SUNY, University at Albany, Department of Anthropology
Arts and Sciences 237 1400 Washington Avenue Albany NY United States
Phone+1 518.442.4700
Email anthro@albany.edu
Email 2 wlittle@albany.edu
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  • Motiochihuanih: Catechists and prayer specialists as religious leaders brokering ‘el costumbre’ Nahua in Chicontepec, Veracruz
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2022
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology Ethnology

    The present project examines the religiosity that is practiced in Chicontepec, located in the northern zone of Veracruz. Working from an emic perspective (1980-2022) the focus was on four case histories. Through ethnographic research, the opinions of the catechists and prayer specialists, known as motiochihuanih, are analyzed their individual personal history, the Catholic training they received, their expertise in religious work, and their nonconformity with Catholicism. The catechists, who function primarily as evangelizers of their own communities, soon became prayer specialists, with a return toward their first religion, known as “el costumbre” (the custom). It is noteworthy that when the prayer specialists recite Christian prayers, they decorate altars, make offerings, as a form of religious coexistence. By the non-violent resistance that the motiochihuanih practice in relation to Catholic doctrine, the Nahuas of Chicontepec strategically coexist very close to Catholicism.

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  • Visions and Seeds of Change: Pathways to Defining and Seeking Liberation
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2022
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    My dissertation project explores the definitions of liberation and social change utilized in
    activist work, community organizing, and modes of everyday life. The project follows the
    experiences and activities of over twenty activists as well as other Black residents of Albany. The
    ethnography is situated within the realms of liberation theory and practice, as well as the
    anthropologies of race, gender, power, and the state. Specifically, the earlier chapters utilize
    historical frameworks and methods, as well as discourse analysis (Gee, 1999), to define
    liberation and interpret Black political action in the context of Arbor Hill activism. The latter
    chapters focus on social networks and relationships as a means of deciphering political
    relationships, the flow of ideologies and action, and the pathways to liberation.

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  • A GIS Approach to Landscape Scale Archaeoacoustics
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2022
    Specialization
    Archaeology

    This research presents the development and critical assessment of an Archaeoacoustics Toolbox for GIS, and applies this methodology to case studies exploring the importance of soundsheds in an anthropological-archaeological context. By considering landscape acoustics, archaeologists can approach past experience through phenomenological, perceptive, and performance-based theories. The Soundshed Analysis and Soundshed Analysis-Variable Cover tools provide a replicable means of modeling estimates of the experience of sound. The tools are applied to case studies situated in Ancestral Puebloan sites within Chaco Canyon; the Classic Period Maya Kingdom of Copan; and nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland to explore a variety of inputs and modeling techniques. A GIS approach to landscape scale archaeoacoustics provides a contextualizing framework by which researchers can approach auditory hypotheses, explore embodied experience, and listen to what the past is telling us.

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  • Faunal Remains at Ten Broeck Mansion, Albany, New York: Examining the Roles of Enslaved Persons in Meat Procurement, Processing, and Consumption at a Post-Revolutionary, Multi-Ethnic Site
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2022
    Specialization
    Archaeology

    Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany, New York, provides a case study for the roles enslaved individuals had in procuring, processing, and preparing animals for consumption during the post-revolutionary war era. This paper investigates 479 faunal bones excavated at Ten Broeck Mansion to illustrate the types of animals that were butchered and consumed on site. Butchering practices and taxa composition are examined to answer questions regarding the extent of butchering occurring on-site, most likely by the four to twelve enslaved persons living at Ten Broeck Mansion from 1790 to 1810. This paper utilizes both historical and zooarchaeological methods to infer the vital roles enslaved families had at the mansion, ultimately uncovering their dominant roles in the food processing that occurred, whether that included comprehensive on-site activities or cooking animal foods acquired from Albany’s butchers and stores.

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  • "Soldiers Used to Gather There": Archaeological Investigations of an Eighteenth-Century Tavern in Newburgh, New York
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2022
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    Founded as a small town along the western bank of the Hudson River, the city of Newburgh is known for its historically significant yet decaying buildings. Since the late nineteenth century, Newburgh residents have circulated stories about the famed Weigand’s Tavern, a short-lived establishment notable for serving as a community center during the American Revolution. Long a crumbling ruin, the tavern structure remains, gaining newfound interest due to ongoing renovations. A recent volunteer event brought locals together in an archaeological project that garnered media attention and encouraged optimism about the public’s role in archaeological inquiry. This study analyzes the ceramic artifacts that community participants recovered during a six-day “dig” at the Weigand’s Tavern site and evaluates their chronology and use over two hundred years of occupation, exploring the broader significance of the site and the importance of taverns during the colonial period.

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  • Ceramics of Colonial New York: an Analysis in Two Parts
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Archaeology

    This thesis focused on continuity and change in colonial ceramics, specifically those of New York’s Dutch and British past. Past studies on ceramics have determined that local chemical signatures of pottery can be determined and used to distinguish local made wares from imported ones from other locations. My study would determine if American redware from the 18th-19th centuries could be distinguished from English and Dutch wares from the same period. I additionally studied the possibility of the continuity of Dutch materials, aesthetic, and influence in ceramic wares in the archaeological record of Albany and Manhattan, focusing specifically on the items for food consumption and preparation pre- and post-British occupation. That is not to say that Dutch items and their owners did not remain, or the items were abandoned quickly, but that growing English presence would lead to their replacement as the severance of full ties to the Netherlands commenced.

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  • The Syntax and Phonology of Grammatical Tone in Copala Triqui
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Linguistic Anthropology

    Copala Triqui is an Otomanguean language with a highly complex tone system. The lowering of tone from an upper register to a lower register tone occurs across many syntactic environments. I consider two aspects of tone lowering: the representation of tone lowering in the phonology, and the syntactic trigger for tone lowering across multiple environments. I posit that there are two cophonologies (Orgun, 1996; Inkelas et al., 1997; Anttila, 2002; Inkelas & Zoll, 2007) that reorder several key constraints to produce the upper and lower tone register variations of a lexical item. The morpho-syntactic conditioning of tone lowering is the focus of the second portion of this thesis, where I present an analysis for the trigger of tone lowering in the syntax of possessives and nominal compounds. Although I focus my attention to these environments, the primary goal of such an analysis is to predictably unify lowering environments.

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  • The Militarization of Albany Police Departments
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    People of color are often marginalized in American society due to systemic racism, unequal rights, and falsified stereotypes. As shown in most media outlets in America, police departments use specific tactics that allows them to uphold themselves which often further marginalizes people of color. In Albany, New York, there are many examples of how police departments marginalize people of color in the lower-class. The Albany Police Department (APD), as well as the University at Albany Police Department (UPD), use specific militarization tactics as a tool to further marginalize people of color in the lower class. Through the methods of participant-observation and the review of anthropological literature, this paper delves into the militarization tactics that are taken up by both the APD and the UPD in order to show how these tactics are unnecessary and immoral as it negatively impacts and marginalizes the lives of people of color in the lower-class in the city of Albany.

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  • Between a Rock and a Coastal Place: Analysis of Archaic Raw Material Use at Stock Cove, Newfoundland
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Archaeology

    The people of the Maritime Archaic tradition (ca. 8,000-3,200 BP) were the earliest to inhabit the island of Newfoundland. As they colonized the island just before 6,000 years ago, their ability to maintain lithic traditions were key to their success. Finding new sources of lithic material on the island would have been necessary and that process would have varied greatly regionally. In southeastern Newfoundland, far away from key lithic sources on the mainland, this would have been even more important as exchange networks were increasingly stretched. This study examines debitage recovered from the earliest documented site in southeastern Newfoundland, the Stock Cove site, focusing on raw material acquisition and use during its Archaic occupation. The material provides an insight into the landscape learning by its earliest inhabitants, site use patterns, lithic production strategies, and more broadly about the peopling process of the region.

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  • Tick Bites and Blood Relations: Regional Relationships and Interpretations of Lyme Disease Risk in New York’s Hudson River Corridor
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    Lyme disease is a bacterial pathogen that spreads from animals to humans through bites from blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis). The disease is a public health problem causing physical suffering and increased health care spending. Anthropology has recently examined peoples’ anxieties and debates regarding the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the United States. There has been less work within the discipline on Lyme and tick-borne disease risk perceptions. This dissertation investigates New York State (NYS), Hudson River corridor residents’ beliefs about blacklegged ticks, the diseases they carry, and the things that people do to prevent their bites. Based on fieldwork that included participant observation and open-ended interviews, the author argues people interpret Lyme disease risk through their place-based experiences, meaning the ways they interact and understand themselves (identities) in connection with the socio-regional environment of the Hudson River corridor.

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  • The Materiality of Metaphor in Mayan Hieroglyphic Texts: Metaphor in Changing Political Climates
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Linguistic Anthropology

    Documentation of metaphor in Mayan hieroglyphic texts has noted its use as a kind of rhetorical form that politically framed these texts. This research has not fully documented metaphor variation as it materializes across different modalities, media, places, and times. This study documents such variation by using a conceptual definition of metaphor that explains continuities of meaning across these variables. This study uses a mixed-methods approach that integrates corpus linguistics with discourse analysis and quantifes variation while accounting for discursive contexts of use. This study examines a political metaphor where rulers are described and depicted as trees. Variation of the metaphor shows it materializes distinctly in the modalities of writing and pictorial images and their effect on the metaphor’s semantic structure. Variation across modalities and media led to novel metaphorical uses that were a form of political competition and co-occurrent with other linguistic change.

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  • FLEXIBLE LIVES ON ENGINEERING’S ‘BLEEDING EDGE’: GENDER, MIGRATION AND BELONGING IN THE SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    This dissertation explores gender, flexibilization, and belonging within professional high tech employment, particularly amongst women and migrant engineers. Prior studies of women in the “integrated circuit” focused on low-skilled factory labor. Fieldwork for this dissertation took place between May 2018 – Aug 2019 in the Northeastern US, a regional hub for semiconductor manufacturing companies. This dissertation brings together anthropological perspectives on gender, migration and transnational labor. It also shows how transnational capitalism produces flexible citizens, who perform complex negotiations in a multicultural high-tech workplace. In contrast to substantial literature on women in engineering professions, my research demonstrates how neoliberal logics and market structures undermine women’s professional stature and career prospects in this male-dominated career.

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  • Intergenerational Embodiment of Stress: How the broader sociocultural environment can shape child growth and development
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Biological/Physical Anthropology

    This dissertation proposes that childhood growth reflects social inequality in stress exposure through mothers’ experience of a stressful environment. Based on biocultural fieldwork among immigrant mothers in rural NY, this work describes how the local ecology systematically concentrates stress among women along language and economic lines. The local ecology creates a constellation of reinforcing stressors that are associated with increased chronic cortisol production among women. Analyzing the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, distant maternal-infant interaction is associated with decreased NR3C1 methylation in childhood, which is associated with decreased height trajectories in childhood, implicating HPA-axis epigenetic variation in regulating height growth. This research has evolutionary and biocultural implications for infant developmental plasticity to stress, epigenetic determinants of growth, and how social inequality is created, perpetuated, and made immutable.

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  • The Evolution of Sex Differences in Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx): Micro- and Macroevolution
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Biological/Physical Anthropology

    Primates show diverse patterns of adaptive color and body size dimorphism produced by inter- and intrasexual selection. This dissertation explores the microevolution of secondary sexual characteristics in mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) and the macroevolution of these characters in anthropoid primates. I address the microevolution of mandrill facial coloration and body mass by estimating the heritability, phenotypic selection, and genetic evolution of these traits in a population of semi free-ranging mandrills at the Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, Gabon (CIRMF). I address the coevolution of female and male secondary sexual characteristics by extending quantitative genetic analyses to phylogenetic comparative methods. Overall, results provide evidence for microevolution in coloration and body size in mandrills and show how evolutionary processes operating in mandrill trait evolution may manifest at the macroevolutionary level in other anthropoid primates.

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  • Courtland Street, Lake George: A Bioarchaeological Study of the Skeletal Foot Morphology of Early Revolutionary War Soldiers
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2021
    Specialization
    Archaeology Biological/Physical Anthropology

    In 2019, an unmarked burial ground was discovered in the town of Lake George, NY. Upon analysis, the remains recovered from the Courtland Street site were determined to be associated with the Revolutionary War and the early Battle of Quebec. This thesis examines the foot morphology of this group as a whole and investigates if, and how, soldier’s feet were affected by their involvement in the Revolutionary War. The remains from the Courtland Street site vary in completeness, with many being comingled. Therefore, in addition to researching morphology, I reconstructed as many comingled feet as possible. Once this was completed, I investigated if foot injuries, such as stress fractures were present within this group. In addition, the musculoskeletal aspects of the metatarsals were analyzed. Lastly, non-metric traits, such as accessory facets of the tarsal bones, were studied.

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  • Real Men Don't Get Lipos: Gender, Political Economy, and Biomedicine in Colombia’s Male Beauty Industry
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2020
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    The expansion of male beauty industry flourishes in a political and economic moment in Colombia where neoliberal policies are prevalent in the state’s agenda. This research considers beauty both in the sense of cultural practices related to self-care and aesthetics, and as an economic system. This dissertation combines approaches from critical medical anthropology, political economy, and masculinities studies to propose a broader and deeper understanding of a commonly overlooked cultural phenomenon like beauty. The analysis emphasizes that beauty is not only a set of practices addressed to the individual bodies, but also a societal mechanism that regulates and crystallizes power structures and an economic powerhouse full of marketable possibilities yet to be discovered. By drawing on these analytical frameworks, this dissertation contributes to critical studies of health and gender in Latin America.

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  • Environmental Pollutants and Sexual Maturation: A Systematic Review
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2020
    Specialization
    Biological/Physical Anthropology

    The objective of this systematic review is to assess existing literature on the relationship between toxicant exposure and human sexual maturation. Six persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are included in this review: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), its metabolite dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDF), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). Tanner stage scores, menarche, and general onset of puberty are the outcome measures used in this review. All searches were done using the NCBI website’s PubMed search engine. The results of this review show that PCB exposure has exhibited a consistent association with a delay in overall Tanner staging, earlier pubic hair growth in males, and delayed breast development in females. DDE shows a consistent association with early genital development in males. Additional toxicants vary in association, likely due to methodological variation across studies.

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  • Forgotten Graves: A Survey of Section 49 at the Albany Rural Cemetery
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2020
    Specialization
    Archaeology

    The Capital Region area is home to one of the earliest colonial settlements in the United States, and due to its vast history, many people have lived in the area along with constant changes in ideology, ethnicity, and religion, many of which can be seen and preserved in gravestone symbolism. The gravestones found at Section 49 of the Albany Rural Cemetery appear to be similar to the patterns found at other gravestone studies in the Northeastern United States, in terms of utilizing the same gravestone symbols. Despite the number of different churches, cultures, and faiths, the gravestones share common trends and similarities regarding iconography. Periods such as The Great Awakening and the Rural Cemetery movement changed how people viewed death, how they treated their dead, and the afterlife

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  • The Medical Dismissal of Emotions of Women in the United States
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2020
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    In a study of fifteen white women many reported that their gynecologists and health care providers dismissed not only their pain, but significant psychological responses in regard to their birth control and their periods. This paper will investigate what types of symptoms doctors deem as legitimate concerns, and which are perceived to be “normal” outcomes of reproductive health and regulation. I argue that reported responses such as depression and anxiety are perceived by doctors as “normal” symptoms of birth control use that must be endured. By contrast, women report that emotions like anger tend to prompt reactions from doctors and a new prescription of birth control. Finally, I examine the social implications of psychological health being sacrificed for reproductive freedom

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  • Anthropology, colonial social science, and the study of commodities: The People of Puerto Rico and contemporary approaches to coffee culture
    Candidate
    Institution
    Year
    2020
    Specialization
    Cultural Anthropology

    This paper focuses on the historical development of the social sciences in Puerto Rico, and its relationship to the Puerto Rico Project. The island served as a social scientific laboratory for the United States, particularly after World War II. I use Wolf’s chapter San José: Subcultures of a “Traditional” Coffee Municipality (1956) to analyze one of the first anthropological studies on commodities done in Puerto Rico and how it provides a context to the study of exchange and future development of anthropological political economy. The second objective centers on a theoretical discussion of commodities, consumption, and globalization, to further understand the broader social forces that shape global capitalism. The following questions remain as an opportunity for future research: What are some of the components of contemporary coffee culture in Puerto Rico? How can these studies shape a contemporary study of coffee culture and consumption in Puerto Rico?

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