Skip Navigation

Social Sciences

Peter Brown
Emory College - Anthropology
Return to the Hidden frontier: Ethnicity, Socioeconomic change and mental health in Alto adige/sudtirol, Italy

In 1974, anthropologists Eric Wolf and John Cole published an extremely highly influential study in Cultural Anthropology using an innovative approach called Cultural Ecology. The book was entitled The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley. The study was done in the Val di Non in the northern Italian province of Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol where German-dialect speakers and Italian-dialect speakers lived in separate settlements but right next to each other. Specifically, the anthropologists studied two villages - Tret and St.Felix which are located less than one mile apart in the same valley. This proposal is for an anthropological study of these two villages to explore what has happened in the last forty years. I have the unique opportunity of working with the original field materials collected by Cole forty years ago. A great deal has changed in that time period, including economic development, the transformation of agriculture, the advent of tourism, and significant increases in the power of the German-speaking minority. This research proposal to the Emory URC is designed as a pilot project for a much larger multi-investigator research effort examining cultural causes and interpretations of common mental disorders in this changing environment, for which I will request funds from the National Science Foundation and possibly the National Institute of Mental Health.

Robert Hampton
Wild cognition: Regulation of attention in foraging birds

Attention is the gateway to the mind. The manner in which extremely limited attentional resources are allocated determines which aspects of the external and internal environment organisms respond to cognitively. Because of their small size, wild passerine birds such as chickadees and titmice face constant threat of predation and starvation. These two threats to existence provide a strong selective pressure for birds to direct attention both to efficient foraging and to constant scanning for predators. This requirement for passerine birds to constantly direct attention to at least two distinct tasks makes them a powerful model for the study attentional processes. I propose to develop a novel research program for the automated, computerized study of avian cognition and attention in wild subjects living in their natural environment. Development of this new capability will enable us to take advantage of this strong model of attentional processing and to advance our understanding of animal cognition in its natural context. Because these automated systems will allow us to study animals without resorting to captivity or handling, it will also allow us to provide
unique and exciting opportunities for Emory undergraduates to conduct novel psychological research of their own design. Integrating this important research question with undergraduate STEM education will result in exceptionally strong applications to the National Science Foundation, a funding agency that specifically targets funding research that integrates ecologically relevant cognitive research and undergraduate STEM education.

Matthew Payne
Emory College - History
Soviet Steppe: Modernatization and Genocide in the Kazakh Steppe, 1916-1941

"Soviet Steppe; Modernity and Genocide in the Kazakh Steppe, 1916-1941" is a monographic study of Soviet revolutionary colonialism among its nomadic population.  It examines the role of modernization, state violnce, popular resistance, and Soviet nation-building in Kazakhstan from 1916 to 1941 through the lens of the massive forced settlement campaign of 400,000 nomadic households. This settlement campaign resulted in a massive refugee movement and a terrible famine, which killed nearly half of all Kazakhs, or at least 1.4 million. Beyond the importance of studying the most violent "de-nomadification" campaigns of the last century, this work will also examine Soviet colonialism, nation-building and creation of a class of native local elites. While there have been a number of fine studies of Soviet nationalities' policy in recent years. "Soviet Steppe" will be unique in examining these policies not only as efforts of nation-building and development but a form of specifically Soviet colonialism.  Although Soviet policies were informed by the same "civilizing mission" and embrace of "modernization" that animated other European empires, these policies were deeply informed by Communist developmental models and political constructs such as "cultural revolution" and "class war" that were unique to Communist illiberal modernity. Moreover, "Soviet Steppe" will argue that Kazakhstan, as unique internal frontier riven by cultural, ethnic and class divisions represented a far explosive local milieu than even the more well known case of Ukraine's collectivization.  Soviet forced development played out very differently among Muslim nomads than Slavic peasants, despite its malign effects in both locales.  An abstract cannot cover richness of the material that I have gathered through several archival research trips, therefore a precise of the monograph's planned chapters has been attached.  In brief, the monograph covers topics as diverse as the Great Steppe Revolt of 1917, Leninist policies of "decolonization", failed Sovietization of Kazakh society, forced settlement, rebellion, flight, famine, ethnic marginalization and the Terror. In covering these topics "Soviet Steppe" will seek to "de-exoticize" the Soviet experience and situate this topic adn these themes within the larger framework of comparative colonial and frontier studies. Soviet policies meant to modernize nomadic Kazakhs annihilated their way of like and unleashed enormous tragedy on the alleged beneficiaries of these policies. How this perverse effect occurred is the central focus of this monograph.

Philippe Rochat
Face Space in infancy

The aim of this project is to test whether face discrimination and recognition in infancy could be accounted for by the relatively new and powerful face space theory upheld by numerous experiments involving adults and children. The face space theory proposes that all faces encountered by an individual are represented as vectors in a multidimensional space with at its center the average of all faces encountered by that individual. We started collecting promising data suggesting that face space theory may account for face discrimination already in infancy. However, so far we used an experimental habituation paradigm yielding a very high attrition rate among our infant participants, that did not convince the NSF review panel of a large grant submitted in collaboration with Dr. Parr that included a comparative component to the project with the parallel testing of infant monkeys at the Yerkes Primate Center. Because we believe that our demonstration of face space in infancy could open new, breakthrough avenues of infancy research, we need to collect new pilot data over the Summer and Fall of 2015, testing a novel experimental paradigm, with additional controls. This new project requires an improved eye tracker device as our current one is old and is becoming unreliable. These new data would add both power to our analysis, yield cleaner data, reducing our currently high infant participant attrition rate. Based on these improvements, the goal is to submit a new large multi-year grant proposal by January 2016 to investigate in depth face space in infancy and how it might relate to the perceptual narrowing of face discrimination documented in the first year.

Hubert Tworzecki
Political Science
Back to the future in Central Europe? Explaining the shift towards authoritarianism through election studies

This is a request to provide partial financing for fieldwork for the 2015 Polish National Election Survey, which will involve about 2000 in-person interviews on a national random sample of respondents. The 2015 elections are anticipated to be a referendum on whether Poland should remain a liberal democracy, or - if the leading opposition party is successful in displacing the incumbents - whether it should follow the lead of its regional neighbor Hungary and proceed with constitutional change toward an illiberal, semi-authoritarian type of political order. The survey will allow for an individual-level investigation of the motivations, values and interests fueling the rise of popular support for “anti-system” parties not just in Poland but across both Eastern and Western Europe, that is to say, parties which openly reject the principles that underlie the liberal-democratic political order. Specifically, this grant will make it possible to incorporate question modules on personality traits, political knowledge, and media use. Despite its single-country focus, the survey will facilitate cross-national comparisons by incorporating question modules from several international research initiatives, most notably the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES). As with the previous editions of the PNES (1997, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011), after a
two-year period all documentation and data will be shared with the international scholarly community of researchers interested in questions of democratic transition and consolidation.