Sociocultural anthropology research
See some of the department’s sociocultural anthropology
research projects below.
HIV Prevention ResearchRead more
Dr. Robert T. Trotter developed and launched a program (RARE
and I-RARE) that provides tools for the rapid assessment of HIV and drug
intervention programs. Dr. Trotter’s
research efforts have resulted in the capture of numerous research grants and in
the employment and training of numerous graduate and undergraduate students.
He has conducted workshops (both national and
international) for the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health. He has recently conducted rapid ethnographic
training workshops for the ministries of health in Brazil, Cambodia, and Viet Nam.
American Research ProgramRead more
Beginning in 1970, Dr. James Sexton began his Guatemalan
field school and research project. The initial field experience in Guatemala
was so rewarding that he returned 19 more times, sometimes for the summer and
fall seasons, other times for just a few weeks.
Based on his field research, he has published articles on
his research dealing with development modernization and culture change in such
journals as the Reviews in Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Human
Organization, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, and the Journal of
Dr. Sexton published the following books: Education
and Innovation in a Guatemalan Community (UCLA Latin American Center, 1972),
Son of Tecun (University of Arizona Press, 1981, and Waveland Press, 1990),
Campesino (University of Arizona Press, 1985), Ignacio (University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1992), Mayan Folktales (Doubleday Anchor, 1992, and
University of New Mexico Press, 1999), Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth
(Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999), Joseno (University of New
Mexico Press, 2001), and The Dog Who Spoke and more Mayan Folktales/El perro que hablo y mas cuentos mayas (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010).
South Pacific studiesRead more
Dr. Small’s lifelong ethnographic work has been in the South
Pacific, and she continues to be involved in research and scholarship in this
area. Her book Voyages is used by more
than 100 universities, and was the recent “forum” selection by Pacific Studies
for scholarly review by three scholars with author response.
She is active in reviewing grants and
manuscripts (Museum Studies, Contemporary Pacific, American Ethnologist,
National Science Foundation) in Pacific studies and wrote two of the recent reference
works on Pacific Islanders (in Harvard University Press, The New Americans,
2007 and the Tongan Profile for Migration Information Source in 2004).
year studiesRead more
In 2002, on her sabbatical, Dr. Small enrolled in her own university
as a freshman, moving into the dorms and taking a full load of classes. The ethnography, describing “undergraduate
culture,” that came out of her freshman experience (published by Cornell
University Press in 2005, and then by Penguin in 2006) has received wide
attention in both national and international circles and in public and
professional media (including features in the Chronicle of Higher Education,
The New York Times, Newsweek, and USA today, Talk of the Nation, Associated
Press, CNN and guest talks on more than 40 radio talk shows).
The public attention has provided a vehicle for
making applications of her ethnographic insights in higher education. Dr. Small is on partial release to speak at
educational conferences and universities across the country about improving
teaching and realigning university structures.
In 2006-7 alone, she accepted invitations as keynote speaker or
presenter/consultant at more than 30 universities and conferences in the U.S.
and overseas in an effort to assist in the transformation of pedagogical
structure now underway in higher education.
Computer modeling of cultural
In 1997, Dr. Cathy Small was awarded a National Science
Foundation grant for 1998 and 1999 to model and simulate Polynesian social
systems. This modeling work has culminated in an invitation to the Santa Fe
Institute as part of a global team of scientists working on modeling issues.
The Santa Fe team jointly published the book Dynamics in
Human and Primate Societies: Agent-Based Modeling of Social and Spatial
Processes with Oxford University Press in 1999.
She was named Senior Fellow at the Institute for Law & Systems Research,
University of San Diego, where she collaborated on modeling and ethnographic
projects on health management and the law and she served as pro bono consultant
to the Central Planning Office of the Tongan government, where she modeled
future population and migration figures.
Her modeling efforts have opened new teaching
avenues for her, including the development of a graduate course in computer
modeling, her participation as the invited workshop director at the 1998 and
2001 AAA meetings (sponsored by NAPA) to introduce anthropology professionals
to computer modeling and simulation, and her invitation by the French
government’s Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales as a
scholar-in-residence to conduct a two-week modeling course in the University of
Provence in Marseilles, France in 1999.
Pipeline NAURead more
Dr. Cathy Small began Pipeline NAU, a program with the
support of university administration and the help of committed faculty members.
The Pipeline is a cooperative venture of NAU, the Flagstaff Public Schools and
Big Brothers/Big Sisters that provides long-term mentoring to low-income, high-potential seventh-graders who would be the first in their families to attend
Mentors from NAU meet weekly with their mentees for five
years within a structured program, until their student has graduated from high
school. At the successful completion of the program, the student receives a
full four-year scholarship to NAU.
Almost a second job involving mentoring,
administration, fund-raising, recruitment and promotion, Dr. Small coordinates
this program as a service project. Pipeline received the National Points of
Light award in 1999, the Governor's Special Recognition award and honors for
the Best Educational Practice in Post-Secondary Education in the state of
Arizona in 2000.
RARE ProjectsRead more
In the past few years Dr. Vasquez has been a trainer,
evaluator, and project analyst for different programs of the RARE (Rapid
Assessment Response and Evaluation) Project, working with minority communities
in 15 U.S. cities to reduce HIV/AIDS risk factors.
This work, sponsored by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, has helped to
significantly reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in African American and Latino
Corporate anthropology at General
Dr. Trotter has been working closely with colleagues at the
General Motors Research and Development facility over the past four years to
investigate several aspects of corporate culture including: a) collaborative
research programs between industry and universities and institutes, b)
development of an ideal plant culture model for changing manufacturing
collaborative designs, and recently, c) designing a medical anthropology study
of GM's new health care initiative for both current employees and retirees.
The research has resulted in: 1) internships and
research assistantships for NAU graduate students, 2) publications, 3) a patent
application for a cultural model of collaborative research program design, and
4) a set of tools (training packages) for improving cooperation and quality of
life within GM plant culture.
Sedona-Verde Valley projectsRead more
Dr. Walter Vannette has completed a series of eight
Sedona-Verde Valley projects since 1992. These projects have provided applied
research opportunities for dozens of undergraduate and graduate students. The
project’s success and collaborative working relationship with local residents,
community-based organizations and agency personnel provide the Department and
NAU high visibility and a leading research role in the region.
The Verde Valley Projects are complex and comprehensive.
They are funded by different government bodies and result in eight- to ten-chapter background research reports. The issues addressed in these reports,
among others, include water management, alternative modes of transportation,
tourism development, city planning processes, State and Federal land use issues
(e.g., land exchange), and human values related to growth management.
This research involves working closely with officials of the
Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona
Office of Tourism, Yavapai-Apache Tribe, Prescott and Coconino National Forest,
ten communities in the Verde Valley and several inter-agency bodies. All
projects are followed by 2 1/2 day community forums.
The forces of growth in the Verde Valley provide
us with a natural experiment in cultural change. As mentioned above, such
projects provide field research, publication and internship opportunities for
many of our students.
cultural research with HopiRead more
As an applied anthropologist at NAU, Dr. Miguel Vasquez has
emphasized reciprocity between NAU and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office
(HCPO) to strengthen both local community cultural assets and the educational
experience for both native and non-native students. The NAU-HCPO Memorandum of
Agreement exists as an outgrowth of this work.
Collaboration between villagers and NAU anthropologists
began with the Bacavi Terrace Project, which involved physical restoration
of 700-year-old terrace gardens, as well as documentation and education of
local youth in traditional ecological knowledge. The project has
given rise to several other Hopi agricultural projects and annual planting and
harvesting with elderly Hopi farmers.
As ties between the department and the HCPO have developed,
so have other projects. Together with other NAU faculty, the HCPO,
the National Park Service, and the Hopi Foundation, Vasquez helped to develop a
Ruins Preservation Training Workshop for unemployed Hopi youth, which has
generated careers in cultural preservation and a new interest in the relevance
of anthropology for the Hopi.
NAU students, in collaboration with the HCPO,
have transcribed tapes for tribal archives, developed a cultural curriculum
with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, conducted research
in cultural affiliation, developed media materials on health and nutrition for
the Hopi Health Center, and created the HCPO web site, which won the
national student award of the Society for Applied Anthropology.
Native Voices on the Colorado RiverRead more
Native Voices on the Colorado River is a cultural
interpretive program for Grand Canyon Colorado River outfitters on Native
American perspectives of the Grand Canyon. The goal of the program is to
increase understanding and communication about the relationships of affiliated
tribes with the Grand Canyon from their own perspectives.
The program is being developed in response to a National Park
Service mandate for enhanced interpretation of Native American perspectives
to the Grand Canyon. This program represents a collaboration of the Grand
Canyon river outfitters through the Grand Canyon River Outfitter Association
and Northern Arizona University’s Anthropology Department and Institute for
NAU Anthropology Department provides overall administration
and leadership for the program through the efforts of a program director. NAU
Institute for Native Americans will provide critical advice and assistance as
needed for program development and implementation. An Advisory Group consisting
of tribal and outfitter representatives provides critical advice,
recommendations, and technical assistance for the program.