Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Upcoming Summer Research in Fiji

Reef fish for sale in the Suva Fishmarket, Fiji (Photo by S. Jones).

This summer I will continue research in Fiji's Lau Group. This work is supported by the National Geographic Society and involves a team of researchers including U.S.-, Canadian-, Australian-, and Fiji-based collaborators. Our work focuses on understanding marine biodiversity and resource use in the past and present.

Current scientific studies are increasingly taking into account the ecological complexity of the past to identify causes of change and demonstrate achievable goals for resource management and restoration. Adding an archaeological dimension significantly expands the concept of biodiversity by generating long-term perspectives on human-environmental interactions.

Sepesa Colati scaling a jack on Aiwa (Photo by S. Jones).

Our project will contribute to the understanding and conservation of biodiversity by: (1) documenting living marine faunas through detailed biological surveys on four diverse islands in the Lau Group, Fiji; (2) ethnographic recording of modern marine collection patterns by Lauan communities; and (3) generating long-term data on marine diversity and exploitation through archaeological work. Together this information will characterize the causes and rates of ecological change in this marine setting. Moreover, long-term temporal data will facilitate the development of programs for sustainable use of marine resources in the study area and beyond. We plan to gain additional important insights into the conservation of marine resources through our interactions with the Lauan communities and fisherpeople. Fijians have a long history of applying their rich traditional ecological knowledge to manage and conserve important natural resources.

Crabs served at a picnic on Lakeba (Photo by J. Franklin).

Check out the post (below/ October) on my Summer 2007 Fiji Study Abroad Course offered through the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This class is open to students all over the US regardless of major.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

UAB Anthropology Club Events, Fall 2006

The Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan, Mexico (Photo by S.Jones)

The first UAB Anthropology Club meeting was in Oct., 2006. It was hosted at the home of Dr.s S. Parcak and G. Mumford and was sponsored by UAB's Anthropology Department and the School of Social and Behavioral Science. The club is seeking to recruit new members and become officially recognized as a UAB Student Organization. This is an exciting opportunity to get involved in the Anthropology Department and the community. Membership is open to all UAB students, regardless of major.

Our next event will be on Thursday, Nov. 9. The Anthro Club will meet at Safari Cup Coffee in Downtown Birmingham at 5:15 pm (300 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd.). Please feel free to bring friends and family. After the meeting all are invited to stay at Safari Cup to watch the award winning documentary film BLACK GOLD check out their web site to watch a trailer and get details at:

Black Gold starts at 6 pm Thurs and costs $5 for students with student ID ($7 for all others). Buy tickets at the door, or in advance at Safari Cup. Call 326-0019 for directions or additional information. More info on the film including a description and reviews can be found at:

On Nov. 10 Anthro Club members are invited to Dr. Parcak's house to participate in reverse archaeology. Participants will help create an archaeological site alongside students and professional archaeologists. The site will be excavated the following day by Introductory Archaeology students.

A reminder: Members of the Anthropology Club and all others are invited to a free lecture by Barry Kemp of Cambridge University, to be held the evening of Nov 14th from 5:30-7pm in UAB's Bell Auditorium. Dr. Kemp is the most famous Egyptian Archaeologist in the world, and he brought Anthropology to Egyptology. The title of his lecture is: “Life and religion at the ancient Egyptian city of Tell el-Amarna.”

Amarna is famous as the city which Pharaoh Akhenaten built for the purpose of imposing his religious ideas – a form of monotheism – on the landscape and, to an uncertain extent, upon the society of his time. It gained a population of several tens of thousands of people who had to make a life in the new location and who brought with them a mindset formed before Akhenaten became king. Recent excavations have been within a set of small houses and, for the first time, in a cemetery of ordinary citizens. They contribute to a re-evaluation of the nature of Amarna as a city and to the interplay between Akhenaten’s ideas and the beliefs of his people.

Dr. Kemp is a Fellow of the British Academy and he is also the Director of the Amarna Project that incorporates the archaeological expedition of the Egypt Exploration Society, working in association with the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. He has directed fieldwork at Amarna since 1977. He is author of Ancient Egypt; anatomy of a civilization (now in its second edition) and of a series of reports and studies on Tell el-Amarna itself.

Friday, October 27, 2006

UAB Food and Culture Class Fall 2006

A pig on the earth oven, Lau Group, Fiji (Photo by S. Jones)

Food practices and beliefs are an integral part of every culture. This Fall I am teaching a Food and Culture class at UAB from a cross-cultural perspective. This course is designed to present a broad view of the role of food in human culture through time and in a variety of geographic settings. We meet twice a week to discuss classic and contemporary articles about food, watch films, take field trips, and enjoy wonderful food brought by the students.

Some of the wonderful foods that we have enjoyed include: casarole, brownies, pinwheel cookies, cherry turnovers, a dark fermented brewed beverage, and Dreamland Bar-b-q with all the fixings!

This week we had a guest speaker, Dr. Gregory Mumford who lectured on Ancient Egyptian Foodways.

Last week we took a fieldtrip to the Jones Valley Urban Farm, a non-profit farm in Birmingham, Alabama, which seeks to enhance the environmental, economic and social health of the Birmingham area by promoting locally grown organic food and community activism. Check out their website:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Summer Study Abroad UAB-Fiji

Liku Village, Lau Group, Fiji (Photo by S. Jones).

I'm teaching a summer Study Abroad course focused on the Fiji Islands through the University of Alabama at Birmingham during Summer B” of 2007 (July 8-Aug. 4). This class is open to undergraduates and graduate students (from UAB and elsewhere) who want participate in a mixed format classroom and field-based study.

Course description: This course is an intensive 6-credit class designed to introduce students to the people and culture of Fiji and Oceania. A survey of the cultural development of the peoples of Oceania as seen through the disciplines of history, archaeology, and anthropology will form the foundation of this class. This course is mixed format, including lecture and field research. Students will first meet at UAB for classroom lectures and discussion and then travel to Fiji as a group, where we will immerse ourselves in Fijian culture.

Nayau Island, Fiji (Photo by S. Jones).

The class (ANTH 247 and ANTH 490-491/ 492-493) will emphasize interactions between humans and the environment and is designed to introduce students to the ways that ecological, historical, economic, and cultural phenomena are connected. A particular focus on Fiji will include travel to the Fijian islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, and Taveuni. We will visit Fiji’s capital, Suva, the Fiji Museum, and attend lectures at the largest University in the Pacific Islands, the University of the South Pacific. Outside the city, students will engage in cultural and eco-tours lead by the instructor and local guides as they explore FijiÂ’s rich flora, fauna, and culture history in areas where few tourists visit. Archaeological sites such as hilltop fortified villages, caves, and ancient battle-grounds will lend insights into the past. We will investigate the regionÂ’s abundant and diverse marine life through snorkeling and sea kayaking around Taveuni’s amazing coast and small offshore islands. Forest and beach hikes will provide opportunities to observe waterfalls, interior lakes, rainforests, and tropical wildlife. Students will also engage in traditional cultural activities at remote villages including partaking in Fijian feasts.

This Study Abroad Program has three goals:
1) This course will provide students with in-depth knowledge of the history and culture of the Pacific Islands, especially the Fijian Islands.
2) Students will be exposed to tropical ecology (both terrestrial and marine) and learn first hand about Fiji’s flora and fauna, ecological diversity, and conservation issues.
3) This course it is expected to engender an appreciation and understanding of cultural and ecological diversity among the student participants.

Please contact me if you are interested in enrolling in this class. Email:
Iguana on a tree, Lau Group, Fiji (Photo S.Jones).

A house platform along the Sigatoka River, Viti Levu, Fiji (Photo S.Jones).