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Anthropology Department Blog

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.

Geneva Morley on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: February 3rd, 2016 by tmares

Geneva Morley (Anthropology, Class of 2016)

Geneva Morley headshotI was initially drawn to Anthropology because I am extremely interested how people function within the world.  I was previously interested in Psychology, and have always had a knack for being able to understand and empathize with people very easily, and I entered into college believing that I was destined to become a therapist or help people in a very individualistic way.  I was then lucky enough to take a cultural anthropology course at the beginning of my sophomore year, where I realized that although the individual and the issues within the conscious and unconscious of one’s mind are extremely relevant and pertinent to their wellbeing, the society around them is arguably just as pertinent, and this is what anthropology aims to address as a discipline.





Avery Lavalley on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: January 27th, 2016 by tmares

Avery Lavalley (Anthropology, Class of 2016)

AveryLavalleyEntering college, I had no idea what anthropology was. I knew that studying people was what I wanted to do, but no other subject seemed to truly integrate all aspects of the human experience to create a comprehensive understanding of it: history, biology, sociology, psychology, linguistics. An understanding of all of these fields and how they interact with each other is anthropology, and that is where I found my passion. We as anthropologists are trained to really look at moments, situations, people, and objects from a point of view that takes into account all of which that makes it up.  We do our best to accept and understand our own biases enough to see some kind of reality, then learn from that reality. Having always been fascinated by history, and the historical processes that shape our lives in the present, I found my calling in archaeology. Being able to interact with history itself is an incredible experience and working to preserve the cultural history of the world’s societies is becoming more and more necessary as humanity expands and globalizes.




Catherine Lang on “Why Anthropology?”

Posted: January 20th, 2016 by tmares

Catherine Lang (Anthropology, Class of 2016)

CathyLangI study Anthropology because I am a natural-born observer. I am fascinated with how the relation of space and place influence human interaction. Anthropology and Geospatial Technologies act as a way to visually understand modern human and environmental interaction. Material culture and archaeology allow for the study of the modern human providing critical observation and analysis of why we are the way we are.

My four-field training in Anthropology at UVM has prepared me well for a position in which I am asked to think critically and closely examine the nuances of human culture. I am particularly interested in engaging with material culture to better understand how consumers make decisions to purchase certain commodities. My training in both GIS techniques and in archaeology gives me a special perspective on the way in which humans interact with objects in their environment. I believe this is vital in understanding the societal impacts and inherent cultural beliefs surrounding human consumer motivations. I am interested in better understanding the relationship between lived and material culture. Specifically, I would like to examine human relationships with their built environments and how material goods are pivotal in influencing everyday interactions and contribute to establishing a sense of space, place, and identity.


Why Anthropology?

Posted: January 13th, 2016 by tmares

Last fall, Dr. Emily Manetta asked the advanced Anthropology majors who were taking ANTH 205 Senior Proseminar why they majored in Anthropology and what it meant to them. Many of them wrote about the way in which they learned about the major, and where they hoped to take it in the future. Some addressed why Anthropology speaks to them, or what questions about the human experience they find important. We hope that by sharing a few of these excerpts with you over the next few weeks, you too will be able to think more deeply about the discipline and why you find its approaches useful.


Lauren Porell (Anthropology, Class of 2017)Lauren Porell

In my freshman year of high school, I stayed after class one day to talk to my World Civilizations history teacher, Ms. Antonio. I was doing well in the class, but I expressed to her that I was frustrated with our history classes because they seemed to focus on the wars and battles of the past rather than the daily lives of the people. I wanted to know more about the people holding down the forts at home while the soldiers were away. She suggested I look into anthropology, and from that moment on, I have made it my mission to explore the lives of people from all over the world, both near and far. I’m able to combine anthropology with my other love for storytelling. I plan to use the communication and exploration skills I’ve learned from studying anthropology to listen to as many people’s stories as possible. My favorite stories are those that are about family histories and traditions. As of right now, I am still unsure what my future looks like career-wise, but I know that I intend to study and work with families. Whether my future leads me to nonprofit work, social work, or service work, I plan on listening to and learning from the stories of people from all walks of life, especially those who are often left out of high school history lessons.


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