Thursday, December 16, 2010

ANTHRO-TEACH has a new website!

The ANTHRO-TEACH Program has a new website ( with many exciting features, including links to lesson plans, information on our current and past projects, photos, and links to our calendar of upcoming events. Anna McCown is currently working on site development, so stay posted for updates and contact Dr. Lori Cormier or Dr. Sharyn Jones if you have any questions.

Historical Ecology

During the Fall semester of 2010 Dr. Sharyn Jones taught a Historical Ecology course. In this class students were encouraged to discuss historical and contemporary issues of cultural ecology.
Students were given the option of completing a term paper or a project that related to the topics discussed during the class. Some worked in groups. The projects followed the theme of bringing more awareness to environmental issues. During the process of these projects students maintained public blogs, so that their instructor and classmates, as well as the general public could follow their progress.

Amanda Harper, Kalyn Abrams, Mallory Messersmith, Justin Sims, Harry Clark carried their trash around with them for a week and then weighed and averaged amongst themselves, and then they compared their data with national averages.

Marissa T Bakhshian’s goal was to promote environmental awareness within her own household. She and her roommates worked to reduce the amount of waste that they produced, along with the amount of water and electricity that they used.

Anne Sorrell, Christel Carlisle, Courtney Andrews planted small gardens, utilizing only natural cultivation methods in their homes with the objective promoting sustainable living.

Ashley Nielson adopted a pescetarian diet. She gave up eating meat, with the exception of seafood. Her blog contains information about her personal experiences with giving up meat, as well as information about how the meat industry affects the environment.

Anna McCown, Lindsay Whiteaker, and Jake Delisle have been working to create a historical ecology wikiproject in an effort to bring together other researchers who are willing to work together to provide useful information about the topic of historical ecology that can be presented to the public through wikipedia.

Also during the class some student proposed ideas for promoting environmental education, that may be utilized in the future as a part of ANTHRO-TEACH. Included in these ideas were a proposal for a sort ecology based mentoring program and a lesson plan intended to promote environmental awareness for young children.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Sunday, October 24, The Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, AL presented in partnership with the Moundville Archaeological Park , "Whispers from the Past: A Native American Experience" During the event, visitors got to experience traditional Native American culture through a number of activities provided. The Anthro-Teach team was present to offer an anthropological perspective on Native American cultural history.

Both students and faculty members provided presentations in three different sessions. Many of the visitors in these sessions were educators from local schools. The information presented was along with suggestions of ways that it could be incorporated into the K-12 classroom curriculum.

The topic of the first session was Native American ethnobotany. In this section the presenters were Dr. Loretta Cormier, Courtney Andrews, and Ashley Wilson. Here the presenters discussed different ways that Native Americans from the Southeastern U.S. identified and used plants in their everyday lives. The main focus of this section was the use of plants for food and medicinal purposes.

The topic of the second session was Native American archaeology. In this section Dr. Sharyn Jones, Mallory Messersmith, and Brandon Grisaffi discussed different aspects of Native American culture that have been discovered through archaeological research. The presenters provided information about different methods that archaeologists use to study material remains of past cultures, physical examples of different types of Native American artifacts, and information about what can be learned from the study of them.

In the third session the presenters Dave Cunningham, Anna McCown, and Chauntelle Sharp were able to recruit audience members to participate in demonstrations of Native American music and dance. Along with this they included information about the cultural and social contexts involved in the performances.

Monday, September 27, 2010

World Peace Day

On September 21, 2010 the UAB Anthropology Club held a bake sale, in observance of World Peace Day. All of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Amnesty International, an international human rights organization or Pathways, a shelter for abused women and children. Along with baked goods, peace sign jewelry was available for purchase. At the sale it was requested that customers make a donation to either charity in the amount of their choice amount in exchange for either a food item or jewelry.

Throughout the day student volunteers manned the table, bringing awareness to world peace day, and requsesting that people express their thoughts on peace, by writing it on a leaf and adding it to the peace tree.

There was also a peace day raffle. In order to participate people had to take a quiz testing their knowledge of global human rights issues. Each quiz was used as a ballot for the drawing. At the end of the day, three of the quizzes were chosen, determining the raffles third, second, and first place winners.The third place winner received a $10 gift certificate to the Golden Temple, second place received a $10 gift certificate to Lucy's Coffee and Tea, and the first place winner received a piece of Masi, traditional Fijian barkcloth.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anthro Club at The Table

On Saturday, July 25th, UAB's Anthropology Club sponsored "The Table", a homeless shelter's hot meal service in downtown Birmingham, AL. Club members planned, prepared, and served the meal.

Lori Cormier, Mallory Messersmith, Christel Carlisle, and Helena Corzan get ready to start serving lunch.

Alison Jenkins and her mom hand out their homemade desserts!

This was a great opportunity for the club to do something that impacted the community, and thanks to everyone who came out and helped make it a success!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

McWane presentations - Fiji REU

On Saturday, July 25th, students who participated in the 2010 Fiji REU presented some of their research to children and parents at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, AL.

The students prepared posters and hands-on activities for the children in order to teach them about Fijian culture.

Ben Knox, Lindsay Whiteaker, and Helena Corzan presented on Fijian music and dance. They helped the children dress up in traditional costume and taught them a meke (dance) they had learned during their time in Fiji.

Anna McCown, Courtney Andrews, and Mallory Messersmith taught the children about the importance of studying a culture's garbage, and what trash can tell us about the people who discarded those items. Children played a game in which they tried to match rubbish items with people from Fijian and American cultures.

Christel Carlisle, Ashley Wilson, and Caitlin Aamodt presented on the effects of natural disasters such as cyclones on the Fijian islands. They designed a board game in which children made choices that determined how well they would have weathered a cyclone in Fiji.

National Science Foundation REU Fiji 2010

The second year of UAB's National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in Fiji fieldschool has come to a close! The Fiji REU program engages students in interdisciplinary problem based research, exploring long-term dynamics in human interaction with the environment. Project participants learn about anthropology (the study of humans and culture) as well as historical ecology, a discipline focused on the relationships between people and both physical and biological environments. In the context of various study areas in Fiji’s Lau Island Group, students and faculty engage in meaningful scientific research incorporating the methods of anthropology and ecology.

Helena Corzan surveys the post-cyclone landscape during a hike.

While last year's REU focused primarily on archaeological methods of investigation, this year's fieldschool took an ethnographic approach. Students investigated such topics as: foodways and cooking, education, adolescence and gender roles, music, adaptation to western culture, place names, oral histories, and kinship. Students also learned to utilize different methods of ethnographic research while adapting to the unique stresses of fieldwork.

Christel Carlisle helping to prepare a Fijian lunch in the bure.

Courtney Andrews, Mallory Messersmith, and Anna McCown analyzing data for their project involving indigenous and imported rubbish.

For more information (along with more photos, posters, and lesson plans), visit the Fiji REU's website.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lakeshore Foundation Presentations

On Monday, May 24th, ANTHRO-TEACH students gave presentations to visually-impaired teenagers and adults at Birmingham's Lakeshore Foundation.

Marissa Bakhshian presented on ancient and modern-day Persia (Iran), focusing on the roles of sports and music in the society.

She also brought musical instruments and spices as tactile and olfactory aids.

Lindsay Whiteaker presented on Fijian culture and foodways. She gave each person a traditional role in Fijian society, and then placed everyone at the table according to their rank.

The "chief" of the day was wrapped in masi (barkcloth) to signify his wealth and status.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Introductory Cultural Anthropology Book

ANTHRO-TEACH Project Directors, Dr. Loretta Cormier and Dr. Sharyn Jones, have published a new introductory text for cultural anthropology!

This book incorporates interactive videos, imagery, and hyperlinks to web-based materials. It was developed for use in the authors' Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Anth 101) classes at UAB, and it will be available to students online.

Proceeds from royalties will be donated to an ANTHRO-TEACH scholarship fund to support anthropology undergraduates.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Titusville Historical Archaeology Field Study presented by Anthro-Teach and Parker High School

Anthro-Teach has teamed up with nine students from Parker High School to work on researching a historical cemetery in Titusville. The students receive one hour of college credit from UAB for their fifteen weeks of hands-on work and research. The students met one day a week after school for one hour, as well devoting eight Saturdays of the spring semester to fieldwork and field trips.The goal of the project is to educate the students in ethnohistory, archeology, genealogy, and to introduce anthropology and archeology as possible career paths.

The students were recognized Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 at The Birmingham City School Board meeting for receiving an award for the Best Poster in Science Education at The Alabama Academy of Science meeting.

(From left) Malcom Ryans, Sabrina Bone, and Delana Benford presenting at the Alabama Academy of Science meeting

Photo taken of the students, faculty, and Birmingham City School Board members

In addition to presenting at The Alabama Academy of Science meeting and receiving recognition at The Birmingham City School Board meeting, the students from Parker also participated in a mock archeology dig on Thursday, April 29th. The nine students from Parker High School participating in The Titusville Historical Archeology Field Study took at trip to The University of Alabama at Birmingham's campus to learn and practice basic archeology techniques and theories. The students spent time learning how to prep a site by making a grid of their area,which was two large planting boxes filled with various artifacts.

Anna McCowan, UAB student and anthropology major, teaching Parker students how to setup a grid for an archeology site

The students also learned the importance of surveying a site and taking detailed notes. Students learned basic techniques for unearthing artifacts using trowels and other various tools. The mock dig was divided into two stations, and each student spent time setting up a grid, recording data, excavating, sifting for artifacts, and soil analysis, all basic and important components to a successful dig. The practice dig was led by Professors in UAB's Department of History and Anthropology, Dr. Lorreta Cormier and Dr. Sharyn Jones, as well as Parker history teacher, Barry McNealey, Titusville Historical Archeology Project Manager, Sabrina Bone, and five UAB anthropology students.

Jade Delisle and Angela Cales, UAB anthropology graduate students, giving Parker kids an introduction to trowel use and excavation techniques.

(From left) Brea Roper, Melvin Griffin, and Kenneth Sutton excavate a deer skull

Both The Birmingham News and News Channel 33/40 came out to the mock excavation to do a story on the kids and their work with The Titusville Historical Archeology Field Study. For more information on the project and the kids from parker please see the following links

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recent Events with ANTHRO-TEACH:

ANTHRO-TEACH Presentations from the Southern Anthropological Society (SAS) meetings in Savannah, Georgia (February 18-20, 2010)

Caitlin Aamodt is pictured above presenting her paper on "Human understanding of Place Names on Nayau, Lau Group, Fiji."

Mallory Messersmith presented "Analysis and interpretation of a suspected earth oven feature on Nayau, Fiji" at the SAS meetings in Georgia.

UAB Faculty (Cormier and Jones) and Anthropology students (from left to right): Ashley Wilson, Lindsay Whiteaker, Caitlin Aamodt, Mallory Messersmith, Anna McCown, and Megan Noojin-Sunderman.

Anna McCown presented " Dumped: An Exploration of the Material Culture of a Contemporary Community in Nayau, Fiji."

Meagan Noojin-Sunderman presented a presentation on "Under the Sea:Holocene Climate Changes and Effects in Fiji, ca AD 1300"

Sabrina Bone (center) and students from Parker High School received an award for the Best Poster in Science and Education at the Alabama Academy of Science meetings on April 1, 2010.

Mallory Messersmith received the Alabama Archaeological Society Award.

Christel Carlisle was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate in Anthropology Award.

Angela Cales, pictured with Anthropology Dept. Chair Carolyn Conley, was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student in Anthropology award.

Sabrina Bone received the Departmental Chairs Award in Anthropology and History.

Sharyn Jones and Lori Cormier took Anthro-Teach students and Jones' Food and Culture class to visit the West End Community Gardens in April, 2010

Food and Culture students are helping to remove weeds from the gardens.

The Alabama Academy of Science Meetings
Alabama A&M University in Huntsville

Ashley Wilson presented a poster regarding the ethnohistory of food. Her poster was titled "Ethnohistory of Food: Food and Folk Remedies of Alabama Slaves."

Anna AcCown presented a poster presentation on " Dumped: An Exploration of the Material Culture of a Contemporary Community in Nayau, Fiji"

Sharyn Jones and Loretta Cormier presented a paper titled "Gender Inequity and Cultural Diversity: A Field School in Fiji’s Lau Island Group ."