Anthropology

Student Honors Papers

The Student Honors Papers collection represents exemplary work in anthropology and sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Ames Library is proud to archive these and other honors projects in Digital Commons @ IWU, the University's online archive of student, faculty and staff scholarship and creative activity.

Surveillance and Foucault: Examining the Validity of Foucault's Notions Concerning Surveillance through a Study of the United States and the United Kingdom

by Sharif Shawki, '09

Once the new surveillance systems become institutionalized and taken for granted in a democratic society, they can be used for harmful ends. With a more repressive government and a more intolerant public-perhaps upset over severe economic downturns, large waves of immigration, social dislocations, or foreign policy setbacks-these same devices easily could be used against those with the 'wrong' political beliefs, against racial, ethnic, or religious minorities, and against those with life-styles that offend the majority.

The Evolution of Hominid Bipedalism

by Michael J. Friedman '06

Paleoanthropologists mark the divergence between apes and hominids with the adaptation ofbipedalism five to six million years ago. In this paper, I argue that while the first upright hominids occurred in this time frame, the process ofbecoming a fully efficient biped took much longer and was not complete until Homo erectus at 1.8 million years ago. To provide context to the puzzle ofhow and why our ancestors evolved upright walking, I examine many of the prevailing theories ofbipedal origins, including the aquatic ape hypothesis, the heat hypothesis, and the carrying hypothesis.

"Loss of Estrus" and Concealed Ovulation in Human Evolution: A Reevaluation.

by Joshua S. Wagener '06

Accounts ofhuman evolution tend to highlight a number ofsignificant characteristics as critical in defining humanity including bipedalism (Jolly 1970, Lovejoy 1981, Wheeler 1984), enlarged brains (Falk 1990, Foley 1996), hairlessness (Morris 1963, Schwartz and Rosenblum 1980), and language (pinker and Bloom 1990, Dunbar 1996). Less frequently, scholars have focused on the unique aspects of human sexuality. In this paper, I seek to demonstrate that sexual swellings are not the norm among alloprimates and that the prevailing absence ofestrus among female humans is better viewed as a derived trait which is no more unique than that of any other primate. As such, I would argue, current theories of the"loss" of human estrus should be reevaluated.

Serving Sophomore Students

by Jessica S. Lothman '06

College sophomores have been deemed "invisible students." This label is the result of a combination of issues students typically face during their sophomore year. Problems include: integration into social networks, declaration of a major, decisions regarding study abroad and/or internships, and disenchantment with the university, among others. A review of survey data reveals that sophomores at Illinois Wesleyan University are no different and face all of these problems. In addition to the above, sophomores at Illinois Wesleyan University have some expectations of the University that are not being met, such as course availability, adequacy of food service, and advising. These combined forces are resulting directly in attrition of some sophomores from the university. This project aims to justify and design a program that would address both universal and specific issues for sophomores at Illinois Wesleyan University. By studying programs in place at other universities and surveying Illinois Wesleyan University students, I will propose recommendations to Illinois Wesleyan University which may effectively address sophomore-specific concerns.

A Preliminary Evaluation of Heartland Head Start

by Michelle Uhlenkott '05

Head Start, a federally funded preschool program for low-income families, works to nurture the children academically, socially, and nutritionally. In the past couple of years social critics and the federal government have begun questioning the efforts of Head Start, arguing that the children in the program do not progress enough in academic areas for the money spent on them. Heartland Head Start, the local chapter which manages thirteen preschool classrooms and 325-330 children annually, is mandated by the federal government to observe and test the children three times per year on multiple indicators to monitor their academic progress. This study, in collaboration with Heartland Head Start, evaluated their program using data collected over the years of 2002-2003, 2003-2004, and the fall of 2004. The data were used to evaluate the academic progress of the children between the different years and within the 2003-2004 year, and to review the effect of the children's native language and age on their progress in the 2003-2004 year. An analysis of the data highlighted the academic areas where the children excelled and the areas that were still problematic for them.

Beyond the Bun: An Ethnographic Examination of the Meanings and Significance of Hair in Samoa

by Laura Myford '05

This paper examines the meanings and significance ofhair in Samoa, with focuses on hair length, color and texture, and style in Samoa, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Data has been gathered from interviews, observations, and surveys, and is presented in an ethnographic format. Examined in depth is the topic of the tuiga, the Samoan ceremonial headdress, with an emphasis on its changing construction and usage in contemporary Samoa. The subject ofhair and tourism in Samoa is another focus, specifically how Samoans are portrayed in literature produced to attract travelers to Samoa. Also discussed are the teine sa, or spirit women of Samoa, and how and why the threat ofrepercussions for going against social norms relating to hair affect Samoans today. In conclusion, the effects of increasing influence from New Zealand, Australia and the USA on Samoans are discussed in terms of consequences for hair, visible markers in Samoa in relation to hair, and implications for the future in Samoa.

Borrowed Meanings: Case Studies of Katsina and Dreamcatcher Traditions

by Angela Glasker '05

Every summer, thousands of climbers and nearly half a million other tourists flock to Devils Tower in Wyoming due to its spectacular views and challenging climbing conditions. And every summer, members of several different Native American tribes travel to the religious site known as Bear Lodge, their name for Devils Tower, to perform religious rituals such as the Sun Dance. The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Kiowa, and Lakota all recognize Devils Tower as a sacred religious site, "grant it a prominent place in their mythology and oral histories, and in the past probably used it for individual religious observances" (Brown 2003: 152). The result is a battle between the Native Americans who see and use the site for religious purposes and the non-Indians who see the site as simply nature at its best. While the main purpose of this essay is an analysis of the Hopi Katsina and the Ojibwa dreamcatcher, Devils Tower offers an interesting example that frames the key issues of this essay.

Role-Taking vs. cultural identity: Defining disability in an able-bodied environment

by Elizabeth G. Holman '05

Are people with physical impairments seen as a minority group or as individuals who take on the role of being disabled only in certain circumstances? While minority group membership has a variety of social, psychological, and legal advantages, it forces people to give up some individuality and gives the disability a more permanent connotation (Berbrier, 2004; Watson, 2002). Alternately, viewing disability as a role, and attaching the label "disabled" in certain circumstances, allows for a broader spectrum of individual choice. However, the label assumes someone who is disabled to be "less than able," thus carrying a strong stigma. Through my personal experience with a temporary disability, I examined the labels placed on people with physical impairments, both by the individual and by society in general. I conclude that the lived experiences of those with disabilities do not demonstrate that people with physical impairments self-identify as a member of the disabled community, but that they take on this label only when the environment fails to meet their needs.

Our Dream and our Nightmare: Anomie and Violence in Historical Periods

by Jennifer M. Loff '04

This paper explores outbreaks of violence in two American historical periods through the examination of Durkheim 's theories on anomie. Core values behind the American Dream, individualism, and a frontier mentality are also examined. Both the American western frontier and the Post-Reconstruction South experienced periods of violent unrest among the general population. Both of these historical periods were under conditions of anomie associated with the lack of regulation from social institutions, anxiety over the removal (or sudden presentation of) existing opportunities, and the forces of individualism and the penchant for violence provided by American ethics.

The Old Justifies the New: The Theosophical Society in America's Response to Ethical Problems of Late Modernity

by Jodie A. Daquilanea '04

This paper explores the ethical principles and conceptualizations articulated by members of the Theosophical Society in America in relation to ethical issues of late modernity, specifically to Zygmunt Bauman's problems of universality and foundation. In their responses to issues of late modernity, members of the Theosophical Society employ premodern, modem, and postmodern approaches in their conceptualizations of morality in a unique Theosophical framework. Special attention was paid to the members' use of postmodem ethics. The data analyzed consists of one-to two-hour long qualitative interviews conducted with individual members of Theosophical Society, as well as documents issued by the Theosophical Publishing House that address ethical issues. The members were asked to explore their own conceptions of morality, specifically with regard to issues of universality and foundation and to the ways that the Theosophical Society deals with problems of ethics. Members of contemporary society grapple with the problems of universality and foundation in late modernity, and this study of the Theosophical Society illustrates some unique world-constructing methods by which to deal with these problems. There have been few studies on the Theosophical Society, and this paper brings many oftheir viewpoints to light.