I am an evolutionary anthropology PhD student working with Dr. Edward Hagen. My research integrates evolutionary medicine and cultural methods to examine how biological, reproductive, and socio-cultural factors influence patterns of tobacco use among U.S. migrant Latin American women and indigenous women living in tobacco-producing nations of Latin America.
During the summer of 2018, I had the good fortune of establishing a field site in Jujuy, Argentina, a tobacco-growing region (#8 in the world) in the Southern Andes with a history of ceremonial tobacco use, rising trends in substance use, much socioeconomic and ethnic diversity, and some of the highest total fertility rates in the country. During my visit, I met with more than 20 local researchers, made friends, tested my research instruments, collected preliminary data, ate llama meat, saw snow, almost went jungle-hiking to hot springs, experienced altitudes of over 14,000 ft, participated in a Pachamama ceremony, had a birthday, and solidified collaborations with Dr. Ethel Alderete, co-director of the CONICET-CISOR research institute and the newest member of my PhD committee!
As part of my research program, and with an eye toward public health, this field season represented part one of a three-phase study that seeks to answer nuanced questions on the effect acculturation has on health as it relates to drug use, fertility determinants, and reproductive decision-making. Given the state of the tobacco epidemic, alongside irreversible globalization, an assessment of acculturation on tobacco use behaviors and health outcomes is of increasing importance. I hope to contribute knowledge to substance use behaviors by teasing apart the relative contributions of biological and cultural factors, as well as through contributions aimed at designing culturally competent cessation strategies. I return to the field in summer 2019!
Lori Phillips, graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University, was involved over the summer in curating an exhibition in the Crooked Tree Museum and Cultural Heritage Center in Belize, Central America. The museum’s grand opening occurred on June 30, 2018. The development of the museum was spearheaded by Dr. Eleanor Harrison-Buck from the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Hampshire and Dr. Sara Clarke-Vivier of Washington College who collaborated on the project as a museum education specialist. The museum was designed in partnership with the Crooked Tree village council and the local Kriol (Creole) community. The Kriol are descendants of Europeans and enslaved Africans who were brought to Belize (a former British Colony) in the eighteenth century for logging in the lower Belize River Watershed. The exhibition features the deep history of this area that has been investigated by the Belize River East Archaeology (BREA) project, directed since 2011 by Dr. Harrison-Buck. Lori has directed the laboratory research for BREA since 2014 and worked this summer with the BREA team to implement the exhibition. The exhibition housed in the Crooked Tree Museum and Cultural Heritage Center features the archaeology of the preceramic and Maya periods from this area. Lori has been working on this material as part of her doctoral research and plans to return in January to continue her studies, specifically focusing on the ancient fauna (animal remains) from Belize. In addition to the ancient history, the exhibition also highlights the more recent colonial period that BREA has uncovered in their excavations, featuring the rich Kriol history in the lower Belize River Watershed, considered the “birthplace” of Kriol culture. Working together with the local community, the BREA team developed a museum exhibition that combines the archaeological remains with archival records and oral histories to provide a fuller reconstruction of what life was like in the lower Belize River Watershed through time. An estimated 200 people attended the Opening in Crooked Tree, including numerous local residents, national dignitaries and international visitors. Generous support for this project was provided by the Whiting Foundation and the Alphawood Foundation of Chicago that was awarded to Harrison-Buck.