Independent Minds, Working Together

Wooster Faculty, Students, and Alumni Share Research at Anthropological Meeting

Event sponsored by the Central States Anthropological Society held in Toledo

April 27, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The 2012 meeting of the Central States Anthropological Society featured presentations by a number of current and former College of Wooster students and faculty members, and marked the beginning of Nick Kardulias’ tenure as president of the organization. Kardulias, professor of sociology, anthropology, and archaeology at Wooster, also served as program chair for the conference and chaired a session, titled “Historical Archaeology in the New World.”

The meeting, which was held last month in Toledo, brought together more than 200 professionals and students who delivered nearly 150 presentations dealing with the various sub-fields of anthropology — cultural anthropology, archaeology, physical/biological anthropology, and linguistics.

Eight archaeology majors and one anthropology major presented their Senior Independent Study projects (Wooster’s nationally acclaimed senior capstone experience in which a student works with a faculty mentor on a research project that culminates in a thesis-length paper).

  • D. Claire Burns presented “Preservation of the Past: A Comparison of Historical Preservation in India and the United States,” a look at the underlying structure of historic preservation in India during colonial and postcolonial times, and a comparison to the laws for preserving sites in the United States. A theoretical foundation was incorporated for the purpose of determining how preservation of sites and buildings can be used to promote a national image.
  • Emily Butcher discussed “Sailing on the Edge: A World-Systems Analysis of Pirates and Privateers in the Atlantic and Caribbean in the 17th and 18th Centuries,” an examination of the nature of piracy in the Atlantic and the Caribbean in a broad political and legal context, using Edward Teach as a key figure in order to place this marginal behavior into the larger scheme of the 17th and 18th centuries, also known as the Golden Age of Piracy.
  • Anarrubenia Capellin talked about “Culture Contact Between the Maya and the Lenca Peoples in the Yojoa Lake Region, Honduras,” a study of the contact between Mayan and Lencan cultures, which have shaped Honduran identity. In particular, the focus is on the city of Los Naranjos, which appears to have been influenced by both cultures in such aspects as its location on the lake, its architecture, and its art.
  • Catherine Gullett addressed “Journey to the New World: An Examination of Jamestown’s Role in the Expansion of the European World-System,” an analysis that, through a combination of historical documents and archeological evidence, assesses Jamestown’s history as the first viable English colony and its evolving position within an increasingly global economy.
  • Christopher Haslam presented “Consumerism in the Caribbean: A Study of Consumer Trends within the British Colonial Caribbean,” which suggests that a consumer revolution was taking place in the Caribbean as early as the late 17th century, thus predating the consumer revolution in England by as much as 50 years. The conclusions drawn from archeological and historical evidence indicate that the Caribbean had a significant influence on general social trends in Great Britain and the Old World.
  • Renee Hennemann provided an overview of “The Gift that Keeps on Giving: An Examination of Scenes on Royal and Non-Royal Egyptian Coffins and Tombs,” which reviews the images found on tombs and coffins of non-royals to see how certain individuals in ancient Egypt viewed their role in life in comparison to elite individuals. The study sought to further an understanding of how social and economic practices might have affected the iconography that was selected for burial.
  • Katie Kowicki discussed “Off with Their Heads: The Use of Human Heads as Trophies in Central and South America,” an exploration of the practice of collecting human remains for display as trophies in an effort to understand why cultures collected such items and how they treated them. The research was conducted using the archaeological record as well as ethnographic sources, and further considered how warfare led to the rise of complex societies and the role trophy collection had in this process.
  • Claire Miller talked about “Hunter-Gather to Industrial Agriculture: Assessment of Human Dental Health,” a comparative analysis of the dental wear patterns of two native human populations in North America — pre-agricultural and post-agricultural — and an assessment of general dental health in an effort to determine what changes occurred among dentition after the transition from hunter-gather subsistence to agriculture, and whether human dental health changed significantly since this transition in terms of identifiable wear patterns.
  • Anastasia Wallace presented “Determining Cultural Affiliation of the Orange Township Earthworks in Highbanks Metropark, Delaware, Ohio: Lithic Analysis,” a project that builds upon previous work done by Raymond S. Baby, who excavated the earthworks in 1951. The current paper creates a timeline of usage for the site and concludes that it was constructed primarily as a defensive structure, but may have also served multiple purposes, including functioning as a ceremonial and seasonal usage site.

Also presenting were David Massey, a 2004 Wooster graduate who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in geography at The Ohio State University, and Sarah Tate, a 2011 Wooster graduate and current graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Massey’s paper, titled “Expert and Non-Expert Decision Making in a Participatory Game Simulation: A Farming Scenario in Athienou, Cyprus,” looked at how Greek-Cypriot farmers’ agricultural decisions affected land use/cover change, allowing researchers to formulate models and assessment plans for future scenarios. Drawing from the Companion Modeling approach, which emphasizes stakeholder participation, this case study establishes the rules about the Greek-Cypriot farming practices in Athienou through interviews with local farmers and develops this knowledge into a Role Playing Game (RPG) in which two sets of participants, Greek-Cypriot farmers (“experts”) and undergraduate students (“non-experts”), play the RPG which simulates a scenario wherein the Turkish-Occupied land to the north of Athienou becomes available for farming as it had been prior to the 1974 invasion. The results from the RPG then are used to develop a better model of Greek-Cypriot farming practices.

Tate, who also chaired a session at the conference titled “Native Americans in a Changing World,” presented “Bad Blood: An Examination of the Roles of Federal Recognition and NAGPRA on American Indian Identity.” Based on the logic that the ability of an American Indian’s tribe to recover traditional ways of life is contingent on their ability to satisfy the non-native culture’s criteria of ‘nativeness,’ Tate argues that tribes without federal recognition have less access to their own material culture and are therefore being barred access to elements essential to their ‘native’ identity.

Representing Wooster’s faculty, in addition to Kardulias, were J. Heath Anderson, visiting assistant professor of sociology, anthropology, and archaeology, and Christa Craven, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology. Anderson chaired a session, titled “Prehistoric Archaeology in the New World,” and presented “Collapse and Regeneration in the Tula Region,” a summary and synthesis of what is known about the processes of political breakdown and subsequent reemergence of state structures in the Tula area of central Mexico, with a prospective consideration of relevant questions going forward, and the data needed to address them. Craven moderated a panel titled “Feminist Activist Ethnography: Methods, Challenges and Possibilities,” a roundtable-style discussion that continued a crucial dialogue about the possibilities for feminist ethnography into the 21st century— at the intersection of engaged feminist research and activism in the service of the organizations, people, communities, and feminist issues.