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Anthropology

Reducing Neonatal Mortality Rates by Improving Overall Nutrional Status: Water Quality and Sanitation

Vivek Charu ('09);  Pardis Mahdavi; A. Sheikh*; T.  Khoragade*; S. Khoragade*; A.T. Bang*; R.A. Bang*
*Affiliates of the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (Gadchiroli, Maharashtra India)

The Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) is located in the Gadchiroli District of rural Maharashtra, India. Though previous work at SEARCH has significantly reduced neonatal mortality rates, roughly 45% of neonates who die in SEARCH intervention-area villages suffer from low-birth weight. To address this problem, water quality/sanitation in 23 villages was assessed, with the aim of improving mother/child nutritional status to further reduce neonatal/infant mortality rates1. Using the H2S strip-test (for water bacteriological content), it was found that 51.6% of all water sources (bore wells and dug wells) in the 23 villages were not drinkable by international standards set by WHO. Interviews regarding water quality, chlorination practices, and hygiene were conducted with villagers and local and district-level government officials. Both infrastructural changes to well design and chlorination practices, as well as behavior change programs aimed at increasing overall hygiene to reduce water-borne disease were planned.
Funding provided by: The Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Award

Dubai Chic: The Human Cost of Rapid Development in the UAE

Christine Sargent ('10);  Pardis Mahdavi; Abby DiCarlo (CGU)

Few places in the world have been thrust into the spotlight like Dubai, UAE. Dubai has been touted as a triumph of financial and civil engineering. However, it is also a hub for human trafficking and a hotbed of rights violations. This summer, we began research to investigate how interactions between issues of labor, gender, sexuality, religion, and statehood have contributed to public health risks for Dubai’s foreign migrant workers. Using ethnographic research methods, our preliminary findings stressed that: 1. The UAE has rapidly emerged onto the international scene. Influxes of capital have preceded the development of adequate infrastructure to ensure transparent management and comprehensive investment;  2. Dubai is characterized by a unique lack of civil society. Minimal healthcare and social service providers, if any, are not controlled and operated by the state, raising accessibility and privacy concerns. We must further explore the micro and macro cultural landscapes and structural barriers impacting migrant workers’ access to healthcare.
Funding provided by: The Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Award

Living With Loss

Mackenzie Smith ('09); Pardis Mahdavi

Grief is an emotion that connects us all regardless of age, gender, or cultural background. While no loss is easy, the loss of a child is especially difficult. Individuals who have had to bury their child after a losing battle with cancer became my focus for this research. I set out to understand how different grieving patterns of individual family members can affect the overall family dynamic. Through support group participation, a bereavement teleconference, literature review, and in-depth interviews with grieving parents I have learned some valuable information that can help us understand the many facets of grief. There are several factors that affect how successfully one is able assimilate their loss and carry on their lives: family history, personality, relationship with the child, circumstances of the death, strength of their support network, etc. By understanding the context of each grieving individual we can learn how to better comfort them as well as provide the necessary services in their time of need.
Funding provided by: The Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Award

"Perceptions of Gender Among Yemeni Women"

Anoush Suni ('09); Pardis Mahdavi

Yemen is a country in which many aspects of social life, including gender roles and gender relations, are changing as the country develops. Due to Yemen’s character as a highly religious and traditional society, these changes often face resistance from conservative elements. This summer research project focused on perceptions of gender and women’s issues in contemporary Yemeni society. Ethnographic methods, including participant observation and semi-structured interviews with 25 women, were used to collect data over a period of 10 weeks. One main them that emerged from the interviews was that most of the women articulated a clear distinction between religion and tradition, and attributed society’s flaws to a preference for and commitment to tradition over religion. Additionally, though most of the participants recognized that Yemen remains a developing country with the attendant limitations, they presented a largely positive attitude concerning women’s position in society, their opportunities, and quality of life.
Funding provided by: The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

Research at Pomona