Spring/Summer 2019, Volume 19, No. 2


NMSU Anthropology is making a difference in the Borderlands! 
The Anthropology faculty and students described here are just a few of those who have received funding and recognition for their research and teaching. 

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NMSU Department of Anthropology
NMSU University Museum

We have supported students and faculty working both internationally and locally on projects as diverse as cultural heritage and archaeological stewardship, food security and sufficiency, biocultural perspectives on medicine, health, and variation, Native American art and material culture, indigenous social movements and participatory action in the study of migration, displacement, and diaspora. 

The photos in the Newsletter and on our Facebook page were taken by Professor Emeritus Tom Conelly (the really beautiful ones), faculty, and students. We hope you enjoy them.

We invite you to share in our Department's success and our students' accomplishments. Your support matters!

Dr. Rani T. Alexander
Academic Department Head and Professor of Anthropology

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Research News:
Changing the Culture of Medicine in the Borderlands

Mary Alice Scott, Associate Professor of Anthropology with co-Principal Investigators, Ivan de la Rosa,  and Rachel Ceballos are the recipients of a grant entitled Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Primary Care. It is a pilot project for NMSU/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center U54 Grant through the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Mary Alice Scott is a medical anthropologist whose research focuses on medical education. The project she is currently working on is part of a larger collaborative program between NMSU and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. She and her co-principal investigator Dr. Ivan de La Rosa are evaluating the use of a social determinants of health screening tools in primary care clinics in the region. Dr. Scott explained, “the social determinants of health screening tool that we are evaluating includes four questions that ask patients about the social needs that they have.” Some matters like food security, transportation, violence in the home, and legal issues are explored because of the high prevalence in the area and their direct effect on health. “The goal, ultimately, is to identify whether this kind of screening tool facilitates support to address social determinants of health within the clinic context, thus reducing health disparities in the community,” she clarifies. 

Dr. Scott shared that one of the most valuable aspects is the collaboration with Dr. Ivan de La Rosa, associate professor of social work at NMSU. His expertise in quantitative methods, combined with Scott’s expertise in qualitative research has allowed them to develop an evaluation that incorporates both statistical and narrative analysis. Their mixed methods approach is imperative to be able to examine how the social determinants of health screening tool works from multiple perspectives. Scott is also training students in how to conduct this kind of collaborative research. Anthropology Graduate Student Sashiel Piña serves as Dr. Scott's research assistant on the grant this year.

This project is part of a larger research program to evaluate the potential for medical education to address health equity. The team plans to request additional funding to develop a set of training modules for primary care residency programs based on the findings from this study.
Conserving Cultural Heritage on the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument 
In the mid-1980s, archaeologists and students from NMSU excavated a dozen ancient rockshelter sites in the southern part of the Organ Mountains. Because the conditions were so dry, the materials recovered from these excavations were remarkably well preserved. The most famous items to be recovered in these excavations were dozens of corn cobs, which were notable because they appeared to represent at least five different varieties of corn and because one of specimens proved to be approximately 3,000 years old.
Recent advances in technology have made it possible to recover and analyze ancient DNA from organic remains (like these corn cobs), and to obtain more accurate radiocarbon dates using less material (like part of a corn kernel, rather than the entire cob). A team of archaeologists and botanists at NMSU were recently awarded a grant by the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to study the morphology of the collected corn cob specimens and to select several different varieties for ancient DNA analysis and dating. We hope to learn more about the different landraces of corn that were cultivated by people living here thousands of years ago, where these varieties came from, how they changed over time, and what they can tell us about early agriculture in the Chihuahuan Desert.
The NMSU research team consists of three archaeologists (Rani Alexander, Fumi Arakawa, and Kelly Jenks) and two botanists (Donovan Bailey and Sara Fuentes-Soriano), who will be aided by student research assistants. The archaeological collections recovered from the rockshelter sites are currently being curated at the University Museum, which is where the initial sorting of specimens will take place. Morphological analysis of the specimens will take place at the NMSU Biology Herbarium.

Archaeological Field School in the Gila National Forest 
Read More!
Introducing New Faculty!
The Department of Anthropology welcomed three new faculty members in 2019. 
Dr. Georgina BadoniPh.D. American Indian Studies, University of Arizona, 2017, Assistant Professor, Native American and Indigenous Studies.
Dr. Badoni is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, earned her B.A. from Northern Arizona University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on Native American women’s issues, Native American visual culture, and historical and contemporary American Indian education. Dr. Badoni's current research concentrates on creative acts of resistance that strengthen Native women identities, reinforce female empowerment, and reclaim voice, and visual expressions.
Dr. Katie Olszowy, Ph.D., Binghamton University, 2014; Assistant Professor, Biological Anthropology
Dr. Olszowy is a biomedical anthropologist who studies variation, adaptation, and biocultural determinants of health in contemporary human populations. Her specific research interests are in economic development and chronic disease risk, sex/gender-based disparities in obesity risk, mental and physical health outcomes associated with natural disasters, child growth and development, and the biology of poverty.
Her work was recently featured in this blog post by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Dr. Giovanni Batz, PhD, University of Texas, 2017; Visiting Assistant Professor, Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology. 

Dr. Batz is a social anthropologist whose research interests include: extractivist industries and megaprojects in Latin America; Central American and Maya migration, displacement and diaspora; Guatemalan history; indigenous social movements; and human rights.
Batz was a 2018-2019 Anne Ray Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he began working on his book project entitled “The Fourth Invasion: Decolonial Histories, Megaprojects and Ixil Resistance in Guatemala”.

The Bradley A. Blake Prize in Anthropology 
Mary Brown and Brittany Fisher, anthropology graduates, were chosen as the inaugural winners of a new prize recognizing excellence in anthropological research.
Read More!
"Man, Controller of the Universe"
Diego Rivera, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
Photo by Tom Conelly,  2018
Anthropology Graduate Research News

For the Love of Bark-aeology - Amanda Semanko

Amanda Semanko embarked on her MA graduate studies at NMSU after her family was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base. She describes her work as pursuing a thesis project that is paw-sitively intriguing. Her project partner is a 1,400-year-old Canis familiaris (domesticated dog) named Rudy who was accidentally uncovered by Dr. Bill Walker during field work at the Kipp Ruin Site near Deming, NM. As the field work team was digging test pits, their auger fragmented his already delicate skull. Rudy came under Amanda’s, much better, care while she was deciding on a thesis topic last year, “I wanted something that was a cross between ritual/ religion and zooarchaeology, and this is perfect.”

Cut marks she found on several of the bones suggest that Rudy was ceremonially sacrificed. Currently, Amanda is awaiting the results from a stable isotope and anceint DNA analysis on one of Rudy’s teeth, which can potentially reveal information about ancient diets. The results could also show what the dog might have looked like and which species he may be related to. Amanda also said that since pre-contact North American dog DNA has been nearly eliminated from modern dog populations, Rudy could provide useful data on how that might have occurred.

When asked about her experience at New Mexico State University, Amanda said that it has been nothing short of fantastic. She credited her mentors and committee members for helping her along through the thesis process: scrutinizing dog bones, preparing samples for analysis, and examining Rudy’s ritualistic burial context. Amanda said that pursuing a PhD in anthropology is possibly in her cards, but for now she is focused on her beloved prehistoric pup. Keep an eye out for Amanda's conference presentations and local talks for the latest news on her research.  


Capturing the Narrative - Marquette Gass
Marquette Gass shows how her ethnographic skills can be applied for the benefit of individuals in our community. Marquette began research in food studies because of interests in the relationship between food and diabetes. Gass said, “what’s the point of having this opportunity of higher education, knowing how to do research, if I don’t use my talents to help myself and others?” With the desire to help others struggling with the same issues, her thesis topic was born. “I remember going to the doctor and being told this whole list of things to avoid or minimize and I’m thinking this is my whole shopping list, this is what I buy, this is what my family eats.”
Marquette said that other women in her classes had similar experiences with their medical providers and she began investigating: How are these women making these huge lifestyle changes? How do they navigate them culturally?

Marquette’s research began with capturing the histories of her participants; how they learned to cook, who taught them, and how long they had been cooking. She explained that she and many women are the primary cook in the household, “Do you change everyone’s diet? Do you make a separate meal for yourself? Do you just eat less of what the rest of the family eats?” The problems that arise are not strictly medical, and Marquette’s objective is to shed light on the cultural significance of these lifestyle changes. “I am capturing these narratives from these women as they are making these food journeys and how they are making these changes. I’m using my cooking classes as my site of recruitment because I wanted people who were actively in the process of making the change.”  

When asked about future plans, Marquette said that a PhD could be in the cards. “I would like to do a long-term study of the journey. There’s more to learn here and there are certain things, culturally, that doctors just don’t know.” She said her journey began as simply working towards a degree, “but it turned out so meaningful to me.”

Read More about Marquette's work on the NMSU Military Family Communication Project.
Anthropological Solutions - Fernando Gonzalez
Fernando Gonzalez is completing an internship with the sustainability office of the City of Las Cruces. His MA research explores techniques in Indigenous Science for traditional food growing in historically drought susceptible regions. He is interested in the maintenance of culture traditions while confronting local consequences of climate change.
At City Hall, Fernando will help implement sustainable action plans to mitigate greenhouse emissions for the City of Las Cruces. “I felt like I had no experience on the bureaucratic side of things,” Gonzalez explained, “so I wanted to use this experience to see if this is really what I want to do.” His research could potentially help establish Pueblo food-growing techniques in climate models, specifically because of the current national emergency of rapid climate change.

Gonzalez views the graduate minor in Native American studies as vital for advancing the use of Ancestral Science (rather than Western Science) to combat climate change. His blending of methods is inspires out-of-the-box solutions for issues that arise in today’s political discourse. 

Scholarly Pottery - Shannon Cowell

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Shannon Cowell worked in twenty different states for several Cultural Resources Management companies on a variety of projects: Department of Transportation projects, transmission lines, solar fields, etc. After a few years, Shannon decided she was tired of moving from project to project as a field tech, “I thought going to graduate school would help provide some meaning, helping me understand the research process and the value of CRM.”
Shannon said her search began with finding professors in the Southwest who study culture contact and colonial archaeology. She also wanted someone who would help her explore research interests and further her CRM career: Dr. Kelly Jenks of New Mexico State University was all of these things and more for Shannon. “[Dr. Jenks] did not disappoint: she’s a challenging professor doing fascinating research who really advocates for her students.” With an incredible professor on her team, Shannon just needed a research topic, “I asked Dr. Jenks for a project focused on gender and ceramics, and she suggested a project that I have really fallen in love with.”

The title of Shannon’s thesis is Historic Micaceous Ceramics and Cuisine at Los Ojitos, New Mexico and it explores questions of trade, gender, identity, and cuisine related to ceramic production of the 18th and 19th centuries. She looks at the effects of American colonialism on indigenous pottery manufacture. "This last generation of traditionally produced pots held memories of the women who produced, traded, and used these pots, passed down as meaning-laden irreplaceable heirlooms through the generations at the community of Los Ojitos, NM.”

To further her own knowledge of the process of pottery manufacture, Shannon took a micaceous ceramic workshop where she made her own pots and used them to cook traditional food, like beans and posole. “I have to utmost respect for potters now,” she said, “they were the first thermal engineers and material scientists, and I’m in awe of the amount of trial and error and patience it takes to make and cook with functional pottery.” 
White Sands Balloon Fiesta, 2019
Photo by Tom Conelly

Anth 542 Cultural Resources Management II

The CRM class worked at  El Camino Real on the North Fork, Thorn Wells, and Rincon Arroyo trail sections. Anthropology Graduate Student Jorden Scott was part of the class.

Why is this place important or interesting?
“It was a highly traveled road for many people for a very long time. It stretches from Mexico all the way to just past Santa Fe. Although the section we are working on is a small portion of the larger picture, the camps we are documenting can tell us more about the people who traveled this road. We see pottery all the way from Spain and tin cans dating to our recent history. Each artifact helps us get an idea of who was using this trail and when.”

How does it relate to your MA Program?
“Our studies are the class. We are working on developing surveying skills, through the utilization of GPS units, LA forms, photographs and much more. It's a very involved process but will provide us all with valuable skills for our transitions into the workforce.”

What did your day look like?
“Early morning starts at 8:00 am. We drive for about 30-45 minutes, then work in groups all day doing survey work. We take a lunch break at some point and then head out around 4:00 so we can be back at school around 5:00.”

What was your favorite part?
“Finding something cool and getting to record it before something happens to it.  Like on our last outing we found a button! By recording it we froze it in time so even if someone picks that button up or if it is buried by dirt or taken by a bird or anything, it now is associated with this section of trail and contributes to our knowledge of the Camino Real.” 

Read More about the Camino Real Project.
Anth 456/556 Native American Intersections in Museums

On March 4, 2019, Anna Strankman's Native American Intersections in Museums class visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Hannah Clark was part of the class and commented on the experience.

Where did you visit?
“We visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. It is one of the few museums near here that is tribally owned and operated. Nineteen Indian Pueblos of New Mexico all own and collaborate on the center and most of the artifacts on display are borrowed from these groups.”

Why is this place important or interesting?
“It's important because most museums lack Indigenous perspectives that inform approaches to artifact conservation and repatriation. The exhibits at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center focus on the Indigenous silences in Western history and describes the Europeans and Spaniards as invaders rather than highly-regarded conquistadors. The entirety of the center focuses on the unity of the Pueblo groups and has exhibits on their languages, trading, and craft specializations.”

How does it relate to your MA Program?
“For the past couple weeks in class we have been discussing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and Indigenous cultural centers. There are fewer than 200 tribally owned and operated "museums," or cultural centers, in the United States so the narrative is very skewed towards the Western perspective. We already know that museums and cultural centers are challenged by the black market artifact trade and tribal exclusion, so (to me) visiting institutions actively trying to combat it is important for my anthropology degree.”

What did your day look like?
“We left early in the morning and arrived around lunch. We were guided through the museum by a knowledgeable and Indigenous curator and guide. He led us through the entire museum and  gave us a unique perspective that we would not have gained if we toured ourselves. He showed us that everything had been carefully thought out and planned from the lighting to the curve of the walls. Even the layout of the museum had been built in a D-shape reminiscent of Pueblo Bonito of Chaco Canyon.”

What was your favorite part?
“My favorite part was actually on the drive home. The whole class (about 9 people) fit in the NMSU van so the drive back was filled with critical discussion and questions. The purpose of the trip was to engage with a tribal museum and to be critical of traditional Western museums. Based on the discussion we had while driving back, this trip was inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed having class with fellow students because of the variety of perspectives and disciplines that contributed to meaningful discussions.”
NMSU Students at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque

New Publication by
Dr. Rani T. Alexander

This volume features the work of archaeologists who systematically explore the material and social consequences of new technological systems introduced after the sixteenth-century Spanish invasion in Mesoamerica. It is the first collection to present case studies that show how both commonplace and capital-intensive technologies were intertwined with indigenous knowledge systems to reshape local, regional, and transoceanic ecologies, commodity chains, and political, social, and religious institutions across Mexico and Central America.
Rani T. Alexander is a professor of anthropology and the head of the Department of Anthropology at New Mexico State University. 
Read More

Spring and Summer 2019 Conference Calendar

Society for Applied Anthropology - Engaging in Turbulent Times, March 19-23, 2019, Portland, OR.

Society for American Archaeology, April 10-14, 2019, Albuquerque, NM.

Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference (NAISA), June 26-29, 2019, The University of Waikato, Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The Pecos Conference, August 8-11, 2019, Cloudcroft, NM. Dr. Fumi Arakawa, Program Chair.

University Museum

Exhibits On View:

Entomomania: Insects in Art & Culture 
Read More.

“Pictograff: The Art of War Prayer”  - May 4th and ongoing

"Living in Sacred Continuum" - American Indian Student Center
Read More


The Organ Mountains 2018
Photo by Tom Conelly
NMSU Department of Anthropology
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