The University of Iowa

Tagged with "research"


‘An Anthropology of Nothing’ Paper Presented Feb. 16

What is “nothing” in the context of the humanitarian experience? In this paper, I use “nothingness” as a means of staying morally proximate to IDPs in order to understand why the activities of humanitarians, so carefully documented for donors, fail to register as gifts or as statist care in the eyes of their beneficiaries. Using Alain Badiou’s concept of the void, I examine the problem not only of “having nothing,” but also “doing nothing” and “being nothing.” In doing so, I begin to go beyond Badiou’s formal presentation and to develop nothingness as anthropological concept and lived experience.

“The Figure of Griot in Ousmane Sembene’s Cinema” Nov. 8

My presentation proposes to analyze the figures of griot in Ousmane Sembène’s Films. The central point of my talk is that the griot should be contextualized as a historical figure that interprets memory and influences the perception of the past rather than as a mere literary and cinematic device. Current scholarship on Sembène privileges the Western interpretation of the griot, that is, the narrative aspect–the storyteller–over the more nuanced position the griot traditionally holds in West African societies.

“Green urbanism: The new face of Paris in the 21st century” (video)

Lucie Laurian is Associate Professor in Urban and Regional Planning. Her research focuses on environmental planning, from the management of toxic sites to public participation in environmental decisions. She has recently published the first studies of Environmental Justice in France, and is currently writing about the urban transformations of Paris in the last decade.

“The economics of language of instruction in Africa – an example from Tanzania” Oct. 25

Official languages are one of the main lingering legacies of colonialism in Africa. Education at almost all levels is administered in the official languages that only a small percentage of the population can write and speak fluently. This fact creates bottle-necks that allow only a small percentage of the population to become part of an educated labor-force. Therefore, the goal of this research is to investigate the impact of using official languages as languages of instruction on economic development in Africa. We have chosen Tanzania for our research partly because of our familiarity with this country and also because it has been possible to find valuable data from the Tanzania Ministry of Education website. This research explores the short-run and long-run opportunity costs of continuing the colonial legacy in the field of education by using a foreign language as the language of instruction. We hope to offer policy suggestions that could broaden the educated base and foster economic growth and development. While there has been some research into the costs of designing and publishing learning material and textbooks in local languages, there is hardly any thinking, let alone research, on the costs involved in having millions of school-children in Africa repeating classes, dropping out of school or sitting year after year in schools where they get low grades and learn nothing else than self depreciation.

Fulbrights make an Impact

UI alumni like Deanna Fei and Geoffrey Hilsabeck have benefited greatly from their international experiences thanks to the support of Fulbright grants. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives masters and doctoral candidates, recent baccalaureate recipients, and young professionals and artists opportunities for personal development and international experience.

Highlight on Fulbright: UI grad discovers poetry in a new language and land

Why Portuguese?– A question that Geoffrey Hilsabeck didn’t always have a clear answer for when he started learning the language in 2008 while attending the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. With the support of a Fulbright fellowship grant, Hilsabeck just finished a year studying Portuguese poetry and teaching a class in U.S. history and culture at the University of Lisbon.

To return or stay?

John Giammatteo, an upcoming senior studying Anthropology at Syracuse University, was a participant during fall 2009 in the University of Iowa’s “Semester in South India” program in Mysore, India. As part of an academic assignment, John conducted a research project in the city of Chennai (formerly Madras) that involved interviewing refugees who had been stranded in India for years during the civil war that raged between separatist Tamil Tigers and the government of Sri Lanka. In November 2009 he also was a student rapporteur and participant in a workshop held in Mysore that delved into the problem of involuntary removal of rural populations in South Asia due to two causes: large-scale development projects and high-impact natural disasters. John is currently in Thailand completing his Honors Capstone fieldwork, researching with Karen migrants in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot.