Anthropology Department Theses and Dissertations

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The Master’s of Arts in Applied Anthropology offers students the opportunity to use anthropological theories and methods toward the goals of solving real world problems. The program is constructed around a set of core courses together with independent research and internships. The degree takes advantage of our long-standing departmental strengths in Public Archaeology, Urban Anthropology, International Development, Globalization, Medical Anthropology and Museum Studies. Students may choose to follow a targeted curriculum, focusing on a particular aspect of the discipline; all students will also be well-trained in a broad range of anthropological approaches. This integration of three of the four sub-fields in Anthropology (Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology) makes this program distinctive among graduate programs in Applied Anthropology. Another notable feature of the program is its emphasis on civic engagement and community collaboration in student and faculty research. Specifically, the program will:
  • Offer residents of central Indiana the opportunity to undertake graduate work in applied anthropology at an urban, public university;
  • Provide additional skills and expertise to those employed in such areas as social work, urban planning, community organizing, public health, community nursing and cultural resource management;
  • Provide a foundation for students who wish to pursue a PhD in Anthropology from another institution.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Star Bridge: A Late Mississippian Village in the Central Illinois River Valley
    (2020-08) Flood, John Scott; Wilson, Jeremy J.; Herrmann, Edward W.; Mullins, Paul R.
    The late pre-Columbian period in the central Illinois River valley (CIRV) is demarcated by the development of large, often-fortified Mississippian towns, farming hamlets, extensive trade networks, and shifting political alliances between AD 1050 and 1450. The fission and fusion of local polities ceased with abrupt abandonment of the CIRV by AD 1450 as part of the larger Vacant Quarter phenomenon. Located on a hypothesized boundary between Mississippian and Oneota zones of socio-political influence during the 14th century, Star Bridge (11Br17) was a Mississippian village previously believed to have been incinerated during an assault. Through the analysis of an avocational surface collection, a 1992 excavation assemblage, and recent geophysical investigations, my research re-examines Star Bridge and assesses the site’s integrity after decades of agricultural modification. Geophysical data and the material culture from excavations suggest Star Bridge never burned but was abandoned after one or two generations of occupation shortly before the exodus of Mississippian and Oneota groups from the CIRV. Meanwhile, my analyses also revealed a dearth of Oneota-derived or influenced material culture, indicating a dearth of interaction between Star Bridge’s inhabitants and their neighbors upstream. Instead, the material culture suggests Star Bridge was part of a string of late 13th and 14th century villages known as the La Moine River polity.
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    Redefining Women's Work: Female Entrepreneurs on the South Side of Indianapolis, 1880-1920
    (2019) DeMatteo, Stephanie Marie; Mullins, Paul R.; Hyatt, Susan B.; Wilson, Jeremy J.
    Research on the roles of women in the past commonly focuses on either the demure or the radical. This study of female entrepreneurs shows an area in which women occupied a more central position in their communities. Female entrepreneurs were able to possess a certain degree of independence without being viewed, or viewing themselves, as rebellious. This thesis focuses exclusively on the women who owned businesses on a two-block length of one street, South Meridian, in Indianapolis, over a forty-year period. Even with this limited focus, there is substantial variation in the motivations of the women. Some entered in to business with the support of their wealthy families, while others were obligated to work to support their families. The stories of these women can be revealed through their presence in official documents, city directories, and newspapers of the time. In addition to the individual stories of female entrepreneurs, these sources provide information about who the businesswomen of the time were as a group. The majority were born in the United States and among that group most were born in the state of Indiana. The most common businesses owned by women were millinery shops, dress shops, and boarding houses. Other demographic characteristics, such as age, marital status, and time in business, do not form a pattern across the group. These sources also show how women compared to men who were in business in the same location over the same period. Most of the female entrepreneurs of the South Side of Indianapolis around the turn of the century worked in fields that could fit under the heading of “women’s work,” but this categorization ignores the intricacies of their positions as business people. These women were not solely providing a service or producing a good, similar to what they would be expected to do in the home as wives, mothers, or daughters. They were also responsible for the other aspects of business ownership, including finding and maintaining premises, purchasing products and materials, and managing finances. It is these details that, for example, set apart the owner of a dress shop from a woman making clothes for her family.
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    Civic engagement in the age of devolution: how anthropological approaches can help navigate grassroots conflicts
    (2017) Harvey, Heather Marie; Hyatt, Susan; Dickerson-Putman, Jeanette; Siddiki, Saba
    Communities are currently being shaped and influenced by larger neoliberal social policies, which has resulted in decreased funding from public sources, which therefore creates greater competition among neighborhood organizations for limited resources. In this thesis, I analyze how larger neoliberal currents have created conflict within the local policy subsystem of rezoning in the Crooked Creek neighborhood in Indianapolis. My analysis spotlights the consequences of devolution one of which is the shift from government to neighborhood governance; I examine these issues by mapping out the causes and consequences of three separate rezoning cases. I compare the conflicting perspectives among local influential organizations, including the Community Development Corporation (CDC) and a number of state registered neighborhood groups. I frame this conflict through the Advocacy Coalition Framework (Sabatier 2007) in order to map out the connections between neoliberal social policies and local level conflict.
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    3D CBCT analysis of the frontal sinus and its relationship to forensic identification
    (2014) Krus, Bianaca S.; Wilson, Jeremy John; Starbuck, John M.; Ward, Richard E.
    The positive identification of human remains that are decomposed, burnt, or otherwise disfigured can prove especially challenging in forensic anthropology, resulting in the need for specialized methods of analysis. Due to the unique morphological characteristics of the frontal sinus, a positive identification can be made in cases of unknown human remains, even when remains are highly cremated or decomposed. This study retrospectively reviews 3D CBCT images of a total of 43 Caucasian patients between the ages of 20-38 from the Indiana University School of Dentistry to quantify frontal sinus differences between adult males and females and investigate the usefulness of frontal sinus morphology for forensic identification. Digit codes with six sections and eleven-digit numbers were created to classify each individual sinus. It was shown that 3D CBCT images of the frontal sinus could be used to make a positive forensic identification. Metric measurements displayed a high degree of variability between sinuses and no two digit codes were identical. However, it was also shown that there were almost no quantifiable and significant sexually dimorphic differences between male and female frontal sinuses. This study confirms that sex determination should not be a primary goal of frontal sinus analysis and highlights the importance of creating a standard method of frontal sinus evaluation based on metric measurements.
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    Leaving the bridge, passing the shelters : understanding homeless activism through the utilization of spaces within the Central Public Library and the IUPUI Library in Indianapolis
    (2014) Karim; Hyatt, Susan B.; Zimmerman, Larry J., 1947-; Dickerson-Putman, Jeanette
    By definition, homelessness refers to general understanding of people without a home or a roof over their heads. As consequences of a number of factors, homelessness has become a serious problem especially in cities throughout the United States. Homeless people are usually most visible on the streets and in settings like shelters due to the fact that their presences and activities in public spaces are considered illegal or at least “unwanted” by city officials and by members of the public. In response to this issue, activists throughout the country have worked tiresly on behalf of homeless people to demand policy changes, an effort that resulted in the passage of the homeless bill of rights in three states, namely Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Illinois. As I discovered through my fieldwork, in Indiana, the homeless, themselves, are currently lobbying for passage of a similar measure. Locating my fieldwork on homelessness in Indianapolis in two sites, the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library (the Central Library) and the IUPUI Library, I examine the use of library buildings as alternative temporary shelters and spaces where the homeless can organize for political change. As an Indonesian ethnographer, I utilized an ethnographic approach, which helped me to reveal “Western values” and “American culture” as they play out in the context of homelessness. In this thesis, I show that there is a multi-sited configuration made up of issues, agents, institutions, and policy processes that converge in the context of the use of library buildings by the homeless. Finally, I conclude that public libraries and university libraries as well can play a more important role beyond their original functions by undertaking tangible actions, efforts, engagements, and interventions to act as allies to the homeless, who are among their most steadfast constituencies. By utilizing public university library facilities, the homeless are also finding their voices to call for justice, for better treatment, and for policies that can help ameliorate the hardship and disadvantages of homelessness.
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    "Cuando Actuamos, Actuamos Juntos": Understanding the Intersections of Religion, Activism, and Citizenship within the Latino Community in Indianapolis
    (2014) Logan, Ryan Iffland; Vogt, Wendy A.; Hyatt, Susan B.; Dickerson-Putman, Jeanette
    Undocumented immigration from Latin America is a heated and divisive topic in United States' politics. Politicians in Washington, D.C. are debating new legislation which would provide a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants. While several federal immigration reform bills were debated in the early 2000s, each one failed in either the House of Representatives or in the Senate. The Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN), a grassroots activist group in Indianapolis, is organizing the Latino community through faith and shared political goals. Undocumented Latino immigrants are utilizing IndyCAN as a method to influence progressive policy change. However, anti-immigrant groups challenge these efforts by attempting to define who can be considered an "American" and are attempting to block legislation due to their negative perceptions of Latinos. Debates about citizenship have racial discourses and reveal the embeddedness of race and ethnicity. Despite this, many Latino immigrants are forging their own identities in the United States and are engaging in a political system that refuses to grant them a legal status. Through an enactment of activism called la fe en acción [faith in action], these immigrants ground their political organizing with IndyCAN and attempt to appeal to the religious faith of politicians. I explore issues of race, political engagement, and religion in the lives of Indianapolis’ Latino community. In this case study, I demonstrate that IndyCAN is acting as a vehicle through which undocumented Latino immigrants are engaging in the political process. This political involvement occurs through religious strategies that seem apolitical yet are implicitly an enactment of activism. Ultimately, I reveal how undocumented Latino immigrants in Indianapolis are impacting the political process regardless of their legal status.
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    Beyond the palisade : a geophysical and archaeological investigation of the 3rd terrace at Angel Mounds State Historic Site
    (2014-01-13) Pike, Matthew David; Wilson, Jeremy John; Monaghan, G. William; Zimmerman, Larry J., 1947-
    Research conducted during 2011 and 2012 at the Mississippian site of Angel Mounds outside of Evansville, IN sheds light on an often overlooked portion of the site that falls outside of the palisade wall – the 3rd Terrace. Through a magnetometer survey, a shovel test survey, and a reanalysis of a 1939 legacy collection from the 3rd Terrace, new interpretations about this peripheral area of the site will help to expand our ideas about Mississippian daily life in a wider geographic area and may help to better understand a transitional period in the history of Angel Mounds. In addition to the creation of a magnetic survey for use by the Angel Mounds State Historic Site, the use of minimally invasive and non-invasive research methods paired with previously excavated and curated collections allows for new research to be conducted with minimal disturbance to the archaeological site. While this research is a preliminary investigation of the archaeological potential for the 3rd Terrace, it also provides a solid basis for future research in the area and contributes to the wider understanding of Angel Mounds and the Mississippian world.