The Zanotti Lab is an interconnected network of scholars and students who share common frameworks for working with communities and offering critical anthropological perspectives to global challenges. Students in this lab work across place-based and digital interfaces, drawing upon feminist philosophies and feminist political ecology, postcolonial scholarship, critical ethnography, science and technology studies, and justice work to amplify storytelling from spaces which customarily are not represented in dominant discourses. We use emerging and standard digital and media-based technologies to enhance and accentuate data collection, management, and visualization. We have a strong pulse of engaged and applied components to our projects. Check out all the fabulous projects below!
Sarah Huang is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology. Her undergraduate research was on the ways in which the proposed Pebble Mine is a case in which the protection of cultural subsistence systems tend to be protected when threatened by environmental harms from resource development.
Her current research interests stem from her interest in human to food relationships, focusing on the topic of food identity post-migration from hometowns. She would like to focus on the migration of Alaska Natives from rural parts of Alaska to the urban center of Anchorage, Alaska. She am interested in learning about the ways in which indigenous people define identity through food and whether or not this identity has changed after leaving their hometowns. She plans on examining the ways that people develop a relationship with food and how they define food identity. She wants to explore the different mediums that food identity can be defined, such as through a physical object, artistic medium, or an action like cooking. She is also interested in the creation of different cultural identities through the local sustainable agriculture movement that occurs in Anchorage, Alaska and surrounding towns.
She also works with Dr. Laura Zanotti on a community participatory project in Barrow, Alaska. We work with local peoples to learn about the changes in gender roles, specifically on topics of strength, leadership, and healing.
Virginia’s research explores the complexity of modern food systems at both micro and macro levels. It is inspired by emergent alternative food systems that espouse more traditional methods and situate themselves within the food justice movement. Virginia is working with smallholder and alternative farmers in Indiana to identify the successes and challenges they face. Although this research is highly localized, it will provide a model for future research in the U.S. as well as abroad. Additionally, as it develops, this research will hold implications for future policy shifts with the capability to greatly impact local livelihoods, food security, and the environment. Virginia’s research on alternative food systems explores these complexities by situating “counter” food systems in juxtaposition to the more normative institution of big agriculture. She intends to demonstrate that contrary to the highly prevalent rhetoric that espouses modern agriculture as a cure-all for everything from world hunger to poverty to environmental woes, “counter” systems are better equipped to mediate these issues. She proposes that alternative and smallholder food production (and its consumption) are in fact a locus of resilience. This resilience embodies an expanded conceptualization of sustainability and considers it in multifaceted, complex, and interrelated terms: environmental and economic, yes, but also cultural, historical, spatial and agentive. Due to the complexity of food and food systems, as well as saturation of life by foodways more generally, this research is necessarily interdisciplinary in nature. The sources and perspectives she attempts to illuminate through her research include cultural and medical anthropology, political ecology, history, ag econ, indigenous studies, and media/popular sources. If we examine food closely, it affects much more than our dinner tables or pocketbooks; it stands to reason, then, that the study of food systems should also be multidimensional. It is also imperative that this research be accessible to the public and interpretive in nature.
My research interests are in the anthropological study of indigenous media and broader theoretical questions regarding how media alters understandings of politics and representation. I am interested in how new technology serves as a tool for the promotion of land rights, cultural preservation, communication within indigenous groups, and artistic expression. My geographic area of interest is the transnational Amazon region.
My academic interest is the relationships that humans have with water. I am interested in the mythical, economical and environmental dimensions that constitute human-water relationships in the Brazilian Amazon, especially concerning the way these dimensions relate to subsistence practices and community livelihoods. My interests are at the intersection of traditional fishing methods and new fishing resources, such as fishing line and the rod and reel. I am interested in how these new material resources, and access to them, are a source of independence for the youth and a factor that contributes to social mobility within the community. These socio-environmental shifts present the need for a deeper examination of human-water relationships among indigenous groups in Brazil, and that such an examination is more broadly relevant to anthropology’s long standing interest in social means of self-production. Moreover, the long standing controversy of the construction of the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam, Belo Monte on the nearby Xingu River, centers human-water relationships as a critical area of investigation in terms of the larger discourse being played out between the State and Brazil’s indigenous populations. My research investigates human-water relations, and their material and symbolic forms, and untangling complex social and environmental phenomena—such as how both the implementation of policiesand the introduction of new resources impact livelihoods.