Luke Bazemore ’21

Livelihood Transformations in the Upper Kali Gandaki River Basin of Nepal and their Impact on Climate Vulnerability
This project investigates the internal dynamics and external pressures shaping livelihood systems in communities above 1000 masl in the Kali Gandaki River Basin in the Nepali Himalayas. Using two distinct temporal periods for analysis, before and after 1970, this work seeks to uncover how political, economic, and cultural transformations have influenced livelihood systems in the study area. In turn, this paper analyzes trends toward new regimes of livelihood specialization and discusses how they impact household and community vulnerability to climate-driven hydrological change. Data were collected primarily through literature review in combination with the author’s personal notes and communications from time spent in the study area in March of 2020. By employing a scalar and temporal analysis of power structures, this work uses a political ecology lens to map the influence of global economic factors like tourism and labor migration in restructuring local livelihoods. Ultimately, this study finds that diversification of income through remittances and engagement with a burgeoning service economy simultaneously increase well-being but introduce greater volatility in household income and, concurrently, increased climate vulnerability. Supervised by Prof. Sheridan

Bochu Ding ’21

Monumental Grief: Trump Voters and the Shattered Monuments of American Exceptionalism
Political analysts, pundits and pollsters alike were left shocked after Donald Trump emerged victorious in the 2016 presidential election, a race that many had considered a walkaway for Hillary Clinton. In its wake, theories seeking to explain what had occurred proliferated in public discourse. Some framed Trump voters as racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic; others pointed to the structural changes to the economy that left many white, working-class voters disenfranchised. In this essay, I argue that these narratives are incomplete – and that there are affective and symbolic dimensions to this political mobilization that have been largely left out of political and academic discourse; what is consequential in explaining Trump’s unexpected victory may not necessarily be material consequences (such as stagnant wages), but instead how individuals interpret and internalize those outcomes. To explore these affective and symbolic underpinnings, I propose a framework that situates discursive, affective, and cognitive theories in relation to one another. Within this contextualization, discourse is a looking glass, one that offers a deeper understanding of the cultural schemas – inexpressible cognitive frameworks that shape interpretations of reality and tether experiences to visceral emotions and greater symbolic meanings – shared by Trump voters. Drawing from interviews with nine Trump voters across the nation, I find that recurring narratives crystalized around the concept of American exceptionalism. However, as individuals observed evidence of decline that subverts this interpretation of American exceptionalism, a new narrative – a chosen trauma – is internalized, evoking visceral sentiments of frustration, anxiety, and anger. This project makes a case for understanding politics as symbolic and affective – and a re-imagination of the contemporary American political arena as a space of public mourning; a memorial for not just the death, but deaths of American exceptionalism. For some, this decadence represents the end of “the city on a hill” – and the trepidation of what follows; for others, it represents the fall of an empire built upon oppression and hope for a new era. Supervised by Prof. Oxfeld

Daniel Krugman ’21

Beyond Refuge: Visions of Violence, Migration, and Abolition from Mirieyi Settlement
The protracted refugee settlements of East Africa have become spaces of intense social, political, and economic change. This thesis explores these dynamics in one of these spaces called Mirieyi, located in the northwest corner of Uganda. Through the stories, life experiences, and everyday practices of the South Sudanese people called “refugees” who live in Mirieyi, the dynamics that drive this cosmopolitanism are located as phenomena that are not simply produced by existence inside the structures of “refuge.” Rather, it sees the institutions and agency of people called “refugees” as beyond the methods and rationales for managing forced migrants. I begin by repositioning “refuge” as part of the inherent structural violence of the global ordering of nation-states and Western supremacy. The second section outlines how the violence of neoliberal management has created resource scarcity in Mirieyi. The third part examines the indigenous institutions and relationships that the forced migrants have created for themselves. They survive structural violence not only as an everyday act of resistance, but also by enacting a process of social change that is gradually transforming social solidarity and cultural meanings beyond the relationships and ideas demanded by the national and global institutions of refuge. I conclude by calling for the abolition of refuge and a redefinition of the protracted refugee crisis in East Africa. Supervised by Prof. Sheridan

Micaela Gaynor ’21

Primatology: A Feminist Science?
Primatology, or the branch of zoology that focuses on primates, is often considered to be a “feminist science” due to the positive media attention and public awareness of famous female primatologists succeeding in this field, including Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas. While the impact of these female role models is notable, there are many other factors to consider when reviewing the salience of primatology being regarded as an “equal opportunity” science. Public perception does not denote the actual representation of women in the field, and representation itself does not signify equality. This essay considers how primatology compares to its related disciplines, why primatology may be attractive to women, how it has progressed as a “feminist science” over time, and what more needs to be done to support women researchers. Supervised by Prof. Fitzsimmons

Kayla Lichtman ’21

The Dentist Will See You Now: How Dental Care Providers Bridge the Migrant Healthcare Gap in Vermont
Within the field of sociocultural anthropology, there has been very little focus on practices of oral/dental health worldwide, and even less on Latinx migrant oral/dental health in the U.S. Moreover, the ethnographic picture of dental health providers is practically non-existent. This thesis addresses this gap by focusing on the perspectives of seven dental care providers and coordinators associated with a free health clinic in rural Vermont that serves Latinx migrant farmworkers. There are roughly 1200 migrant farmworkers in Vermont, many of whom have had limited prior experience with dental health care or dentistry. This study focuses on the unique relationship between providers and workers to highlight three sociocultural features of care: prevailing barriers in the delivery of dental care; the significance of oral health education and promotion in the clinical setting; and the role of cultural competence education in migrant health care. Barriers to care, including transportation and movement, timing and coordination, and language barriers, are examined using the conceptual framework of structural vulnerability and critiques of discourse around Latinx migrant hypervisibility in the U.S. According to study participants, dental health education is ideally oriented around individualized interactions with patients and grounded in respect and equality, rather than hierarchy. Providers also report a commitment to culturally competent care that is rooted in respect for cultural difference. Through an analysis of providers’ perceptions of the meanings, practices, and ethics associated with migrant dental care, the thesis concludes with a set of recommendations for building and galvanizing better dental care systems for Latinx migrants in the U.S. Supervised by Prof. Bright

Claire Martens ’21

Undisciplined Archaeology: Proposal for Experiential Learning in Warner Greenhouse
The contemporary fields of archaeology and anthropology are reckoning with ways to engage undergraduate students with hands-on practice , such as with excavated artifacts, ethnographically- informed maps, novels, plants, and more to simulate the broad range of data used for anthropological interpretation. Using materials donated to the college, digital archive databases, and tangible examples of Vermont’s local material culture housed in the Warner Greenhouse can broaden the interdisciplinary uses of anthropological resources for a variety of courses in geography, history, geology, and environmental science. Middlebury College and its position as an academic fortress on settled Western Abenaki land can also leverage its liberal arts structure to produce anti-colonial lessons for students. Working beyond the college’s Land Acknowledgement Committee (which is tasked with similar missions for reconciling Middlebury’s existence on settled land), spaces for interdisciplinary collaboration and community partnerships can aid in those efforts. A renovated Warner Greenhouse could teach hands-on archaeology, but allow it to evert into a multitude of existing courses at Middlebury College that could use the historical record without binding archaeology data in traditional anthropological theories. Supervised by Prof. Fitzsimmons

Courtney Tillman ’21

Beyond #ChinaRacism: How COVID-19 Exposed Histories of Marginalization and Health Inequalities in ‘Little Africa’
This thesis examines incidents of discrimination against African migrants in Guangzhou, China during the COVID-19 pandemic, uncovering the ways in which the recent mistreatment of Africans reveals historical structures of inequality and marginalization within Chinese society. This thesis problematizes African identity through depicting migrants in Guangzhou as a diverse, heterogenous group, and articulates how Chinese perceptions of black identity complicate Africans’ ability to establish belonging in China. Using sociological and anthropological theories of identity, discrimination, migrant health, and pandemics, this thesis examines the intersection between racial prejudice and health inequalities, demonstrating how those with marginalized identities face barriers to health care. Employing frameworks of social exclusion in healthcare, African migrants’ health prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 is examined through an analysis of barriers they encounter when seeking health care. Lastly, this thesis demonstrates how African migrants’ use of Twitter during the pandemic served as a means to exert digital agency at a time when their autonomy was being threatened by the Chinese government. Expanding upon Bonilla and Rosa’s use of hashtag ethnography, which presents Twitter as a site for digital activism, this thesis moves beyond that framework to demonstrate how Twitter functioned as a site for digital agency for African migrants during the pandemic. Supervised by Prof. Bright