• 2016 AA Editor Search
  • Open Anthropology
  • Latest AAA Podcast

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 16,733 other followers

Introducing Eric Rodriguez, AAA Intern at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval Heritage and History Command

Today’s guest blog post is by one of two AAA Summer Interns. This is the second year of the AAA Summer Internship Program. Learn more and support the program today!

Hello all,

My name is Eric Rodriguez and I am one of the two summer interns for the American Anthropological Association (AAA). For the next five weeks, I will be splitting my time between the headquarters of the AAA in Arlington,Virginia and in the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) located in the Washington Navy Yard.

This past April, I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Philosophy in Anthropology and History with a focus on maritime archaeology and Mediterranean history. For this degree, I published a thesis focusing on research conducted last summer under the supervision of Dr. Bryan Hanks of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Sheli Smith of the Partnering Anthropology with Science and Technology (PAST) Foundation. The shipwreck under study was the Austro-Hungarian vessel Slobodna located in Molasses Reef off Key Largo, FL. Using structural analysis and the interpretation of excavated artifacts and historic documents belonging to the ship and its time period, I was able to address the profitability of the vessel as it pertained to the unique circumstances that Austria-Hungary was situated in the 18th century. I drew from this experience a love for maritime archaeology that I would carry from that point onward.

Following my thesis defense, my professor, Dr. Kathleen Allen informed me of the AAA internship. Hoping to continue gaining experience in this field, I applied. A few weeks later, I received Damon Dozier’s call informing me that I was selected for the internship, which promptly led to dancing in the hallways of the anthropology department. A few months later, I found myself here in Washington,D.C.with my first week set an exciting pace that I’m sure will carry on in the weeks to come. I spent the first half of the week at the AAA, where I hope to gain experience outside of the research component of anthropology and into the public and publishing sectors. My first project for this internship is to boost student membership in universities, a task that I am quite sure Susannah and I are more than capable of completing.

On Wednesday, I made my way to the Navy Yard to intern at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the NHHC. The purpose of the NHHC is to control and apply preservation and conservation on all sunken military craft and the artifacts that have been exhumed from these sites. After meeting the staff and other interns, my supervisor George Schwarz and I discussed some of the recent projects in maritime archaeology and shared personal field stories. Due to my strong background in the subject, I was given the opportunity to immediately join ongoing projects. One of my many responsibilities is to respond to inquiries concerning the history of vessels that have been recently discovered and identified.  This research has allowed me to gain insight into the designs and functions of many crafts such as WWII-era German U-boats and several confederate ships from the Civil War. My tasks are not solely research; they stem into public education as well. This first week I had to opportunity to prepare a lesson for high school students, introducing them to maritime archaeology. Some of the long-term projects I have the opportunity to assist in concern the USS Scorpion, which the 2011 AAA/NHHC intern had the opportunity to conduct research, and the Bonham Richard. The Bonham Richard has a special place in my heart as its famous Captain John Paul Jones and his battles aboard this ship have been a favorite of mine since childhood. It is truly an amazing privilege to be working with such vessels that hold great significance in American history and maritime archaeology.

Outside of my internships, I have done a great deal of exploring the lesser-known areas of DC, braving the recent heat wave. I am residing in one of the WISH Foundation’s Capitol Hill locations with interns from various regions of  the United States. With such a variety of people, I get a chance to understand different perspectives, something anthropology has trained me to enjoy. I’m sure my time with these individuals in this city will provide a fruitful experience that I will cherish for years.

I am very grateful to both the AAA and the NHHC for granting me the opportunity to continue gaining experience in the many aspects concerning anthropology and archaeology. I am anxious to continue working with these organizations and my supervisors and look to the next five weeks with great anticipation.

Eric Rodriguez
eric.rodriguez117@gmail.com

Susannah Poland, AAA Intern at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Today’s guest blog post is by one of two AAA Summer Interns. This is the second year of the AAA Summer Internship Program. Learn more and support the program today!

My name is Susannah Poland, and I am an intern for the American Anthropological Association (AAA). I divide my time between the AAA offices in Arlington, VA, and the curatorial department of the Smithsonian National Museum for African Art, located on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

I have a background in cultural anthropology, with an emphasis in studies of arts and creativity. I graduated this spring with a Bachelors of Arts from Stanford University, for which I completed an Honors thesis on beaded body adornment of the Chagga culture group in northern Tanzania. Under the mentorship of Dr. Barbara Thompson, curator at the Cantor for the Arts at Stanford University, I explored museum collections and colonial archives in England, and conducted ethnographic research among the Chagga people. This work over the last 18 months exposed me to many of the methods and stores of information used by cultural anthropologists, and gave me a taste of the long, solo process of reflecting and writing on personal experience. Though my product was a thesis and an academic paper, independent curatorial work under Dr. Thompson and another Africanist curator in Stanford’s department of Art History helped me learn about alternative ways of interpreting and representing knowledge.

Emerging from this intense research and writing phase, I hope to take a step back and gain perspective on the breadth of anthropological work today. At the AAA, I am helping to expand their membership base, particularly in student communities. I will help the AAA better reach and address the needs of youth like me – those who are curious and excited about anthropology, still searching for their niche, and still developing a sense of the extent of the discipline and the possible reach/impact of its many applications. I am lucky that the AAA affords the perfect vantage for these explorations.

At the National Museum for African Art, I work under Christine Kreamer, the Chief Curator and Deputy Director of the museum. She is just starting the brainstorming phase for an exhibition and book on work by contemporary African women artists that address current issues in gender and feminist studies. As her research assistant, I am compiling and digesting literature on these topics to identify past and emerging themes,both in academic study and artistic practice.Together, Dr. Kreamer and I will choose a few important thinkers and artists to invite to a meeting in September, to further develop this project. My background research will help us frame and structure the forthcoming conversations, and I will help Dr. Kreamer begin to weave narratives between objects, performances, and writings. In this stage of early development, I will be exposed to the guiding principles which shape the creation of museum exhibitions and publications. My everyday process is unstructured, my research goals fairly abstract, and I have enormous resources to explore at the Smithsonian. I am honored by the autonomy and trust placed in me, and very eager to immerse deeply in this learning process.

Outside of the workplace, I am exploring DC and its environs. The AAA provides housing for interns on Capitol Hill, and I am lucky to be situated just behind the Supreme Court, on Constitution Ave NE. I am living with other interns from around the country, many of whom are working for senators or representatives. The AAA is involved in the regulation of ethical and human rights concerns in much legislation, and I have had very interesting conversations with my housemates about the intersections of our respective fields. I am learning about the value of anthropological thought as a source of social critique and deep inquiry, particularly in the rapid but impactful decision-making on the Hill.

I am fortunate to have this privileged view into professional worlds where anthropological thought is applied in meaningful ways. I feel very young in my studies, and am humbled by the earnest work of my mentors at the AAA and Smithsonian. Their warm welcome has made this transition smooth, and I am very excited about the coming five weeks.

I will reflect this internship experience again in late July, then at its conclusion in mid August.

Susannah Poland
Susannah.poland@gmail.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,733 other followers