Up With the Old, In With the New

Department of Anthropology promotional video

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.

pritzker headshotDr. 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.

Elliot BlairDr. 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!

Incoming Department Members

New fall 2014 anthropology students (C. Lynn).

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.

Dr. Lesley Jo Weaver
Lesley Jo Weaver

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.

Dr. Cameron Lacquement
Cameron Lacquement

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.

Dr. David Meek
David Meek

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.

New fall 2014 anthropology students (C. Lynn).
New fall 2014 anthropology students (C. Lynn).

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.