AJUR Volume 21 Issue 1 (June 2024)

Click on this link to download the full high-definition interactive pdf for AJUR Volume 21 Issue 1 (June 2024) or https://doi.org/10.33697/ajur.2024.108

Links to individual manuscripts, abstracts, and keywords are provided below.

p.3. Chains of Currency: Manilla Money Bracelets, Early Modern Africa and the Ties That Bind

Sebastian Wang Gaouette & Ellery Frahm


ABSTRACT: Manilla money bracelets emerged during the early modern period (ca. fifteenth century AD) as a form of currency between western Europe and West Africa, and continued to circulate until the early twentieth century. While there has been little formal scholarship on manillas, narratives abound: some histories cast the bracelets as the blood money of the transatlantic slave trade; others highlight them as the copper source used to make the Benin Bronzes; and still others uphold the manilla as a symbolically important West African cultural object in and of itself. This study begins with a history of the manilla, from its rapid proliferation to its eventual obsolescence. The term “metastasizing symbol” is proposed to describe objects like the manilla, whose propagation is underwritten by unsustainable systems of cultural difference, and thereby contains within itself the seeds for the object’s transition to disuse. The authors also describe a portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysis of nine manilla bracelets from the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG). When compared to manilla composition data from previous studies and projected into PCA space, the nine YUAG manillas appear most similar to specimens produced in England during the mid-nineteenth century and traded extensively in British West Africa throughout the colonial period. KEYWORDS: Manilla Money Bracelets; pXRF; Transatlantic Slave Trade; Europe; West Africa; Early Modern Period; European Imperialism; Provenance

p.21 Reporting on Antibiotic Resistance in Two US Newspapers Before and During Covid-19

Zachary Weis, Frances Mack, & Amanda Greene


ABSTRACT: Antibiotic resistance (AR) is a growing health crisis that has remained underrepresented in coverage across major news publications in the U.S. despite increasing rates of related disease outbreaks and mortality worldwide. This study used content analysis to examine the coverage of AR in two major U.S. news publications before the COVID-19 pandemic (2018-2019) and during it (2020-2021). Coverage of AR in The New York Times (NYT) and The Washington Post (WP) was analyzed according to the use of frames, the quantity of articles published, and a number of other variables including stakeholders, diseases, and terms referring to AR. These factors were used to assess how coverage of AR differed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it differed between the two newspapers. Pre-COVID-19 coverage focused on AR as an isolated pandemic, while coverage during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic often used AR as a supplementary component of the coverage to the main topic of COVID-19. This study found that both before and during the outbreak of COVID-19, the majority of the observed articles did not fully explain the scope, severity, or solution for the AR crisis. Instead, they provided readers with baseline information, framing AR as a contemporary issue and generally encouraging action but included very few tangible suggestions for every day, individual action for readers. KEYWORDS: Superbugs; Frames; Antibiotic Resistance; Coronavirus; COVID-19;  Media Coverage; Health Crises; Medicine

p.33 Challenges of Using Publicly-Available Hospital Data to Quantify Health Effects from Wildfire Plumes in the East San Francisco Bay Area Communities of California, USA

Natasha Atkins & Ronald L. Baskett


ABSTRACT: In the summer and fall of 2018 and 2020, major wildfires in Northern California (USA) impacted the San Francisco Bay Area. The remote 2018 and 2020 wildfires produced the highest PM2.5 concentrations experienced in the Tri-Valley of the East Bay Area during those two years. The Tri-Valley is composed of the San Ramon, Amador, and Livermore Valleys, surrounded by local terrain that creates a small airshed. In 1967, the California Air Resources Board created 15 Air Basins defined by regional geography, topographic and meteorological conditions. Airshed is sometimes synonymous with an urban-scale component of an Air Basin. We use airshed as a Tri-Valley component of the Bay Area Air Basin. This airshed spans across two counties (Contra Costa and Alameda) and encompasses four cities: San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore. PurpleAir (PA) sensors provided good geographic coverage of variation in PM2.5 in the Tri-Valley airshed. Several studies have established significant health effects from wildfire plumes by associating daily hospital visits with PM2.5 air quality data at local and regional scales. We hypothesize that during the wildfire smoke periods of 2018 and 2020 in the Tri-Valley area, there was an increase in hospitalizations and ED visits for respiratory (asthma and COPD-related) health effects, as compared to the same time periods during years with less fire activity. The primary goal of this study was to confirm health effects from wildfire plumes on a community scale using 5 years of publicly-available health data. However, with only monthly hospitalization data available, directly linking respiratory hospital and emergency department (ED) visits with PM2.5 concentrations was unsuccessful. Also, because COVID-19 masked all other causes of hospital visits in 2020, that year was ultimately eliminated from this study. However, visits during November 2018 being much higher than any other November in 2016, 2017, and 2019 implied a potential cause and effect. Daily hospitalization and air quality data are required to quantify any relationship by regression analysis. These findings help inform future studies on the health effects of air quality at community scales. KEYWORDS: PM2.5 Air Quality; Air Pollutant Exposure; Air Quality Monitoring; Wildfire Smoke; Respiratory Health; PurpleAir Sensors

Supplemental information to “Challenges of Using Publicly-Available Hospital Data to Quantify Health Effects from Wildfire Plumes in the East San Francisco Bay Area Communities of California, USA”

p.47 Disconnected and Online: Privileged Lives of the Transnational Migrants in Mexico City

Isabel Webb Carey


ABSTRACT: As global mobility surges, Mexico City has emerged as a favored destination for remote-working professionals due to its unique fusion of cultural allure and economic convenience. This paper explores the interplay between macroeconomic trends and quests for self-actualization among lifestyle migrants, informed by interviews and other fieldwork conducted in Mexico City in early 2023.  It unravels the complex interplay of factors shaping attitudes, behaviors, and collective identity among these lifestyle migrants and how their conscious embeddedness dissolves as geographic arbitrage imbues them with new privileges. KEYWORDS: Digital Nomads; Lifestyle Migrants; Transnational Migration; Mexico City; Socio-Spatial Exclusion; Gentrification; Privilege; Embeddedness

p.61 Undergraduate Students’ Confidence in Scientific Activity and Support Systems Based on Diversity in an Environmental Science Course

Kimberly J. Parris, Zakiya H. Leggett, & Porche L. Spence


ABSTRACT: Undergraduate student support systems and individual confidence in science courses have been linked to better academic performance among college students. As the topics of diversity and inclusion continue to draw the attention of the collegiate, the problem of equity surrounding supportive learning environments for all races in higher education comes into focus. This paper adds to the literature by highlighting the importance of adequate support for students in collegiate settings. Disparities in student support and confidence with scientific activities among students of color (SOC) and white students in an undergraduate environmental science course had been evaluated. Students (n = 235) were asked to complete a Qualtrics survey containing questions focused on evaluating support from parents, siblings, close relatives, friends, peers, classmates, and professors and confidence regarding self-efficacy in learning and doing scientific activities. The perceived support and confidence in scientific activities in white students and SOC were measured using an independent T-test. The findings demonstrated that white students may have had access to stronger support systems and had higher perceived confidence levels in completing scientific activities based on survey responses. On average, white students had greater perceived support and more confidence. As a result, higher dropout rates, lower performance overall, and alienation of these students in higher education environments could occur. If this trend continues, racial discrepancies suggest that students of color need stronger support networks related to scientific activities in higher education settings. KEYWORDS: Student Support; Student Scientific Confidence; STEM Confidence; Students of Color; Academic Support; Undergraduate Student; Family Support; Student Peers