Linking Ethnography to Place: GIS Training for Anthropological Research on migration in a Zambian Frontier

Grants and Contracts Details


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) are techniques for examining spatial information, but such techniques do not reside outside of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. Disciplinary backgrounds shape the intellectual process of giving meaning to spatial data. In order to use methods "anthropologically" we need anthropologists to be skilled in those methods. This proposal seeks funding for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) methods training for anthropologist Lisa Cliggett, during the spring semester (2006) ofa year long sabbatical from teaching at the University of Kentucky. Training and analysis of ethnographic and imagery data will take place under the sponsorship of Dr. Rodrick Hay, Professor of Earth Sciences and Geography, and Director of the Earth Sciences GIS Laboratories at California State University Dominguez Hills, with whom she has been collaborating on the NSF sponsored project "Migration and Environmental Change" (ending May 2005). During the training period Cliggett will work with two of three bodies of data emerging directly from her ongoing Zambian research. Following training, Cliggett will continue using her GIS / RS skills by working with the remaining data set, developing new research agendas that incorporate these methodologies at their inception, and formally integrating these methodologies into training of graduate and undergraduate students (through methods courses, an NSF sponsored field school, and mentoring students). Training in GIS and remote sensing will enhance Cliggett's professional development in important ways. Cliggett's role as the primary "next generation" member of the longitudinal Gwembe Tonga Research Project (GTRP) (Zambia) places her in the position of increasingly setting the direction of research for the project. Developing skills in these new methodologies and conceptual applications will allow Cliggett to truly integrate an anthropological perspective with these methods, and guide the long term project in contributing in new ways to important interdisciplinary discussions concerning socio-ecological processes. Additionally, gaining GIS / RS skills and building an anthropologically sound framework for linkage with ethnographic data will greatly enhance Cliggett's abilities as a graduate and undergraduate educator. By incorporating GIS / RS methods and concepts into courses she teaches, and the field school she runs, Cliggett will contribute to improving methods skills in anthropology, and ultimately training a new generation of anthropologists with excellent skills for anthropological research and, given the current interest, for increasingly popular interdisciplinary research agendas. Disciplinary backgrounds influence how we !Tamequestions, employ methods and design research projects. Linking methods of GIS and RS with a specifically anthropological perspective (and with ethnographic data) will increase anthropology's ability to contribute to important and policy relevant discussions about human dimensions of environmental change, rather than leaving these powerful methods and techniques in the analytical and conceptual control of other disciplines. A !Tamework that genuinely links ethnography, an anthropological perspective, and techniques of GIS / RS will result in substantially new and important findings on livelihood diversification, chronic poverty and environmental change (to name only a few issues), topics of great relevance for public policy and development efforts around the world.
Effective start/end date9/1/058/31/07


  • National Science Foundation: $49,997.00


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