The "Rags to Riches" project “may also have practical applications in efforts to understand, and possibly mitigate for, the effects of changing climate in different areas of the world,” NSF spokesperson Peter West said in response to an inquiry from CNSNews.com.
Smith, a research scientist at
Her research “will document and analyze women’s roles and women’s involvement in textile production” in order to “shed new light on women’s power within Icelandic households at different levels of the social system, providing a valuable contribution to social archaeological research in the North Atlantic,” according to the grant abstract.
“Women were also in charge of transforming cloth into clothing and, through that process, produced the most essential items of daily life – clothing, blankets, tents, and other utilitarian items – that buffered Icelanders against a changing climate and often-severe conditions during the Little Ice Age,” principal investigator Michele Smith said in the grant abstract.
The continuing grant was first awarded by NSF on July 1, 2010 and will end on June 30, 2014.
“By exploring the decisions that women made in transforming textiles – both domestic and imported – into clothing, this project will investigate the roles they played in establishing and changing markers of individual, family, regional, and national identity as well as decisions they may have made when facing increasing global climate cooling in the
West noted that “this research provides information about a relatively unknown historical phenomenon,” specifically “the historical roles of women in the economy of the
When contacted by CNSNews with questions about the relevance of Smith’s research, West noted that congressional legislation supports activities to “Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.”
“The National Science Foundation’s mission and charter, as spelled out in its organic act, is to support fundamental research that adds to the knowledge base of specific disciplines,” said West. “While some NSF-supported research may, in some cases, have immediate benefits to economic activity, this is not the foundation’s role, as defined by congressional mandate,” he noted.
This project was “evaluated and supported as a result of a thorough examination of its intellectual merit and broader impacts in the NSF merit-review process,” West added.