaboration with Spanish-speaking Farmworkers in Vermont
Mares and Rachael Montesano (UVM Romance Languages and Linguistics)  bring together their SPAN 052 and ANTH 296 courses in the Spring of 2017 in an interdisciplinary exploration and engagement with topics related to food and migration for farmworkers in the United States. Through focusing in onthe lives of migrant farmworkers in Vermont, Montesano and Mares will bridge their students’ interests in language acquisition, labor studies, and culture to better acquaint them with the food system that surrounds them and the workers who maintain it. The initiative brings together students studying Spanish and Anthropology through a high-impact series of participatory research projects and experiential engagements, culminating in a Culture Sharing Meal with farmworkers and students. This collaboration will impact UVM CAS students by giving them the opportunity to put into action their classroom learning and connect firsthand with individuals whose cultures and labor are contributing to the state’s diversity and working landscapes.

Jeanne Shea was awarded a CAS Faculty Research Support Award, with special designation as the Joan Smith Faculty Research Award, for her project on Urban to Rural Extension of Shea2015the Senior Companions Programs in the US and China: Societal Use of Older Adult Volunteers to Support Community-Based Aging in Place. Jeanne was also awarded CAS International Travel Funds to present a paper at the Society for East Asian Anthropology Conference in June at Chinese University of Hong Kong (abstract follows) . While in Hong Kong, she will also conduct field research on the Peers for Progress volunteer program, which was the immediate inspiration for the Senior Companions program in Shanghai where she will be conducting research over the next few years.

Spousal Caregiving among Elderly Couples in Shanghai: Social Arrangements and Personal Meanings: With a rising proportion of elderly people living for increasingly lengthy periods of time and with fewer younger family members available to care for those whoShea-1 become ill or frail, families in China today are increasingly looking beyond the traditional model of filial piety to other solutions for the care of disabled elderly. Based on eight months of fieldwork conducted in Shanghai, a city in the vanguard of the graying trend, this paper explores the increasing significance of horizontal conjugal solutions to eldercare in China. Fieldwork involved home visits and in-depth interviews with 30 spousal primary caregivers ranging in age from 60 to 94 years old, half female and half male, with spouses with various chronic diseases. The interviews focused on the social arrangements and personal meanings underpinning later-life home-based spousal care. Reflecting the increasing importance of conjugality among middle income urbanites, most of these elderly couples were living alone, largely financially independent of their children, and primarily responsible for their own care. Some received a bit of assistance from their children, neighbors, and/or local social services, but such help was supplemental. Caregiving arrangements also reflected modernization in gender norms, with all but one of the elderly men embracing his caregiving responsibilities, and with elders relying on sons and daughters for supplemental help. The most common personal meanings attached to spousal caregiving were: a responsibility assigned by fate, a way to demonstrate continuing ability to contribute to society, or a way to repay, or to express love to, their spouse.

India Krawczyk on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: February 18th, 2016 by tmares

IndiaKIndia Krawczyk (Anthropology, Class of 2016)

Like a lot of other students, I have a wide range of interests and found myself struggling to pick a major when I began at UVM. I encountered anthropology and felt as though what it had to offer would provide valuable tools to aid me in whatever else I decided to pursue in my lifetime. Studying anthropology sparked my interest in the museum world, in part because of how museums often incorporate elements of anthropology, art, and design, into their structures. All of these things are of considerable interest to me, and so I’ve considered possibly pursuing a career in some element of the museum field. Next semester I’ll have the opportunity to work in the collections, exhibitions, and curatorial department at the Fleming Museum on campus, and through this experience I hope to get a better idea of what I enjoy doing as well as what I don’t enjoy doing in this area. My goal is that this will help me decide what steps to take next in building my career.



Lynn Keating on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: February 10th, 2016 by tmares

Lynn Keating (Anthropology, Class of 2017)

LynnKeatingAfter independently joining a Women’s club at the age of twelve, I have continuously been engaged with local issues relevant to women cross-generationally Anthropology provides me with essential resources to observe and interpret the historical and cultural meanings of the limitless questions about all human lives. By choosing to live in the “Health and Wellness” housing at the University of Vermont, and engaging in specific courses, I have gravitated toward the intersections between gender issues, mindfulness behavior and intergenerational care. Last year, I studied the bio-cultural aspects of aging in a service-learning class by going into nursing homes weekly. Recently, I have been able to delve into the theories of anthropology, and I am currently working on a final paper on tampon usage and the culture surrounding menstruation. I plan to advocate and empower future generations with healthy relationships that can be carried through multiple parts of the life-cycle.





Forthcoming Book by Jonah Steinberg!

Posted: February 6th, 2016 by tmares

It’s official — Jonah Steinberg’s second book, A Garland of Bones, is under contract with Yale University Press. A Garland of Bones considers child runaways in postcolonial context from spatial, ethnographic, and historical vantage points, with emphases on relationships between rural change and children’s departures and on the place of runways as undesirable subjects in campaigns of urban cleansing. Jonah’s book is concerned with the balance of well-patterned cultural pathways, on the one hand, and the intimate experience of historical crisis, on the other, in children’s autonomous decisions to leave home for the city. The book, currently forecast for Yale’s Fall 2017 catalog, is to be published in the Agrarian Studies series edited by James C. Scott.

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