Graduate News from Fall 2013

Dengah-250Dr. François Dengah, who received his Ph.D. from our department in May 2013, has had a banner year in exemplifying the scholarship and accomplishment our department strives for.  In the fall, his article, “The Contract with God: Patterns of Cultural Consensus across Two Brazilian Religious Communities,” was published in the esteemed Journal for Anthropological Research. Subsequently, he received the Best Dissertation Award of the year in the College of Arts & Sciences. In February 2014, it was also named Best Dissertation at the University level. And to cap it off, Dr. Dengah has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Utah State beginning in the fall of 2014.

Sara Shults
Sara Shults

Sara C. Shults, who received her MA from our department in 2012, and Dr. Lisa J. LeCount have published a journal article entitled “Obsidian Form and Distribution at Actuncan, Belize” in the 2013 edition of Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology. The article presents Ms. Shults’ thesis research on changing obsidian distributions at Preclassic and Classic households and what these shift mean in terms of changing production and exchange relationships at the ancient Maya site of Actuncan.  Shults found that while obsidian tools in the form of prismatic blades were used throughout Mesoamerica for thousands of years, the way this valuable resource was exchanged varied through time. Actuncan is located hundreds of kilometers from the nearest obsidian sources in Guatemala and Honduras; therefore, obsidian travelled over long distances through numerous hands to reach the site. During the Preclassic period (800 BC to AD 250), all households had ready access to obsidian blades, but in the Classic period (AD 250 to 1000) exchange mechanisms changed.  Although there is little evidence of obsidian blade production at Actuncan, data from other nearby Classic sites indicate that blades were produced in a few discrete workshops, possibly regulated by elites.  Some obsidian merchants may also have produced blades from prismatic cores for consumers at marketplaces at Maya centers.

Dr. Blakely Brooks, who received his Ph.D. from our department in 2012, published an article entitled “Chucaque and Social Stress among Peruvian Highlanders” in Medical Anthropology Quarterly

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