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ANTHROPOLOGY SENIOR PROJECTS
Research in Progress
Diedra K. Cates: "Family Reaffirmation and Dyadic Belonging: The Effects of Globalization and Transnational Adoption on Korean-American Adoptees in the Willamette Valley" Since 1953, over 150 million South Korean children have been adopted by American families. This ethnography will explore the experiences of those who were adopted through Holt International Children’s Services in the Willamette Valley and are a part of a transracial family. I intend to unravel the ways in which Korean-American adoptees are affected by globalization; the state of public/governmental discourse on international adoption; the way transracial families reaffirm the validity of their socially constructed families; and finally, how Korean-American adoptees address their dyadic identity. By examining these themes this project will illustrate the interdependency of all processes, institutions, and individuals.
Katy Ahlvin: "The Burden of the Kayayei: Cultural and Socio-economic Difficulties Facing Female Porters in Agbogbloshie" This paper explores the experiences of Ghanaian migrant girl porters known as Kayayei who have been driven by economic and other hardships from their home region in the Northern part of the country to the capital city Accra. I describe some of the specific circumstances that drive these teenage girls to the city, and the challenges they face in the urban informal Ghanaian economy. As participant-observer of one group of Kayeyei during my AHA internship, I discuss preliminary findings of my of observations of the cultural and social world inhabited by these marginalized girls, mainly from their personal narratives.
Raven Graham: "Constructing Identities: Native American Music in the 21st Century" Music is a cultural phenomenon. It has increased in popularity, number of genres, and range of distribution during the 20th and 21st centuries. Concurrently, Native American musicians have been incorporating these new genres into their culture and making contributions to the musical field. As modern music is integrated into their cultures, how do Native Americans perceive their musical identities and how are they constructed? Although Native American music is gradually becoming an entertainment art form on the media circuit, it still reminds current generations of their ancestors and heritage, and expresses Native pride.
Susan Hicks: "'Til Death Do Us Part: Examining Relationships among Oregon Department of Revenue Property Tax Retirees" Previous studies have examined what circumstances, qualities, and activities lead to a positive transition and adjustment to retirement, by focusing on the individual and not the preretirement work group. This research project examines the experiences of members of a social group of retirees of the Property Tax Division of the Oregon Department of Revenue, who appear to have transitioned from the work group to retirement quite well. Through surveys, participant-observation, and informal conversations, my research adds to the aspect of a collective identity from a shared work history to the body of work on what leads to a successful, fulfilling retirement.
Lauren Bowden: "A Thriving Social Tradition: Modern American Consumerism and the Quilting Tradition in the Willamette Valley" According to the traditional household and gender divisions of labor, a major occupation for women in the United States for over two hundred years has been the craft of quiltmaking. Drawing on anthropological insights of the cultural perspective of commodities and interviews I will conduct with women quilters in the Willamette Valley, this study will explore the effects of mass production and consumerism on the contemporary quilting industry and its evolution over the past fifty years. It will examine the reasons lying behind the continuous survival of this tradition to understand what role quiltmaking plays in the larger U.S. society.
Lisa Catto: "Mortuary Archaeology: Studying Human Remains is Still Necessary in the 21st Century" This thesis argues that mortuary archaeology is still an important area of research to understand the past. We can learn a great deal from human remains, material remains associated with graves, funerary practices and cemetery organization, about nutrition, pathology, religious beliefs, ritual practices, kinship and social organization. This information could prove useful in modern circumstances, to understand how past societies dealt with challenges that continue to confront humanity. To gain direct evidence from human remains, it is vital that archaeologists act ethically, work with descendant populations, and limit excavations to graves endangered by erosion, construction, looting, or natural disaster.
Samantha Dunkel: "Religion versus Evolution: American Museum Representation of Two Ideologies." Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) initiated heated debate over the scientific basis of evolutionary theory and the validity of Creationism. In the United States, the controversy has taken on ideological meaning, generating much literature and public discourse. This study examines two museums in the Pacific Northwest that play opposing roles, promoting either evolution or creationist ideologies in the public sphere. I draw insights from anthropological debates on representation and interviews I conducted with museum staff and patrons to show how the museum may serve as a site for ideological education of the public.
Laura Gage: "Born American, Becoming Irish: Imagined Dual Identities." In the United States, much attention has been focused on the border-crossing experience of Latin American immigrants, to the neglect of immigrants such as the Irish and Italians who are assumed to be absorbed into the melting pot of U.S. culture. Drawing on fieldwork conducted among Irish Americans in the U.S., this study will demonstrate that the American Irish are also responding to globalization by reimagining and reclaiming their ethnic identity, culture and heritage. I draw on Anderson’s insights of imagined communities to explain why descendants of Irish immigrants are becoming dual citizens of the U.S. and Republic of Ireland.
Ashley Sexton: "Teen Pregnancy on the Rise in Willamina: Seeking to Understand a Rural Oregon Town’s Predicament" About 7 percent of all pregnancies in the United States occur among teenage girls (15-19 years old), the highest teen pregnancy rate among industrialized countries worldwide. In Oregon, the rate is 5.7 percent, with rural areas hovering between 6 and 7 percent. This ethnographic study examines teen pregnancy in the rural town of Willamina, Oregon, where the number is startlingly high. I conducted participant-observation in the community for three months, asking individuals “what is influencing the high rate,” and “how it can be lowered?” This study also sheds light on the costs to society of teen pregnancy.
Katherine Tremont: "The Mycenaean Footprint: Environmental Impact in Late Bronze Age Greece" This research project examines the environmental impact of the Mycenaean culture in the Messenian region of Greece during the Late Bronze Age, focusing on four areas of impact: habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, agriculture and removal of ground cover, expanding settlement and urbanization, and growth of administrative hierarchies and complex societies. Archaeological data from Messenia and other areas of Greece are used to reconstruct the environmental impact during that time. This project finds that even in the Late Bronze Age, there was significant human impact in all four areas used for assessment. With this project, I hope to encourage further research in environmental archaeology, especially within the context of classical cultures, and assist in providing insight about environmental changes in the present.
Joy Charron: "The Working Child: Industrialization and Child Labor at the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill" Using information gathered from the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and archival sources, I designed and executed an exhibit on how child labor has changed throughout history in American textile factories and how American corporations are connected to the issue today. The exhibit itself is a means to present the issue of child labor to those who view it and also an example of how to give the issue exposure and educate the public. Views on child labor have shifted between the rise of the textile industry and industrialization and the present day.
Mat Davila: "Uncovering New Philadelphia: Communicating the Relevance of History through Archaeology." An archaeological study of a blacksmith shop refuse pile uncovered in 2006 at the New Philadelphia, Illinois townsite. This study investigates the artifacts resulting from the preliminary excavation of the blacksmith shop at New Philadelphia through the use of documentary and ethnoarchaeological data. It is the goal of this project to illustrate with greater depth, the technology and behavior that created the artifacts in the refuse pile, as an effort to aid further excavation.
Mary Wright: "Rescuing 911: Adrift in a Sea of Stress, Staffing and Conflicting Identities" Across the United States, 911 emergency call centers are confronted with myriad problems including chronic understaffing and difficulty retaining qualified personnel. Stress from exposure to critical incidents or excessive overtime is often presumed as the cause for employee burnout. However, this paper argues that within routine calls are hidden conflict zones within which public safety communicators struggle with amorphous and conflicting identities. This paper examines the identity switches occurring during actual calls from the different groups using emergency dispatch services through sociolinguistic analysis of different language registers and patterns of thought.
Amy Franzen: "Colonias and Crayons: An Anthropological Study of Childrens Futures in Ladrillera, a colonia in a U.S.-Mexico Border Town." An anthropological study of families and their children in the colonia of Ladrillera, located in the U.S.-Mexico border town of Agua Prieta, Sonora, based on field research conducted during the summer of 2007 while taking part in WOUs first ever U.S.-Mexico border field school. This paper utilizes the theories of underdevelopment and dependency to help us understand the experiences of children and families and examines the cultural, economic, and systemic causes of their current plight in the poorer and underdeveloped neighborhoods of the city.
Jesus Zarate: "Sitting with a SMILE." My research demonstrates that the continuous need for positive social environment is necessary for the treatment success of renal failure patients. This research proposes that the distinctive networks of each patient has an effect on the social atmosphere of the clinic itself and finally on the holistic health of the patients. The benefit of this paper is to address the importance of a positive social networking and to make this knowledge available.
Nicole Juergeson: "Making Homes Out
of RVs: Alternative Housing in Rural Southern Oregon." An exploratory ethnographic
project will identify why low-income families in Grants Pass use RVs as a form
of alternative housing and how they create a sense of home in those RVs.
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