Research

The Department of Anthropology is committed to publicly engaged anthropology.  Here are some information about their ongoing research projects. 

"The Dynamics of Place" in Orange, NJ
Community-based participatory research (CB/PAR) being led by Dr. Matthews and Dr. McCaffrey, which aims to open a space for the community to discuss and mobilize around reclamation and revitalization. It will also teach students digital survey and mapping technologies, documentary research, oral history, interviews, and participant observation. 

Food Deserts & People with Disabilities in the U.S.
This research is part of a community-based initiative to understand how common it is for people with disabilities in the United States to experience difficulty accessing sufficient amounts of healthy, nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.  An online survey is currently collecting pilot information about what “access” and “food security” means for this population, with the goal of modifying standard measures used in food studies to include the perspectives of people with disabilities.  For more information about this project, or to participate in the survey, please visit:  http://www.montclair.edu/chss/anthropology/research/food-disability-research/

Socionatural Landscapes across the Caribbean Sea
With funding from the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society, Dr. Siegel has been leading an interdisciplinary team of earth and climate scientists and archaeologists in an investigation of historical ecology in the southern Caribbean and Lesser Antilles, spanning the full range of human occupations in the region. The team carefully assessed settings on nine islands between Venezuela and Puerto Rico to collect environmental cores, from which proxy data were obtained informing on pre-human baseline and anthropogenic landscapes. Major categories of proxy data include plant microfossils of pollen and phytoliths, sediment chemistry and grain sizes, and charcoal microparticulates. Shifting environmental histories were evaluated within the framework of Holocene climate records to distinguish natural vs. human-derived perturbations or landscape disturbances. Control on time was maintained through an aggressive program of high-precision radiocarbon dating. Results to date clearly show that human groups colonized the Lesser Antilles thousands of years earlier in the Holocene than what archaeologists previously considered. Further, these earliest colonists modified and managed landscapes upon which later settlers built. Finally, a number of our cores produced primary environmental evidence for the devastating effects of European domination and reconfiguring of Caribbean landscapes. This project in historical ecology adds the important dimension of time that is lacking in the static perspectives of cultural ecology. In so doing, we are able to address directly the legacies of human action on landscape history.