Welcome to the last issue of 2020!
Release Date: December 18, 2020
So, you want to talk about Anthropology Honors?
BY Alex Blair
Are you ready to conduct your own research and learn about subjects not covered in your courses? Do you want to get a taste of what graduate school might be like? Do you want "With Distinction in Anthropology" slapped onto your diploma? Then Anthropology Honors is right for you!
Here are the minimum requirements needed to apply (from dept. website):
Be a declared major in Anthropology (or Archeology/Biological Anthropology)
A minimum of 2 quarters of prior study at UW prior to applying to the honors program, (can be waived for transfer students with the approval of their prospective honors adviser.)
Passing grades for a minimum of fifteen credits of UW Anthropology classes (S marked courses count this year because of these crazy times we are all living in!)
A passing grade for BIO A 201, or any 200-level ARCHY course, or any 200-level ANTH course.
A cumulative 3.7 GPA in anthropology courses taken at UW.
A cumulative 3.3 GPA for classes taken at UW.
Have met with a potential faculty adviser to support your application to the Honors Program.
Meet all of those? Here’s what you need to do:
Find an ANTH, BIO ANTH, or ARCHY professor/faculty that can be a mentor for you. Ideally, they have some sort of expertise about or related to the subjects you would like to form a thesis around.
Apply! The top 15 ranked applicants will be admitted into the program. The application deadline is January 22nd, 2021 this year. Download the application here.
Got in? Choose an honors project! Didn’t get in? Don’t fret! If you have a few more years to go until graduation, reapply the next year. If you are a senior student not eligible for the program, you can still conduct an independent study project with a faculty mentor!
“But UW Anthropology Society, how do I even choose a project? I am babe-ey; I don’t know how to do research yet!” The Honors program might be the first time many of you conduct research. Don’t worry! The first year you are in the program, you take ANTH 399 in the spring*, which helps you work out a topic you are thinking about. Choose a topic that connects with your life, or that is interesting enough to you that it could be made into a year-long project. Some tips for finding topics such as these are to look for topics that have been researched. That way, you can dive deeper into those topics and the ocean of information to find your topic. Working with an ocean of information is a lot easier than working with a small puddle. That being said, be specific in what you want to talk about. Having a topic that is too broad can leave you and the Honors Committee with more questions than answers.
*Spring Quarter is the ONLY time ANTH 399 is offered. If you plan to do Honors, make sure this can fit into your schedule. “Exceptions possible but must be approved and endorsed in writing by your advisor and permission granted by the Honors Coordinator.”
From here, you will work with your advisor and complete at least 9 credits and no more than 18 credits of ANTH/ BIO A/ARCHY 466 Anthropology Honors Thesis, where you will conduct your research and formulate your thesis. Your honors thesis can be formatted as either:
–A manuscript that will be submitted to a suitable peer-reviewed journal.
–A double-spaced text, single sided, one inch all-round margins with a 11pt serif font (such as Times New Roman), including page numbers, an abstract and title page with your name and your adviser's name.
More information is provided here under “How do I write an honors thesis?”
You will present your research in ANTH 491 in Spring Quarter, one year after you take ANTH 399 (for this year, SQ 2022). You will present in front of your fellow Honors cohort and students just taking ANTH 399. Your work will help guide other students just launching into their own projects.
PROFESSOR BEN FITZHUGH
BY FRANCISCO CARTER
Ben Fitzhugh is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. His prime interests lie in the human-environmental dynamics and archaeological histories of coastal hunter-gatherers, especially in the North Pacific. Dr. Fitzhugh is also the Director of the Quaternary Research Center at the University of Washington, an organization that fosters interdisciplinary environmental research through expeditions, workshops, and publications.
QUESTION: You have done extensive research on how hunter-gatherers in the Kuril Islands adapted to disasters and sudden changes in climate. Are there any lessons from small-scale hunter-gatherers that can be applied to this current pandemic?
PROFESSOR FITZHUGH: There were a couple major population fluctuations and two major collapses in the Kuril Islands. One hypothesis for the collapse is that it was caused by disease, smallpox in particular. An argument that we have made is that by being in a place like the Kuril Islands, there are both advantages and costs. One of the costs is the difficulty of being socially connected and getting access to support when things don’t do well locally. In order to overcome that, you have to maintain more social connections and expand your social networks. The drawback is that by doing so, it increases your dependency on outside forces and the likelihood of being exposed to diseases that you might have been buffered from. The people in the Kuril Islands might have been at a better position to fend off diseases than people in more concentrated populations, but only until those diseases became endemic and were ever-present on those islands.
What you can expect is that larger populations will have a big hit, then gradually stabilize. Small populations, however, will continually get hit. They will never develop that endemic resistance as a population. So essentially, the Kuril Islands are a good analog for marginalized populations all over the world today. Populations that have less security might rely more on the stability of the networks they are dependent on. Whereas in a globalized world, you have less control over the complex events surrounding you but are able to rely on the stability of a greater network. So what are the possible lessons we can learn from the Kuril Islands? One of them could be the importance of balancing isolation and connection. For those of us who have the privilege of maintaining social connectivity without the risk of exposure, we have the benefits of both worlds.
Q: Do you have any advice for this year’s anthropology graduates who might be worried about finding employment or finding the funding for graduate school?
F: I think it’s the same advice I would always give. This year sucks for everybody. Not having your last year in class and in labs isn’t great. If students want to go into graduate school, it’s fairly straightforward. Apply to graduate school, but do your homework. Make sure that you actually know why you want to continue with school. Don’t do it just because it’s a default thing to do. Show people that you have a passion and a reason to go. Try not to think of graduate school as the next step, but as a pathway towards a career that you want. If you’re not sure, taking a gap year before applying is a really good idea to figure out what your interests are. Entering a master’s program instead of a PhD can also be a good idea. In terms of job opportunities at the BA level, contract archaeologists might begin to have work again in the not-too-distant future. The nice thing about archaeology is that you’re often outside in the fresh air and can socially distance without too much trouble.
Archaeological Field School
AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
BY Alondra Rodriguez
Despite the pandemic, archaeological and for that matter other anthropological field schools are still something to look forward to. Scouring various field school websites, study abroad websites and even programs from other schools can be stressful especially now when there is the uncertainty of when or how programs can continue. I attended a field school not too long ago, but I am also in the process of seeing what’s available this summer and would like to invite you to learn more about what field school is like, where to find programs and takeaways from the experience.
First and foremost anyone can attend an archaeological field school with no prior experience, all you need is the passion to learn and a good work ethic. Field school not only lets you apply what you’ve learned in courses but is also an opportunity to learn whether or not fieldwork is for you. Not to say that if you don’t like fieldwork then you can not work in archaeology or other anthropological fields, though it can help guide you and help you find your passion within the field. Some archaeologists love fieldwork, the dirt, sweat, and aching muscles are worth every bit of knowledge uncovered, other archaeologists prefer working in a lab setting or specializing in subfields that require either minimal or extensive fieldwork.
Though daunting at first, fieldwork takes time and patience, I learned that through three weeks of shoveling topsoil and rocks until we reached a point in which we could begin to construct a chronology. It definitely isn’t as glamorous as Indian Jones or Lara Croft make it seem, it's days of repetitive work, note-taking, drawing, and lab work. Though it is important to mention that every field school is structured differently and have different focuses, for instance, some field schools specialize in bioarchaeology, so students in addition to learning about fieldwork in general will also learn about how to excavate human remains, while there are others that specialize in conservation of other material remains such as mosaics or textiles.
Fieldwork is also an opportunity to work cooperatively and be a part of a team. My initial thought going into the field was that I would be given a square and told to work by myself which made me anxious, but you learn to communicate and rely on teamwork to get tasks done. Additionally, you work with people from the local area, learn about their culture, language, and really get to know who they are. Many field schools also offer excursions and classwork or lectures to supplement your fieldwork and learn more about the cultures and places you are working in.
Now, where can you begin to look for field schools? First, in terms of courses ARCHY 250: Principles of Archaeology is a good introduction to everything archaeology, including survey and excavation methods. Though most programs do not require a specific major or set of courses to participate in their program, showing interest in the field by taking an introductory class or courses focusing on a particular culture or region is helpful. Currently, according to both the UW Anthropology Department website and the UW Study Abroad website, the University of Washington is not offering archaeological or other anthropological fieldwork programs this upcoming summer. One way of learning about field school is to ask a professor or advisor as it is possible they may know of a program or know someone who could provide more information about field schools. Additionally, the Institute for Field Research or IFR is an amazing resource for finding, applying to, and funding fieldwork opportunities. IFR programs cover a range of disciplines from archaeology to environmental studies to heritage conservation, many of their programs also offer academic credits. Finally, some of their programs are currently accepting applications for the 2021 season though with strict COVID-19 guidelines.
Whether you’re comfortable with attending field school this summer or looking towards next summer, know that it is an experience worthwhile. If you have any additional questions or would like clarification about anything please feel free to DM us or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been a little over six months since 18,000 other students and I graduated from the University of Washington via the school’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony (UW News staff, 2020). For me, it was a surreal experience that was so different from what I expected my graduation to be like, though not necessarily in a bad way. Rather than sitting in Husky Stadium wearing a cap and gown alongside fellow graduates, I sat on my couch wrapped in a blanket with my partner. And instead of physically marching in a procession to receive my degree, I watched pictures of students “walk” in rows across my computer screen. Despite these changes, I thought that the Class of 2020’s commencement was a very professional and regal event, and I was proud to have it be for my class. The University did a great job adapting the ceremony by blending old traditions with new formats, which I felt was highly reflective of similar changes happening throughout our society.
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a tremendous impact on the world around us, and efforts to slow its spread via social distancing measures have triggered a wave of changes to our norms, behaviors, and modes of communication. As an Anthropology graduate, one difference that I’ve noticed the most is the establishment of new traditions and rituals or the modification of existing ones, such as this year’s commencement ceremony. In particular, I’d like to share a casual autoethnography with you: my personal observations on changes to both social and hygienic rituals within my household.
With social distancing measures requiring everyone to avoid large gatherings such as parties, sports events, and other group activities, the pandemic is affecting the population’s health in more ways than one. In Frontiers in Psychology, Giada Pietrabissa and Susan G. Simpson state that the notable increase in psychological disorders since the beginning of the pandemic is” not only a direct consequence of the pandemic but also largely driven by the effects of prolonged social isolation” (2020). As a response to this dilemma, many personal and professional groups have begun to regularly schedule online events to create more socialization opportunities within their networks. I’ve noticed that my workplace as well as my partner’s both introduced weekly virtual “happy hours,” and our friends have increased get-togethers in the form of group video calls and online party games. Since our household of three has the unique opportunity to physically socialize with one another, we’ve also established more “traditional” social rituals such as movie nights, game nights, and outdoor activities that are socially distanced from others.
Our household has also predictably changed and added hygienic rituals in order to lower our risks of contracting COVID-19. Since we must all wear masks in public at all times (JIC, 2020), it’s now part of our routine to collect them with our keys, wallets, and phones before we leave the house. We’ve also created new handwashing and sanitation rituals when leaving public spaces. For example, we always use hand sanitizer as soon as we return to our car, and we always wash our hands as soon as we arrive home. These behaviors have become ingrained into us, and I have a feeling that we’ll retain them long after the pandemic is over.
The events of this year have created a unique set of challenges for communities to overcome. In order to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19, large governing bodies have created a new set of rituals and customs to follow, such as wearing masks in public or standing at least six feet apart (JIC, 2020). But even small groups, such as households or even individual people, are creating their own new traditions, which both impresses me and showcases the adaptable, resilient, and creative nature of human beings. What new rituals or traditions have you made or will you make, simply because you can?
I’m privileged and thankful to be able to ponder these details thanks to my studies in Anthropology, and also to have graduated as part of UW’s Class of 2020. The knowledge that I’ve received from our school’s faculty, staff, and fellow students has taught me to think critically, investigate human behavior on an individual and cultural level, and analyze it with a reflexive lens. As the UW’s department website states, “Anthropology is mainly about two things: Understanding and engagement. It seeks to make sense of this world we share and uncovers new ways to transform the world and ourselves” (University of Washington, 2020). With the continuing amount of change that our society is facing, I believe there is no better time to embody this anthropological mission and mindset than right now.
JIC (Joint Information Center). 2020. “Stay Home, Stay Healthy.” Washington State Coronavirus Response
Pietrabissa, Giada, and Susan G. Simpson. 2020. “Psychological Consequences of Social Isolation During
COVID-19 Outbreak.” Frontiers in Psychology 11: 2201. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02201.
University of Washington. n.d. “Undergraduate Programs.” Department of Anthropology. Accessed November
UW News staff. 2020. “Commencement, UW’s biggest celebration, reimagined as an online event.” UW News.
ARCHY 345 Global Ethnoarchaeology with Sven Haakanson
Examines ethnoarchaeological techniques and practices. Students work hands-on with artifacts and can expect to develop basic carving skills.
ANTH 308 The Anthropology Of Gender, Women's Health, And Reproduction with Rachel Chapman
Students learn about real-world issues relating to health, feminism, and social structures. Focus on written assignments and a final group presentation or a final reflective paper.
Topics related to technology, the creation and sharing of information through an anthropological lens. During the summer 2020 quarter with instructor Christopher Chan, projects consisted of weekly video submissions to YouTube.
ANTH 209 Anthropology through Visual Media (taught by various faculty)
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