Anthro in the news 12/15/14

  • Ed Liebow, Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association.

    Cultural anthropology is essential for addressing Ebola

Discover Magazine reported on a conference on anthropology and Ebola held at the George Washington University in November that convened nearly twenty anthropologists to brainstorm about how to better address Ebola through the inclusion of cultural knowledge. The article mentions several anthropologists, academics and professionals working in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including Sharon Abramowitz of the University of Florida, one of the effort’s organizers.  The article quotes Edward Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, one of the co-sponsors of the conference: “Epidemiologists are making oversimplified assumptions about transmission, setting these wild upper limit bounds…We’re in a position to actually breathe life into the numbers, to put people into those positions, to make much more realistic assessments of near-term and longer-term predictions.”

For instance, anthropologists’ understanding of things like upcoming seasonal migrations to harvest rice could help in predicting the spread of Ebola beyond what epidemiological models will show. Anthropologists possess knowledge essential for better medical and public health practice. A challenge is to move that knowledge to practitioners and have them incorporate in changed practices.

  • Medical anthropologist on the Colbert Report

Paul Farmer

Luminary anthropologist Paul Farmer recently appeared on The Colbert Report. Colbert kicked things off by asking Farmer to take his temperature since he (Farmer) had recently been in West Africa. Colbert then pops the question, from an innocent and supposedly naïve perspective, “Why do you want to provide health care to the poor all over the world?” In discussing the connection between poverty and illness, Colbert asks, “Is being poor contagious?” Farmer says, “In a way it is.”

  • Anthropology kudos in the news

The Albany Business Review reported on this year’s career achievement award from the Society for Medical Anthropology to Susan Scrimshaw, president of the Sage Colleges. Among her many accomplishments, Scrimshaw recently co-chaired an Institute of Medicine workshop on community-based health education and its implications for the Ebola outbreak. (more…)

Event: 2015 FPR-UCLA Interdisciplinary Conference on Gender

When: October 23-24, 2015
Where: UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Gender and related areas, from biological, cultural, and social or environmental perspectives. Learn more here.

Sari van Anders, Arthur Arnold, Tom Boellstorff, Lisa Diamond, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Daniel Fessler, Matthew Gutmann, Gilbert Herdt, Melissa Hines, Kathy Huang, Marcia Inhorn, Hillard Kaplan, Robert Lemelson, Michael Peletz, Sarah Richardson, James Rilling, Alice Wexler, Carol Worthman


EARLY Registration ENDS on June 30, 2015

*Online registration for general public only. All others (Current Students/ University of California Faculty+Staff/International Customers/Conference Scholarships) must register by MAIL/FAX/IN PERSON to UCLA Central Ticket Office windows.

DC event: WAPA’s December 2014 Networking/Happy Hour

When: Monday, 15 December 2014, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Where: Le Mirch, 1736 Connecticut Ave NW

Join the Washington Association of Practicing Anthropologists at Le Mirch, where they “combine the bold, exciting flavors of India with the sophisticated, elegant presentation to provide you with a one-of-a-kind contemporary dining experience to bring classic dishes from the streets of Bombay and the cafes of France to your home in DuPont.”  Happy hour prices  normally end at 7:00, but they will be extended to 7:30 for our group.

Directions:  By Metro, exit the DuPont Circle station (Red Line) through the North/Q St exit and walk north along Connecticut Ave.  Le Mirch is on the left just before S St.

Hope to see you there,
Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists

Anthro in the news is on a break

anthrointhenews is on vacation for two weeks (the editor is moving house).

We will be back in mid-December. In the meantime, a lot will be happening at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, December 3-7, in Washington, DC.


DC event: The Curious Rise and Development of Central Asian Nationalisms

When: Friday, December 12, 2014, 12:30 – 2 pm
Where: Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street, NW
Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412

This presentation examines scholarly notions about post-Soviet Central Asia’s future close to the the time of the Soviet dissolution. Given the different outcomes for Central Asian states over the past quarter century, the author claims that Central Asian states have articulated curious nationalisms that concurrently militate against regional cooperation while maintaining a modicum of peace and stability among the regional countries. In discussing the case of nationalisms, the argument centers on relative successes of the Soviet system that have created an enduring legacy in Central Asia till present. The author implies this is hard to apprehend without spending significant time outside of cities, and without understanding how varied Soviet experiences have been across this area.

Speaker: Russell Zanca, professor of anthropology, Northeastern Illinois University

RSVP here.

Sponsored by:
Central Asia Program, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies

Event in St. Mary’s City, Maryland on slavery in America

Panel: Interpreting Slavery in America

When: December 3, 4:45 PM – 6:00 PM
Where: Auerbach Auditorium, St. Mary’s Hall
18952 E. Fisher Rd, St. Mary’s City, MD 20686

A panel discussion hosted by St. Mary’s faculty Liza Gijanto, Iris Carter Ford, and Ken Cohen and featuring the following panelists:

  • Azie Dungey – Creator of the YouTube series “Ask a Slave” and former interpreter at Mount Vernon
  • Christy Colemen – President of the Civil War Center
  • Matthew Reeves – Director of archaeology, Montpellier
  • Jeanne Pirtle – Director of education, Sotterley Plantation
  • Wes Brown – Creator/screenwriter of “Ascension,” winner of the 2014 AMC Austin Film Festival Television Screenplay Competition

The panel will be moderated by Michael Blakey, biological anthropologist and former director of the African American Burial Ground Project, Department of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary.

Free and open to the public

Anthro in the news 11/24/14

  • Building a green wall to hold back the Sahara

The New York Times carried an article called “Senegal Helps Plant a Great Green Wall to Fend Off the Desert.” It mentions the changes in the environment from a time still remembered by elders when there were so many trees that you couldn’t see the sky to now, when the landscape is miles of reddish-brown sand dotted with occasional bushes and trees. Overgrazing and climate change are the major causes of the Sahara’s advance, said Gilles Boetsch, an anthropologist who directs a team of French scientists working with Senegalese researchers in the region. The article quotes him as saying: “The local Peul people are herders, often nomadic. But the pressure of the herds on the land has become too great…The vegetation can’t regenerate itself.”

Since 2008, however, Senegal has been fighting back against the encroaching desert. Each year it has planted some two million seedling trees along a 545-kilometer, or 340-mile, ribbon of land that is the country’s segment of a major pan-African regeneration project, the Great Green Wall.

While many countries have still to start on their sections of the barrier, Senegal has taken the lead, with the creation of a National Agency for the Great Green Wall.

  • Australian art from the Tamami desert: A book review

The Australian carried a review of a book, Remembering the Future: Warlpiri Life through the Prism of Drawing, by visual anthropologist Melinda Hinkson. The book accompanies a capsule exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. It draws on Mervyn Meggitt’s mid-20th century fieldwork in the settlement of Hooker Creek in the Northern Territory’s remote Tanami Desert. He aimied to produce a detailed ethnography of the Warlpiri desert people, and he employed all the standard investigative techniques of mid-century anthropology. But he also persuaded the Warlpiri to make a set of crayon drawings for him that would show how they saw the world. These were sketches, in vivid colors: landscapes, country, totemic animals, scenes from the Hooker Creek settlement. Many are images of stark simplicity; some are naive-seeming, some are elaborately conceived and worked. They form a striking record. They caught the eye of visual anthropologist, Melinda Hinkson, who made them her special focus. She took copies out to the desert capital of the Warlpiri, Yuendumu, and began learning about their meanings and their past.

  • Women’s roles in Nepal: A book review

The Nepal Times published a review of Elizabeth Enslin’s book, While the Gods Were Sleeping. Enslin met her husband, Promod Parajuli, when they were graduate students at Stanford. After their marriage, she lived in Nepal as a daughter-in-law, learning about Nepali Brahmin culture first-hand. She interviewed women who joined the literacy classes initiated by her and her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law plays a central and inspiring role in questioning the traditional place women are supposed to keep in Nepali Brahmin society and family. The reviewer notes that “…the timeframe of the book is the 1980s-90s, and Nepal has changed dramatically since then. So, readers looking at more contemporary trends in gender relations, community activism, the role of mothers’ groups and female health volunteers in public health awareness will be disappointed.” (more…)

Upcoming film: Food Chains: The Revolution in America’s Fields

In this exposé, an intrepid group of Florida farmworkers battle to defeat the $4 trillion global supermarket industry through their ingenious Fair Food program, which partners with growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers in the United States.

There is more interest in food these days than ever, yet there is very little interest in the hands that pick it. Farmworkers, the foundation of our fresh food industry, are routinely abused and robbed of wages. In extreme cases they can be beaten, sexually harassed or even enslaved – all within the borders of the United States.

Food Chains reveals the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like fast food and supermarkets. Fast food is big, but supermarkets are bigger – earning $4 trillion globally. They have tremendous power over the agricultural system. Over the past 3 decades they have drained revenue from their supply chain leaving farmworkers in poverty and forced to work under subhuman conditions. Yet many take no responsibility for this.

The narrative of the film focuses on a group of tomato pickers from Southern Florida – the Coalition of Immokalee Workers or CIW – who are revolutionizing farm labor. Their story is one of hope and promise for the triumph of morality over corporate greed – to ensure a dignified life for farm workers and a more humane, transparent food chain.

Food Chains will be released nationwide November 21st.

DC event: Improving Global Health Through Clean Cooking Solutions: A Panel Discussion of Diverse Perspectives

When: Monday, November 24th, 2014, 12:30pm*
Where: 950 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Room B100B

Exposure to smoke from cooking with solid fuels kills more than 4 million people, predominately in the developing world, each year according to the World Health Organization. This event will feature a panel of experts discussing clean cooking solutions and their ability to lead to improvements in health, environment and the livelihoods of women and children. It will conclude with a demonstration of the newest biomass stoves developed by Aprovecho Research Center.


  • Jacob Moss - United States Government Cookstove Coordinator, Department of State
  • Ranyee Chiang - Director of Standards, Technology and Fuels, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
  • James Tielsch - Chair of Global Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health
  • Dean Still - Executive Director, Aprovecho Research Center

*A light lunch will be provided at 12pm

All are welcome to attend – RSVPS strongly encouraged.
Please RSVP to Kallista Bernal at

DC event: Better Working Conditions, Better Performance: Findings from Cambodia

The World Bank Group Gender & Jobs Teams
invite you to a seminar

“Better Working Conditions, Better Performance:
Findings from Cambodia”

When: Nov. 18, 2014, 2-3:30 p.m.
Where: World Bank Group MC 7-100

Developing countries often experience globalization as foreign direct investment that fosters growth and expands exports-commonly concentrated in the apparel sector. Workers in this sector are overwhelmingly women, whose only alternative is low-skilled work in agriculture and services. Work in the apparel sector often provides a vital first step out of poverty toward economic empowerment, although their working conditions are often poor.

The Better Work program is a partnership between the International Labor Organization and IFC, the WBG private sector arm, which aims to improve compliance with labor standards and competitiveness in the garment industry. In the seminar, economist Raymond Robertson will discuss whether and how improved working conditions boost factory performance, using detailed longitudinal data from Better Factories Cambodia.

Raymond Robertson, Professor of Economics at Macalester College

Gladys Lopez-Acevedo, Lead Economist, Office of the Chief Economist, South Asia
Namita Dutta, Global Head, Let’s Work Global Partnership, Jobs, World Bank Group

Caren Grown, Senior Director, Jobs, World Bank Group
Nigel Twose, Senior Director, Jobs, World Bank Group

External participants should allow 15-20 minutes to pass through security.

Sign up for periodic updates and invitations

Raymond Robertson is Professor of Economics at Macalester College. His research focuses on international, labor, and development economics. His research has appeared in, among others,The American Economic Review, The Review of Economics and Statistics, The Journal of International Economics, The Review of International Economics, and The Journal of Development Economics. He serves on the advisory board at the Center for Global Development and was a member of the US State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy. He currently chairs the US Department of Labor’s National Advisory Committee on Labor Provisions of Free Trade Agreement. His current work focuses on the effects of the ILO’s Better Work program in Cambodia and elsewhere, as well as other issues relating to the effects of globalization on workers. He holds a PhD from the University of Texas after spending a year in Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar.