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Professor Becomes Double Grant Recipient for Sustainability Research

Friday, May 12, 2017

After a semester’s research leave working on her project, “Industrial Entanglements: The Black River as Political Ecological Agent in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica,” Associate Professor of Anthropology Anne M. Galvin, Ph.D., has secured two separate grants to support her continued work in this area. One, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Global Research Grant, is being offered for the first time at St. John’s University. The other is a prestigious postdoctoral research grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the preeminent source of grant funding for international anthropological research.

The CRS Global Research Grant will support Galvin’s research during the 2018 winter intersession by providing funds for housing, transportation, and necessary supplies like digital recorders. In November, St John’s became the tenth CRS Global Campus, solidifying its institutional commitment to the global aspect of its Catholic and Vincentian Mission. The University launched two grant programs for tenured and tenure-track faculty to support academic research rooted in the mission of CRS and St. John’s, and sought applications that promote sustainable development, respond to emergencies, fight disease and poverty, and nurture peaceful and just societies. The CRS Global Grant Program provides two $2,500 grants each year to support academic research, such as field work, language study, or professional training.

"Dr. Galvin’s research is an exciting intersection of ecological justice, worker justice, and questions of  poverty and sustainable development,” said Meghan J. Clark, Ph.D., assistant professor and faculty chair of the Global Campus Committee. “Questions of rivers and waterways as political agents is cutting-edge research and a hot topic within global debates. Just this semester, the Ganges River in India was granted legal personhood and corresponding legal rights. The complex relationships between communities and waterways is where many global justice questions converge. The CRS Global Campus Committee is proud to support Dr. Galvin’s work and we look forward to seeing the fruits of her project."

The Wenner-Gren Foundation grant will fund Galvin’s field research during two summers in 2017 and 2018. It will also provide opportunities for professional networking and workshops. According to the foundation, it receives over 200 applications for the Post-Ph.D. Research Grant applications per year and selects only 15-20 percent of those applicants for awards. Galvin has applied for this grant before, and believes she secured it this year because her research is “timely and addresses current pressures like climate change.”

Galvin’s research focuses on the Black River in the St. Elizabeth Parish, which is known as the “bread basket” of Jamaica because of the cattle ranching, fishing, sugar cane, and fruits and vegetables that flourish there. The Black River is a protected wetlands and important freshwater resource providing daily access to water, hydroelectric dam power, and ecotourism to the surrounding communities. After reading news reports about pollution in the river and preservation efforts, Galvin became interested in issues of industrial regulation, particularly how livelihood and ecological preservation can support one another rather than being in opposition. “I wanted to explore how the river creates a social world around itself,” she said.

During her research leave over the 2016-2017 academic year, Galvin solidified an extensive network of fieldwork contacts at the University of the West Indies and within governmental institutions and non-governmental institutions (NGOs) in St. Elizabeth. She has also completed a significant number of interviews for what is intended to be a book project.

Galvin is author of Sound of the Citizens: Dancehall and Community in Jamaica (Vanderbilt, 2014). For this earlier project, she focused on dancehall music and urban community development, and her current research expands to sustainable communities in rural areas.

Said Galvin: “There’s a misconception that anthropologist study exotic groups from the past. Current anthropology research tackles pressing issues like climate change and sustainability.” Her research interests span such contemporary areas of concern as: globalization and colonialism; popular culture; citizenship and political economy; and the African Diaspora in the Caribbean. Galvin has been the Series Editor of the Northeastern Anthropological Association (NEAA) Bulletin since 2011, and has published several journal articles in addition to her previous monograph.