Two BU students featured in Anthroworks

Doctoral dissertations are an excellent indicator of the health of a discipline. They are a weather vane pointing toward where the discipline is heading. They represent a huge chunk of work by the researcher and his/her mentors as well as generous contributions from people in the field site(s). With luck, they are a crucial basis for a newly minted PhD to getting a job to which all the years of training and research will contribute. Dissertations are very important documents, and they deserve more visibility.

At #4:

Weathering the Commons:
Resilience and Heterogeneity in an Inland Fishery, Mweru-Luapula, Zambia

BY Christopher M. Annear
This dissertation focuses on the multiethnic, mobile Mweru-Luapula population of fishers, traders, and farmers of Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo, and the fishery it relies upon. I argue that the resilience of this fishery economy over time can be attributed to fluid social, ecological, and political relations among constituent groups. They have developed the ability to react to an environment that floods seasonally and changes its constitution annually. I examine how people living on this fishery maintain its sustainability as a shared resource; how laws, governance, and historical circumstances affect constituent behaviors and choices; and how this ecologically dynamic fishery constrains some groups, but endows others. Although many scientists and policymakers believe it to be collapsing, my fieldwork suggests otherwise.

At #8:

Potters and Warlords in an Afghan Bazaar:
Political Mobilization, Masterly Inactivity and Violence in Post-Taliban Afghanistan

BY Noah S. Coburn
This dissertation is based on research in Istalif, a town in the Shomali Plain, with a strong craft industry and long history of violence. I describe how local politics in Afghanistan have shifted during the post-Taliban period and how strategies of inactivity can lead to a political theater that masks tensions and suppresses violent conflict. I look at potter lineages that cooperated politically and economically. I then analyze how groups strove to portray themselves as powerful, while avoiding public and violent conflicts. Simultaneously, the people in the town and government officials perpetuated a fiction of the state as bounded and rational, denying the ambiguous nature of state-rule based upon patrimonial networks. This fiction encouraged international donors to continue to inject aid into the area.

From JAN 05, 2011 (Anthroworks)
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