2015 Fellows

Elise Amend
Darcie DeAngelo
Omri Bassewitch Frenkel
Katherine Strand
Karina Vold
V. Corey Wright

 

Elyse Amend is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication Studies at McGill University, and is supervised by Associate Professor Darin Barney. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism Studies (2011) and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (with Distinction, 2006), both from Concordia University. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, she spent a number of years working in journalism as a reporter for community newspapers in the Montreal area and as assistant editor for a Canadian pulp and paper trade journal. Her doctoral research project focuses on how knowledge, expertise and power operate through nutrition guidance in Canada. It investigates this by (1) interrogating the institutional history of the state-mandated Canada’s Food Guide, with specific focus on the expert sources, scientific evidence base, stakeholders, processes, and decisions involved in the modern-day versions of the guide; and by (2) exploring how the food guide operates pedagogically in elementary and high school classrooms by tracing who and what the intermediaries and translators of the guide are, and the effects these have on the nutritional subjects the guide hails. Elyse’s research questions scientific, quantitative, and expert-driven discourses about food and eating, and explores how these have become dominant in debates about nutrition. Her dissertation project seeks to contribute critical and empirical research on nutrition education and science communication in Canada that furthers our understandings of how ideas grounded in scientific approaches to what and how we should eat have largely become accepted as “common sense,” while often marginalizing and excluding complex economic, political, ethical, and sociocultural issues tied to food. Thus, a main goal of this project is to contribute ideas about how nutrition education, communication, and policy can be rethought outside of the scientific and its quantifiable norms, and to address the complexities of nutrition and our relationships to food and eating by interrogating subjugated nutrition knowledge and possible sites of resistance to dominant discourses of food and health. In addition to the 2015-2016 Wolfe Graduate Fellowship, Elyse’s work has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through a J-A Bombardier CGS doctoral scholarship (2012-2015).
 

Darcie DeAngelo is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. She specializes in the anthropology of medicine and sensory ethnography. Her doctoral thesis examines a Cambodian mine action pilot-project that uses Giant African Rats to detect landmines - of which millions remain buried in the post-conflict landscape. Her research focuses on the emergence of human-animal relations in the context of this international intervention, with the NGO non-demining staff labeling the rats as "technology," but the Cambodian deminers referring to them as "little sisters" and stating that they love them. These different understandings about the rats provokes the project's questions: What does it mean to love a rat that is both tech and spiritual being? What are the implications of a Cambodian-Buddhist conception of love that both alters the lover and keeps her and her beloved safe in a minefield? Darcie has conducted participant observation, interviews, and filming with the mine detection rats, their handlers, and the NGO supervisors, as well as during other human-nonhuman interactions in Cambodia. Her analysis incorporates Science and Technology Studies, Cambodian Buddhist understandings about love and spirits, as well as histories of violence in Cambodia. Darcie also collaborates with an interdisciplinary research team at The Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Harvard Medical School. Before attending McGill, she was awarded her MPhil in 2011 from the University of Tromsø, Norway in Visual Cultural Studies. For her Master's work, she completed a thesis and a film on landmine victims, media, and the prosthesis industry in Battambang, Cambodia. She graduated from Harvard University with a BA (Honors) from the Department of Anthropology (2005). She uses documentary film in both her research and analysis and some of her work can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/latitudereadjustment. In addition to the Wolfe Fellowship, her graduate studies have been funded through McGill University's Department of Anthropology (2012-2014), the Network for Thai Studies Award (2014) from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, Center for Khmer Studies Fellowships (2013, 2015) and the Doctoral Merit Scholarship for Foreign Students from the Program des Bourses d'Excellence pour Étudiants Étrangers (PBEEE-2015).

 

Omri Bassewitch Frenkel is a PhD candidate in the Department of History and Classical Studies and the Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University.
In his PhD dissertation, Omri is focusing on attempts at crop transplantation in sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries Spanish Empire, for which the Philippines featured as a main frontier. By studying the projects for transplantation of precious spices from Southeast Asia to New Spain and the Caribbean, as well as cultivation of New World crops such as tobacco and cocoa in the Philippines, Omri explores subjects related to the emergence of what was coined as “early Spanish colonial science”. His research converses with recent scholarship contending that the emergence of scientific empirical practices, and therefore also the “Scientific Revolution”, are in fact an early sixteenth century Iberian phenomenon rather than a much later Northern European development. Omri's research in Seville, Manila, and Mexico City archives situate Spanish attempts to develop a viable spice emporium in their dominions in the New World to an earlier period than is currently agreed upon. He also collected evidence for the existence of an extensive scientific community in New Spain, which collaborated with officials in the Spanish Manila and answered to queries from establishments in the Imperial centre in Spain. By following these lines, Omri aims to understand what were the practices applied by the Spaniards when attempting to transplant plants from one continent to another: How empirical were their methods? Which establishment was responsible for these projects and how were designated transplantation locations chosen? What was the motivation of the individuals involved, and how were these attempts perceived within Spanish colonial society?
By answering these questions, Omri hopes to acquire a better understanding of the origins of scientific intellectual foundations, the nature and methods of scientific innovation, and the place early science had within sixteenth century Spanish society. Omri holds a B.A. in East-Asian Studies (summa cum laude) and History (2004) and an M.A. in History (summa cum laude, 2010), both from the Tel Aviv University. In addition to the 2015-2016 Wolfe Graduate Fellowship, Omri’s work has been supported by the Peter Cundill Fellowship in History (2011-2014) and the Abner Kingman Fellowship in Arts (2014-2015), both at McGill University. Omri is also a trained chef and a former proprietor of a bistro in his hometown, Tel Aviv.

 

Katherine Strand is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.  Her research focuses on the history of agricultural science and technology in Canada with a particular emphasis on the role of federal research stations since the early 20th century.  Katherine’s PhD research is based in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  Using ethnographic methods, she delves into how science and the embodied practice of farming evolved alongside one another in this unique environmental location. This history involved huge leaps in technological advancement such as the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides and reduced tillage seeders.  The current state of technology has moved into an area of data collection and analysis to assist farmers in their practical on-farm activities and decision-making processes.  Private industry markets GPS technology and data analysis packages that claim to automate farmers’ intuition, thus streamlining and rationalizing the entire farming business.  Katherine’s research uses the long-term history of science at the Semiarid Prairie Agriculture Research Centre and farming in the Swift Current region to compare these two forms of knowledge.  She uses this comparison to explore the possibility of automating farmers’ practical knowledge of land and crops with technology.  It is clear to both scientists and farmers that they work on related yet unique planes of existence, but that they must also communicate their work with one another.  Ethnographic work at this intersection exposes why these planes of existence diverge and why, contrary to private industry claims, that the human element of farming can never be fully rationalized and automated.  This work has huge implications for the future of agriculture, particularly as more farms consolidate each year and existing farmers rely heavily on automated machinery and farming consultants to manage their large acreages.  The loss of practical knowledge on the land goes hand in hand with farm families’ inability to transfer knowledge between generations.  It is this process that defies the logic of science.  Katherine Strand received both her BA and MA in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming.  She has done research in Wyoming and Nebraska with organic and chemical winter wheat farmers.  This research explored how both organic and chemical farmers legitimized their choice in farm management using discourses of stewardship and sustainability.  Tillage as a farm practice divided these farmers in ways that tied back to the 1930s Dust Bowl.  She has published with colleagues on this research in the Journal of Material Culture and the Journal of Marketing.  Katherine has also done research with market garden farmers and community supported agriculture within Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, and Colorado.

 

Karina Vold is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University working in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Her research explores the questions: What effect does technology have on our cognition? Can technology extend our cognition? Is technology already doing this?  To answer these questions she is investigating the metaphysical commitments of the Extended Mind thesis, the view that our mental and cognitive states can be instantiated by physical states beyond our brain and body. This new philosophical thesis is partly a response to scientific discoveries in robotics and AI research, but it runs up against the standard view in the brain sciences, including cognitive science and neuroscience, which says that the mind is located entirely in the brain. Thus, Vold’s dissertation project represents a philosophical effort to understand how the cutting edge of science may alter our philosophical suppositions. She has published on this research in the Journal of Consciousness Studies (2015). Vold holds an Honours BA with High Distinction in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Toronto. She spent one year abroad at the University of Oslo. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada have helped support her doctoral research.

 

V. Corey Wright is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. His research focuses on the politics, disjuncture, and resistance that are arising in the Maasai rangelands of Northern Tanzania. With the ascendency of neoliberal environmentalisms, persisting discourses concerning 'wild Africa', and a burgeoning international tourism industry, Maasai rangelands are becoming entangled in global capital, cultural politics, and land conflict. In his research, Corey explores the complex terrains that are unfolding at the interface of conservation, science discourse, new resource management technologies, the burgeoning global tourism industry, and most importantly, indigenous social movements. Corey is especially interested in Tanzania's latest efforts to devolve power via community-governed institutions, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). He has a long history in Africa generally (e.g. professional experience in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia) and Tanzania specifically. After completing his Masters of Social Work (community development and social policy) in Tanzania in 2004, he continued living and working with indigenous communities in Tanzania until 2010. After witnessing the dramatic changes and land dispossession arising from conservation and tourism during this period, Corey joined McGill in 2010 to investigate these trends in more depth. He's a committed activist, seeking ways to collaborate effectively with communities as they resist dispossession and challenge the global forces that entangle them. Corey is a co-Coordinator of the Center for Science, Technology & Development (STANDD) at McGill, and part of the SSHRC-IDRC International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies (IPaSS) study, the Institutional Canopy of Conservation (I-CAN). His research is funded by SSHRC's Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship and IDRC's Doctoral Research Award.
*The accompanying photo includes an uprooted signpost in Longido, Tanzania. The signpost attempts to demarcate a newly imposed livestock-grazing zone, which was uprooted and thrown aside by an indigenous group resisting the modern planning technologies it represents and seeks to impose.