Poster session and reception, Memorial Hall Ballroom, room 211 Memorial Hall.
Susannah Barr, Es que no hay: the cultural and environmental determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption in a rural Dominican community
As food supply chains lengthen and smaller food outlets are displaced by large supermarkets, household access to food is influenced by a combination of factors, including proximity to market and cost. Large food outlets congregate in urban centers, which are growing steadily in Latin America. In the Dominican Republic, rural populations depend on a mixture of traditional small food outlets and mobile resources that provide intermittent access to fruits and vegetables. Studies of the effects of limited access to healthy foods on nutrition demonstrate mixed results, especially in rural areas around the world. Recent policy changes and public health measures in the Dominican Republic have drawn attention to the increasing incidence of nutrition-related illness among children and adults, including obesity, diabetes, and malnutrition. A community assessment designed to capture cultural and economic influences on food and nutrition was used to inform a local nutrition-education initiative for children in a rural area of the Dominican Republic. A survey was administered in the form of structured interviews with thirty female household representatives living within the service area of the initiative. Frequency distributions of open-ended question responses about the components of main meal of the day revealed two major groups, one that included vegetables in the meal and one that did not. All household representatives responded positively regarding fruit and vegetable consumption and most wanted to increase their household consumption. Perceptions of the typical main meal of the day reveal a community that is responding to outside influences such as national television advertisements, public health campaigns, and the regular presence of non-Dominican visitors, which distribute nutrition information and encourage fruit and vegetable consumption. Most participants agreed that access is a significant barrier to consumption of fruits and vegetables. Estimated household wealth and income demonstrate little to no association with weekly fruit and vegetable consumption, and few participants mentioned cost as a barrier. Geographic distribution of households revealed an association between the reported weekly servings of fruits and vegetables and the proximity of the household to a mobile grocery route. On average, those living along the grocery route consumed 2 more servings of fruits and vegetables per week. Access is the strongest environmental determinant of fruit and vegetable consumption in this particular area and those like it. The growing presence of supermarkets throughout the Dominican Republic threatens the nutrition of rural residents by displacing traditional small food providers, like mobile produce vendors.
Kristina Baines and Sebastien Buttet, Being Maya: Identity as resilience to development risks in southern Belize
In southern Belize, “traditional” Maya livelihoods based on shifting maize cultivation are at risk from multiple sources including: wage labor supplementing and replacing reciprocal labor systems, increased participation in high school education, environmental degradation due to increased population and climate shifts, and political tensions surrounding community land and resource management. Both in response to, and perpetuating, this risk, some farmers, supported by cooperatives, companies and NGOs, participate in cacao agroforestry, selling cacao for export. While these development entities understand participation in cacao production as the economically and environmentally sustainable livelihood choice for farmers in this region, many farmers still choose corn as their primary crop. This paper offers a way of understanding farmer decision making and explaining the persistence of growing corn through the incorporation of a measure of the value of “Maya identity” into an explanatory economic model.
We outline variables relevant to a theoretic model of agricultural practices and land ownership to understand key aspects of Maya farming choices, including the persistence of growing corn and the use of cash payment in corn planting to replace reciprocal labor practices. We show that agriculture practices, and the pressures to change these agricultural practices, are strongly linked to cultural identity and changes to them come about through the consideration of multiple forces. The proposed model also considers changes to land tenure in relationship to cultural identity and economic livelihoods. Using the phenomenological frame of embodied ecological heritage, which connects Maya heritage practices and Maya identity to health and happiness (Baines 2016), this study how detailed ethnographic data may be used in a collaborative economic modelling process in hopes of adding to the utility of the anthropological data for development organizations seeking to understand decisions in communities. As the risks to developing communities continue, understanding how cultural identity plays a role in the resilience of heritage practices, and how this influences decisions, could have broad implications for economic development in southern Belize and beyond.
Brianna Dines, Conflict and Construction: A cooperative community’s story of coping with crisis
The work of building resilient communities is hard enough in somewhat stable circumstances, but during a period of crisis the social fabric may fray or rip. However, responding to risk may actually help to constitute new communities or maintain long-standing ones. The process of rebuilding and mending itself is a valuable experience in learning how to deal with risk and remain resilient. Using Ernst Bloch’s notion of the “work of utopia” and J.K. Gibson-Graham’s notion of community economies to frame my recent fieldwork as a member of a cooperative housing network in Wisconsin, I have found that periods of crisis in relatively resilient communities can serve to reinforce ties of social capital through challenging the limits of cooperation and reciprocity. Helm’s Deep house experienced a fire that devastated the co-op building and then had to engage in a 2 year long battle to “save the house” against the city and local developers’ plans for lakefront condos as well as other co-op members opposition to rebuilding. This collective experience of the “work of utopia” in this particular instance, despite long-term hardship and uncertainty, intensified members’ larger commitment to fundamentally opposing systemic factors of risk inherent in free market and pro-growth economic milieus. This indicates that perhaps conflict and tension itself is somewhat necessary to constitute resilience in the face of chronic, and acute risk.
Anthon Eff, Climate uncertainty and cultural adaptation
Problem statement and theoretical frame: This paper examines the ?effect of climate uncertainty on cultural traits. There is a ?significant literature on human adaptation to extrinsic risk, ?primarily from the evolutionary ecology perspective, and this paper ?will add to that literature by decomposing climate variability into ?seasonal and non-seasonal components. The former is predictable and ?hence readily addressed with cultural adaptation; the latter is ?not predictable, and clearly in the domain of extrinsic risk.
Methodology: This is a cross-cultural research study, using data ?from the four most commonly used ethnological datasets (representing ?1446 societies and over 3000 variables), as well as the climate ?change data from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia ?University. The statistical methods correct for Galton’s Problem.
Results: Preliminary results suggest that high levels of uncertainty ?favor more flexible adaptations: higher geographical mobility, more ?permissive rules of marriage and residence, and less specialization. ?High seasonal variation, on the other hand, seems to encourage ?complex adaptations, such as higher specialization of labor.
Implications: This may contribute to our understanding of why mid-latitude societies tend to be more complex.
Drew Gerkey and Colin T. West, Interdependence, risk-pooling, and environmental change: Ethnographic and experimental evidence from arctic subsistence economies
Most research on cooperation focuses on strategic risks—the potential costs and benefits of choosing a strategy in a social context where outcomes are affected by the actions of other individuals. This approach has been useful for identifying factors that diminish risks of cooperation and amplify risks of defection, including rewards, reputations, punishments, cultural norms, and institutions. However, this approach often assumes individuals are independent, inhabiting an environment where cooperation is unnecessary for long-term survival. Environmental risks—spatial and temporal fluctuations in biotic and abiotic components of the environment that affect access to resources, health, and other measures of wellbeing—can affect the viability of independent strategies, altering an individual’s strategic calculus in favor of cooperation. Although environmental risks are underrepresented in many theories of cooperation, research on risk-pooling integrates strategic and environmental risks. We draw on this research and present results from a new economic game, conducted with common-pool resource users in rural villages in Siberia. Our design builds on a multi-round public goods game, systematically varying strategic and environmental risks to understand how interactions between these two kinds of risk affect cooperation and risk-pooling. Our results are consistent with previous research, suggesting strategic risks tied to rewards, punishments, and reputations are important. However, we find the effects of strategic risks are altered by the presence of environmental risk, which increases interdependence among individuals. Our research contributes to a growing body of scholarship that examines how environmental uncertainty and change affect social relations.
Werner Hertzog, Emergent order and resilience of a matching system: Allocating burdens, rights, and prestige in Chenalhó, Chiapas
Social life among the Tzotzil-Maya of Chiapas has been structured around the “cargo system,” a rotational distribution of communal burdens in which male-headed households are assigned to unpaid offices (cargos) in exchange of rights and prestige. In Chenalhó, as in other Tzotzil municipalities of Chiapas, this system has shown remarkable resilience to change, defying predictions of some 1970s studies that ongoing changes would render Mesoamerican cargo systems obsolete. Rapid population growth – these studies argued – would lead to these systems’ congestion, as there would not be enough offices for all households to serve, while the increasing monetization of exchange would undermine the importance of prestige and reciprocity in peasant economies. Instead, today most of Chenalhó’s households still participate in the cargo system, which has retained its central role in legitimizing access to resources and power. Given the absence of a central designer defining the quantity, rules of allocation, and function of offices, what explains the stability and resilience of the system? The present research uses ethnographic, historical, and experimental data to address this question. It conceptualizes the cargo system as an emergent two-sided matching market in which allocations of offices are the product of bargaining between individuals (candidates) and communities (agents). The work shows that the system’s congestion was prevented by a process of political fragmentation and decentralization of decision-making units: as the municipality’s population grew, communities broke down in smaller political units, gaining increasing autonomy to create local hierarchies of offices. Although secular in appearance, these new offices are articulated to religious ones and often emulate traditional their traditional ritual and political functions (for instance, some cargo holders are now responsible for haggling with government officials and contractors for resources to pay for fiestas). Results of an experimental cargo allocation game show that rural and urban communities have different criteria for allocating offices. While prestige associated with serving offices is decline in larger urban settings, the system persists as a form of progressive taxation in which more expensive offices are allocated to wealthier individuals based on their ability to pay. Hence the cargo system has remained resilient by co-opting a modern logic of distribution of ‘wealth’ in which prestige and character give way to socioeconomic status as the primary index by which individuals are evaluated.
Nicole Katin, An ethnographic case study of conservation induced displacement in Southeastern Brazil (Halperin Award Winner).
The people of Núcleo Itariru are internally displaced. Since 2006, with the enactment of a new park management plan for this protected area of Serra do Mar State Park, regulations concerning land use and resource extraction have come to increasingly threaten the lifeways of the approximately 2,750 individuals who live within the conservation unit. My paper presents the results of eighteen months of ethnographic research with residents of the Núcleo, a project undertaken with the assistance of the SEA through the Halperin Award Program. In the face of intensifying risks, as associated with restrictions upon agricultural practices and the breakdown of infrastructure, among other factors, the local population, comprised mainly of small family farmers, has exhibited resilience in efforts to adapt to the changes and persist upon the landscape. As the threat of relocation looms overhead however, the future of settlement here is an uncertain one. As such, the presentation will address the socio-economic, historical and environmental dimensions of displacement in the locale, calling attention to the “unintended” consequences of strict biodiversity conservation measures.
Hilary King, The social economy of handmade tortillas: The geography of value and relationships in Chiapas, Mexico
In Southern Mexico, small-scale farmers face challenges related to the market fluctuations exacerbated by neoliberal globalization. At the same time, Mexican citizens face increasingly poor health outcomes tied to shifts in dietary patterns. In Mexico, as in other parts of the world, people seek to address what they see as these inter-related problems of economic and social change by strengthening or rebuilding regional food systems. What kinds of relations are engendered through experiments in fostering regional food systems, and what do such relations mean for sustainable economic development?
Participants in localized food supply chains in Chiapas manage risks and build resilience across multiple vectors by engaging in existing markets and building new markets for maize-based products. In doing so, food makers and consumers generate a complex, social economy of handmade tortillas, enacted in such locations as agroecological markets, specialty stores, municipal markets, schools and ambulant sales. The research for this paper is based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork with corn producers, food makers, consumers and development activists in Southern Mexico.
Within this social economy, participants utilize various narratives and practices to re-shape the social, economic and political forces that affect their lives. Food makers present themselves and their products in different ways depending on the location of sale. Consumers perceive products in different ways across these varied locations, behaving differently and altering their purchasing habits according to the setting. Both producers and consumers tap into and alter “traditional” narratives of food, health, and community in different parts of this social economy. Participants in these food system experiments alter and deepen the social economy of handmade tortillas–mapping sometimes contradictory sets of values and relationships onto culturally and historically-influenced practices of food provisioning. From earning one’s daily wage to combating international corporate influence, consideration of long-term health consequences to the promotion of food sovereignty, the participants in this study make use of narratives, both old and new, to justify and make sense of the diverse economy that they enact. The interaction of these values and relationships across geographic and ideological scales reveals how people alter existing social relations and narratives to build resilience in the face of increasingly insecure lifeways.
Dolores Koenig, Strategies to formalize land ownership in the Bamako Metropolitan region
Much of the land in the metropolitan area of Bamako, Mali remains in so-called “informal” ownership. The vast majority of this land is held in customary ownership, where a village or a family claims proprietorship; other land includes unbuildable public land in places like vulnerable watersheds. This poster will focus on the processes by which landowners attempt to change the status of parcels from “informal” customary ownership to “formal” title deeds in the region of Bamako, particularly on the periphery. It is based on long-term knowledge of Bamako’s land market plus short-term focused fieldwork on the subject.
Multiple steps need to be undertaken to transfer ownership. First, a recognized customary owner must be approached for willingness to sell. Since the customary owner is usually not an individual, but a “village,” the question arises of who has the right to speak for the village. This is usually a recognized chief; there is little disagreement that the chief has a right to negotiate, but there can be much disagreement within villages over the choice of parcels to sell and the distribution of the earnings gain. Second, once a parcel and price have been identified, the parcel is demarcated. Often this parcel is shaped to conform to the standard size of urban parcels, and a topographer hired to mark out the parcel officially. Some form of paperwork is often produced, although there is no accepted official paperwork for this kind of transaction. The third step is thus to get some kind of official “immatriculation” from the local government. This usually requires a relatively large parcel or a number of smaller parcels. This is generally quite time consuming, but many “buy” informally identified parcels in the hope that, once many are sold, the government will step in to regularize the entire neighborhood. Fourth, the resident must build something on the parcel to instantiate his/her claim. Otherwise, the parcel may be sold again to someone else, illegal; this is illegal but not uncommon. The final stage is to get a formal title deed for the property, but this is not always achieved; when it is, it is usually only after a great delay.
The process is driven by the desire of people to have a place of their own in this rapidly growing urban area. The complexity of the transformation from informal to formal land ownership opens up the possibilities for significant corruption, both private and public. Thus, purchasing building lots is a fraught process for most who undertake it.
Stephen Kowalewski, Two good questions, two fair answers
In 2008 we gave a public lecture on the results of our first archaeological field season in Coixtlahuaca, in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca. Local citizens asked, “You say there many more people living here 500 years ago than there are today, but how could they have made a living, when with many fewer folks today we can scarcely make ends meet?” They asked a second question, “How were all those people organized?” These questions became the core of our successful grant proposal.
We have come up with answers and discussed them with people in Coixtlahuaca. The answers are limited and tentative because deep and representative knowledge of a large-scale society is not easily won with just a few studies.
Large populations and urbanization were supported by labor intensive agriculture and landesque capital. Smallholders managed production. Households were the firms and the consumers in a regional market system. Smallholders were organized in local corporate communities that regulated land tenure. The region shows a persistent pattern of relative equality in wealth. The area’s royal lineages were famous, but they were not much involved in the agricultural system.
A local citizen said that Coixtlahuaca would have resembled Bali. Of course there are some important differences between Bali and Mesoamerica’s Mixteca Alta, but the comparison is indeed instructive.
Patricia Kunrath Silva, Taking risks: Venture philanthropy and effective altruism in the U.S. and Brazil
In a world populated by angel investors, startups, innovations and venture capital, a new field develops: the field of venture capital and effective altruism (emic terms). Situated in the intersections of the private sector, the third sector and governments, this new approach to philanthropic endeavors challenges these long lasting categories. How can we make sense of these emergent discourses and practices? How does the market, as in the philanthropic industry, generates new modes of governance? Who are the actors shaping this industry and its transnational expansion? What is the role of anthropology in researching the (with?) elites? These are the questions addressed in this paper. Through a two years period of fieldwork in Brazil and a year in the United States, as a part of an ongoing doctoral research, it was possible to map, meet, interact with and analyze a network of philanthropists, social investors and experts working transnationally to develop philanthrocapitalism. This study draws on the work of anthropologists such as Bill Maurer on alternative finance, state and philanthropy; George Marcus on elites; Marc Abélès on the new riches in the Silicon Valley and the classic work of Marcel Mauss on The Gift, among others; and the recent work of sociologist Linsey McGroey on the Gates Foundation. Intellectuals try to categorize this new trend as modes of governance such as modern forms of feudalism, plutocracy and enlightened despotism. Having North-American philanthropic scene as its benchmark, Brazilian agents integrate this network to shape philanthropic possibilities in the national context. It is imperative to resort to historical and political formation analysis on both countries to elaborate on the relations of the States with the elites engaged in philanthropy. Through this study, it was possible to map an important part of this network and build knowledge on this emergent industry, as means of engaging dissident voices in an ongoing elite´s dialogue. The current analyses resulted in the notions of Philanthrocapitalism in the U.S. and Philanthroestatism in Brazil.
Courtney Kurlanska, A lean nation’s take on Governmentality: Social control and risk reduction in Nicaragua
This paper examines how a resource-poor country is able to practice a form of governmentality over its citizens when, due to various economic and environmental factors, prudentialism is not an option. Through an examination of the intersection and overlap of state, community, and household level risk-reduction strategies a comprehensive model for state level risk mitigation through social control and the normalization of poverty is presented. Rooted in a governmentality approach to risk, this paper approaches the application of governmentality to the developing world from a critical perspective acknowledging that, in this context, it is only one of many strategies employed by the state to influence populations and must be recognized as such. As a result, discussions of disciplinary power and development theory also contribute to the theoretical orientation of this paper. Based on eleven months of fieldwork and twelve years of community involvement, this is part of a larger research project examining livelihood strategies of community members in a rural village in Nicaragua. Data collection involved participant observation, semi-structured interviews, informal interviews, house visits, a survey and self-monitoring of daily household expenses. Based on this data, a model for ‘Nicaraguan Governmentality’ employing the ‘normalization of poverty’ was developed. This model identifies three primary strategies used by the government to reduce the potential for social unrest among its citizens: social programs, NGOs and private projects, and institutionalized social control disguised as ‘direct democracy’. Through the manipulation of economic resources and the governing bodies of local communities, the Nicaraguan government has created an effective method of governance from a distance with the use of minimal resources effectively employing a ‘Lean Nation’s’ version of governmentality. The end result of this strategy is an effective form of social control over the citizenry at the expense of democracy.
Aaron Lenihan, The effects of law on marijuana use in Uruguay
In 2013 Uruguay became the first country ever to legalize the production and sale of recreational marijuana. Using Uruguay as a case study, I propose to research the relation between law and behavior. Specifically I will explore how marijuana legalization affects local social norms of marijuana acquisition and use among young adult users (age 18-30) in Montevideo. Previous research indicates that drug prohibition has not reduced drug use and that decriminalization may not increase use rates, despite reducing costs to the user. This implies that social factors, aside from price signals are influencing consumption behavior. One possibility is that marijuana has social value to the user, which legalization undermines. The proposed research explores this hypothesis by addressing two research questions: Q1) Does legalizing marijuana lead to more individualistic and less social acquisition and use norms?, and Q2) To what degree is marijuana acquisition and use behavior motivated by social factors? To answer these questions, I will gain access to communities of marijuana users in Montevideo and document social norms of marijuana acquisition and use (Q1). I predict that legalization will promote more individualistic norms, which some users will resist. I will use these findings to create a survey to assess variation in normative beliefs among users. Next, I will test for statistical association between these normative beliefs and user motives and social network factors (Q2.1). I predict that individuals who derive greater benefits from the sociality of marijuana use will favor communal social norms. I will also identify the demographic factors that predict which norms an individual conforms to in order to understand how the law affects different subpopulations differently. Next, I will test for an association between these norms and social factors (Q1,Q2.1), and the subjective use effects individuals report from marijuana (Q2.2). I predict that individuals with more to gain socially from marijuana use will experience more positive use effects, thus offering a proximate mechanism to explain how consumption behavior may be directed towards functional social goals. This research will contribute to the field of economic anthropology by exploring how economic institutions shape individual consumer values and motivations.
Carolyn Lesorogol, Lora Iannotti, and Randall Boone, Strengthening pastoralist resilience in Kenya using improved dairy goats
Pastoralism as a livelihood typified by extensive livestock production is characterized as having a “boom” and “bust” nature. Periodic droughts caused by highly variable rainfall patterns (often exacerbated by human-designed policies and practices) lead to large losses of livestock and hardships among people—the busts. Recovery from droughts, the “boom”, generally involves the effort to rebuild herds in order to resume pastoral production and prepare for the next drought cycle. Recent strategies for development in pastoralist areas have focused on interventions such as animal health, drought response and recovery, and provision of basic infrastructure (health, schools). Some efforts are directed toward alternative livelihoods such as eco-tourism, wildlife conservation, bee keeping, crafts, etc. Less attention is given to improving livestock production in ways that build upon traditional pastoralism but adapt it to current conditions and constraints. This poster describes an intervention among Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya designed to improve livelihoods sustainably through introduction of highly productive dairy goats. Based on a decade of longitudinal research, the intervention addresses key constraints related to human nutrition and household economic viability through a culturally appropriate and community-based design. Results indicate high potential for success in terms of acceptability and feasibility of raising improved dairy goats, increased milk production and potential for development of milk marketing. In addition, modeling results suggest that incorporating improved goats in household herds leads to dramatic improvements in milk production and other indicators of household well-being. Expansion of the intervention is recommended in order to more systematically measure its effects and determine its potential to improve resilience of Samburu households to drought and other disasters.
Walter Little, Working under the arco de Santa Catalina: Using assemblage theories to understand economic practices at an urban heritage site
On any given day, watercolor painters, fruit sellers, musicians, handicraft vendors, and other street workers can be found hawking their goods under the Arco de Santa Catalina, Antigua Guatemala’s most well-know heritage site and iconic symbol for the city itself. In this highly regulated section of the city, economic and political practices are complicated and entangled with each other. In places like Antigua, the consideration of its street economic practices in relation to its heritage aesthetics (representations, regulations, and preservation) contributes to a better understanding of the place and the material outcomes, including alternative economic and political outcomes that may not make sense within or contradict dominant discourses, representations, and regulations.
In order to think beyond the surface economic exchanges that take place under and near the arch, I draw on Deleuze’s concept, agencement, commonly glossed as assemblage, arrangement, and organization, to think through the political economy of Antigua as a complex configuration of dynamic relationships that include human and non-human elements. Using the concept of agencement, I address not only the sales interactions between street workers and clients but, also, the assemblage of architecture, regulations, police, government officials, and representation to better comprehend the actions of the street workers, be those actions economic or political. Latour’s version of assemblage theory (Actor-Network-Theory) gets at heterogeneous ways in which the materiality of the city contributes to street workers social, economic, and political practices. It provides a framework that allows me to approach the discourses, practices, and materiality of the Arch of Santa Catalina to analyze the political economy of a heritage site. I illustrate how urban heritage sites are an assemblage that articulates with everyday social and material practices that lead to unexpected economic outcomes.
Michael Lonneman, Agent-based modeling of land use decision-making and soil erosion
This research examines feedbacks between human and natural systems by examining how social inequality, agricultural decision-making, and processes of soil erosion interact in an agent-based modelling environment. It simulates how different groups of farmers’ (sharecroppers, small landowners, and centrally managed plantations) varying decision-making related to agricultural production and the biophysical attributes of the landscape influence different trajectories of soil erosion. The model then subsequently explores how soil erosion feedbacks influence future livelihood security. This research is based on cotton, corn, and pig production in the South Carolina Piedmont region from the late 19th to early 20th century. Environmental degradation is often caused by political economic constraints and a lack of control over resources by the land manager, rather than simply mismanagement or ignorance (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987), while farmers must balance short- and long-term risks associated with agriculture in the context of variable opportunities and constraints (Ellis 1988). Small changes in environmental conditions and human land use can trigger threshold changes to alternative states (Suding and Hobbs 2009), and changes in natural systems can create feedback dynamics that alter social systems (Bliege-Bird 2015). Agent-based models (ABMs) of social-ecological systems integrate landscape models with individual-based represents of decision-making in order to examine interdependencies and feedback dynamics between human decisions and landscape change. ABMs are simulations of particular phenomena, in this case human land use and landscape change, that can generate hypotheses, test theory, and model emergent phenomena of the system (Parker et al. 2013). This research seeks to generate insight into how the opportunities and constraints facing different groups of farmers in the South Carolina Piedmont, the erosive impact of diverse agricultural portfolios, and the size and topography of the landscape influenced the rate and intensity of soil erosion and experiences of livelihood stress.
John McGreevy, Economic tradeoffs, adaptive capacity, and tree use: Lessons from rural Haiti
Haiti stands out as a Caribbean nation that is disproportionately vulnerable to climate change outcomes like drought, changing growing seasons, and increased storm intensity. Much of this vulnerability comes from centuries of deforestation that have left Haiti largely void of forests. Semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and focus groups conducted in three remote villages suggest that tree loss comes largely from limited adaptive capacity to climate change at the household level. Resource users ultimately cut trees after engaging in analysis of trade-offs between short-term economic survival and long-term ecosystem services. Due to limited adaptive capacity and a constrained range of viable livelihood strategies, rural Haitians are often forced to cut down trees in times of economic need. In this process, stored economic and environmental capital (trees) is transferred to economic capital (charcoal) that is sold and removed from the household level. The result is an increase in vulnerability and decrease in future capacity to adapt to climate change.
Lynne Milgram, From market to market: Negotiating risk and resilience in the retail vegetable trade in Baguio City, Philippines
Throughout the Global South governments have responded to rapid urban growth by embracing visions of “modernity” that favour constructing large-scale infrastructure projects (e.g., shopping malls, supermarkets) while discouraging or even destroying what they view as “traditional” remnants of entrepreneurial trade (e.g., public marketplaces, street vending). Such policies disrupt long-standing livelihoods and provisioning networks on which urbanities have depended for decades.
This paper engages this issue by using the retail vegetable trade in the Baguio City Public Market, northern Philippines to argue that marketers mitigate such top-down development threats to their enterprises by innovatively combining public “advocacy” and under-the-radar “everyday” politics (Kerkvliet) to sustain and diversify their urban livelihood options. At the risk of having their city-controlled store leases terminated, public marketers have still launched a series of formal civil law suits and appeals that continue today, since 1995, to thwart municipal action. Given long delays in court decisions, in order to achieve some short-term business gains, marketers also operationalize “everyday politics” and “gray spacing” (Yiftchel 2012) (e.g., expanding displays into public market aisles) – illegal actions that by contravening market guidelines additionally put their businesses at risk. That marketers have negotiated an agreement with city officials whereby the latter charge merchants rent to enable their market infractions highlights the resilience the marketers’ enterprises as well as government’s complicity in legalizing illegal practice as an “urban organizing logic” (Roy 2005) when it is to their advantage. Although Baguio’s supermarket sector is expanding, public marketers’ edgy and risky initiatives have thus developed a complementary rather than singularly competitive relationship with supermarket venues. I argue then that Baguio City Public Market retailers’ public and everyday advocacy has thus far sustained the resilience of their businesses – how civic engagement can be effectively negotiated when competing ideologies clash over livelihood rights and how to structure a quality of urban life for and by its residents.
Neelam Raina, Income, ideology and identity: Women in Kashmir
Indian Kashmir is a conflict area; with intermittent low scale ongoing conflict becomes a part of the fabric of the state since the early 1990s. Women in Indian Kashmir have borne an unequal burden of the conflict between India and Pakistan, not least due to the deaths and disappearances of men during the conflict.
Women in this region, due mainly to the limitations of identity and geography, have joined the ‘informal’ employment sector by beginning to work in the craft sector. This male dominated sector, has seen a slow influx of women producers, as increasing numbers of women fall back on tacit knowledge and skills within the area to produce incomes for their homes, where they are the de-facto household heads.
This approach to resilience and livelihood generation is useful and successful yet treads carefully around the established civil society norms and patriarchal hierarchies, which these women navigate successfully. This changed role as an income earner, clashes with their gender and religious identities and places various limitations on their income generation abilities in subtle yet compelling ways. This paper shall discuss these limitations, which are often taboo within Kashmir and dismissed in wider development economics discussions as ancillary, but for these women, they are lived realities of the conflict zone in which they live.
This paper thereby examines the interdisciplinary overlaps of design and development and the role they play in providing platforms for income generation for women, who are limited by their identities and geographies.
Thomas Derek Robinson and Eric Arnould, “Collaboration” vs. “segregation:” A comparative cultural analysis of how the geographical imaginary informs debate on risk and future sustainable energy
Problem statement: Engaging spatial imagination about the future is an important dimension of sustainable energy, since adaptation to climate change to ameliorate risk is not simply a matter of technical intervention (Crate and Nuttall 2009; Roncoli 2006). As Fiske et al. (2014, 41-42) point out, we need to inscribe technical responses to risk within social and cultural narratives, even mythic parameters. Here cultural and social parameters of spatiality have been explored for adaptive processes involving human mobility, exchange, rationing, pooling, diversification, intensification, innovation and revitalization (Thornton and Manasfi 2010), but there is less knowledge about how sociocultural framing of spatiality intersects with infrastructure. This kind of knowledge is important since consumption behaviours that increase vulnerability to the effects of climate change are not correctable at the individual level. Rather, the “environmental impacts of human choices and actions” (Stern 1997, 13) towards energy, which are at the core of sustainability “…result directly from organizational behavior…” (Stern 1997, 18; Arnould and Press 2011), which are informed by these spatial imagination.
Theoretical frame: Places and spaces are not neutral constructs, but infused with normative assumptions and thus dependent on what Gregory (2004) terms the ‘geographical imaginary’ in culture. In extension, Shapiro argues that the culture of geography denotes issues of international friendship and hostility and thus security and safety (Shapiro 1997, xi). These cultural, normative positions on space inform national strategies regarding energy infrastructure, but also how media translates energy technology into marketable qualities (Firat 1995: 118), since such infrastructures require varying levels of international collaboration.
Methodology: This paper presents a comparative study of Danish and British news media discourses. We contend that popular media encode varying expressions of cultural imaginaries of space (Robertson 1992; Humphreys et al 2013; Hirschman & Thompson 1997: 44). Danish (database: Infomedia) and British (Database: Lexis-Nexis) newspaper articles on energy and the future (2000-2012; search terms: DK > Energi & Fremtiden, UK > ‘Energy & Future’ > DK: N = 50; UK: N = 50), were coded deductively for expressions of spatiality and themes related to energy infrastructure.
Results: This study finds that the Danish geographical imaginary of future spaces and territories draws on themes of : ‘collaboration’ (including, ‘penetration’, ‘connection’, ‘profit’, ‘transformativity’, and ‘institutions’), while the British articulation draws on themes of : ‘self-sufficiency’, (including notions of ‘conflict’, ‘security’, fixed boundaries’, ‘segregation’ and ‘national competition’). Thus, culturally determined discourses of future spaces and territories inform normative stances on self-sufficiency vs collaboration in energy infrastructure development. The data shows this is especially marked with regard to discussions of renewable energy systems like wind power, which require international integration of electricity grids for optimal utilization.
Implications: Because renewables require substantial levels of international collaboration, the geographical imaginary becomes important in planning and marketing energy infrastructure. Interventions aiming to ameliorate risk associated with climate change and enhance sustainability must address cultures of spatiality and the spatial distribution of friendship and hostility across borders for greater effect since it sets up cultural predispositions towards infrastructural collaboration or segregation.
Dayton Starnes, Sustainable aquatics: An exploration of histories and the sustainable turn with the marine aquarium industry
Problem and Theoretical Frame: This poster examines the negotiations between factors of economic resilience and environmental risk within the marine aquarium industry. Assessing the motivations for diversification of product sourcing; how broader cultural trends towards sustainability and environmental awareness affect the systems of transnational livestock (ornamental fish) sourcing and collection for the marine aquarium industry. Exploring how production in this multi-million dollar international trade manages the issue of risks to the environment while ensuring the ability to remain economically viable and competitive within the market.
Methodology: Designed as preliminary research for a potentially larger project this research was conducted via a two-pronged approach. Conducted in the metro-Atlanta area in the spring of 2012, data was collected via participant observation, product surveys, and unstructured interviews with subjects in privately owned aquarium stores in the metro area. A scaled-up literature review of industry practices and impacts was also conducted in order to situate the field data within the contexts of the longitudinal history of the trade.
Results: The results of this project elucidate the marine aquarium trade from its early practices of exclusively sourcing ‘wild caught’ livestock and employing collection methods that posed serious risks to the surrounding ecologies, to the recent changes being undertaken within industry standard practices encouraging alternative sourcing methods. Larger societal awareness of environmental risk and trends towards sustainability have promoted shifts in the marine aquarium industry to fulfill the demands of consumers. These trends include industry innovations focused upon sustainable livestock sourcing and alternative specimen production methods in captive settings.
Implications: This poster depicts the history of the marine aquarium trade, and subsequently traces the contemporary implications of balancing market demand with motivations encouraging industry practices to embrace concepts of sustainability and the promotion of alternative practices that limit potential environmental impacts. This research seeks to unpack the diverse histories of this global trade and to explore how industry innovation and sustainable practices are working to limit historically contentious risks to marine environments and increase market stability that subsequently facilitates both ecological and industry resiliency.
Laura Tilghman, Mandehandeha mahita raha: Exploring Malagasy new immigrant destinations
Problem Statement: In recent decades, increasing numbers of Malagasy looking to move abroad are forgoing traditional destinations in Europe for locales in eastern Asia and North America. Why has France fallen out of favor with Malagasy migrants, and why have countries as different as China, Canada, and the United States become desirable? Scholars from both the New Economics of Migration and Sustainable Livelihoods theoretical frameworks argue that households turn to international migration of some members to minimize risk through diversifying both the allocation of its resources and the sources of its income. I will present preliminary findings and propose future directions for research I am conducting with the Malagasy diaspora in Atlanta, Georgia, Montreal, Canada, and Guangzhou, China. I will focus on how risk is one factor that seems to be important for understanding this phenomenon of shifting migration trends from Madagascar.
Methods: Pilot research with the Malagasy diaspora began in 2013 and is ongoing. I identified individuals through snowball sampling, beginning with contacts from previous research in Madagascar. I collected preliminary data using participant observation and in-person unstructured interviews for Atlanta and Montreal, and with online unstructured interviews for Guangzhou. Interview questions focused on basic demographics and the motivations for migration generally and for choosing that destination in particular. Notes from interviews and observation were analyzed inductively to find common themes.
Results: The movement of Malagasy to China, Canada, and the United States share similarities amongst each other as well as other contemporary “new immigrant destinations” or NIDs (Winder 2014) around the world. Risk has shaped this new migration pathway in a couple ways. First, trying to move to France is seen as an increasingly “risky” proposition, as that country makes it more difficult and cumbersome for Malagasy to travel there temporarily or apply for citizenship. Second, parental desire to educate children and have them settle in a stable place afterwards has been a strong force for initially establishing these new locales as NIDs.
Implications: Winders (2014) calls for looking at NIDs in global comparative perspective in an effort to revisit some of the assumptions of migration scholarship. I would argue that this research project offers exciting opportunities in this vein, and as it moves forward I propose some possible future directions. First, what is different in China, Canada, and the United States that can explain migrants’ different experiences in these new locales? Conversely, what is similar about these three places despite their obvious differences that has made them attractive as new destinations? Second, what are Malagasy migrants’ strategies for adaptation in countries that lack a large community of compatriots upon whom they can rely? Third, how are migrants’ transnational ties to home changing the socio-economic fabric of Madagascar, including local conceptions of what it is to be modern, urban, and successful?
Richard Stepp, Risk and resilience in tea cultivation in the southern Highlands of Yunnan, China
In recent years, tea (Camellia sinensis) has become a significant income source for Akha communities in the Southern Highlands of Yunnan, China. While prices vary based on season and quality, some communities have seen a 300-500x increase in price at the wholesale farmer level since 2000. A major factor affecting the long term viability of tea production in the region is climate change. Farmers have already witnessed an impact on crop quality and production. This paper documents indigenous knowledge of climate change in the region and details farmers’ responses and adaptations within a matrix of exanding wealth and capital accumulation. The effects of rapid wealth accumulation on communities in the region is leading to both positive and negative outcomes. Questions explored include: how do tea farmers perceive the risk of climate variability on their agro-ecosystems and crop quality? How are tea farmers adapting their management strategies and land use? What cultural, cooperative and socio-economic variables are associated with greater farmer resilience?
Silvia Storchi, The instrumental and intrinsic value of financial networks for people’s wellbeing in Kenya
Economic anthropology shows that money and economic resources have meanings for people beyond the economic and material. Financial inclusion is about increasing the set of financial services available and the concept of financial capability seeks to capture the idea that their effective use will lead to improved wellbeing. However, financial capability is so far been seen as a set of “optimal” and universal financial behaviours, thus failing to capture the potentially deeper meanings and values of poor people’s financial practices. Financial inclusion has been looked through the characteristics of the financial services offered rather than a perspective from the ground. Insurance products are for instance still developed through an individualistic perspective which often do not fit with people’s mentality. In this research collocated within the discipline of international development, I adopt a perspective from the capability approach to look at both financial capability as the bundle of financial strategies and transactions that people value and financial inclusion in terms of its ability to expand people’s valued capabilities to achieve wellbeing. Indeed, the capability approach argues that wellbeing is best evaluated in terms of people’s valued capabilities, rather than on the amount of resources that they have. At the same time, I adopt an anthropological perspective on money and other economic resources, highlighting that these resources are not only means to wellbeing but also intrinsically important for people’s quality of life.
I have conducted three rounds of qualitative individual interviews (16 respondents) over one year (November 2014 to December 2015) and observations in two rural areas of Kenya (Kitui and Nyamira).
This research shows that financial support is embedded within social networks of reciprocity and mutual support. These networks are a legitimate space for reciprocity mainly in situation of distress and emergencies such as illnesses, death and lack of food. Interestingly, education expenses are also a prominent reason of mutual help, showing how the role of education is today that of ensuring a better future. Research shows that formal forms of insurance have not spread into rural areas where the historic and cultural mode of both insurance and development has been through groups and social relationships. At the same time, this research shows that such social and financial networks are not only relevant for coping with material shocks but essential for people’s wider wellbeing, e.g. to feel part of the community to which they belong.
This wider perspective on how wellbeing is constructed in relationship to identity, status, self-esteem and belonging in interaction with others, presents an alternative perspective on why social networks of support and informal groups remain so important in the ways that people manage their money and cope with emergencies. It shows that the mode of development in which respondents identify themselves collectively and with a morality of mutual support guides people’s behaviours and thinking. This lies in contrast to the perspectives of providers and policy-makers who approach the use of financial services from an individualist perspective of how it is most rational to manage resources for self-advancement.
Gordon Ulmer, Contingent labor and occupational multiplicity in the Peruvian Amazon
Ecotourism and other conservation-based enterprises are hailed as a panacea to promote sustainable development as alternatives to activities like resource extraction. This hope persists in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru, which contains some of the highest rates of biodiversity globally but is at risk of widespread environmental degradation from informal gold mining and logging. However, conservation and extraction are not in diametric opposition from the perspective of many local laborers who practice occupational multiplicity that includes informal labor in gold mining or logging in addition to short-term work in ecotourism or other environmental jobs. How do we understand the moral economy of people who bounce between jobs in conservation and extraction?
I argue that working in conservation and extraction are complimentary responses to household insecurities and reflect broader strategies for surviving in a place where the informal economy is not just a means of living, but also a way of life. My analysis is based on 16 months of fieldwork on contingent labor among conservation workers in Madre de Dios, Peru and includes results from: 1) structured interviews with 76 conservation workers about earning opportunities, asset inventories (including productive and intangible assets), household structure, and economic decision-making; and 2) data generated from participant observation in protected areas along the Madre de Dios Watershed, during which I shadowed park guards, tour guides, cooks and kitchen helpers, boat pilots and crewmen, to learn more about the contexts in which someone might work in both conservation and extraction.
I report on two key findings. First, cachuelos (‘odd jobs’ or informal short-term earning opportunities) are particularly important for unskilled contingent conservation staff whereas those in professional positions (e.g. educated tour guides, administrators) tend to be more economically secure and thus rarely seek work in extraction. This finding poses challenges to the Foucauldian concept of environmentality if socioeconomic class and alienated labor, rather than “environmentalist logic” influence choice. Second, extractive labor such as hauling timber or washing gold is sometimes embedded in acts of reciprocity or is expected filial piety, especially in a locale where informal labor of kin is crucial to production. Thus, labor choices must be also understood as embedded in cultural processes and are often tied up in kin obligations among other social exigencies.
John Villecco, Opaque public-private partnerships in Mozambique’s emerging resource extraction industry (Haplerin Award Winner).
Recent, massive natural gas discoveries near Pemba, a booming port town on the northern coast of Mozambique, and modernization projects in Nacala, a special economic zone (SEZ) and the site of the deepest port in southern Africa, have spurred foreign investment and increased public-private partnership in the relatively impoverished nation. Government elites have heralded these large-scale efforts – frequently extractive enterprises – as central to Mozambique’s medium- and long-term plans for industrialization. Furthermore, resource-extraction centered infrastructural developments, in conjunction with Mozambique’s low inflation, have contributed to the nation’s strong economic growth forecast. Yet, Mozambique’s rapidly transforming international economic positioning, which includes investments from corporations and individuals from Nigeria, Italy, Brazil, the United States, China, and Mozambique, among other states, has come with criticisms of the national government’s involvement in opaque decision-making processes concerning multi-billion dollar development contracts.
First, my poster provides economic and political context within which widespread public-private partnerships are emerging in Mozambique. Second, based on six weeks of exploratory fieldwork conducted between June and July 2015, it describes how local laborers, many of whom are displaced and resettled or whose rural livelihoods are supplanted by industrial occupations, are perceiving and reacting to rapid infrastructural development. Whether or not directly affected by the transforming economic landscape, my participants expressed two common ideas: (1) perturbation about the opacity of economic decision-making processes between the government and foreign investors and (2) the inevitability of commodity-centric industrial growth without concern for local needs. Increased natural resource extraction will likely enhance Mozambique’s macroeconomic output, but nontransparent processes underlying these new developments are further alienating already disempowered populations. My preliminary research begins the work of describing the processes and effects of rapid industrial growth as well as the concomitant emergence of capitalism in Pemba and Nacala.
Richard Wallace, Economic anthropology in the field: Lessons learned from field methods courses with community supported agriculture farms in the Central Valley of California
Field methods courses are a critical part of undergraduate education in cultural anthropology. Field courses can introduce students to a range of approaches, methods and tools for responding to theoretical questions and provide the opportunity for students to practice anthropology, developing and implementing a variety of data gathering techniques, such as participant observation and interviewing. Field methods courses provide opportunities for experiential learning, developing undergraduate research projects and papers, and service learning experience, all high impact practices that contribute to student success. Although the student benefits of field courses are clear, field courses can pose challenges for faculty in deciding what goes into a semester long course. Key aspects of research such as how to develop a research question, research design, sampling, ethical considerations, data collection methods and tools, and data analysis techniques and reporting results (at least preliminary) all are critical to field methods. Arguably a focus should be on doing anthropology, i.e. using methods and tools, but how can methods be placed in proper context that requires data organization, analysis and presentation skills while emphasizing the obligations that come with research, in particular to informants?
To contribute to the discussion on the challenge of developing and implementing field methods courses, this paper explores lessons learned from a cultural anthropology field methods course focused on economic anthropology implemented in the Central Valley of California during three spring semesters from 2011 to 2015. During each semester students conducted research on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, working hand-in-hand with the CSA owners and workers/volunteers. During these farm visits, students employed participant observation and informal interviewing techniques and near the end of the semester conducted a more formal semi-structured interview with the CSA owner. In addition, students worked with the farmers to develop a shareholder survey that was placed in shareholder food boxes with a return stamped envelope. Students analyzed the survey data and presented the results to farmers at the end of the semester as part of a service-learning component. The lessons-learned were identified through instructor observations during the courses, student course evaluations and discussion, and conversations with CSA farmers. Students indicated they wanted more time in the field, and farmers also appreciated greater interaction. Students also noted the need for more in-class time for data analysis; in particular, time was insufficient to develop student confidence in text analysis. Students noted that putting the final presentation together for farmers based on the shareholder survey data was challenging due to a lack of prior work with coding and spreadsheets; however, they highly valued returning their results to the farmers and having closure to the project. One course change implemented over the 4-year period was increasing the number of farm visits and moving farm visits to a 4-hour activity on Fridays. Fieldwork was complemented by in-class instruction during the week to balance field visits with research preparation and data analysis.
Cynthia Werner, The perception and politics of risk in a radioactive setting
Over a forty year period (1949-1989), the Soviet Union used a large tract of land in what is now the independent Republic of Kazakhstan to conduct over 470 nuclear weapons. The 19,000 square kilometre site is surrounded by villages populated by tens of thousands of people. There is substantial evidence to suggest that numerous people living near the test site were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation from these tests, as reflected in morbidity and mortality for illnesses specifically associated with radiation. Yet, national and international efforts to help these people deal with chronic illnesses and poverty have remained paltry.
This poster addresses two sets of questions: First, how do perceptions of environmental and health risks associated with nuclear testing vary within Kazakhstan? And, secondly, how do perceptions of risk play out in a larger political context where responsibility and blame can translate into expensive programs for compensation and aid for the perceived victims of nuclear testing?
This study is informed by risk perception studies that focus on radiation-related risks. Existing studies demonstrate that specialists and non-specialists do not always agree on the risks associated with certain hazards, and that non-specialists generally assume that the risk of radiation exposure is from these hazards is greater than experts would argue based on scientific evidence. While most studies are conducted in settings where radiation exposure is a hypothetical risk, this research was conducted in a setting where many people have been exposed to chronic low-dose radiation for decades.
Similar to existing studies, this study finds that perceptions of risk vary greatly within the scientific community and within the general population, and that, on average, nuclear scientists perceive lower risks from radiation-related hazards compared to villagers and doctors. Further, compared to villagers and doctors, nuclear scientists believe that nuclear testing is less responsible for the health problems experienced by local residents than other factors, such as diet. I argue that scientific models of risk have political consequences, if not political motivations. During the period of testing, scientific assessments minimizing the health risks of radiation exposure limited efforts to protect local populations from the harmful effects of radiation. Similarly, assessments that minimize current levels of radiation exposure limit current efforts to provide compensation and assistance, and bolster current proposals to use the former test site for new purposes, such as agriculture and mining.
This project is based on fieldwork conducted in northeast Kazakhstan, as well as a careful review of the scientific literature on the health impacts of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan. During the course of fieldwork, interviews and surveys were conducted with villagers living near the former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, health care workers based in Semipalatinsk, and nuclear scientists affiliated with the National Nuclear Center. While interviews focused on individual experiences with nuclear testing and understandings of radiation’s impacts on human health, surveys were based on studies of risk perception where respondents are asked to rate the relative risk from various hazards, such as a nuclear energy plant.
Natalia Zotova and Jeff Cohen, Migration and insecurity: Central Asian migrants in New York City
Many migrants from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are shifting from destinations in Russia to the US and New York City. In this paper, we argue that studying the shift to US bound migration is an opportunity to examine how Central Asians organize themselves, maintain connections to their sending communities and adapt to changing risks associated with their mobility.
Russia remains an important destination for many Central Asian migrants; some movers are looking for new opportunities in Western countries, including the United States. The shift in destinations is one of the ways in which Central Asian migrants adapt and respond to the changing world that defines life in Russia and opportunities in the West. While increasing xenophobia in Russia tends to limit employment and challenges well-being, settlement in the US brings challenges around identity, assumptions about religion, difficulties with language and the rethinking of traditional practices, including bonds of kinship that are reinvented. Our presentation is based upon fieldwork with Central Asians settled in New York in 2015.
Migration can be perceived as process that grows less complicated over time and as pioneers settle in the destination country—becoming a resource for future movers. While some of the risks associated with migration can decline over time; there are often new risks that movers must address as they enter new destinations and as they move through the life course.
Decision-making by movers and non-movers is supported by accumulated experience and information, social networks (familial, communal, linguistic and religious) that can mitigate some of the risks associated with migration; shifts in destinations (from Russia to the US) and challenges rooted in increasing xenophobia and economic slowdowns can create challenges that movers cannot anticipate.
The flow of migration to the US and large urban centers on the east coast are relatively new, complex and continually developing. Remittances from the movers in these new destinations are irregular and problematic; and reflect the costs of settlement as well as shifts in social connections. Tajiks in New York often remit small amounts as they balance the relatively high cost of living in the US against the demands of sending households. We argue that it is the value of movement to the US itself, rather than expectations around remittances that transform statuses for household members who are left-behind and addresses issues of risk and uncertainty among movers and non-movers. We expect that the pioneers we interviewed for this project will be followed as friends and relatives join them in the US and build connections between Tajikistan and the US—following this process gives us a window into the many unique and powerful ways movers and non-movers cope with the risks associated with migration.
We show how people cope with and adapt to the challenges, which range from a lack of English proficiency to lacking systems of social support as well as problematic documentary status, limited access to jobs, education and health care services among other things; and engage opportunities associated with migration.