2005 Del Jones Award Winner
Michelle Edwards is a Cultural Anthropology PhD student in the Anthropology Department with an area concentration in African Studies at the University of Florida where she is a Zora Neale Hurston Fellow. She received her BA degrees in African and African-American Studies and Anthropology at the University of Kansas. She also has a MA degree in Historical Administration and Museum Studies from that same institution. Her research interests involve the study of African Diaspora material culture and history with an interest in the role of museums as research institutions and as a forum for social change. Presently she is planning to conduct a study on Ghanaian transnationalism. Her research examines the social mobility of cultural institutions and asks how inequalities, such as gender and race, affect the capacity of individuals to make choices and become empowered both in Ghana and in the U.S.
Martha Trenna Valado
2005 Del Jones Award Winner
Martha Trenna Valado is currently enrolled in the anthropology PhD program at the University of Arizona. After receiving an MA in archaeology, she became interested in applying anthropological insights to current social issues and began researching homelessness in the United States. She recently completed her dissertation research on homeless people’s perception and use of urban space with the aid of a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. During the course of her fieldwork, she conducted interviews with homeless individuals, social service workers, law enforcement officials, and business owners to assess both the individual and policy-level impacts of ongoing debates over the appropriate use of urban space.
As a result of her research, Ms. Valado was invited by the Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless to chair a committee to create a 10-year plan to end homelessness for the City and County, a position that groups involved believed could best be fulfilled by someone without a vested interest in the outcome. She has been able to bring the voices of homeless people into the policy arena by presenting her research findings to this committee as well as to social service providers, the Tucson Police Department, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, and the Tucson Downtown Alliance. In addition, she has given numerous talks on the history and current state of homelessness to college and high school students and shelter volunteers. Ms. Valado views the various restrictions on the use of places frequented by homeless people as just one manifestation of worldwide trends in the regulation of groups perceived as undesirable or problematic and, thus, as an invaluable arena for research on social and spatial justice.