April 27, 2012
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).
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.
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