Anthropology

Nicholas Carter is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. He works with the El Zotz Archaeological Project, which has been excavating at the ancient Maya site of El Zotz in central Petén, Guatemala, since 2006. His research interests include anthropological archaeology; the origins, nature, and disintegration of complex polities; linguistic and semiotic anthropology; writing systems; ancient economies; and ceramic analysis. His theoretical orientation towards archaeology could best be described as postprocessualist, informed by practice theory and American pragmatist philosophy.

Carter holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas and an A.M. in Anthropology from Brown University. His U.T. thesis argued that the non-calendrical component of the Zapotec hieroglyphic writing system remains undeciphered, despite widely-accepted claims to the contrary. His Brown A.M. paper found that paleographic and linguistic trends in Classic Maya inscriptions are better explained by networks of cultural and political influence than as direct, "real-time" reflections of change in spoken Classic Ch'olti'an. His dissertation examines the practice and representation of social inequality in Lowland Maya polities during the Terminal Classic period (~A.D. 800-1000).

Alyce de Carteret is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. Originally from Aurora, Colorado, she received her B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University and an M.St. in Archaeology from the University of Oxford. Her work centers on the ancient Maya, and she has conducted archaeological research as part of Brown University's Proyecto Arqueológico El Zotz, located in the Petén, Guatemala. She is interested in the Maya body, in conception and practice, and plans to investigate this topic through the study of ancient body adornment.

Kendra Fehrer is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate from Palo Alto, California. She has a BA in International Development from Clark University, an MA in International Development also from Clark University, and an MA in Anthropology from Brown University. She is also a Fellow in the Graduate Program in Development, sponsored by the Watson Institute for International Studies.

Her primary research interests include an anthropology of development, public policies, and the state in Latin America. Kendra's dissertation explores how participation in public (social development) programs in Venezuela is constituted by and constituting urban life. Her research is supported by grants from the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Fulbright-Hays.

Andrea Flores is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in socio-cultural anthropology. She has a B.A. in anthropology from Harvard University and a M.A. in anthropology from Brown.  Her research is supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a grant from the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund. 

In 2012-2013, Andrea conducted fieldwork with Latino youth in a college readiness program in Nashville, Tennessee. Her dissertation focuses on how young Latinos conceptualize higher education’s value for themselves and their communities. Andrea is currently writing her dissertation. 

Magnus Pharao Hansen is a fourth-year graduate student in anthropology. He has an MA in Mesoamerican languages and cultures from the University of Copenhagen, and an MA in anthropology from Brown University. He studies the relationship between language, politics and lifeworlds in indigenous communities of Mesoamerica, particularly central Mexico. He works in the disciplinary area between descriptive linguistics and ethnography, trying to understand how social categories and processes are reflected in linguistic structure and usage - an area sometimes called ethnosyntax.

Magnus has have done linguistic work with the Nahuatl language as it is spoken in Hueyapan, Morelos and with the variety of Otomí spoken in San Jerónimo Acazulco, Estado de México.His dissertation project will focus on the ways in which the institutionalization of Indigenous Languages in the framework of the the 2003 Law of Linguistic Rights makes itself felt in indigenous communities, where indigenous language practices are increasingly becoming the business of the Mexican state.

Karen Jorge is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. She has a B.A. in anthropology from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in anthropology from Brown University. Her research focuses on the emerging transnational reproduction and “globalized medicine” industry in Panama, looking at the role local actors play in institutionalizing a global industry that offers medical and assisted reproductive services to foreign patients. Her research is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and by an NSF IGERT fellowship through Brown’s Graduate Program in Development.

Kimberly Lewis is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. She is interested in universities and higher education reform in contemporary Ecuador. Building on research piloted as a Fulbright grantee, her MA project will focus on the role of informal social practices (gossip, cheating, forgery) in the Ecuadorian state’s university accreditation process.  Her future work will address how shifts in higher education (departmental reorganization, changes in governance, standardization) intersect with state development projects, the “21st century socialist” political movement, and plurinationalism in Ecuador.

Josh MacLeod is a doctoral candidate in socio-cultural anthropology whose research focuses on Guatemala. His research interests include the political ecology of natural resource use, violence, historical memory, human rights, and social movements. He is currently writing his dissertation which has to do with life in the aftermath of genocidal violence.

Andrea Maldonado is a doctoral candidate in socio-cultural anthropology. Her master's thesis explored the ways in which middle and upper-middle class Mexicans negotiate their identities, spaces, and communities through social-recreational clubs. From 2010 to 2012 she conducted  24 months of dissertation fieldwork in Mexico City, investigating the seemingly paradoxical rise of state-subsidized cultural medicine in an era when privatization of health care is the trend. Since 2002, an assortment of so-called cultural therapies (from yoga to tai chi) has come to displace biomedicine as Mexico's prescription of choice to prevent and treat what health officials identify as "culturally transmitted diseases" (such as diabetes) among the urban poor. Analyzing state-level policy in tandem with citizens' interactions with it seeks to advance a growing literature in medical anthropology on state-promoted extra-medical care, and to offer insights into the effects of these new health practices for both anthropology and policy more broadly. Andrea is currently writing her dissertation.

Chelsea Cormier McSwiggin is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, and an NIHCD Trainee with the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. She has a B.A. in Gender Studies from the University of California, San Diego, an MPH from San Diego State University, and an MA in Anthropology from Brown University. Her dissertation research aims to explore the intersection of HIV, transnational kinship networks, and US race relations among the Haitian diaspora in Miami, Florida.  Her research has been supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Grant, NIHCD Summer Research Grants, the Steinhaus/Zisson Pembroke Center Research Grant, and the Joukowsky Research Award.

Sarah Newman is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, originally from Reno, Nevada. She has a B.A. in archaeological studies from Yale University and an M.A. in anthropology from Brown University. Focusing on Mesoamerican archaeology, she has conducted fieldwork at the ancient Maya site of El Zotz as part of Brown University's Proyecto Arqueológico El Zotz. As the faunal analyst for that project, she uses the animal remains recovered from the site as clues to ancient diet, hunting, butchery, cooking, and crafting practices.

Sarah's M.A. thesis, titled "The Last Supper: The Role of Ceramic Serving Vessels in Ancient Maya Mortuary Practice," examined the contents and meaning of the funerary feast interred with an ancient ruler of El Zotz, whose Early Classic tomb (dating to between A.D. 300-400) was discovered in 2010. Building upon that earlier work, her dissertation explores the nature, composition, and depositional history of varied archaeological deposits as a means toward understanding and reconstructing the often-overlapping ancient concepts of ritual, refuse, and reuse. Her research is funded by grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, with additional support provided by the Casa Herrera of the Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Stephanie Savell is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology with interests in urban studies, security, everyday violence, citizenship, and civic engagement. From 2012 to 2014, Stephanie conducted her dissertation research on Rio de Janeiro’s controversial “police pacification” program, intended to take back control of the city’s favelas from armed drug trafficking gangs. Her ethnography focuses on how favela residents, police, and armed forces experience public security in their daily lives, and the ways these experiences intersect and collide. This research is supported by the Social Science Research Council and the National Science Foundation.  Stephanie’s graduate work has also been supported by a NSF IGERT Fellowship through the Watson Institute’s Graduate Program in Development.

 She has a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology from Middlebury College and an M.A. in Anthropology from Brown. Before coming to Brown, she worked for Ashoka, a leading organization in the field of social entrepreneurship. Stephanie is co-author of The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life (2014), a collaborative, interdisciplinary ethnography of political engagement in America.

Kristin Skrabut is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Brown, where her research focuses on statecraft, law and kinship in urban Latin America. She received her BA in Anthropology from NYU and an MA from Brown in Anthropology and Population Studies. Her dissertation entitled "Extreme Lives: The Unruly Domestication of Peruvian Poverty" explores how punctuations in the international "war on poverty" shape families, livelihood strategies and subjectivities in Peruvian shantytowns. This project builds on Kristin's previous research, which investigated the intersections of census politics, housing rights, and illicit land trade in Peru's formally designated "extreme poverty zones." Her research has been supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 

Yana Stainova is a fourth year Ph.D. student in anthropology. She has a BA in International Relations and Spanish from Mount Holyoke College and an MA in anthropology from Brown University. Her research is positioned at the intersection of ethics, aesthetics, and violence and explores the role of artistic production in moments of political change. For her undergraduate honors thesis The Place of Poetry in the Chilean Transition to Democracy, Yana studied the ways poetry was used as a medium of resistance to the dictatorship. In her MA thesis Social Fragility and the Sonorous Gift the Social Resonance of Classical music in the Youth Orchestras of Venezuela's El Sistema, she explored the meaning and significance of music for participants in El Sistema, a classical music education program that every day brings half a million young people into orchestras across Venezuela. For herdissertation, Yana continues to work on that topic, studying how participants perceive and use the potential of music to nurture ethical sensibilities, build political imaginations, and engage state power and ideology. She is a life-long pianist and flutist. Her research is supported by grants from the Tinker Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and the Mount Holyoke Bardwell Memorial Fellowship.