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Poole and Chiarulli Present at American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting

Drs. Amanda Poole and Beverly Chiarulli, Department of Anthropology, presented papers at the 109th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans, November 17-21, 2010. The theme of the conference was “Circulation.”

Dr. Poole’s paper, “Ransoms, Remittances, and Refugees: Rethinking the Gatekeeper State in Eritrea,” was presented in a session she co-organized called “Gatekeeping on a Neoliberal Terrain: Controlling New Forms of Circulation in Postcolonial Africa.” Her paper draws from ethnographic research on refugee resettlement to explore new configurations of power and belonging in the Eritrean gatekeeper state. The gatekeeper state weakly penetrates rural society, primarily through vertical relationships of political patronage. While they control the major circulation of citizens, funds, and resources, these states are potentially threatened by socio-economic networks that operate outside the range of state control—within and across national borders.

Dr. Poole’s paper examined the micropolitics of gatekeeping in Eritrea, particularly around the circulation of citizens via legal and illegal emigration and the capture of ransoms and remittances from those who leave. The escape of citizens from Eritrea and the remittances sent home to families in rural areas have potentially been a source of challenge to state authority. However, this paper argues that the Eritrean state has developed new strategies of gate-keeping that operate in and through porous borders, transnational kinship networks, and the aspirations of citizens to escape civil service as state agents themselves.

Dr. Chiarulli’s paper, “Circulating Archaeology to a Virtual Audience,” was part of a session titled “Your Mission: To Circulate Anthropology To A Wider Audience.” The paper described the work that she and IUP colleagues Drs. Scott Moore, Sarah Neusius, and Ben Ford and graduate student Marion Smeltzer have done to create “IUP Archaeology Island” in Second Life.

Virtual worlds have become a new venue for public outreach as well as university education. As part of an IUP initiative to explore virtual learning, IUP Archaeology Island was created in 2007. This virtual world contains recreations of archaeological sites in Belize, Cyprus, Pennsylvania, and an underwater site focused on a shipwreck in Lake Ontario, all based on archaeological data. Through a program of guided tours, discussion sessions, and interactive technologies, the site has become a venue for archaeological education for IUP students as well as the broader virtual community. Students can explore the sites, examine artifacts, and even discover some of the technologies used by archaeologists in their research.

However, for a virtual world to be vibrant, it needs more than the recreations. It needs to be interactive and to provide “live” content. Events, including guided tours and discussion groups, can provide that content and have begun to turn the island into a community of Second Life archaeologist avatars. In addition, the island can become a resource for undergraduate courses in which students explore the different archaeological sites, combine their exploration of the site with explanatory graphics and notes, and complete quizzes testing their knowledge. Take a video tour of IUP Archaeology Island.

Anthropology Department Chair Dr. Phillip Neusius and Drs. Sarah Neusius and Chiarulli also participated in the AAA Graduate Program Expo, through which they were able to publicize the Anthropology Department M.A. in Applied Archaeology.

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