Supported by the National Science Foundation
Through a grant to Brandeis University, the National Science Foundation supports a field school for Ph.D. students in cultural anthropology from universities in the United States. Training takes place among the Tsimane', a native Amazonian society of farmers and foragers in Bolivia. The school is run by a team of anthropologists including: Ricardo Godoy (Brandeis), Victoria Reyes-García (Brandeis and U. Autonoma Barcelona), and Clarence Gravlee (Florida) in cultural anthropology; and William Leonard (Northwestern), Thomas McDade (Northwestern), and Susan Tanner (Georgia) in biological anthropology. Training focuses on methods to collect ecological, demographic, economic, cognitive, anthropometric, and health data and on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of such data while in the field.
Students are responsible for all aspects of daily camp life – drawing water, sweeping camp/house, cooking, collecting water, etc. – as well as research. Students who wish to participate must love outback camping. We will provide details of what to bring to the field and how to prepare for each of the sites once we have selected students.
BOLIVIA (June 13 - July 18, 2010, five weeks):
Who should apply - All Ph.D. students in cultural/social anthropology from universities in the USA are eligible.
For this program, students must be fluent in Spanish since they will have to conduct interviews in Spanish, or rely on a Spanish-Tsimane’ translator.
Costs - Airfare and living costs are supported by the program through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Deadline - February 15, 2010
To Apply - Applications for this year's SFTM are complete. Applications for the 2011 SFTM will open Sept. 1, 2010.
Course Descriptions (CLICK HERE for some photos)
The Bolivia site lies along the Maniqui River in the department of Beni. The nearest town with electricity, running water, telephones, a hospital, pharmacies, and email is San Borja (pop 19,000), about 18 hours by bus from the capital city of La Paz. Amaszonas, a Bolivian airline, has flights into and out of San Borja most days of the week. Students will live in one village for the duration of the training program.
As market economies expand, the lifestyle and habitat of indigenous peoples with only tenuous links to the market begin to change, often in predictable ways. Although much has been written about the effects of globalization and market expansion on the well-being and environment of indigenous peoples, little of this research is rigorously quantitative and longitudinal. The present work among the Tsimane’ in Bolivia started in 1999, continues to this day, and is designed to assess the effect of market expansion on a wide range of indicators of quality of life and the environment, including income, consumption, wealth, nutritional status, self-perceived and objective health, land use, rates of time preference (or patience), folk or traditional knowledge, social capital, economic inequalities, and happiness. The signature of this multi-disciplinary effort is the collection of panel or longitudinal data – repeated observations over time from the same people, households, and villages – to allow us to obtain a dynamic view of how larger processes taking place at regional and global levels affect local well being. In parallel with the academic work, we have introduced a new cover crop (pigeon peas) that should help increase land productivity, improve nutrition, serve as feed for domesticated animals, and lower pressure on forests. Another applied project focuses on the effect of participatory mapping on tenure security; the study uses an experimental research design. In yet another study using an experimental research design, we assess the effects of income levels and village income inequality on individual health.
Since we examine the effect of market expansion on many different outcomes, we lack a central hypothesis for the entire research and training project, beyond the idea that things often get worse before they get better (or vice versa). Methodological innovations have included and include: (a) the application of consensus analysis to obtain measures of cultural competence in plant knowledge; (b) the use of a randomized experimental research design to assess the impact of development interventions; (c) the use of biomarkers of stress; (d) validation of survey instruments to assess household deforestation; (e) development of new methods to measure other dimensions of traditional knowledge; and (f) the use of experiments with real rewards to elicit rates of private time preference. Substantive empirical findings so far include: (a) strong positive correlations between schooling and rates of private time preference; (b) widespread sharing of ethnobotanical knowledge within and across villages; (c) poor adult and child nutritional status as revealed through anthropometric indicators; (d) absence of strong community-level effects in shaping nutritional outcomes; (e) several studies dealing with the income and own-price elasticities of demand for wildlife which show that many wild animals are inferior goods – their consumption declines as incomes rise even after controlling for standard confounders; (f) work in progress on the private returns and interaction of traditional and modern culture in shaping nutritional outcomes; (g) estimates of market participation on well being using an instrumental-variable approach; and (h) absence of strong evidence for secular changes in adult physical stature or traditional ethnobotanical knowledge as revealed by changes in height or knowledge between contemporary adult cohorts.
Current research focuses on the role of economic inequalities, social capital, and subjective indicators of stress in shaping self-perceived and objective health and emotions, such as anger, fear, happiness, and sadness.
Publications from the Bolivia project can be found HERE.
The Bolivia site has several faculty members, to broaden the range of methods taught and to protect the integrity of the training program should mishaps strike any member. Below, we list tentative faculty for the summer of 2010. We also provide a brief description of the faculty involved in the panel study and a sample of their more recent and relevant publications.
|Copyrightę2002 Clarence Gravlee & David Kennedy. All Rights Reserved. Last updated 11.19.2004|