Conferences and Presentations

Dr. Bill Dressler, Invited Lecture, East Carolina University, April 10, 2015.

Several of our faculty were invited to give lectures:

Dr. Bill Dressler, Invited Lecture, East Carolina University, April 10, 2015.
Dr. Bill Dressler, Invited Lecture, East Carolina University, April 10, 2015.

Dr. Bill Dressler was invited to the Departments of Anthropology and Public Health at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC on April 10 to give a lecture entitled “Cultural Consonance: Linking  Culture, the Individual, and Health.”

Dr. Chris Lynn was invited to speak to the EvoS program at SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, NY on April 13 and gave a lectured called “Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis.” Dr. Lynn also collaborated with colleagues Dr. Michaela Howells and Katherine Cully at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, who were invited to conduct a workshop called “Understanding Humans: Using an Anthropological Approach in STEM Classrooms” at the 1st Annual K-12 STEM Education Conference in Wilmington, NC on January 9.

Additionally, our Department was well-represented by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty at spring conferences, workshops, and events:

Alabama Archaeological Society Winter Meeting, Florence, AL, January 24

Eubanks, Paul N. Salt production technology in Southern Alabama and the Greater Southeast.

Alabama Science Teachers Association conference, Birmingham, AL, March 3-4

Lynn, Christopher D., and Greg Batchelder. Anthropology is Elementary: Translating the Science of Humanness through Hands-On Activities.

Caddo Conference Organization Annual Meeting, Arkadelphia, AK, March 27-28

Eubanks, Paul N. Salt production trends in the Caddo homeland and in the Southeastern United States.

Ashley Daugherty and Melinda Carr explaining their NEEPS poster, Boston,  MA.
Ashley Daugherty and Melinda Carr explaining their NEEPS poster, Boston, MA.

Darwin Day Colloquium, Tuscaloosa, AL, February 12

Daugherty, Ashley, and Melinda Carr. Fireside Relaxation: A Burning Question.

Friel, Juliann. Reflections on Being Human.

Human Biology Association Annual Scientific Meeting, St. Louis, MO, March 25-27

Dominguez, Johnna T., Jason A. DeCaro, and Christopher D. Lynn. Tattooing as Protection against Enemy Arrows: Enhanced Immune Response among the Heavily Tattooed as an Allostatic Stress Response.

Lynn, Christopher D., Juliann Friel, William Evans, and Baba Brinkman. Evolution Education through Excitement and Anger: “Rap Guide to Evolution” Influences on Skin Conductance..

Louisiana Archaeological Society Annual Meeting, Leesville, LA, February 20-22

Eubanks, Paul N. A summary of the 20-14 excavations at Drake’s Salt Works.

Mississippi Archaeological Association annual meeting, Greenwood, MS, April 11

Funkhouser, Lynn and Daniel LaDu. The faunal record at Mazique (22Ad502): Initial impressions from the 2013 field season.

Kowalski, Jessica A. and H. Edwin Jackson. On the Mound trail: Mississippian polities in the Lower Yazoo Basin.

Malischke, LisaMarie. Watercolor ideal versus architectural reality: New interpretations of Fort St. Pierre, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, Boston, MA, April 9-11

Carr, Melinda, Ashley Daugherty, and Christopher Lynn. A Burning Question: Fireside Relaxation.

Lynn, Christopher D., and Max J. Stein. Religious Collectivity and the Behavioral Immune System in Limón Province, Costa Rica.

Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 15-19

Eubanks, Paul N. and Ian W. Brown. Salt production and economic specialization at Drake’s Salt Works.

LeCount, Lisa J. and David W. Mixter.  Organized symposium Lowland Maya Territories: Local Dynamics in Regional Landscapes

LeCount, Lisa J. and David W. Mixter.  Between Earth and Sky: The Social and Political Construction of Ancient Lowland Maya Territories.

Lessye DeMoss at SfAA, Pittsburgh Photo: K.Oths)
Lessye DeMoss at SfAA, Pittsburgh (Photo: K.Oths)

Society for Applied Anthropology, Pittsburgh, PA, March 24-28

DeMoss, Lessye. Cultural models for life preparation: An exploration of young American men’s shared understandings of this developmental task.

Dressler, William W. What is generalized cultural consonance?

Morrow, Sarah Elizabeth. Shared beliefs without shared consensus: A look at experiential model development in food insecure women.

Oths, Kathryn and Hannah Smith. Rapid ecological, social, and cultural change in the Northern Peruvian Andes and its effects on child growth.

Read-Wahidi, Mary Rebecca. Continuity and change in Guadalupan devotion.

Weaver, Lesley Jo, Bonnie Kaiser, and Craig Hadley. Food insecurity and mental health in three settings: Preliminary results and future directions.

Southern Anthropological Society Annual Meeting, Athens, GA, March 9

González-Faraco, Juan Carlos,  Inmaculada Iglesias-Villarán, and Michael D. Murphy. Youth Culture and HIV/AIDS in Spain.

Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference, Tuscaloosa, AL, April 7

Becerra, Fatima. Herbal medicine use in the Peruvian highlands.

Carr, Melinda, and Ashley Daugherty. A burning question: Fireside relaxation.

Forrister, Anna. 50 years of all deliberate speed.

Hallquist, Sommer and Madeline Anscombe. Dealing with death. A study of children’s changing grave themes and what they reveal about American society.

Lawhon, Taylor. An investigation of Caddo salt production at Drake’s Salt Works.

Frozen Moments from the Spring

Community Outreach

Juliann Friel and Taylor Burch teaching the Anthropology of Madagascar at Arcadia Elementary.
Juliann Friel and Taylor Burch teaching the Anthropology of Madagascar at Arcadia Elementary.

The Department of Anthropology expanded its community outreach activities this past spring. The Department began participating in the Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary (TMSE)-UA Partnership in 2010 by offering a 12-week course in “Anthropology” in the fall. This past year, we offered “Anthropology of Costa Rica” in the fall and “Anthropology of Madagascar” in the spring. Anthropology of Costa Rica was led by doctoral student Greg Batchelder and capitalized on his research experience there and complemented the Magnet School’s ethos as an International Baccalaureate Program. Anthropology of Madagascar was led by doctoral candidate Lynn Funkhouser and was chosen because of the  Evolutionary Studies program’s sister relationship with an EvoS program in Madagascar.

In addition to teaching Anthropology of Madagascar at TMSE, Arcadia Elementary started a similar partnership program, and we offered the course there as well. In all cases, courses are led by graduate students and taught by upper-level Anthropology undergraduates who have excelled in the program. Instructors draw from a workbook of lessons we have developed over the past several years but are also responsible for developing one lesson and activity from scratch. Thanks to Taylor Burbach, Meghan Steel, Andrea Roulaine, Erica Schumann, and Juliann Friel for teaching our elementary students this year. Imagine what our discipline will be like when undergraduates arrive who have been exposed to the anthropological perspective since 3rd grade!

LisaMarie Malischke leading a garbology activity with kids at Woodland Forrest Elementary School (Photo: Nirmala Erevelles)
LisaMarie Malischke leading a garbology activity with kids at Woodland Forrest Elementary School (Photo: Nirmala Erevelles)

For the fall 2015, we have established a formal service-learning course called “Anthropology is Elementary” that will be taught by Lynn Funkhouser and can be taken for 3 credits by undergraduates who have completed the introductory courses in all four subdisciplines. Students will be placed at TMSE, Arcadia, or—a new location—Tuscaloosa Magnet School Middle. Spots are still open, so contact Lynn for more information at jlfunkhouser@crimson.ua.edu.

But that’s not all! We have participated annually in Woodland Forrest Elementary School’s DiscoverFest as part of their Earth Day celebration. This year, several of our graduate students spent the day teaching elementary students about archaeology via “garbology,” or using simple household trash as a means of understanding the cultures of the people who left it behind. Thanks to Lynn Funkhouser, Sarah Morrow, and LisaMarie Malischke for their efforts on behalf of our community children!

Student and Faculty Awards

Jason DeCaro with co-recipients of an Award for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort, John Lochman, Ansley Gilpin, and Qshequilla Mitchell.

Numerous students and faculty were recognized for achievements and commitment this spring. Several undergraduates mentored by Anthropology faculty were recognized at the annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference as follows: Mark Ortiz, Honorable Mention for Oral Presentations in the Fine Arts and Humanities division (David Meek, faculty mentor); Taylor Lawhon, 4th Place for Oral Presentations in the Social Sciences division (Ian Brown, faculty mentor); Rachel Madey, 1st Place for in Emerging Scholars Fine Arts and Humanities Division and International Focus (Kathy Oths, faculty mentor), and Sommer Hallquist and Madeline Anscombe, 2nd Place in Emerging Scholars Fine Arts and Humanities division (Ian Brown, faculty mentor).

Lynn Funkhouser accepts her award from Ian Brown.
Lynn Funkhouser accepts her award from Ian Brown.
Jessica Kowalski accepts a DeJarnette Scholarship.
Jessica Kowalski accepts a DeJarnette Scholarship.
Greg Batchelder accepts the 2015 Maxwell Scholarship from Dr. Brown.
Greg Batchelder accepts the 2015 Maxwell Scholarship from Dr. Brown.

This year’s recipients of David and Elizabeth DeJarnette Endowed Scholarships in Anthropology are doctoral candidates Lynn Funkhouser and Jessica Kowalski. Doctoral student Greg Batchelder received the Allen R. Maxwell Endowed Anthropology Scholarship. The competitions were extremely tough, as always, so these honors are indeed great. For this year, each awardees will be receiving scholarships of $8,000 each to be used toward their research.

Achsah Dorsey, who received her M.A. in Anthropology in 2014, received the University of Alabama Outstanding Research by a Master’s Student Award for her thesis “Food Insecurity, Maternal Mental Health, and Child Well-Being in NW Tanzania.” This follows receipt of the same award in the Arts & Sciences in the fall 2014.

Katelyn Moss receives undergraduate honor from Dean Olin.
Katelyn Moss receives undergraduate honor from Dean Olin.
Taylor Lawhon, Jessi Mays, and Melinda Carr receive undergraduate honors from Cameron Lacquement.
Taylor Lawhon, Jessi Mays, and Melinda Carr receive undergraduate honors from Cameron Lacquement.

This year’s Honors Day allowed three of our outstanding undergraduates to be recognized. Katelyn Moss received a Dean’s Award of Merit, while Taylor Lawhon, Jessi Mays, and Melinda Carr were acknowledged as recipients of the “Smitty” and Hughes Awards. Taylor received the C. Earl Smith Award, which is given to the graduating senior with the highest GPA in Anthropology. Jessi and Melinda were co-recipients of the Lynn Hughes Award, which is given to students in Anthropology or Economics who capture the imagination of the faculty through potential, intransigence, inventiveness, perseverance, or a combination of qualities.

The following students received funding from the Graduate School for their proposals to the Graduate Student Research and Travel Fund: Mirjam HollemanLynn FunkhouserLessye DeMossDaniel LaDuRachel BriggsLisaMarie Malischke, and Paul Eubanks.

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) selected Jason DeCaro as the 2015 recipient of the President’s Faculty Research Award for Arts & Sciences—Social Sciences. These awards, organized by the RAC and sponsored by our President and by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, recognize select University of Alabama faculty members whose research or scholarship represents excellence in their field.

Chris Lynn receiving AS Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award from Dean Olin.
Chris Lynn receiving AS Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award from Dean Olin.
Jason DeCaro with co-recipients of an Award for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort, John Lochman, Ansley Gilpin, and Qshequilla Mitchell.
Jason DeCaro with co-recipients of an Award for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort, John Lochman, Ansley Gilpin, and Qshequilla Mitchell.

Dr. DeCaro and his collaborators Ansley Gilpin, Caroline Boxmeyer, and John Lochman were also recipients of the 2015 Center for Community-Based Partnerships Awards for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort. In addition, David Meek and Sarah Morrow were recognized at the same event with a Community Engagement Fellowship Award.

Dr. Lisa LeCount was awarded a National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration grant for $21,412 and a College Academy for Research, Scholarship and Creativity Activity grant ($5,000). These grants were to support another season of the Actuncan Project—“Archaeological Research at Actuncan’s E-Group: Testing the Political Significance of Preclassic Lowland Maya Public Architecture.” E-groups are the earliest known public architecture on ancient Maya sites.  Multiple models have been proposed to explain their significance, the most recent of which suggests that Middle Preclassic (1000 to 400 B.C.) E-groups served as high-points on the geopolitical landscape to claim territory visible from them.  The proposed research seeks to test this model by excavating Actuncan’s E-group to discover the heights of early architectural stages and performing ArcGIS geospatial analyses (least-cost path and radial line-of-sight) to determine the territorial boundaries visible or walkable from contemporaneous E-groups within the upper Belize River valley.

Finally, Chris Lynn received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award at the Undergraduate Honor’s Day celebration. This highly coveted award is issued each year by the Leadership Board of the College of Arts and Sciences and recognizes a single faculty member for his or her superior teaching ability and absolute dedication to students. This is a most deserving award for Dr. Lynn and a great honor for our Department.

Anthro Club Hosts Guest Lectures & FABBLs

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Doctoral student Erik Porth

The Department’s Friday Afternoon Brown Bag Lunch (FABBL) talks commenced September 12 with PhD student Erik Porth‘s presentation, “Some Preliminary Results from the 2012 Fall Field School Mound P Excavations.” Erik presented an overview of excavations at Mound P from the Moundville III phase, 1400-1520 AD. Some of Erik’s preliminary results include identification of several different ceramics found at the west flank trench and an analysis of the bucket auger assemblages.

Eileen Anderson-Fye rolling tide with l-r) Chris Fye, Kathy Oths,  Bill Dressler after her visit to the department
Eileen Anderson-Fye with (l-r) Chris Fye, Kathy Oths, & Bill Dressler.

Thanks to the Anthropology club and Dr. Oths, we were able to welcome Dr. Eileen Anderson-Fye on September 18 to discuss some of her research with the faculty and students. Dr. Anderson-Fye gave an informal talk titled “Education, Well-being and Rapid Socio-cultural Change: A Longitudinal Mixed-Methods Investigation of Girls’ Secondary Education in Belize” to students in the department, which gave them the opportunity to discuss issues around ethnographic research. Later in the day, Dr. Anderson-Fye gave a talk titled, “How Fat is Too Fat?: Obesity Stigma, Upward Mobility, and Symbolic Body Capital in Four Countries.” She discussed how, through cross-cultural research in Jamaica, Belize, Nepal, and Korea, she has found that obesity stigma can alter a person’s view on body image and cause harm.

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Doctoral student Greg Batchelder

Our Fall FABBL series continued September 26 with PhD student Greg Batchelder‘s presentation “Estibrawpa: Ecotourism in the Bribri Village of Yorkin. Celebrating Tradition and Improving Health.” Greg’s presentation focused on his summer 2014 research in Costa Rica, where he learned about Estibrawpa, an ecotourism program created by the women of Yorkin, a village of about 200-250 people. Greg traveled to Yorkin by canoe and stayed for a week in the home of the Morales family. Greg was able to observe many of the benefits from the creation of Estibrawpa, including the resurgence in the community of an interest in traditions from the younger generations. He plans to return next summer and to continue to collaborate with the community in Yorkin and study their ecotourism project.

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University of Memphis anthropologist Dr. David Dye

Our third FABBL on October 10 was by PhD student Jessica Kowalski, who presented “On the Mississippi Mound Trail: A Report on Two Field Seasons of Excavations.” Jessica’s research focuses on Arcola, which has 3 of 6 original mounds still standing. The first season they cored and augured Mound A and excavated a test unit in which they found mound erosion, Late George phase and Protohistoric ceramics, and Winterville phase ceramics. During the second season they excavated Mound C and found a burn floor surface and radiocarbon dated it to between 1435 and 1490 AD.

On November 7, PhD candidate Paul Eubanks presented “Saline on the Bayou: An Exploration of Caddo Salt Making at Drake’s Salt Works.” Paul has found that salt production in Northwestern Louisiana during the protohistoric and early historic periods developed largely in response to increased salt demand following European contact. Several salt licks were available to the Caddo natives of the area, but the proximity to Europeans, as well as availability of liquid brine, resistance to flooding, and fuel availability influence the preference for production at Drake’s Salt Works.

On November 21, Dr. David Dye from the Department of Anthropology at Memphis University visited and gave a talk on “Lighting Boy War Bundles in the Lower Mississippi Valley.” Dr. Dye is a renowned authority on the subject of Mississippian warfare. He has authored numerous books and articles on the subject including War Paths, Peace Paths: An Archaeology of Cooperation and Conflict in Native North America and The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (coedited with Richard J. Chacon). In his various studies he uses the Eastern Woodlands as an arena to explore the relationship of conflict and cooperation throughout prehistory. By virtue of an approach to archaeology that is multidisciplinary, he draws on cultural anthropology, folklore, iconography, and ethnohistory to offer new insights into the political and religious nature of warfare. His research orientation is the material culture and political history of the Midsouth, focusing on Mississippian elites and he is also interested in documenting symbolic weaponry and ceramic iconography from the Midsouth through photography. Through these efforts, he has to recognized the diffusion and symbolic importance of “Lightning Boy,” one of the Twins of Mississippian cosmology whose ritual appearance was critical for organization of warfare.

 

Meek and Students Receive Grants and Awards

Dr. David Meek and students in his "Anthropology of Food" course enjoy the pleasant weather outside recently.
Dr. DeCaro presents Krause Award to Paul Eubanks (Photo: C.Lynn).
Dr. DeCaro presents Krause Award to Paul Eubanks (Photo: C.Lynn).

Dr. David Meek was awarded a $700 SECU Faculty travel grant from the Office of Academic Affairs to travel to the University of Mississippi and collaborate with scholars at the Southern Foodways Alliance.

At the annual Department Holiday party on December 18, doctoral students Rachel Briggs and Paul Eubanks were presented with the Panamerican and Richard A. Krause Prizes, respectively. Professor Emeritus Richard Krause is an archaeologist and cultural anthropologist who served the Department of Anthropology at UA for 31 years during a crucial period of development. Because of his commitment to graduate student training, the Krause Prize was established to recognize students who display academic excellence at the graduate level based on the promise of the student’s proposed thesis or dissertation. The Panamerican Award for Scholarly Excellence in Archaeology

Paul Eubanks was also a finalist in the “Three-Minute Thesis” that was sponsored by the UA Graduate School in November.

Achsah Dorsey (MA 2014) received the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research by a Masters Student award for her biocultural work in Tanzania on maternal and child health. She is now a finalist for the University-wide honor. Achsah recently began PhD studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Blitz presents Panamerican Award to Rachel Briggs Photo: C.Lynn).
Dr. Blitz presents Panamerican Award to Rachel Briggs Photo: C.Lynn).

An outstanding group of Graduate School Research and Travel Award applications were received in the fall. The Anthropology Department can only nominate a limited number because of a requirement to provide matching funds. Nine applications were received, and five were nominated. The graduate school awarded funding as follows:

  • Erik Porth, $300 from the graduate school, $100 from the department
  • Lynn Funkhouser, $300 from the graduate school, $100 from the department
  • Jessica Kowalski, $300 from the graduate school, $100 from the department
  • Greg Batchelder, $100 from the graduate school, $100 from the department
  • Ashley Stewart, $100 from the graduate school, $100 from the department

Greg Batchelder was also the recipient of a $200 Research and Travel Grant from the UA College of Arts and Sciences toward traveling to Washington, DC to present ?? at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting.

Extemporanous Talks and Other Exciting Guest Lectures

Elizabeth Paris presenting at spring Extemporaneous Talk (Photo: C.Lynn).
Dr. Mark Moberg, University of Southern Alabama
Dr. Mark Moberg, University of Southern Alabama

The Department of Anthropology was lucky to have several visitors who gave planned and extemporaneous talks in the spring 2014. On February 21, the Anthropology Club co-hosted a FABBL (Friday Afternoon Brown Bag Lunch) talk with Dr. Mark Moberg from the University of Southern Alabama entitled “How ‘Fair’ is Fair Trade: Contrasting Views of Economic Morality among Caribbean Banana Farmers.” Dr. Moberg is the editor-in-chief of Human Organization, the research journal for the Society for Applied Anthropology. His work focuses on trade, globalization, and political economy in the Caribbean and Latin America.

As part of our Extemporaneous Talks series (ET #3), Dr. Jim Hall, formerly of UA’s New College and now of Rochester Institute of Technology, gave a talk on February 24, 2014 about UA anthropologist Solon Kimball and the Talladega Study. Kimball, who was a founding member of the American Ethnological Association and Council on Anthropology and Education,  was instrumental in developing and administering the Talladega Study, which led to the establishment of the town’s public health program. The Study highlighted a painful aspect of academia at that period time with regard to segregation. Dr. Hall spoke of how Kimball and his collaborators appear to have been anti-segregationists but could not convince the Talladega community to allow African-Americans, who constituted 1/3 of the town’s population, to participate in the study. In 1978, Kimball helped establish the Zora Neale Hurston Fellowship Award Fund to honor outstanding African-American graduates in anthropology, and the Kimball Award is issued every other year by the American Anthropological Association to an anthropologist who effects change in public policy. Though Kimball’s presence in our department is not part of the living memory of any current faculty members, Dr. Jim Knight, who grew up in the Talladega area, recalled taking an undergraduate course with Kimball when he had moved on from UA and was a professor at the University of Florida.

Fellow Mayanist Lisa LeCount poses with ET#5 speaker Elizabeth Paris (Photo by C. Lynn).
Fellow Mayanist Lisa LeCount poses with ET#5 speaker Elizabeth Paris (Photo by C. Lynn).

ET #4 was presented on March 9 by Dr. Deborah Keene, a Senior Fellow for the Blount Undergraduate Initiative, Assistant Professor in Geological Sciences, and an Adjunct Faculty member of the Department of Anthropology. Her talk, “How Should You Prepare Pro-Evolution Students for an Anti-Evolution Reality?” dealt with her experience with investigating anti-evolution rhetoric in teaching students to examine sources critically.

On March 7, 2014, the Department of Anthropology and Lambda Alpha hosted a guest lecture “”Joara and Fort San Juan: Eventful Archaeology at the Berry Site”) and workshop (“Structure and the Problem with Macrosociality”) with Dr. Robin Beck. Dr. Beck is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Assistant Curator of North American Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He has worked in the Andes and in eastern North America, including NSF-supported research along the Catawba River at the Berry site in North Carolina. Dr. Beck received his master’s degree from UA in 1997 and his PhD from Northwestern University in 2004, both in anthropology.

Dr. Elizabeth Paris gave ET #5 on April 2 entitled “Form and Function in Small Maya Cities: A View from Highland Chiapas.” Dr. Paris is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at St. Lawrence University and previously an Adjunct Instructor and Research Associate of Anthropology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Paris is a Mesoamerican archaeologist who talked about her work investigating smaller and less complex sites than those usually studied in the Maya region to distinguish between diversification and specialization in urban structural organization.

Greg Batchelder's World of Warcraft avatar.
Greg Batchelder’s World of Warcraft avatar.

Our final lecture of the semester was a FABBL by PhD student Greg Batchelder on April 11 (“Batchhunder’s Travels: Participatory Aesthetic Experience in World of Warcraft: Effects on Mood and Mental Wellness”). Greg earned his master’s degree at Colorado State University, where he also participated in team research under Dr. Jeffrey Snodgrass on a psychological anthropological study of World of Warcraft play.

Fall 2014 FABBL #2: Ecotourism in the Bribri Village of Yorkin

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Greg Batchelder presenting FABBL #2. Photo by C. Lynn

Our Fall FABBL series continued September 26 with Greg Batchelder’s presentation “Estibrawpa: Ecotourism in the Bribri Village of Yorkin. Celebrating Tradition and Improving Health.”

Greg’s presentation focused on his summer 2014 research in Costa Rica, where he learned about Estibrawpa, an ecotourism program created by the women of Yorkin, a village of about 200-250 people. Most of the men there worked on banana plantations, and therefore had to travel and remain away from home for long periods of time. This caused depression and lower health in the community, and the women in the village decided to organize an ecotourism company, in coordination with ATEC,  to create an alternative to wage labor on plantations. Men now work as guides, construction workers, organic farmers, and canoe captains to facilitate tourist visits to the village. The community has also been able to build schools in order to teach these trades, native language, and the Bribri historia—their own collection of creation myths and legends. The village also has a medical clinic, but it was closed during Greg’s visit.

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Photo by C. Lynn

Greg traveled to Yorkin by canoe and stayed for a week in the home of the Morales family. Houses in the village typically house many generations—8 members of the Morales family lived in the house—and the Bribri are a matrilineal/matrilocal society. The houses are on stilts with storage area underneath for chickens, ducks, pigs, and horses. There is also a communal area in the house, which includes the kitchen/dining area, where they have spring gravity fed water and some solar paneled electricity—although there can be a lack of sunlight at times. Families also usually grow their own corn, and there was possibly a shared community garden. The women also focused on organic coacoa production, which they sell in the village of Bambu. Family life is very important, and a more permissive and communal style of parenting seems to be practiced.

Greg was able to observe many of the benefits from the creation of Estibrawpa, including the resurgence in the community of an interest in traditions from the younger generations. While there is not much outside influence—the village is currently trying to get internet—the younger generations are becoming more interested in learning the native language and historia in order to be more successful in the ecotourism opportunities they have. He was also able to discern a perceived improvement in health from all members of the community, and intends to study this further. He plans to use blood pressure as a biomarker and potentially gain access to past health records in the clinic. The CESD depression scale will also be used. He plans to return next summer and to continue to collaborate with the community in Yorkin and possibly find a natural control group in order to provide further evidence of the improved health benefits of the ecotourism project.