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People: 2015 Field Research Grant Recipients

With support from the Tinker Foundation, the LAII provides field research grants for graduate students in any UNM department who conduct field work in Latin America. Current recipients are listed below; past recipients may be viewed by clicking on the previous year's tab.

Josefina Bittar


Sociolinguistic variation in Guaraní and Paraguayan Spanish

Josefina Bittar, a M.A. candidate in the Department of Linguistics, traveled to Paraguay during the summer of 2015 to conduct research for her Master's thesis on Guaraní, a prominent indigenous language, and the multiple phenomena that arise from incidents of bilingualism. While in Paraguay, her research goals included describing and analyzing the presence of Spanish-origin verbs in current spoken Guaraní, describing and analyzing the absence of direct object pronouns in spoken Spanish, and to create a database of current spoken languages in Paraguay. In order to carry out her research, Josefina conducted sociolinguistic interviews with native speakers of Guaraní and Spanish, analyzing them for possible correlations between the characteristics of the speaker and the presence of the phenomena in his or her speech. She believes that the creation of a database of current spoken languages on Paraguay will facilitate access to data and, therefore, increase research in unexplored topics.

Beau Murphy


Inka Empire and Political Economy in the Atacama Desert

Beau Murphy, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to northern Chile during the summer of 2015 in order to prepare research for publication and to explore potential dissertation projects in the area. Beau's fieldwork took place in conjunction with Agriculture and Empire in the High-Altitude Atacama Desert, an international archaeological project. This collaboration investigates past Inka imperial activities in the upper Loa River region of northern Chile through a variety of interconnected studies. In 2014, Beau contributed to this collaboration by conducting a pilot study at the archaeological site of Turi, a large settlement and Inka administrative center within the project area. Beau believes that research on this topic can tell us how local people in the Atacama Desert interacted with the Inka Empire in the fifteenth century AD.

Katie Sartor


Indigenous Markers in the Modern Museum: State vs. Local Representations of Indigeneity in Argentina

Katie Sartor, a M.A. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to Argentina during the summer of 2015 in order to explore how indigenous groups are represented through museums. She compared state run museums in the large city of Buenos Aires with locally run museums in the smaller city of Resistencia in the northern Chaco. Through her research, Katie hopes to better understand how indigenous history and experience are presented to the general public through museum displays, programs, and tours. Katie believes her project will make important contributions to understanding the situation of indigenous people groups in Argentina, as well as contributing to the museum studies literature considering museums as places of knowledge production and social power.

Ed Seabright


Strategies of Social Alliance and Network Formation in a Small-scale Society

Ed Seabright, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to the El Beni province in Bolivia during the summer of 2015 in order to lay the framework for future doctoral research. He aims to study how strategies of cooperation and social network formation vary over the human life course, and the role of social ties in human embodied capital. Specifically, he hopes to understand the contexts in which social bonds are formed and maintained, establish the benefits that can be gained from social ties, as well as the cost of disputes, and to examine the effects of age and gender on strategies of social network formation. Ed aims to further our understanding of how small scale societies in Latin America are evolving in response to increasing contact with industrialized societies. This may prove to be an increasingly important endeavor in the years to come as population growth, deforestation, and climate change push members of small-scale Amazonian populations into increasing contact with industrialized markets.