Archaeology at the Confluence: Critical Intersections of Science and Community in Amazonia


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Archaeology at the Confluence: Critical Intersections of Science and Community in Amazonia
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Grant proposal
Howell, Lisa
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
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General Note:
Submitted as part of application for U.S. Student Fulbright Program 2012-2013

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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Statement of Grant Purpose Lisa Angelina Howell United States, Anthropology Archaeology at the Confluence: Critical Intersections of Science and Community in Amazonia The purpose of my research is to determine the short term and long term impacts of scientific r esearch on a small, rural community in the state of Amazon s, Brazil Th e project seeks to identify the specific economic, social, and political impacts that are a direct result of the temporary but frequent residence of large research teams in a small community that is situated a top the largest archaeological site in the region. I seek to establish a year long baseline study that will serve as the anchor for a long term study intended to measure the impacts of scientific research over several years in this rural Amazonian community. R ecent research in the field of S cience and Technology S tudies (STS) has shown that the social impacts of scientific research is an urgent area of inquiry and an increasingly relevant way to gauge the br oader impacts of scientific research (Nowotny 2003) This proposal employs the core the sis of STS and assert s that there is strong value in turning the lens back on the research community and attempt to I hope to understand how scientific research is inflected back out into larger political, economic, and social systems and to demonstrate how this understanding is crucial to creating a more meaningful scientifi c approach that integrates the voices of all stakeholders. The Amazon Basin has been the subject of an intense long term focus of wide rang ing fields of scientific research objectives for over 200 years (Hemming 2008) While g reat strides have been made in understanding the ecological, biological, hydrographic, historic, economic, and ethnic diversity of th is region t he impacts of research in the Amazon Basin continue to have profound influence on global, national, state, and local policies However to date there has been a lack of research that examin e s the direct i mpact s of scientific research amongst the Amazonian communities in which it is conducted Development in Amazonia has been a long standing area of priority and sig nificant investment for the Brazilian national government. This proposal seeks to understand of the impacts of research on rural Amazonian communities and contribute to successful models of research and development that advance the support and well being of communities and researchers in this region. A successful pilot study to establish affiliations and assess the feasibility of this proposal was undertaken in the summer of 2010 in Silves, Amazonas, Brazil The pilot project allowed me to accompany and observe a large team of Brazilian researchers that included archaeologists, ethnographers, linguists, geographers and archaeology students during a month long research and field school project The pilot project was conducted at the invitation of Dr s Hele na Pinto Lima and Bruno Moraes of the State University of Amazonas (UEA) and the Museu Amaznico (UFAM). Through direct participation in the project, observation of the research team, and personal interaction with community members during the pilot projec t I was able to identify three key areas that demonstrate strong potential to reveal measurable impacts of scientific research in this community These three areas form the line of investigative inquiry of this proposal and include economic, social, and political aspects of community life in this region as described below: Economic impacts of scientific research on rural communities is measurable through the description of how active exchange of currency can influence the local economy. The economic infl uence of research teams is two fold: direct and indirect. Direct economic influence include s the employment of local assistants and logistical support staff by project directors and indirect economic influence include s the incidental purchases of items b y research team and field school members such as food, lodging, health care, entertainment, and local transport. Social impacts of scientific research are measurable through observation and description of interaction s between community members and the re search team, opinions of community


members about the research team and the research project, and community support for the research project. Political impacts of scientific research are measurable through observation and description of the interaction of l ocal, municipal, and state officials with the research team and local community, as well as analysis of local, state, and federal policies directly related to the conduct of archaeological research in this region The project will employ two anthropologi cal methodologies qualitative and quantitative data gathering to be conducted in two phases as described below: Phase 1 ( 3 months): Qualitative objectives: i dentify key community members, key businesses and business people, and key political figures and policies to establish relevant points and topics of discussion for formal interviews to be conducted during Phase 2. Quan t it ative methods: research describe and quantify local economic practices; compile and describe local and state policy requirements as it relates to the conduct of archaeological research. Pha se 2 ( 6 months): Qualitative objectives: conduct at least ten formal interviews with informants identified in Phase 1 in each of the key areas of interest ( key community members, key business people, and key political leaders). Quantitative methods: gather revenue data of key businesses identified in Phase 1 before and after visits by research teams; quantify the size and demographic information of visiting re search team members; assess and qu an tify the economic activities of research team members within the local community. In addition to conducting interviews and doing research within the local community I will be engaged in actual field work with my Brazilian colleagues and will work with their students to achieve the larger objectives of the research project currently undertaken in this region by UEA and UFAM. This will enhance my understanding of the objectives of the research community in this region and deepen my understanding of the goals, cultural life, language, and way of life of th is Amazon ian community. The proposal is significant because it will result in a better understanding of how research teams interact with and impact rural communities It will also support the assertion that science is The need for scientists to engage local communities as collaborators has been called for by many, but the actual practice of collaboration is rarely seen in action and sometimes even spuriously defined (Schmidt 2010). Because a rchaeologists traditionally work in in teams, and not as individual researchers, there is an established tradition of interdiscipli nary collaboration. In this way opportunity to deeply observe archaeological research can offer tools that help create an approach to scientific research that i s more laden with significance for all stakeholders. The findings of this project will be made available to the students of UEA and UFAM, and will support co ntinued research in this area by Brazilian students and researchers. Findings will also be presented to the local community in the form of printed materials and talks given in schools and community council meetings. The ultimate benefit of this project wil l be to enhance decision making abilities and inform policy making of local communities as well as research teams to improve scientific practice in this region.


Personal Statement Lisa Angelina Howell Brazil Anthropology As a graduate student at the University of Florida I have had unprecedented opportunity to immerse myself in to include a l a rge and diverse network of Brazilian collaborators, colleagues, and Brazilian visiting faculty. I have studied and tr ained in an environment that not only fosters, but seeks to expand the boundaries and areas where cross cultural, cross disciplinary, and cross border research continually proves itself to be the nexus of innovation and producer of applied approaches to timely research. My interest in the formation and execution of archaeology in Brazil generated an opportunity to observe a large research p roject in the state of Amazonas, Brazil in the summer of 2010. I was afforded a short opportunity to visit a small community that has been the focus of Brazilian archaeologists since the early worked with local community members as well as over 25 students from the local university for a period of two weeks. During this experience I had two critical realizations. The first realization was that we were in a remarkably small community o f less than 30 adults in total and the size of the visiting research team almost outnumbered the size of the community. This rai sed questions in my mind about the social and political implications of such a large, impermanent presence in this small village. Day in and day out I observed members of the research team pay for small food items, short local transport, and health and wellness items, as well as purchase locally made gifts to take home to loved ones. It occurred to me that the economic impact of research in this community was substantial and must have strong i mplications for the local economy. The second realization I had was based on the fact the whole of the community, from small children to local and visiting community leaders were deeply engaged in informal social interactions with al l members of the visiting research team. I watched friendships develop, and local children become interested in the techniques and goals of the visiting archaeologists. These observations raised questions about how these social interactions could hold im portant insight into how communities view and accept (or reject) the presence of government sponsored research, and how opinions of these activities may change over time. Indeed, the most striking insights I had were during the most informal interactions with people from the local community. At the close of my short visit to this community I understood that an opportunity to spend a long period of time interacting in formal and informal capacities with the community and the visiting researchers could affo rd an unprecedented study of the impacts of scientific research on rural communities. It is in this spirit that I submit this proposal to the Fulbright Foundation. From my formation as an undergraduate, to the international mentoring and collaboration that supported the pilot project upon which this proposal was based, I have demonstrated a long term, professional commitment to questions and methods put forth in this proposal. The formation of this proposal was itself a collaborative effort with my Braz ilian colleagues, and I believe that Fulbright support for this project is the next critical step in the continuation of this long term, c ollaborati ve anthropological study b etween anthropologists from the United States and Brazil.