acCLAim Research and Scholarly Work Newsletter

Vol. 13, Issue 4

Researcher of the Month

Kimberly Williams
Associate Professor, Anthropology

I am a mortuary archaeologist who specializes in Early Bronze Age Arabia (3200-2000 BCE). Simply put, I study death practices—the set of practices that a community uses to usher an individual from their place as a living member of a community to their place as an ancestor. I examine the placement of monuments on the landscape, the architecture of the monuments, and both the skeletal remains and material culture interred in the tombs. These data help me understand how people lived (nutrition, migration, physical activity, disease risk, and interpersonal violence), trade relationships, and aspects of their belief systems. I hope to demonstrate that ancient monuments were once part of a sacred landscape, and that they still have many stories left to tell.

My most recent field work involved the complex excavation of a large communal tomb near a port in northern Oman that saw significant trade activity with the Indus peoples. We know that goods were traded to/from the Arabian Peninsula with power agents like the Indus to the north, but what else was exchanged in these encounters? Forthcoming work provides some answers to this regarding infectious disease, the value of material culture, and the transmission of ideas regarding death practices.

My 2023 book, Landscapes of Death: Early Bronze Age Tombs and Mortuary Rituals on the Oman Peninsula, is based on research performed while I was a Fulbright Scholar, traveling the region to visit all the Early Bronze Age sites, exploring collections, meeting the teams excavating, and conducting a comprehensive analysis of the published literature. The book serves as an introduction to mortuary archaeology theory for students and colleagues in other disciplines, but most importantly, it is a comprehensive presentation and synthesis of what is known about Early Bronze Age mortuary practices over the entirety of modern-day Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Award of the Month

Johanna Jarcho
Assistant Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience

Neural Mechanisms of Memory Bias in Adolescent Social Anxiety Persistence and Remittance

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded Assistant Professor Johanna Jarcho over $3,700,000 to study social anxiety among adolescents. Symptoms of social anxiety rise dramatically during early adolescence, just as peers become particularly important. While symptoms often wax and wane across time, persistence into mid-adolescence is associated with increased symptom severity, risk for other mental health problems, and poor quality of life in adulthood. While prior research on social anxiety focused on threat-based processes, gold standard treatments that target these processes rarely result in remission. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop a novel framework for studying social anxiety to identify new intervention targets.

Dr. Jarcho will focus on memory-based processes in her study of neural mechanisms that promote persistence of, and resilience against, social anxiety symptoms across a critical phase of adolescent development. Dr. Jarcho’s Social Developmental Neuroscience Lab has demonstrated that while non-socially anxious individuals remember peer feedback as being more positive than it actually was, the opposite is true for those with social anxiety. What are the brain-based processes that prevent socially anxious adolescents from recalling their social experiences through rose-colored lenses? And how does the failure to do so contribute to symptom severity over time?

Dr. Jarcho will answer these questions using neuroimaging to study how functional neural circuits and the dopamine system interact to bias memories for peer feedback in adolescents with a range of social anxiety symptoms. Adolescents will be followed for two years to isolate the brain-based mechanisms associated with both positive and negative changes in symptom severity. This work will be conducted at TUBRIC along with Temple co-investigators Philip Kendall, Vishnu Murty, Thomas Olino, and Ingrid Olson.

Featured Publications

Sonic Strategies: Performing Mexico’s War on Drugs, Mourning, and Feminicide

Christina Baker
Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

My book, Sonic Strategies: Performing Mexico’s War on Drugs, Mourning, and Feminicide, studies twenty-first-century Mexican theater and performance pieces following President Felipe Calderón’s 2006 declaration of war (on drugs). While I am not a musician, I have always had a fascination with the way music can affect us, mark moments in time, and map our associations with places and people. I was inspired by a memory of a trip I took to Mexico City in 2007: Standing in the Zócalo, I was surrounded by a mass of people waiting to hear the Presidential “Grito”, a galvanizing speech meant to rally the nation and celebrate its Independence. However, the central plaza was divided with one side dedicated to Calderón and the other adamant that the election had been fraudulent and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was the nation’s “legitimate” leader. Throughout the day, Calderón’s bands played rancheras, música norteña, and corridos, musical styles deeply aligned with mexicanidad, while AMLO’s supporters played rock en español. To my ears it was cacophony and dissonant chaos. Yet the sonic sparring was an ominous commentary on what was to come and, to those of us listening closely, revealed a nation grappling with political outrage amid the early stages of Mexico’s War on Drugs.

Weaving conversations from Theatre and Performance Studies, Ethnomusicology, Queer Theory, among other disciplines, I consider how the sounds of violence and militarization have prompted performance artists to leverage the aural to express their dissidence. The book is arranged in four chapters that analyze pieces from 2006 to 2019 which commemorate Mexico’s missing and disappeared citizens, resist escalating gender violence, grapple with rampant gun fire, and revise narratives of belonging and citizenship. I include various genres like teatro-cabaret, post dramatic theatre, public interventions, and burlesque dance choreographies to showcase what Mexican performers can teach us not just about suffering and surviving but also about resistance and imagination. By homing in on sonic strategies, I invite theater and performance scholars to develop a methodology of listening, and I hope that researchers in music-related disciplines will more carefully consider facets of the performance as part of their intellectual queries. Above all, Sonic Strategies is an invitation to scholars across fields to listen more closely to their sources as part of their analytical agenda.

Announcements

It was announced on January 29, 2024, that the NIH Salary Cap has increased to $221,900. Click here to read the full announcement.

Accolade Highlights

 

  • Ingrid Olson (Psychology and Neuroscience) received continuation funding from the National Institutes of Health for the Mid-Atlantic Neuroscience Diversity Scholars (MINDS) Program.
  • For “Playful Learning Landscapes: Promoting Informal STEM Learning in Public Spaces,” Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Psychology and Neuroscience) has received continuation funding from the University of California Irvine (NSF).
  • Ames Sutton Hickey (Psychology and Neuroscience) has received funding from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for the project “Interrogating the Hypothalamic Neural Circuits Underlying Activity-Based Anorexia in Mice.”

Sampling of External Funding Opportunities

Addressing the Harms of Financialization in Healthcare
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Due: February 12, 2024

Research on the Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Older Adults
National Institue of Justice
Due: April 15, 2024