We are pleased with all of the successes of our students, but the defense of a doctoral dissertation is a special achievement. We want to recognize the hard work displayed by three of our students for their landmark achievement this past fall.
Jenna James successfully defended her dissertation, "Social Houses at Carson Mounds, 22-CO-518 as Evidenced by Dental Morphological Analysis" on August 14.
LisaMarie Malischke successfully defended her dissertation, "The Heterogeneity of Early French and Native Forts and Settlements. A Comparison to Fort St. Pierre (A.D. 1719-1729) in French Colonial Louisiane," on August 28. Jenna and LisaMarie also received their doctorates at the graduation ceremony in December.
Paul Eubanks successfully defended his dissertation, "Salt Production in the Southeastern Caddo Homeland," on November 17.
We admitted six new doctoral students in the fall, including Adrienne Bryan (MA, UCLA), Lessye DeMoss (MA, UA), Kareen Hawsey (MA, UA), Jenna Hurtabise (MA, LSU), Avery McNeece (MA, Mississippi State), and Camille Morgan (MA, UA).
Several master's students graduated in the summer 2015, including Lessye DeMoss, Johnna Dominguez, Kareen Hawsey, and Kelsey Herndon. Congratulations to the new MAs!
Subsequently, we welcomed a new class, including Anna Bianchi (BA, Birmingham Southern), Diana Simpson (BA, Wake Forest), Juliann Friel (BA, UA), Jake Aronoff (BA, Central Michigan), David Scott (BA, UA), Larry Monocello (BA, Case Western Reserve), and Robert Templin (BA, U of Pittsburgh).
Though most of our undergraduate majors graduate in May, several graduated in the summer and fall as well, including Laken Romine, Isabelle Andrade, Justin Beams, Megan Crawford, Michael Krause, Anne Lewis, and Lauren Nolan. Congratulations to those students---we wish them luck whatever their futures hold and hope they stay in touch!
The Department of Anthropology is pleased to be able to announce the hiring of two new faculty members. Dr. Sonya Pritzker and Elliot Blair have been hired in tenure-track positions beginning in August to fulfill the Department's needs in Linguistics and Archaeology, respectively.
Dr. Sonya Pritzker is a medical and linguistic anthropologist whose research focuses on the management and expression of emotion in China, the development of Chinese medical psychology in the U.S. and China, and the translation of Chinese medicine in the U.S. Her book, Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. Chinese Medicine, was published in 2014. Since completing her Ph.D. at UCLA in 2011, she has worked as a faculty researcher in the UCLA Department of Medicine, where she has received further training in clinical translational science and has participated in team science projects examining the neuroanthropology of IBS, the treatment of obesity with Chinese medicine, and the development of innovative research methods in integrative medicine. Prior to her doctoral studies in anthropology, she completed her masters training in Chinese medicine and has been a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine since 2002. She is involved in several national and international organizations focused on the development of integrative medicine in the U.S. and beyond, including the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health and the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research. She is also Co-Chair of the Society of Medical Anthropology's special interest group on complementary/alternative medicine and integrative medicine, and is affiliated faculty at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Helfgott Research Institute at the National College of Natural Medicine, and the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. She has received research funding from the U.S. Department. of State, the U.S. Department of Education, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research.
Dr. Elliot Blair is an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on the early colonial and Late Mississippian periods in the American Southeast. His current research focuses on population aggregation and identity at Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, a 16th and 17th century Spanish mission located in coastal Georgia. Drawing upon practice-based approaches to the archaeology of colonialism and exploring identity through situated learning theory, he examines the persistence of social identities as diverse populations formed new communities under the pressures of missionization. In his work he uses social network analysis to explore the structure of past social relationships at multiple scales. His interests sit at the intersection of empirical, archaeometric analyses and a social archaeology of materiality and identity. In addition to archaeological survey and excavation, he draws upon a diverse suite of methodologies and materials, incorporating shallow geophysics, artifact compositional analysis (e.g., glass trade beads), and ceramic analysis in his research. Prior to completing his doctorate, he worked for the American Museum of Natural History. He has also worked on archaeological projects in Alaska, California, Mongolia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the British Virgin Islands.
Additionally, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Christopher Lynn received tenure this spring and was promoted to Associate Professor as of August. Dr. Lynn was hired as an Assistant Professor in 2009 and was recognized for his past six years of academic achievement, teaching proficiency, and record of service. Dr. Lynn has published numerous articles outlining his research in the cognitive science of religion, cognitive evolution, and the development of the Evolutionary Studies program and Human Behavioral Ecology Research Group at Alabama. Dr. Lynn is a biological anthropologist and part of our Biocultural Medical Anthropology focus and has developed and teaches numerous courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, including "Evolution for Everyone," "Monkeys, Apes and Other Primates," and "Anthropology of Sex." Finally, Dr. Lynn's services extends from establishing our Department Facebook page and Bama Anthro Blog Network to chairing the Tech Committee and editing our newsletter to serving on the University's steering committee for the ALLELE series and establishing courses in elementary-level Anthropology as part of our Department's outreach efforts. We are pleased that Dr. Lynn will be with us for the foreseeable future!
This past spring, five students came closer to completing their journeys to master's degrees by presenting the results of their thesis research at our March and April colloquiums.
On March 6, archaeology student Luke Donohue presented "Group Mobility and Lithic Resource Use in the Archaic to Woodland Transition at the Morrow Site." Bioarchaeology student Kelsey Herndon gave her talk on "The Embodiment of Status in the Mississippian Component of the Perry Site." Both students graduated in May. Luke and Kelsey are currently working for Environmental Corporation of American as Project Archaeologists, based in Alpharetta, GA. They are responsible for visiting sites all over the Southeast and the rest of the U.S. and performing archaeological and environmental surveys.
At our April 24 colloquium, Kareen Hawsey, another archaeology student, presented "Vessel Morphology and Function in the West Jefferson Phase of the Black Warrior River Valley, Alabama." Lessye DeMoss and Johnna Dominguez are biocultural medical students. Lessye presented "A Cultural Model of Life Goals for Young Men in the Roanoke Valley," while Johnna gave her talk called "'Nice Ink, Man': A Biocultural, Mixed Methods Approach to Tattooing as Costly Honest Signaling Among Southern Women."
Kareen and Lessye plan on sticking around for a while and have been admitted to our Ph.D. program. Kareen will be working with Dr. Brown to study the terminal Woodland in central Alabama. Lessye will continue her studies in the Biocultural Medical track with Dr. Dressler, studying cultural models of life goals in Alabama, how life goals are to be achieved, and affects on health when unable to manifest evidence of achieving widely shared goals (for example, not being able to buy a home or have nice clothes). Johnna is the Administrative Assistant at Seeds of Hope, the food justice ministry at the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in California where she is working to turn unused church yards into community gardens and improve community access to fresh vegetables. She aspires to continue to integrate her training in medical anthropology with the outreach ministry of the Episcopal Church.
Article an adaptation of introduction to SEAC symposium in honor of Jim Knight by Amanda Regnier
After over 24 years of the service to the Department, Dr. Vernon James "Jim" Knight, Jr. became Professor Emeritus in May 2014. Jim Knight's history with UA is much more extensive, however, as his legacy stretches over the past 40+ years.
Dr. Knight’s first field experience in Alabama occurred working alongside the father of Alabama Archaeology, David DeJarnette, north of Mound R at Moundville in 1973 (Figure 1). After graduating from the University of Alabama in 1975, he went to work for the early incarnation of the Office of Archaeological Research at Moundville (OAR). In that same year, Dr. Knight published “Some Observations Concerning Plant Materials and Aboriginal Smoking in Eastern North America” in the Journal of Alabama Archaeology. We wonder how many archaeologists can say that an article they wrote just might have inspired numerous unofficial experimental studies among the archaeologists of the 1970s, and probably beyond? Or more seriously, how many archaeologists can say that their first published work in a state journal is still being cited?
In 1977, Dr. Knight completed his MA at the University of Toronto. His thesis was based on materials from survey work done in the Rother L. Harris reservoir (Figure 2) along the Tallapoosa River of east central Alabama in 1974, where he worked with John O’Hear. His thesis resulted in an initial culture historical sequence for this portion of the Alabama Piedmont. Dr. Knight continued to work in the Coosa and Tallapoosa drainages of eastern Alabama in the 1980s and authored a number of reports detailing surveys in east Alabama.
Dr. Knight’s long tradition of research into Mississippian ritual dates back at least as far as his work along the Lower Chattahoochee, particularly at Cemochechobee, where he worked alongside Frank and Gail Schnell for the Columbus Museum of Arts and Sciences. (Figure 3) Whispered graduate student legends state that he may have been thrown from the mound by an angry crewmember during that field project. Dr. Knight’s work in the Chattahoochee followed in the footsteps of Mr. DeJarnette, who worked in the Lower Chattahoochee in the mid-20th century. Anyone who has worked in that region has consulted his work on chronology at Cemochechobee and Singer-Moye, as well as his later Walter F. George survey and excavation reports to familiarize him/herself with the lower Chattahoochee culture historical sequence. In the past several years, he has worked with Karen Smith, who received her MA with Dr. Knight in 1999, on Swift Creek paddle designs and Woodland period chronology in the Chattahoochee and Lower Appalachicola.
Dr. Knight returned to OAR in 1981 after completing his doctoral research at the University of Florida in just three years and rose to the level of Senior Research Archaeologist. Dr. Knight directed or contributed to several studies of Woodland ceremonialism in Florida and Alabama during this time, (Figure 4) including his dissertation advisor Jerry Milanich’s work on McKeithen Weeden Island culture in north Florida and the OAR excavations of the Copena mound at the Walling site in the Tennessee Valley of northern Alabama. Based on these and other excavations at Woodland sites, Dr. Knight created a model of Woodland platform mound symbolism focused on feasting and gift exchange with an emphasis on world renewal ceremonialism. These are intriguingly linked to historic Green Corn ceremonialism.
Dr. Knight’s work on Upper Creek archaeology goes back to his MA work in the Tallapoosa (Figure 5). His first Creek publication was in conjunction with Marvin Smith in 1980 and focused on ceramic changes at the Big Tallassee site between A.D. 1550-1800. His mid-1980s report of excavations at the Tukabatchee site in Elmore County established a chronology of Late Mississippian through Removal-period occupation in the lower Tallapoosa. His study of the importance of European goods and political leadership during the Early Historic period laid the groundwork for subsequent research on leadership in the Creek confederacy. Dr. Knight continued his work on the emergence of the historic Creeks, Creek ceramics, and the role of Creek clanship and political organization into the 1990s.
In the mid-1980s, as the 450th anniversary of the Hernando de Soto expedition approached, Dr. Knight served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Alabama De Soto Commission (Figure 6). The goal of the commission was to evaluate new evidence for the route of the expedition through Alabama in 1540 and revise Swanton’s map created for the 400th anniversary. Working closely with geographical, historic, and archaeological scholars, notably Alabama geologist Douglas Jones and esteemed southeastern ethnohistorian Charles Hudson, the Commission tackled the thorny issue of the location of major Alabama sites along the route. The central focus in Alabama was the location of Chief Tascalusa’s attack at Mabila; arguments over its location proved as heated as the battle itself. The work of the commission ultimately resulted in the publication of the updated translations of the expedition narratives, a pair of volumes that sit on the shelves of countless archaeologists, historians, and amateur enthusiasts. In 2006, working with Dr. Jones, Dr. Knight once again convened a group of archaeologists, historians, and geographers to evaluate new evidence and reconsider old evidence. The end result was an edited volume that synthesizes the work of scholars from multiple disciplines and narrows down a location for Mabila.
Dr. Knight is probably best known for his work on Mississippian cultures, where he has published seminal works on Mississippian religion and ritual, symbolism and iconography, and social hierarchy. His dissertation and resulting publications explored Mississippian ritual, religion, and symbolism via structural theory, Muskogean ethnographic data, and archaeological evidence. This study described the symbolism in the Mississippian platform mound and identified three distinct branches of Mississippian religion.
In 1988, Dr. Knight joined the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama. He promptly set to work developing a research plan to work at Moundville (Figure 7). His decade-long NSF-funded excavations at Moundville began in 1993. In the 1990s and 2000s, his work researchers from other institutions and numerous projects by his graduate students turned the previous interpretation of the site onto its head (Figure 8). Working with Vin Steponaitis, Dr. Knight created a new site history that demonstrated the site reached peak population early in its history and later became a vacant center used for burials. His work comparing Moundville to a Chickasaw camp square provided a new way of looking at the arrangement of mounds around the plaza. The mound excavations at Moundville trained a decade’s worth of UA undergraduates in basic field methodology and resulted in an award-winning monograph (Figure 9).
Dr. Knight’s research into Mississippian iconography and the methodology of iconographic research has led to some a series discoveries on the nature of Mississippian religion. In 2001, along with James Brown, George Lankford, and the rest of the Iconography Working Group, Dr. Knight put forth the notion that so-called “Southeastern Ceremonial Complex art” depicted mythological heroes engaged in acts detailed in legends, many of which can be attributed via ethnographic research (Figure 10). Dr. Knight bade the term “Southeastern Ceremonial Complex” farewell a few years later and then proclaimed we shouldn’t refer to these representational images as “art” either. Regardless of what you call this corpus of representational images found on artifacts from southeastern Mississippian sites, this realization about southeastern iconography opened up a whole new world of iconographic studies, and allowed archaeologists to tie motifs to particular site histories (Figure 11). Dr. Knight’s work with Vin Steponaitis on the iconographic style of Moundville demonstrated a preponderance of death or Beneath World images, according well with the use of the site as a burial place for residents of the surrounding Black Warrior Valley for much of its history. After years of teaching the intense graduate Iconography seminar at the University of Alabama, Dr. Knight really did write the book on New World iconographic methodology (Figure 12). It is a clear, concise summary of how to go about this research with the most rigorous methodology and avoid traps into which many other researchers have fallen.
In the early 2000s, Dr. Knight began branching into the Caribbean, working in Cuba (Figure 13). At the El Convento site, a large Late Ceramic Age village with a post-contact component, he reinterpreted ceramic chronologies and provided a basic occupational sequence. He then correlated the revised site history with existing ethnohistoric accounts to provide evidence that El Convento was the site of the encomienda of Bartolomé de Las Casas. Las Casas was the first person to argue on behalf of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the New World. In multiple years of fieldwork at El Chorro de Maíta, Dr. Knight and his research team sought to identify correlates of sociopolitical complexity in residential contexts at a large Late Ceramic Age chiefly center. These excavations provided new data regarding the production of highly crafted ritual items, the extent of post-contact material throughout the site, and offered a new model for the occupational history of the site. Artifacts and dates indicate the site had no early component and was very likely to have been established as a chiefly center. These data have implications for emergent complexity in Eastern Cuba and for the archaeology of the Late Ceramic Age. Knight has also conducted a formal analysis of ceramics from Chorro, resulting in a new interpretation of ceramic vessel shape and data regarding potential foodways of the peoples who lived in the Caribbean.
More recently, Dr. Knight has started an iconographic analysis of ceremonial gear from Cuba, including engraved shell gorgets, carved stone idols, and engraved shell beads. When this study is completed, this will be the first time someone has assembled the corpus of such items from Cuba. This will be critical for understanding the relationship of Late Ceramic Age Cuba to contemporaneous peoples throughout the Caribbean, addressing questions of rapidly adopted religious constructs, population movement, and new cultural practices.
Dr. Knight has influenced many careers in archaeology. His attention to the details of training students extends to lessons not evident in his publications but is obvious in the ways other working archaeologists now conduct fieldwork.
Lessons Learned from Dr. Knight
When working in the field:
Keep your field equipment clean, organized, and in working order at ALL times!
Seriously, no, I mean it. Keep your field equipment clean, organized, and in working order at ALL times!
Don't be the guy with a trowel holster. In fact, why do you even need to have your own trowel? Just use one from the field desk.
Keep your field skills sharp, so when you occasionally jump into a unit to show your students how it’s done, they are in awe of your ability to flatten a floor or straighten a wall.
When working in the lab:
Field rules 1 & 2 also apply to the lab.
Leaving a tray of anything out on the lab table and walking away is asking for a disaster.
When dealing with students:
Never underestimate the power of a raised eyebrow and uncomfortable silence to bring a wayward graduate student into line.
If that doesn't get the message across, lean back in your chair and press your fingertips together.
If that fails, take off your glasses.
When a graduate student is hiding from you, call them and ominously say, "This is your conscience calling," whenever they answer the phone. Maintain an uncomfortable silence while they inform you of their progress. Repeat on a weekly basis until they finally turn something in.
Knight’s rules for writing:
If it is obvious, then you should never have to state it.
Be intentional and decisive in your writing, and choose sides. Remind your students, following Marvin Harris, YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE!!!
Don't worry about following theoretical trends. Do what you are interested in, and do it well. Regardless of whether someone notices down the line, you will still have made a good effort doing what interests you.
“In regards” is NOT to be used. There is always something else you can use.
Good writers do not use the phrase “in terms of…”.
NO POSTAL ABBREVIATIONS.
Avoid words like “important” and “valuable.” One assumes so.
Nothing is ever unique—so don’t use that word!
Never say “interesting” in formal writing.
“Great” is a word widely used by sportscasters. Please discard it forever.
“As well” is never a good way to start a sentence.
“Drastically” is a word much misused. Means an extreme or radical effect, almost violent, not simply unsuitable. Make sure this is what you mean.
For emphasis, use italics. All caps is shouting in prose.
Good writers never say “looked at,” as in someone looked at something in their research. Instead, good writers use words that are not as vague.
This past fall, we welcomed three new faculty members. Drs. Lesley Jo Weaver and Cameron Lacquement joined our faculty as Assistant Professors. In addition, Dr. David Meek, spouse of Dr. Weaver, joined as an Adjunct Faculty member in our department and taught a course for us in the fall 2014.
Jo Weaver received her Ph.D. and M.P.H from Emory University. She does research around the topics of chronic diseases, mental health, and nutrition in Brazil and India. Her doctoral work focused on social and family roles among women with type 2 diabetes in urban North India. Here she found that although women’s family roles in this cultural context can be extremely demanding and may detract from women’s ability to take care of their diabetes, these roles provide a source of social cohesion that appears to protect them from the mental ill health that often accompanies diabetes. Dr. Weaver is currently developing a new project on food insecurity and mental health in rural Brazil. As a response to public health and development initiatives that tend to examine only the nutritional aspects of food insecurity, this project is designed to test the relative contribution of both nutritional and social pathways in the established link between food insecurity and mental ill health. This is one arm of a larger global comparative study she is conducting with colleagues who work in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Malawi. Pilot work she conducted in 2013 suggested that in this community, social aspects of food insecurity, such as eating foods that carry the stigma of being “poor people’s foods,” may be just as damaging to mental health as the nutritional insufficiency that is sometimes also associated with food insecurity.
Cameron Lacquement received his undergraduate degree from Western Carolina University in anthropology focusing on forensics and criminal justice in 2002. He received his masters from UA under the supervision of Dr. Jim Knight in 2004 by examining domestic architecture in the Black Warrior and Tombigbee River valleys. The project required examining the archaeological evidence in the area but also had a experimental component, which involved the building and burning of a full-sized early Mississippian flexed pole house. During this time, he started branching out to other disciplines to support his research including wood science technology and structural engineering. His master's research has been published as a book through the University of Alabama Press and an article in the Journal Of Primitive Technology. In 2009, Dr. Lacquement received his Ph.D from UA. His dissertation research examined prehistoric monumental structures and landscapes and quantified the amount of labor necessary to create them in order to address the sociopolitical organization of labor involved in the construction of prehistoric monuments in the Southeast US. Portions of his research have been published and presented at SEAC. Since completing his degree, Dr. Lacquement has served as a instructor and now Assistant Professor in the department. He teaches many of the introduction classes, creates and maintains online classes, and serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies. In his off-time, Dr. Lacquementenjoys woodworking and carpentry, bowling, and playing softball for the department's team, the Argonauts.
David Meek (PhD University of Georgia, 2014) is an environmental anthropologist, critical geographer, and education scholar with an area specialization in Brazil. Dr. Meek theoretically grounds his research in a synthesis of political ecology, critical pedagogy, and place-based education. His interests include sustainable agriculture, social movements, and environmental education. Dr. Meek’s work has been conducted using a combination of traditional anthropological and cartographic methods, such as GIS, remote sensing, and historic aerial photography. Dr. Meek has carried out research on sustainable agriculture education within Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement. This research explored how people learn about sustainable agriculture through political participation and the potential impact this learning has on agricultural practices and landscape changes. Dr. Meek’s past research focused on the relationships between public policies, economic incentives, and educational processes within an agrarian reform settlement in the Brazilian Amazon. Dr. Meek is currently collaborating on a research project with UA's Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer looking at the relationship between K-5 students' participation in the Druid City Garden project and academic performance, environmental knowledge, and nutritional choices. Dr. Meek has also been appointed a co-coordinator for a UNESCO-funded project that is bringing twenty MST activists from Brazil to various locations in the United States to work on agroecological community organizing. As part of a larger applied anthropological research project, he is exploring how this transnational solidarity exchange program influences US grassroots organizations’ knowledge about strategies of social mobilization, and agroecological techniques. While scholarship on transnational solidarity movements is growing, this research focuses on the unexplored element of non-formal learning that happens within these networks. In a series of publications currently under review, Dr. Meek has begun advancing a theoretical framework of the political ecology of education. This perspective illuminates how the reciprocal relations between political economic forces and pedagogical opportunities—from tacit to formal learning—affect the production, dissemination, and contestation of environmental knowledge at various interconnected scales. The various research projects that Dr. Meek is involved with provide empirical data to support the advancement of the political ecology of education framework.
In addition to faculty, eight new graduate students joined the department in the fall, and three of our previous MA students were accepted to continue working with us as doctoral students. Clay Nelson is an archaeologist who received his BA and MA from UA and will continue at the doctoral level focusing on Southeastern U.S. archaeology and Mississippian societies. Ashley Stewart received her BA from Auburn in 2010 and a master's degree from our department this past spring and will continue her focus in bioarchaeology here at the doctoral level. Mirjam Holleman joins us as a doctoral student in the Biocultural Medical program. She completed her BA and MA in the Netherlands and will focus on disabilities research in Poland.
Several new master's students also joined us. Shannon Edsall (BA, Auburn) and Allyson Harrison (BA, University of Michigan-Dearborn) joined us to study bioarchaeology. Katie Lazzara (BS/BA, University of Iowa), Cassie Medeiros (BA, William & Mary), and Gracie Riehm (BA, University of Georgia) are archaeology students. Katie is here to study Andean archaeology, Cassie joined us to study the archaeology of alcohol, and Gracie is interested in Southeastern archaeology and the Late Mississippian and Contact periods. Nikki Henderson (BS, Emory) and Edward Quinn (BA, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse) are biocultural medical students. Nikki joined us to study mental health and addiction, while Edward is focused on social rank and chronic stress.