Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alridge Gardens Whispers from the Past 2012

Some of the many artifacts on display at the event

Aldrige Botanical Gardens hosted the third annual Native American festival, Whispers from the Past, on October 6th this year. Students and faculty from UAB ANTHRO-TEACH were excited to participate and help educate about our Native American Culture.

The festival includes a variety of activites such as flintknapping demonstrations, dance preformances by the The Sylestine Legacy, and many activities for childen such as leaf pounding and loom beading.

The Sylestine Legacy is a family of Alabama Coushatta Native Americans 


Hoop Dancing preformed by Lyndon Alec

The Three Sisters Garden was filled with squash, maize, and beans. These vegetables were a staple in many Native American gardens. You can learn more about the folklore behind the three sisters here!

Children learning Cherokee leaf pounding

UAB is home to one of the most diverse collections of Native American artifacts. The Josselyn Archaeological Collection contains artifacts, such as pottery, arrowheads, stone tools, and many other unique treasures, all of which were found in Alabama! UAB students and staff are currently working to create a digital catalog of the collection, helping to promote education and assure preservation. 

  UAB graduate students, Mallory and Brandon, explaining the difference between projectile points

    Collection of traditional Native American musical instruments

In addition to having artifacts from Alabama, UAB also houses some from South America and Louisiana. 

Above are artifacts that were found at Poverty Point. This site, located in Northern Louisiana, is home to some of the most ancient earthworks in the United States. Due to the extremely unique artifacts found there some are simply given the name "Poverty Point Objects". 

Whispers from the Past allows us to get in touch with our Native American culture in fun and interesting ways. ANTHRO-TEACH looks forward to helping again next year! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welcome back picnic

 A picnic at the Mini Park welcomed students back to school this Fall.

Co-hosted by the Anthropology Club, the Dept.s of Social Work and Anthorpology, and ANTHRO-TEACH, the picnic had Shindigs catering and cupcakes from Dream Cakes.

Anthropology students and Social work were around to talk about the programs UAB offers to new students.

For those who could not attend, welcome back! We hope you have a great Fall semester!

Monday, June 25, 2012

UAB students dig at Sloss Furnace

As reported by this article in the Birmingham News, nine Anthro students just finished an archaeological dig at Sloss Furnace. They were seeking to learn about the Quarters -- an area where company houses used to be in the 20th century. The site was home for many Sloss workers and their families.

The next step is to take the findings to the McWane Center and clean, study and then catalog items valuable for the study. UAB News produced a second story with a video.

Graduate fellow Christel Carlisle and public administration graduate student Jeremiah Rastegar were two of the nine students digging at Sloss Furnace

Monday, June 18, 2012

Get your applications ready!

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s NSF-REU
Ethnoarchaeology Fieldschool In the Fiji Islands, South Pacific

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is now accepting applications from undergraduates for the 2012-2013 archaeological field school in the Lau Islands, Fiji. 

Students will have the opportunity to learn about ethnoarchaeology and methods of participation observation. Additionally, all students will make a meaningful contribution to the understanding the lifeways of Fijian peoples, and experience another culture.  

We will accept between 6-9 undergraduate students from all majors and of any level (freshman-senior), for the 2012-2013 fieldschool who will receive funding to cover plane fare, living expenses, and each will be provided a generous stipend for completing this 9-week experience (it will either take place in December 2012-January 2013 or June-July, 2013). 

The process is competitive and in 2010 we had over 100 applicants for only 9 REU Fellowship positions. We are interested in recruiting students from all backgrounds; it is not necessary to have had prior anthropological experience to apply.  Specific instructions regarding the application process are provided below.  Completed applications and any questions should be sent to Dr. Sharyn Jones, Recruiting will begin immediately.

For information on the NSF REU Fiji program in the past, visit:

FAQS for Students:
What is an REU?
The National Science Foundation has developed an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) grant competition that provides funding to universities that create opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to participate in "hands-on" scientific research.  Our REU involves anthropological research in archaeology and cultural anthropology in Fiji. UAB anthropologists, Dr. Jones and Dr. Cormier, are the program leaders for this grant that will provide funds for students to participate in a field school based in Fiji. 

Do I have to be a UAB Anthropology Student to Participate in the Field School?
No.  The NSF-REU is administered through UAB, but undergraduate students enrolled in any U.S. college or university are eligible to apply. Previous coursework in anthropology is not a requirement for acceptance to the program, but experience in anthropology courses and/or expression of a clear interest in studying anthropology, the past, and diverse cultures is an asset.

How will students be selected?
We will select students based on a combination of factors. Students will need to provide academic transcripts, but GPA is not the most important factor—we are looking for hardworking, adaptable, and creative individuals who are eager to gain a hands-on experience in science and to learn about a foreign culture. It is essential for students to put aside their American-ness in order to engage in effective participant observation and learn about Fijian culture and the ethnographic process while in the field.   

Can I Receive Course Credit?
Yes.  Students who would like to receive course credit for their participation in the field school have the option of enrolling in up to 6 credits of coursework through UAB’s Anthropology Department.

How Long is the Field School?
Nine weeks. The Fieldschool will begin with a one-week orientation to the research program and Fijian culture history (at UAB), followed by six weeks of research in Fiji, and finally, two weeks of laboratory work, analysis, interpretation, and public presentations of the projects in the Birmingham area. Students will begin the program at UAB, travel to Fiji as a group and then return to UAB to complete the course and their individual research projects. Past projects have run from June-July, and include 9 weeks in total.

What Are the Living Conditions Like in Fiji?
The living and working conditions in Fiji will be like “camp” conditions.  We will be sleeping next to each other in extremely close quarters with virtually NO privacy. Accommodations will include huts, tents, or concrete buildings and will NOT have access to electricity, running water, formal showers, telephones, or the internet.  It is important that students who apply for the program fully understand that they must be in mental and physical condition for 5 weeks of camping-like conditions and working in the hot climate of Fiji. Once the team arrives at our research destination there will be no opportunities to leave the island early, except in emergency medical situations.

What Will Students Do Each Day in Fiji?
Students will be trained in standard anthropological field methods while in the field. Everyone will work together to conduct research in the village we stay in. Students will be instructed in ethnographic techniques and the skills required to study in this intimate community setting. Participant observation will include engaging in everyday village and household activities, including cooking, cleaning, collecting fire-wood, feeding livestock, fishing, and other mundane domestic tasks. Ethnoarchaeological techniques will also be learned. Some material and data will be analyzed in a laboratory at UAB. Students will be taught to record scientific data, keep field journals, make blogs and web-based media, and analyze data.  

What Will Students Do After the Fieldwork in Fiji?
Every student will take part in post-field laboratory and other work at UAB after the fieldwork in Fiji. Students will also participate in public outreach activities and do research projects based on their field experiences. This part of the course will last two weeks and in the past it has taken place during the end of July. Students are expected to make public and academic presentations of their field research. NSF-REU Fiji Archaeological Fieldschool Application

Student Recruitment and Selection
Completed applications should be sent by regular mail to Dr. Sharyn Jones at the address below. Please email Dr. Jones at:, if you have any questions about the field school or application process.  Below is a list of the materials you will need to provide by the due date in 2012 (TBA):

1. Please fill out the attached cover letter with the requested information, answering all the questions.

2. A 2-page Personal Narrative. This narrative or biography should give a picture of yourself as an individual. It should describe: 1. The experiences you feel are important to your personal history, such as family background and/or other relevant influences on your personal development. 2. The educational and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed.  3. The ways in which these experiences have affected you. 4. Also include your special interests and abilities, career plans, life goals and how this REU experience will help you meet these goals. 5. Please describe whether or not you have had any prior opportunities for research experience or exposure to anthropology. 6. Your interests in living in a foreign culture and how you see yourself adapting to that experience. 
7. It is important that you explain clearly your understanding that we will be living in tight quarters, engaging in difficult work with extreme working conditions. You need to be mentally and physically ready. Since we will be working in the hot tropics you should also communicate to us that you will be physically able to participate in the field school. We want all applicants to be aware that the accommodations for this program will be camping-based; there will be no flush toilets, all participants will sleep in small concrete buildings or thatch huts on the ground and there will be no electricity, running water, formal showers, telephones, or internet access. Once the team arrives at our research destination there will be no opportunities to leave the island early, except in emergency medical situations.

3.  Academic transcripts (we will accept unofficial transcripts for application purposes, but official transcripts may be requested from all accepted applicants).  

4. Two letters of recommendation from at least one should be from a teacher or professor who knows you well. The letters should address the applicant’s aptitude for this particular research project, and strengths that the applicant could potentially bring to the project.

5. We will interview all students before acceptance for this program.

6. Students who are accepted to the program will have to option to enroll in the a series of UAB Anthropology course for 1-6 hours of credit total, in the past we have offered: ANTH 406 (Archaeology of the Pacific Islands), ANTH 415 (Ethnographic Fieldschool), ANTH 411 (Advanced Field Archaeology), ANTH 492 (Special Problems in Archaeology).

Please direct any questions you may have to

Final Applications are due [date: TBA] and should be mailed to:
Dr. Sharyn Jones
Department of Anthropology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Heritage Hall, Rm. # 315
Birmingham, AL 35294

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Earth Day mobilizes UAB

Earth Day was celebrated April 18 at the HUC

Earth day brought local businesses to mobilize the community and raise awareness about Earth Day. The date was originally idealized by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin in the early seventies, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. More than 40 years later, the mobilization reaches all continents.

Sojourns Fair Trade set up their space with jewelry, crafts and scarfs.

In Birmingham, several local business, students' efforts and funding from the Anthropology Department, Anthro Teach and the Black Warrior RiverKeeper made up for a touching celebration yesterday on campus.

Grow Alabama served strawberries with chocolate to passers-by

Among others, the Golden Temple, Manna Market, Cosmo's Pizza, West End Community Garden, Freshfully, Grow Alabama, Alpha Solar, Commute Smart and Shidings marked their presence with informative booths and giveaways.
Also, a bake sake promoted by anthropology students raised money for the sponsors.

Magic City Agriculture's booth explained the benefits of a diverse forest

Earth Day's activities filled the day with events, ranging from environmental documentaties screenings, a drum circle, a speech by Nelson Brooke from Black Warrior RiverKeeper about how to protect Birmingham's water and several panel discussions promoted by the UAB Green Initiative. 

But the events are not over yet. An EarthFest will take place on April 22nd at Bessie Estelle Park.
Come and celebrate Earth Day again! All events are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jemison Visiting Professorship is just around the corner!

Get ready to see Professor Francis de Waal talk about empathy, fairness and prosocial primates.
The theme of this Jemison Visiting Professorship lecture is "Morality Before Religion" and it is presented by the College of Arts and Sciences the Department of History and Anthropology at UAB. Dr. de Waal teaches primate behavior at Emory University.
The speech will take place at the UAB Alumni House on April 11, 2012, at 4pm.

In case you missed

ANTHRO-TEACH hosted the 47th annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society here in Birmingham on March 15-17th. The theme was “Peace, Justice, and the Environment from an Anthropological Perspective.”

Photo by David M Johnson

More than 150 presenters, along with others who attended as observers were welcomed.

Photo by David M Johnson

Photo by AnthroTeach

This was an opportunity for southern anthropologists to share the ongoing and completed research projects with others with similar interests. It was also an excellent opportunity for students of anthropology to gain some more exposure to professional presentations and different anthropological and interdisciplinary perspectives. The original research projects covered an array of anthropology related topics.
However, the highlight of the conference was the keynote speech given by Dr. Beth Conklin of Vanderbilt University on Friday. She spoke on the topic of “Cultivating Politics of Possibility: Changing Climates for Southern Anthropology.”
The conference was a success overall and it was the pleasure of ANTHRO-TEACH to present this venue for the sharing of ideas and research, and to promote further dialogues about the importance of peace, justice, and ecology within the discipline of anthropology.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jemison Visiting Professorship brings de Waal to UAB

Morality Before Religion is the theme of the next Jemison Visiting Professorship lecture, presented by the College of Arts and Sciences the Department of History and Anthropology at UAB. Professor Francis de Waal will talk about empathy, fairness and prosocial primates. Dr. de Waal teaches primate behavior at Emory University.
The speech will take place at the UAB Alumni House on April 11, 2012, at 4pm.

Get ready for the 2012 Southern Anthropological Society meeting

The 2012 Annual Southern Anthropological Society meeting will be hosted by Anthro-Teach at the University of Alabama Birmingham at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, March 14th-17th. This year’s theme is “Peace, Justice, and Environment” and our keynote speaker will be Professor Beth Conklin from Vanderbilt University. The Sheraton is located in downtown Birmingham and is within walking distance of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the McWane Science Center and the Civil Rights Institute. Click here for map and directions. Book your room at the Sheraton by February 13, 2012 before 5 p.m. to receive the special conference rate of $115.00 per night. A field trip to the Civil Rights Institute is planned for the Sunday after the conference. The SAS Annual Meeting provides professional anthropologists and students of anthropology with an opportunity to explore and share current projects and issues within the field. Please direct any questions to the meeting chairs, Sharyn Jones ( or Lori Cormier ( For more information, visit the Southern Anthropological Society website.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Thursday January 19, 2012, Anthro-TEACH gave a presentation about Native American culture for Boy Scout Pack 397 of Homewood, AL at the Trinity United Methodist Church. The student presenters were Christel Carlisle, Jade Delisle, Alea Rouse. The overall presentation showed the children how Native Americans utilized their natural environment. They covered the topics of lithics (stone tools) and music and dance.
The explanations of stone tools included how they were constructed and used. There were plenty of examples presented for the troops to gain greater perspectives of how they were utilized by prehistoric Native Americans.
The scouts were very enthusiastic participants in demonstrations of traditional Native American music and dance. The music and dances that were demonstrated were from more contemporary times, but they allowed the younger audiences to see how Native Americans incorporated nature into their traditions.
Due to time constraints the all of the questions could not be answered, but the Anthro-TEACH team was very impressed by this pack's interest in these topics. We greatly appreciate the enthusiasm of the scouts and we hope that they were able take away valuable information and are further encouraged to pursue anthropological cultural explorations.