June 1, 2012
DALLAS (SMU) –Megan Bond Hinrichsen, an SMU Dedman College graduate student in anthropology, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Grant to conduct research in South America at the academic intersection of medical anthropology, globalization and development.
Hinrichsen, 26, plans to investigate the health effects stemming from microfinance (small, unsecured loans to non-traditional borrowers) in Quito, Ecuador. About 25 percent of the city’s workforce – mostly young people and single parents who are selling products or services on the street or working out of their homes – are using small loans (about $300 on average) to start and/or expand their small businesses. Hinrichsen will study the ripple effects from the improved earning capability and stability that loans administered in Quito through the YMCA have produced over a 50-year period.
“No one has evaluated this program,” she said, adding that she will be examining gender differences between loan recipients and will track the health benefits (particularly those related to children) that accrue from improved earning power. “It’s not just the economic impact,” Hinrichsen said.
Hinrichsen is one of an estimated 1,600 students out of more than 9,000 applicants to be honored with the Fulbright grant, which is made possible by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of State. Participating government and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and the United States also provide direct and indirect support.
A native of Nazareth, Pa., Hinrichsen graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and received her master’s degree in anthropology from SMU in 2010. Previous research includes studies of Mexican women left behind when their husbands migrate to the United States, the attempts of indigenous people to revitalize the potato crop in Peru, and Bolivians who have just begun to engage in a market economy.
Hinrichsen will travel to Ecuador in September and plans to stay for the 2012-13 academic year.