Congratulations to seniors Rachel George and Bairavi Shankar who won first and second place in the Social Sciences division of this year's Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) competition.
Dr. Susan McIntosh
Laser Ablation Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)
Chemical Sourcing of West African Pottery
Laser Ablation Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is a relatively new, non-destructive technology that assesses the chemical composition of an object by measuring up to forty distinct elements. This project uses LA-ICP-MS to chemically analyze over 150 potsherds excavated by Professor. Susan McIntosh at archaeological sites along the Middle Niger and Middle Senegal Valley. All of the sites were involved in trans-Saharan trade from the 7th century AD onward. And while we know a considerable amount about long-distance trade in this region, little is known about regional and inter-regional trade. For each site, samples will include 15-20 sherds of the commonest style of domestic pottery (assumed to be locally produced because it is formally distinct at each site) and 10-15 sherds of a shared style of “luxury” pottery that may have been traded along the river. Where multiple clay sources are indicated for the diverse luxury style of pottery, it will suggest the possibility of regional or inter-regional trade in pottery or its contents. This project is preliminary and exploratory and will provide a foundational database that will eventually permit the identification of specific clay sources and pottery production areas as the database expands.
Dr. Zoë Wool
The Warriors of Cancer: An Examination of Public Discourse and Private Online Experiences
Cancer is one of the most widely discussed diseases in the social sciences and is widely represented in the public culture that surrounds us. But how does this shape the concept of cancer, and does this concept map on to the experiences of those who have lived with it? The principal goals for this project are to understand the ways that media campaigns portray the “fight” against cancer and compare these discourses with written illness narratives from cancer patients. Using “Netnographic” methods to examine prominent cancer blogs and advertisement campaigns, this study explores themes of isolation and body fragmentation, shifting personhood, and redefinition of community ties. While media campaigns generally portray cancer patients as solitary “martyrs” or “warriors,” Cancer patients bloggers share narratives of isolation, uncertain futures, and renegotiating identities to a community of patients and caregivers, using their websites as a meeting space for resistance against stereotypical sick roles.