Undergraduate Research in Anthropology

Each summer, about 200 students perform dedicated, funded research. Below is a sample of funded undergraduate research by anthropology students.

Martial Arts: More Than Fighting

Olivia DeAngelis ’23
Advisor: Cécile Evers

I received a Pomona College RAISE award to explore the experiences of non-male individuals in the martial arts through a multi-sited ethnography. For this study, I interviewed five female identifying people, two of whom practice or have practiced Seido Karate, a Japanese combat tradition, at a dojo in Culver City, California. The other three practice or have practiced Taekwondo, a Korean combat tradition, at a dojang in Boise, Idaho. I presented th​e findings of my research in a podcast called “Martial Arts; More Than Fighting,” in which I interwove the voices and perspectives of my consultants. I explored how these people navigate communities of practice in the martial arts, discussing themes of gender roles and identity, competition, violence, fear and empowerment. Through my podcast, I hope to have highlighted perspectives that resonate with others on their martial arts journeys. The podcast can be accessed on Youtube.

Funding for Archaeological Research at Villa Adriana

Alexandra Dean ’23
Advisor: Kenneth Wolf

Italy is a nation rich in archaeological sites. Archaeologists are continually unearthing new artifacts, structures, even entire settlements. This presents a problem for the Italian government: it lacks funding to maintain even a small portion of the nation’s cultural patrimony. This research project focuses on how the issue of funding affects archaeological work at Villa Adriana, a large-scale UNESCO World Heritage site in Tivoli. To explore this issue, I participated in an excavation at Villa Adriana with the Seville-based Pablo de Olavide University. I interviewed the site director, Rafael Hidalgo Prieto, as well as Catalina Urquijo, the program leader. Finally, I did my own research on the topic of public funding for archaeological sites in Italy. The excavation was highly interesting and fruitful in nature for our site director; our team discovered a large structure that prior to the excavation had not been seen for hundreds of years. Despite this, at the end of the excavation, the trench we dug was covered over again because the site lacks funding to maintain the structure in addition to the already-excavated buildings on the property. Due to this, there is no way to verify or enrich the findings we recorded while on the excavation. This experience, along with my interviews and research, led me to the conclusion that there is a dearth of funding for archaeological work at Villa Adriana that may hinder present and future archaeological research.

How the Child Welfare System Self-Sabotages Reunification

Devon Baker ’22
Advisor: Joanne Nucho

In 2018, the Indiana Department of Child Services was given a report from the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group evaluating the department’s performance in terms of protecting children. There were many findings worth unpacking, including the 13 per 1,000 children in care compared to 3.6 nationally, particularly high rates of court involvement in welfare cases, and inconsistent policy enforcement and implementation between counties. This research was an attempt to investigate the policies and systems of financial assistance for foster youth that encourage youth to remain separated from their parents at both the state and federal level. Despite child welfare agencies’ proclaimed goal to keep children with their families whenever possible, I argue that the funding for basic necessities, recreational spending, and college assistance offered to youth who remain in the foster system in fact incentivizes permanent separation from their families.

Chinese Queer Politics and Imaginaries : Engagements, Alliances, Transnational Articulations

Tony Jin ’22
Advisors: Joanne Nucho and David Divita

My project uses ethnographic methods to investigate the daily tactics and strategies of Chinese queer individuals/activists. While engaging in volunteer work with Chinese queer NGO(s), I am interested in how queer individuals and groups in China build alliances with or resist against dominant institutions. I ask: how do queer individuals in China imagine a "queer future" in the context of the People's Republic of China? Noting the Euro-American origins of queer theory, I look at the transnational (re)production, articulations, alliances of “queer politics” and the queer imaginaries in the Chinese context.

Los Angeles Chinatown: We Will Fight Back

Xiao Jiang ’22
Advisor: Joanne Nucho

Exploring the intricate history of the Chinese diaspora and racialization in the United States, this project analyzes Los Angeles Chinatown in the context of its discriminatory creation, racialized displacement and community resilience. Engaging in volunteer work with Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, a seven-minute documentary highlights one apartment's successful fight against their landlord's eviction through grassroots organizing, media awareness, legal support and education, and more.