Anthro in the news 12/22/14

  • On U.S.-Cuba relations

An article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the possible opening up of U.S.-Cuba relations quoted cultural anthropologist Kathleen Musante of the University of Pittsburgh who travels to Cuba frequently with students: “I think we all miscalculated the pressures on Raul Castro…The economy in the last three or four years has appeared as desperate as it was after the Soviet Union’s collapse. I think there is no going back now.”

  • Op-ed: Not another Bush presidency

Susan Greenbaum, professor emerita of cultural anthropology at the University of South Florida, published an opinion piece in Al Jazeera pointing out aspects of Jeb Bush’s Florida governorship and his political views in general.

“In the end, Bush’s impossible balancing act between a moderate face and a reactionary heart may dim the glow that surrounds his potential candidacy. The more voters pick through the Bush legacy in Florida, the less they will find to like.”

  • Take that anthro degree and…

…become a researcher on Women, Peace and Security with RESDAL (Latin American Security and Defense Network). Maud Farrugia has a degree in cultural anthropology from Cambridge University, is multilingual (French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German) with work experience in Argentina, Chile and Colombia with vulnerable populations including pregnant teenagers, low economic resource groups, and indigenous people.

  • Stonehenge discovery versus proposed tunnel construction

BBC News and several other media reported on the discovery of a site near Stonehenge that is an untouched 6,000-year-old Mesolithic encampment which “could rewrite British history.” Archaeologist David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, made the discovery at Blick Mead in October and said the carbon dating results had just been confirmed. He raised concerns about possible damage to the site over plans to build a road tunnel past Stonehenge. The Department of Transport said it would “consult before any building.”

  • Possible evidence to anchor Biblical account of David and Solomon

The Daily Mail and several other media reported on the discovery of bullae (clay stamps or seals; singular is bulla) that could support existence of the Bible’s David and Solomon. Many scholars either dismiss King David and King Solomon as mythological figures or dispute the era in which they ruled over the Israelites, as told in the Old Testament of the Bible. But the discovery of six official clay seals may prove that there was a ruler in the region during the 9th and 10th century BCE. Although the bullae do not directly reference David or Solomon, they suggest the presence of a government and political activity during their respective supposed reigns.

The clay seals were found at Khirbet Summeily, an archaeological site in Tell-el Hesi to the east of Gaza in southern Israel, by James Hardin, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at Mississippi State University. Hardin, co-director of the Hesi Regional Project, has been excavating there since 2011.

Read more here.

  • Neanderthals and the origin of elder care

An article in The Huffington Post on retirement systems and care of the “post-working elderly” [in rich countries] leads in with a quippy bit about Neanderthal elder care:

“Ever wonder what cavemen did to afford retirement? Best we can tell — since early man’s principal occupation was basically his own survival — most of them died on the job and didn’t worry too much about retiring. The Neanderthals are known to have cared for sick community members (and we assume those too old for hunting) by sharing food with them. And thus the idea of providing retirement benefits in an organized way probably entered our DNA, said no responsible scientist ever.”


So far, so good: Forensic anthropologist Lori Baker is a finalist for the 2014 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year. She spent this year digging in South Texas to uncover remains of illegal immigrants who died in their attempt to enter the U.S. A professor at Baylor University, Baker works to bring closure to the families of those who died in search of a better life. She is quoted as saying: “We’re better than leaving the dead forgotten, no matter how they came here…I want people to know Texas, and the Texas spirit, is better than that.” Let’s hope Baker is the finalist.

Summer methods courses in cultural anthropology


Now in its eleventh year, the SCRM (Short Courses on Research Methods) program is for cultural anthropologists who already have the Ph.D. Three, five-day courses are offered during summer 2015 at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Apply here. Deadline: March 1, 2015.

The SCRD (Summer Course on Research Design) is a new, five-day course on research design and proposal writing for social, behavioral, and economic scientists who have Ph.Ds. The course runs from July 20-24 at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. Instructors: Jeffrey Johnson, Christopher McCarty, H. Russell Bernard, Kirk Johnson, and John Sonnett.

Apply here. Deadline: March 1, 2015



Now in its 20th year, the SIRD (Summer Institute on Research Design in Cultural Anthropology) is an intensive, three-week course for graduate students in cultural anthropology who are preparing their doctoral research proposals. The 2015 course runs from July 13-31, at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. Instructors: Jeffrey Johnson, Susan Weller, Amber Wutich, and H. Russell Bernard.

Apply here. Deadline: March 1, 2015.


Now in its seventh year, the SIMA (Smithsonian Institution Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology) is open to graduate students in cultural anthropology and related, interdisciplinary programs (Indigenous Studies, Folklore, etc.) who are interested in using museum collections as a data source and who are preparing for research careers. The course runs from June 22-July 17. Director: Candace Greene.

Apply here. Deadline: March 1, 2015.


Now in its third year, the EFS (Ethnographic Field School) is a five-week (June 28-August 1) course for graduate students in cultural anthropology. The focus of the EFS is 1ualitative and quantitative methods of data collection in the context of participatory action research. Held in Tallahassee, Florida. Director: Clarence Gravlee

Apply here. Deadline: March 1, 2015.



Now in its eleventh year, the WRMA (Workshops in Research Methods in Anthropology) program offers one-day workshops in conjunction with the national meetings of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology. Links to applications for these works shops are here.

Now in its fourth year, the DCRM (Distance Courses in Research Methods in Anthropology) is open to upper division undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals in any field who are interested in developing their research skills. Five courses are offered in summer 2015:

  • Text Analysis
  • Geospatial Analysis
  • Network Analysis
  • Video Analysis
  • Methods of Behavioral Observation

The development of these fee-based courses is supported by the National Science Foundation. Tuition is $1200 per course and enrollment is limited to 20 participants. These courses may be taken for credit or without credit. Learn more here.

Article of note by GW sociologists

Holocaust commemoration in Romania: Roma and the contested politics of memory and memorialization

Michelle Kelso and Daina S. Eglitis

Abstract: In 2009, the Romanian government unveiled a $7.4 million Holocaust memorial to commemorate over 280,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma who died as victims of the Ion Antonescu regime. Located in central Bucharest, the monument is part of a national agenda, outlined by an international commission, to study the crimes of the Holocaust in Romania and to help the country come to terms with historical atrocities. Under communism and in the early post-communist period, the Romanian state denied its role in the Holocaust. In this article, we explore the representation of the Holocaust and, in particular, Roma victims in the dominant historical narrative and the Holocaust memorial. We delve into discourses around this monument, which feed into a larger dialogue of victim recognition and contested national narratives about the Holocaust. We highlight the construction and contestation of the Holocaust memorial, considering in particular the paradox of Roma victims and suggesting that Roma are simultaneously represented, unrepresented and misrepresented in the historical story and memorial of the Holocaust in Romania.

Read the full article here.

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…)