Valene Smith Prize - Student Posters on Tourism

Valene Smith

Students at all levels (graduate and undergraduate) who are registered and presenting a poster at the SfAA Annual Meeting with the theme of “tourism/heritage” are eligible for a competition honoring long-time member, Valene Smith.

Three cash prizes will be awarded - $500 for first prize and $250 for two honorable mention prizes. In order to qualify, the posters should be concerned in some way with the applied social science of tourism/heritage. 

Valene Smith was one of the founders of the study of tourism and edited the ground-breaking book, “Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism”.

The posters which are submitted for the Valene Smith Competition will be set up and exhibited with all other posters at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Please contact the SfAA Office for additional information on the competition.

Previous Recipients


1st Place Winner

Ellen Platts

Platts.jpgEllen is a PhD student at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on the intersections of cultural heritage and sustainable development, particularly in the context of climate change. Her poster featured her work building a public website highlighting new ways to communicate information about climate change to potential tourists at World Heritage Sites around the world. Providing information on climate communication, sustainability practices, and climate-related consequences of travel to World Heritage Sites, the website aims to mobilize the heritage traveler to take action regarding the critical challenge of climate change. The website can be viewed here.

Honorable Mentions

Ellyn Cardon

Laura Stelson

Stelson.jpgLaura Stelson is a Ph.D. candidate in the programs for Anthropology and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment at Penn State University. She earned her Masters degree in Anthropology from the University of Bonn (Germany) and has spent much of the last ten years doing extensive work on archaeological projects in Germany, Central America, and throughout the western United States. Her research interests include seeking creative approaches in digital archaeology that make cultural resources both tangible and accessible to public audiences as well as the reconstruction of past environments and the ways that people interacted with them.


1st Place Winner

Lucy Harbor

Lucy Harbor, a Ph.D. student in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Penn State University for her poster “Understanding Institutional Diversity in Santiago Atitlán.” Her poster explores institutional and (indigenous and non-indigenous) inter-stakeholder dynamics in leveraging a highland Maya community’s place in the global tourism market, drawing on an ethnographic case study in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, which applies Ostrom’s framework for analyzing socio-ecological systems in this context.

Honorable Mentions

Kathryn Stutz

Kathryn Stutz (a graduate student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Puget Sound) for her poster presentation “The Ethics and Practicalities of the Museum Collection”

Raquel Romero

Raquel Romero (an undergraduate student majoring in Anthropology at Northern Arizona University) for her poster presentation “Tribal Outreach Programs at Yosemite National Park.” 


1st Place Winner

Melanie Nichol2017 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Melanie Nichol

Melanie Nichol is a graduate student of Applied Anthropology at Oregon State University. Her thesis research examines the intersection of ritual, heritage tourism, nationalism, and the use of space as curating public exhibition and performance. Specifically, the SfAA presentation examined how carnaval performances in Santiago de Cuba have navigated politics and historic criticism to maintain an integral role in Cuban society, heightened even more so with increasing tourism. Melanie continues to research informal economies, rituals, and gendered access to tourist economies in Cuba. Future projects include an analysis of domestic police hiring practices and policies, and further research in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Honorable Mentions

Sarah Hartge

image-2.jpegSarah Hartge is a MAA student at the University of Maryland - College Park. Her research focuses on cultural heritage and how heritage is used to understand place meanings, particularly within coastal communities along the Chesapeake Bay. Her poster featured her work building a heritage resource for a coastal community on the Chesapeake Bay. Through mapping a cemetery and gathering stories and photographs to publish online, she created a toolkit for a rural church and other area institutions to use to engage with their heritage, both past and present. The product can be viewed here:

Lama Zakzok

image.jpegMy name is Lama Zakzok and I'm a senior at Baylor University from Austin, Texas. I'm graduating in May of 2017 with a degree in Anthropology and International Studies and a Pre-Law focus. In the future, I plan to attend law school and pair both my anthropological research as well as my legal education to help bring more light into the world.


1st Place Winner

Donna Kelley

2016 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Donna Kelley and her posterDonna “Shalana” Kelley is a MA student at Northern Arizona University. Her research focuses on uniting ethnography and museum exhibitions. In 2015, for her master’s thesis, she interned at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI), in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She also conducted ethnographic interviews with residents of the mining company town Morenci, Arizona, and used the results to create an exhibition plan that implements ethnographic findings in a museum in way that respects both industrial history and culture. Currently, Shalana is working with WMMI to implement her exhibition plan into a temporary exhibit at WMMI, which will open in September of 2016. Her professional interests include ethnography, museum anthropology, videography/photography, and public outreach.

Honorable Mentions

Traben Pleasant

2016 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Traben PleasantI am currently a PhD student at Oregon State University studying how culture intersects with development projects that use information communications technology (ICT) as a life enhancing tool. My poster on tourism and liminality in Bocas del Toro, Panama was part of research conducted while attending University College London where I earned an MSc in Social/Cultural Anthropology.


Kathryn Stutz

2016 Valene Smith Poster Prize Kathryn StutzKathryn Stutz is an undergraduate student in the Sociology/Anthropology and Classics departments at the University of Puget Sound. Her research interests are in the anthropology of museum curation, heritage tourism, and collaborate archaeology. During the fall of 2015, she conducted ethnographic interviews and participant observation at museums in Washington state and the province of British Columbia in order to evaluate how Native American/First Nations identity is communicated through indigenous-designed and majority-designed museum displays. This research revisits the work of historian of anthropology James Clifford regarding Northwest museums and their presentation of indigeneity. Kathryn recently received an AHSS grant in order to research transnational museum networks between Doha, Qatar, and London, England during the summer of 2016.


1st Place Winner

Eric Koenig

2015 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Eric KoenigEric Koenig is a MA student in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. His research interests and professional aspirations focus on sustainable development, heritage conservation, public policy, and human rights issues, particularly for marginalized groups of people in the Americas. Over two summer seasons of research in 2013 and 2014, Eric conducted multi-methods ethnographic research on the Placencia Peninsula, Belize, investigating local, national, and tourist conceptions of coastal heritage and their implications for community-based tourism and sustainable development initiatives. Currently, he is working on a heritage conservation and tourism development project in partnership with community-based organizations in a predominately Garifuna village on the peninsula, which will serve as the foundation for his dissertation research at USF.    

Honorable Mentions

Erica Hann

2015 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Erica HannErica Hann received her Master’s degree in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University in May 2015 and earned a B.A in International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound in 2011.  Her professional interests lie in the area of political ecology and community-based conservation, particularly in Southern Africa.  Her MS research was focused on the impacts of a ban on trophy hunting on rural livelihood practices and attitudes toward conservation in Northern Botswana.  This work relied on a multi-method approach, including interviews, participant observation, and spatial analysis of the physical landscape.  Erica plans to continue exploring the dynamic relationship between humans and the environment, as well as the mediating role tourism plays, in her future work.


Rachel Ward

2015 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Rachel Ward and her posterRachel is completing her Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University's School of Interactive Arts & Technology with a focus on digital anthropology, intangible cultural heritage and experimental ethnography. She strives to convey culture using interactive, visual, digital and sensory-based mediums. Rachel earned her Master's degree in Social Anthropology from The London School of Economics in 2010. The following year, she completed a degree in Visual Anthropology at The Australian National University as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. After completing material culture training at the American Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution (SIMA program, 2013), Rachel is now experimenting with unconventional methods of representing intangible cultural heritage through the technological modification of local material culture (such as musical instruments) and digitalia. She is currently in the process of translating her documentary film, “Appalachian Punks: A Resurgence of Tradition” (2014), into an interactive ethnographic art installation (a prototype was recently exhibited in Vancouver), as well as a web-based “interactive documentary,” as a novel platform in conveying the results of her archival research and fieldwork in Appalachia. 


1st Place Winner

Gavin Mičulká2014 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Gavin Miculka

Gavin Mičulká received his Masters of Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland in May 2014. His academic and professional interests revolve around sustainable heritage tourism. During summer 2013, Gavin conducted ethnographic research with visitors to the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area in Price George's County, MD. His research explored heritage identity and representation, underrepresented narratives, and potential target audiences. Findings will help shape the Heritage Area's interpretive planning, tourism development, and marketing initiatives. In the future, Gavin plans to use ethnographic research methods to inform planning and development decisions for tourism destinations.

Honorable Mentions

Stacia Sydoriak

2014 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Stacia SydoriakStacia Sydoriak is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, and a graduate research assistant at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis.  She is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, and recently completed her M.A. thesis, which served as the basis for her poster submission.  Currently, her research focuses primarily on public policy, inequality, and vulnerable populations, particularly in the context of disasters.  Recently, Stacia was named a 2014-2015 CSU Center for Collaborative Conservation Fellow.  For her fellowship she will be examining the different collaborative approaches to regulating natural gas development at the local level in two cities in the state of Colorado. 


Tanachy Bruhns

2014 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Tanachy BruhnsTanachy is a M.A. student in Applied Anthropology at Northern Arizona University. He received his B.A. in Anthropology and two certificates in Asian American Studies and Southeast Asian Studies from Arizona State University in 2005. In 2013, he received his Masters of Advanced Study degree in Geographical Information Science from Arizona State University. Between 2005 and 2013 he worked in the private sector as an archaeological field technician. At Northern Arizona University Tanachy plans to continue his interests in southwest archaeology and archaeological compliance. His work focuses on origins and understanding the life ways of the Ancestral Pueblo Basketmaker III peoples in the southwest.

Heather Eastman

2014 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Heather EastmanHeather Eastman is a second year archaeology masters student at Northern Arizona University. She received two bachelor of arts degrees from Northern Arizona University, in applied indigenous studies and anthropology. Her interests include gender and sexuality, religion and society, public outreach, Indigenous archaeologies and postcolonial theory, museology, nation building and heritage management. She hopes to continue her work with communities in Arizona and the greater Southwest and to foster meaningful collaboration and communication between all stakeholders in the human past.


1st Place Winner

Katie Kurtessis

2013 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Katie KurtessisKatie Kurtessis is a M.A student of cultural anthropology at SUNY Albany. She graduated in 2011 with a B.A in International Relations and a B.A in Spanish from Roanoke College in Virginia before moving to Piura, Peru for a year to teach and research at the Universidad de Piura. The research she collected in Piura suggests that the pre-existing social relationship and perceptions between the host community and the tourist will determine the ability for tourism to develop. She hopes to pursue these findings further to understand how prior political conflict will affect the type of tourism that can be developed. The overall basis for her research is community-based tourism as an alternative to economic development in the neoliberal world. She will complete fieldwork for her master's thesis this summer in southern Nicaragua with a goal of creating a model for tourism that is socially and economically sustainable for the community.

Honorable Mentions

Suzanna Pratt

2013 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Suzanna PrattSuzanna Pratt is a 2013 graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she received a bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Peace Studies. During the summer of 2011, she travelled to southern Albania to participate in faculty-led archaeological research and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint National Park. During the summer of 2012, she returned to the same site to carry out independent research about the impact of the site on local communities. The resulting interviews with individuals from five nearby towns provided the basis of an honors thesis examining local opinions about Butrint and activities related to the management of the cultural heritage site in order to provide a new perspective on the relationship between heritage management and local communities. Suzanna is spending the summer of 2013 excavating at Butrint and will be pursuing an M.A. in Applied Anthropology with and Archaeology track at the University of South Florida this fall. She hopes to ultimately pursue a career in cultural resource management.

Nicolas Rasiulis

2013 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Nicolas RasiulisI grew up in Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, but my Québécois roots brought me frequently into ‘la Belle Province’. As a teenager, I became genuinely myself along canoe expeditions with a non-profit summer camp in Quebec. My genuine self transformed the way in which I live in both bio-diverse and anthropo-emphatic places. I live always in Nature, the living world, and feel the landscape with empathetic attunement of perceptual awareness.

I have been guiding teens along expeditions since I was seventeen years old. During the months of July and August, 2012, I conducted autoethnographic fieldwork along a twenty-seven day canoe expedition in Quebec. I am currently completing an undergraduate honours in sociocultural anthropology. In September, 2013, I begin my masters at the University of Ottawa, with which I will further explore canoe-camping’s transformative features and potentials.


1st Place Winner

Elizabeth C. McCoy

2012 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Elizabeth C. McCoyElizabeth C. McCoy received her BA in anthropology from the University of South Florida (USF) in 2006. She is currently a graduate student in the applied anthropology MA program at USF, focusing on public archaeology. She is also the Curator of Programs and Education at the Ybor City Museum Society, a Citizen Support Organization for the Ybor City Museum State Park. Her close ties to one of Florida’s state parks helped guide her research into tactics all state parks could employ to thrive in the face of current economic realities that have stripped away funding and staffing. The development of these possible tactics has included examination of tourism niches parks can enter, the identification and cultivation of park stakeholders, and the application of new technologies and social media to interpretive, management, and outreach strategies. McCoy’s research is supported by the Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies at USF.

Honorable Mentions

Carla Pezzia

2012 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Carla PezziaCarla Pezzia is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology department at the University of Texas at San Antonio. At the end of 2011, she completed her dissertation fieldwork in the Highlands of Guatemala examining issues related to the recovery of alcoholism, drug addiction, and other mental illnesses. At the macro level, her work focuses on access to care in a globalized community. At the micro level, she explores shifts in identity and selfhood between states of illness and recovery. While conducting her fieldwork, the idea of security became an important theme to understand. The research that she presented at the meeting addresses to what extent tourists consider aspects of security when they are planning trips to locations, such as the Highlands of Guatemala, that have known degrees of insecurity. Her findings suggest that the lack of information on what Guatemala has to offer as a tourist destination has more of an impact than insecurity within the tourist decision-making process. She hopes to continue to work on this project collaboratively with local tourism agencies to find ways to promote more tourism to the region.

Kristin M. Sullivan

2012 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Kristin M. SullivanKristin M. Sullivan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she received her Master of Applied Anthropology degree in 2010. Ms. Sullivan's master's work looked at issues of heritage conservation, public outreach, and interpretive planning in heritage tourism for government agencies in the greater Washington, DC and Chesapeake Bay regions. Currently she is conducting fieldwork on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, where her focus is on identity and heritage issues surrounding hunting decoy and decorative wildfowl carvers as vernacular artists responding to tourism development and environmental regulation.


1st Place Winner

Kathryn Ranhorn

2011 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Kathryn RanhornKathryn Ranhorn graduated from the University of Florida in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Anthropology, summa cum laude. As a McNair Scholar, her senior thesis investigated the ethnographic context of homelessness and health in Gainesville, Florida.

Upon graduation, Kathryn secured a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant to return to Tanzania, East Africa, where she had previously studied abroad as a Gilman Scholar. Her pilot project focused primarily on the Makonde woodcarvers in Mwenge, Dar es Salaam, a community she came to know as a volunteer English teacher. Kathryn spent the next year building on her project by co-founding Investours Tanzania, a successful NGO which combines microfinance with the powers of socially-responsible tourism to deliver interest-free microcredit to the poorest of the poor. She presented on this work at the SfAA 2011 meeting in Seattle.

In addition to her development work, Kathryn re-visited the world-famous Olduvai Gorge where she helped in archaeological excavation, and also explored potential new sites throughout the country. Combining her interests in Tanzanian Makonde people with human evolution, Kathryn's next project will illuminate the ethnoarchaeological history of southeastern Tanzania. After spending the summer excavating in Kenya with the Smithsonian Institution, she will begin a PhD program in Hominid Paleobiology at George Washington University in August 2011.

Honorable Mentions

Erica Hann

2011 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Erica HannErica Hann recently completed her undergraduate education at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington where she studied International Political Economy and Environmental Policy and Decision-Making.  The research she presented at the 2011 SfAA was work that she conducted with colleague Amie Fleming in Kasane, Botswana during a semester of study abroad in 2010.  Her research examined the potential ecological and social impacts of a proposed community-based tourism project under development along the Chobe River in northern Botswana.  This development is part of a government-sponsored Community-Based Natural Resource Management Program in which local communities are given rights to land and natural resources (including wildlife) in order to generate economic benefits for those living most closely with large and potentially dangerous fauna such as elephants and lions.  Erica hopes to return to Botswana in the future to continue this research and explore other issues of conservation and the human-environment interaction in Southern Africa.

Sonja K. Ulrich

2011 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Sonja K. UlrichSonja K. Ulrich received her BA in Anthropology from the California State University Dominguez Hills in 2009. Since she had been a belly dancer for about ten years, she decided to minor in a specialized degree on the history of belly dancing. She continued to research the correlation between tourism and this dance form while she worked on her master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology at CSU Long Beach. While her master’s thesis is on health care choices of rural people in Chiapas, Mexico, Sonja is investigation the possibility of future PhD work in the realm of feminist theory after graduating in the fall of 2011. 


1st Place Winner

Heidi Nicholls

2010 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Heidi Nicholls with her posterHeidi Nicholls is a Doctoral cultural anthropology student at SUNY University at Albany. Her research interests include indigenous heritage tourism, intercultural relations and dynamics, political ecology, identity in space/place, and the u/Urban Indian. Heidi's current research and dissertation focus is situated in Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, co-managed by the National Parks Service. She is also working with a departmental collaborative four field research team on the Baruca Reserve in Costa Rica. Her presented research addressed the notion of what she refers to as appropriate applicability and the multiple narratives, cutting across time, of the tour guides both working and residing in Canyon de Chelly in relationship to the future of the land trust

Honorable Mentions

Rani Salas Mclean

2010 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Rani Salas McleanRani Salas Mclean is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Her research interests include the social and economic links between rural California agriculture and Mexican immigrant communities in the United States.  Her theory is grounded in political economy with a focus on the construction of communities, emerging identities and the anthropology of space and place. She completed her dissertation research in April 2009 after living and conducting research for two years in Napa Valley, California. Her research questions dovetail with the concerns of a larger research project of Dr. Juan-Vicente Palerm, focusing on the construction of Mexican communities in California, in which her study plays an integral role.  One objective was to understand the impact of world-class wine production on immigrant community building in the Napa Valley versus that in the San Joaquin and Central Valley agricultural regions.  Specifically, she explored how the strong intersection between agribusiness and tourism, a unique aspect of wine production in the Napa Valley, is affecting immigrant settlement rates and processes of community participation, citizenship, and access to housing.  She explored how the settlement rates and processes of Mexican immigrant vineyard workers are affected by the economic and political structures surrounding the agriculture of premium wine grapes. Her poster, presented at the 70th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, explored how increased interest in constructing space for tourism in the Napa Valley is influencing grape cultivation and labor organization.  Her findings suggest that tourism interests are rapidly altering grape cultivation practices to construct space for tourists.  Thus, negatively impacting immigrant laborers by constructing a work environment that facilitates social isolation, and by controlling community space to keep farmworkers marginalized, as they remain hidden from view of the tourist.

Tatiana Gumucio

2010 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Tatiana GumucioTatiana Gumucio is a PhD student of cultural anthropology at the University of Florida. She investigates the role of artisanry as an instrument of social change for indigenous peoples. Her research takes place in the Chapare region of Cochabamaba, Bolivia, among the Yuqui indigenous community. Her burgeoning dissertation work examines Yuqui artisanal pride and the role of the state and NGOs in its development. She first worked with the Yuqui when interning on a Bolivian NGO’s citizens rights project for marginalized peoples, prior to beginning her graduate studies in anthropology.


1st Place Winner

Kristen Hudgins

2009 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Kristen HudginsKristen Hudgins is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Her poster examined the effects this strategy has had upon the cooperative groups and the larger batey community looking at the role of service-learning as development, voluntourism initiatives, and issues of maintainability. The poster comes out of the larger dissertation project which focuses on an agricultural and largely immigrant Haitian community, or batey, in the Dominican Republic. Batey Voluntad has adopted the strategy of using poverty and development tourism to negotiate and meet its development goals and needs. Although at times problematic, these groups generally provide an economic boon for the community both on the household and community group level through home-stays, development projects, and attendance of events such as cultural ceremonies. In light of the relative absence of state development within the batey, the use of poverty tourism as a development strategy brings into focus issues of dependence, sustainability, and prospects for growth. Krissy’s been working with Haitian women’s cooperatives in Batey Voluntad with their projects for documentation and a rotating microcredit fund.

Honorable Mentions

Melissa Stevens

2009 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Melissa StevensMelissa Stevens is a PhD student at the University of Maryland in Cultural Anthropology. Her research interests include community-based tourism, local participation in development, and the political economy of tourism and sustainable development. While earning her Master of Applied Anthropology degree at the University of Maryland, she worked with Counterpart International to plan a community-based tourism project in Vietnam. Her research examined the effects of power disparities between stakeholder groups on the ways in which community-based tourism concepts such as "community" and "participation" are operationalized. She plans to explore the same issues at an East African site in her dissertation research.

Sarah Taylor

2009 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Sarah TaylorSarah Taylor is a doctoral student of cultural anthropology at SUNY Albany.  She received her MA in Applied Anthropology from CSU Long Beach, and her thesis is titled Gracias a los Gringos: Negotiating Tourism and Community Development, and is based on research in the village of Ek’Balam, Yucatán.  Sarah began work in Ek’Balam as an undergraduate in 2004 and plans to continue her dissertation fieldwork there.  The main research foci include the actual and potential role of “community” in community-based tourism development, participatory research design, and the shifting household economic strategies employed by residents as they negotiate with the arrival of tourism in their daily lives.


1st Place Winner

Kellee Caton2008 Valene Smith Poster Prize Kelle Caton

Kellee Caton is an independent cultural studies scholar who conducts social research in the areas of tourism and leisure.  Since attending SfAA in March, Kellee received her Ph.D. from the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Her research focuses predominantly on cultural and heritage tourism.  Within this context, she studies the role of tourism and leisure in the production of ideologies about race, ethnicity, and poverty, as well as the lived experience of travel and its role in individuals’ life narratives.  Her work aims to uncover and understand practical ways that tourism can better serve as a force for positive social and individual change.

Honorable Mentions

Hanna Ruckman

2008 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Hanna RuckmanHanna Ruckman received an M.A. in Applied Anthropology at Cal State University of Long Beach [August 2008].  Her Master’s thesis entitled "Impacts of a Rural Tourism Community Theater Project, Patricios, Argentina," examines the positive effects involvement in a theater production had on a pueblo that had suffered loss of population due to the closure of a vital railroad line.  Course work at CSULB also  included an ethnographic data-gathering study of break dancers at an ethnically diverse community center and an evaluation of the effectiveness of a volunteer program at the environmental group Algalita Marine Research Foundation.  In the spring of 2008 Hanna presented her short film "Patricios Stands United" at the Society for Cultural Anthropology conference. 

Hanna earned her B.A. in International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara [2005], and has studied abroad in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Hanna was an intern at Direct Relief International, Santa Barbara, CA, and helped coordinate donation of medical supplies to local relief agencies following natural disasters in Thailand, Africa, and Louisiana.

In the summer of 2008 Hanna will begin working in New Delhi, India, with a community development organization called Kriti. This organization supports marginalized communities by helping to create self-sustaining and self-dependent models of development.

Melissa Stevens

2008 Valene Smith Poster Prize Honorable Mention Melissa StevensMelissa Stevens just received her Master of Applied Anthropology degree May 2008 from the University of Maryland, College Park, and will begin working toward her Ph.D. in the same department Fall 2008. Her focus is on community-based tourism and the relationship between INGOs and local organizations. She is currently involved in a project with Counterpart International and a local women's organization to plan and implement a community-based tourism business in rural Vietnam. Her poster examined the methods utilized to promote inclusion of vulnerable populations in the Vietnamese project, and analyzed the ways in which INGOs attempt to work within existing local systems of governance and decision-making to reach project goals.


1st Place Winner

Beth Croucher

2007 Valene Smith Poster Prize 1st Place Winner Beth CroucherBeth Croucher is currently pursuing an M.A. in Anthropology with an emphasis in Political Ecology and Sustainable Development at the University of Colorado at Denver.  Her research interests include the links between local economic development and conservation, the legal vs. practical implications of environmental management, and interdisciplinary approaches to merging local priorities with local, national, and global conservation objectives.  Her thesis research focuses on the economic, legal and practical aspects of Tanzania’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), and in particular on the inconsistencies among: the enthusiastic promotion of WMAs by international conservation NGOs as a way of alleviating local poverty while protecting biodiversity, the official government directives governing their implementation which require local participation while undermining local control, and the practical realities of economically-oriented conservation schemes for rural communities with inadequate resources, limited livelihood options, and virtually no access to global economic markets.

Beth received her B.A. in Anthropology from Catholic University of America and, before deciding to enter graduate studies in anthropology, worked in corporate and municipal finance for a number of years.  She hopes to integrate the organizational, analytical, and negotiating skills that were an essential part of her corporate career into her future anthropological research.

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