Anthropology (Bryn Mawr)

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 7
  • Item
    The Breaking Point: Land use and Sustainability in the Mayan City of Caracol.
    (2019) Frye, Joshua; Šešelj, Maja
    Right now, there are more people living in cities than outside of them. At the same time, the sustainability of our cities continues to become less and less certain. Low-density urban settlements have been held up by some as a model for how we could redesign and reimagine our current cities to solve the greatest challenges of the modern urban environment. The problem with using the low-density model is the ‘collapse’ that appears to have occured in the greatest examples of theses cities, most obviously the Classic Maya, and Greater Angkor. This Thesis aims to provide insight into how the agricultural component of Mayan low-density may have been a vital component that led to the ‘collapse’ of the Classic Maya. This project argues that the rigidity of agrarian systems in the Mayan City of Caracol led to an overtaxing of the land as population levels reached their peak exhausting the soil throughout the entirety of the urban polity. At the same time, changes in the trading systems of the region and the onset of a drought that strained the entire region. The factors came together to fracture the bonds of political power, and force individuals to leave the cities to resist oppressive systems of the academy and the community. With this focus on effecting change, performance ethnographers vastly expand the reach of ethnographic projects. As a consequence, these projects may fall short of the anthropologist’s high expectations for transformative work, and run the risk of reinforcing the researcher’s power over their subjects by prioritizing their own agenda. This thesis examines methodological interventions performance offers to ethnography using a few case studies, and argues that performance ethnography is not successful when it is used mainly to transform or liberate the subjects of research. For these interventions to be effective, anthropologists should recognize their limitations and use performance ethnography as an investigative and educational tool.
  • Item
    Family of Origin and Family of Choice: Polyamory in America
    (2012) Hickey, Elinor G.
    Polyamory, also known as "consensual non-monogamy," is not given a lot of attention in academics or the media, but exists nonetheless as a lifestyle many people choose as an alternative to the socially idealistic monogamous dyad. As political and public discourse shines light on the existence of this alternative form of romantic relationship, misconceptions and misunderstandings invariably arise. Classical kinship studies in Anthropology do not address modern Western society, and the assumption that "The Family" is a universal phenomenon is pervasive. Through ethnographic field work with four separate self-identified polyamorous families— seven individuals altogether— this thesis seeks to demonstrate the intention, function, and success of polyamory as a lifestyle. Using primarily this interview data, this thesis addresses the philosophy of polyamory, the human emotion behind it, the nature of polyamory as an identity or orientation, and the structure and benefits of a polyamorous family. It concludes that polyamory, while certainly not an easy fix for any relationship nor a simple switch to make, is a viable option for individuals and couples who find that, for whatever reason, monogamy does not suit them; it also concludes that families built through polyamorous networks of relationships are as strong and stable as ideal monogamous "nuclear" families, and can benefit all members of the family, be they adult participants or dependent children.
  • Item
    "The Dead are Fed with Fragrance": A study of Maya censers from the Guatemala highlands
    (2006) Kurnick, Sarah; Pavis, Richard
    This study will analyze a collection of Maya censers collected by Robert Burkitt from the Guatemala highlands during the 1920s. It will describe the censers and compare them to censers excavated at other Mesoamerican sites. It will explain how they may have been produced, suggest how they may have been used, and offer an interpretation of their iconography. This study argues that the Burkitt censers in their use and in their iconography relate to themes of sacrifice, the underworld, and the crossing of boundaries. The censers thus provide information about the afterlife and the relationship between the living, the dead, and the divine.
  • Item
    "It's Always Ourselves We Find in the Sea" : maritime museums and education at Independence Seaport Museum
    (2004) McCarthy, Meredith; Woodhouse-Beyer, Katharine Elizabeth
    I completed the primary research for my senior thesis in anthropology at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA. I examined the museum through the lens of its education department, as education is key to the museum's mission. ISM is the only museum in the city whose exhibits and programs focus on the maritime history of the region. In order to be able to focus on the quality of this programming, ISM must first contend with the many political and economic challenges particular to being a small specialty museum. One of these challenges is expanding the museum's audience to include more families and ethnic minorities. New exhibits and better publicity could help ISM to better reach these audiences and further fulfill its possibility as a museum. After all, museums are informal educational settings of enormous value that have the ability to bring together people of varying ages, genders, ethnicities, and levels of formal education in the pursuit of entertainment and learning.
  • Item
    Leave No Teacher Behind: A Classroom-Based Study of School Reform and Teacher Agency
    (2005) Dolci, Emily; Davis, Rick
    During a time of increased public discourse on schooling amidst national and local education reforms, this research examines the effects of such changes on the role of teachers and pedagogy. With a qualitative foundation, this study examines how the national legislation of No Child Left Behind and changes implemented by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission have affected teacher agency, or one’s ability to make choices and act upon those within a given environment. Through the lens of teachers and an administrator, this classroom-based study examines how teachers are both constrained and enabled by recent reforms, and discusses the implications of such on the effectiveness of current, and development of future, reforms.