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                Research

2007 Summer Research Fellows

"Poetics and Politics of Folklore": Elena Deanda worked on New Spain's first folk song: the "Chuchumbé" (originally registered at Veracruz in 1766). The "Chuchumbé" -a vulgar term for the penis- both revealed and mocked a religious taboo: the sexuality of Catholic clergy. Its derisive lyrics accompanied by irreverent dances flaunted an excessive sensuality in secular festivities, thus becoming the object of persecution and prohibition during the Inquisition. The "Chuchumbé" epitomizes the conflict between traditional music and institutional politics, and serves as a metaphor of the broader topic of her doctoral dissertation, Poetics and Politics of Folklore, where she aimed to analyze how political standpoints determine folklore poetics and how aesthetics permeate political displays. "Chuchumbé" lyrics are kept in inquisitorial trials against composers and performers, preserved in the National Archives in Mexico City. Deanda worked on identifying, indexing, and microfilming them in order to produce a critical edition. This work showed how lyrical tradition constituted a symbolic place of resistance to institutional politics by, ironically enough, using its same resources during the colonial period. Project Proposal. Deanda Final Report (pdf).

"The Church as an Ecovillage: Envisaging the Body of Christ as a Holistic Way-of-Life-Together": Rev. Timothy Reinhold Eberhart's project examined and evaluates the emerging ecovillage movement (www.ecovillage.org) in light of a theological understanding of the Church as the living Body of 'Christ-existing-as-community' (Bonhoeffer) which, through its particular form of existence in the world, nurtures health/wholeness/peace (shalom) with and for the whole of creation. In particular, he studied both the theoretical grounds (i.e. holistic/ecological thought, critique of modern industrial society, 'sustainability,' 'localization') and the lived practices (i.e. permaculture design, sustainable building and energy use, intentional community, organic agriculture, local/ethical purchasing and economic development) that are constitutive of the growing number of ecovillages around the world. In order to accomplish this aim, Eberhart enrolled in two 10-day courses as The Farm's Ecovillage Training Center in Summertown, Tennessee (www.thefarm.org), where he received training in the principles and practical application of permaculture and ecovillage design. The primary questions he sought to answer are: 1) How might the ecovillage movement contribute to new understandings and models of ecclesial life-together in our time? How might the Christian theological tradition constructively engage both the theoretical assumptionsand the lived practices found in ecovillages? Project Proposal. Eberhart Final Report (pdf).

"Belief Systems in Chiapas": In summer 2007 Jeffrey Shenton conducted research in Chenalho, Chiapas, a Tzotzil Maya speaking community in the highlands of southern Mexico. Research focused on the potential influences that abstract belief systems and cultural practice may have on "low-level" cognition, specifically on the coding of spatial reference frames. The manner in which spatial relationships are coded in Maya languages is fundamentally different from that of Indo-European languages. While Indo-European languages preferentially code for egocentric coordinates (left/right), Mayan languages prefer allocentric coordinates (north/south) to describe relative positions of objects in space. Debate regarding the origin of this difference in default spatial frames has focused only on language as a factor in the formation of spatial cognition, and does not address the possibility that extra-linguistic conceptual formations might influence how people talk and think about space. Traditional Maya cosmology, for example, is crucially interwoven with allocentric spatial concepts. Spatial cognition is currently undergoing rapid change among the Tzotzil Maya, in parallel with drastic demographic changes in religious affiliation and westernizing economic influence. Shenton's research through the CSRC sought to disambiguate roles that both linguistic and extra-linguistic factors may play in the formation and change of these "default" spatial reference frames. Project Proposal. Shenton Final Report (pdf).

Pablo Gomez, Project Proposal. Gomez Final Report (pdf).

Josh Packard, Project Proposal. Packard Final Report (pdf).