Happy (U.S) Labor Day from anthropologyworks!

Anthropology in the news will not appear this week but will return on September 8th.

In the United States, Labor Day began in New York City. New York state stands out today as the state with the strongest record of labor unionizing.

DC event: The Unfair Construction of beauty for the (Market) Beast

“Whiter Skin in 1 Week: The Unfair Construction of Beauty for the (Market) Beast,” presented by Dr. Gitiara Nasreen, Visiting Fulbright Scholar from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. We will serve light refreshments.  Free and open to public.

When: September 10, 2014, 2:00-4:00 pm
Where: Howard University, The Founders Library, 500 Howard Place NW, Washington, DC, 20059
The Founders Library is on the main quad of the campus and is easy to recognize by its tall clock tower that rises above all other buildings. The closest intersection is 4th Street NW, and College Street. There is 4-hour parking along 4th Street NW.  Come through the big iron gates and the Library is directly in front of you.



Workshop in Abu Dhabi on intangible cultural heritage

Cultural anthropologists, academics and researchers are set to gain a greater understanding of Abu Dhabi’s intangible heritage in a workshop in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

Organized by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) under the title, “Identifying Community-based Intangible Cultural Heritage,” the workshop targets heritage enthusiasts, particularly teachers and researchers at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, heritage departments, local institutions, individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others involved in preserving intangible cultural heritage.

The workshop, running between August 24 and September 4, will be supervised by Dr. Nasser Ali Al Humairi, intangible heritage director and Unesco international files coordinator at TCA Abu Dhabi. Participants will receive theoretical training for five days in Abu Dhabi, followed by another five days of practical training in Al Ain City on how to collect documented information covering three intangible cultural heritage elements (Al Harbiyah, Al Majlis and Arabian coffee) which will be on the Unesco’s Intangible Heritage List in 2015.

“This is a very important workshop because the process of identifying community-based intangible cultural heritage is a fairly new practice which does not have a fixed form yet. It draws on different experiences and tools used in multiple research areas including participatory rural appraisal and other developmental participatory tools; receiving free, conscious prior approval by local communities on the decisions related to their future; participatory ethnographic studies, folkloric surveys; oral history studies; and spatial data management and participatory delivery,” said Dr Nasser Al Humairi.

Women, Peace and Security:Practical Guidance on Using Law to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Systems

When: August 27, 2014 | 10:00 – 11:30 am

Where: Women in International Security, 1111 19th St. NW, 12th floor | Washington, DC 20036

United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and international human rights and humanitarian law provide a powerful international framework for advancing gender equality and women’s rights. The key is to know and understand these principles and use them strategically.

In our recently released toolkit, Women, Peace and Security:  Practical Guidance on Using Law to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Systems, two international human rights lawyers examine practical measures on how to integrate international principles on gender equality and women’s rights into post-conflict legal systems. Learn more about the toolkit in an interview with Julie Arostegui, toolkit author.

Please join Women In International Security, Women’s Action for New Directions, and the U.S. Institute of Peace for a discussion of the toolkit and specific ways that all practitioners – both at the policy and grassroots levels – can use law to promote gender equality and empower women.


  • Julie L. Arostegui, J.D. – Toolkit Author; Women, Peace and Security Policy Director, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
  • Stephenie Foster – Senior Advisor, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State
  • Susan Markham – Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, USAID
  • Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini – Executive Director and Co-Founder, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

Moderator: Kathleen Kuehnast – Director, Center for Gender and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace

Anthro in the news 8/25/14

  • Kidnapping of two Amish girls in upstate New York

The New York Times reported on the kidnapping and sexual violation of two Amish girls in Oswegatchie, New York, near the U.S.-Canada border. The two sisters were abducted from the roadside vegetable stand in front of their house. The police needed photos of the girls to issue an alert, but the family had none because the Amish people generally prohibit photographs partly based on the biblical injunction against likenesses. Thus, cultural norms among the Amish made it especially difficult to conduct the search for the girls. Fortunately, the girls were released from their abductors and returned to their family.

The article quoted Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, a professor of anthropology at nearby State University of New York at Potsdam, who has studied the Amish for years:  “They are in the world but not of the world…They rely on the world. They couldn’t make a living without the world.” Yet, she added, the Amish regard their life on Earth as a passage to eternal life: “They are passing through this world without becoming part of it.” [Blogger’s note: I hope these two girls will, with their faith and their community, be able to recover from the terror and suffering they experienced].

  • Stop sexual abuse of girls in Alaska

Alan Boraas, professor of anthropology at Kenai Peninsula College, wrote an opinion piece on sexual abuse of girls in the Alaska Dispatch News. He ties sexual abuse to subsequent eating disorders:

“Though not all eating disorders are PTSD or sexual assault related, many are, and affect both women and men. Resultant eating disorders are the most fatal of mental illnesses, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sexual assault in Alaska has got to stop.”

Alaska has no eating disorder treatment center.

  • Improving U.S response to mental health and addiction problems

Jennie M. Simpson, a cultural anthropologist, wrote an opinion piece in The Huffington Post, advocating for more attention in the U.S. to integrating services for mental health and addition disorders in primary healthcare settings:

“Primary health care professionals can the first line in communicating this message in communities and with patients. Every primary care professional should have the ability to conduct behavioral health screenings and refer patients to behavioral health specialists and resources. This will take training, continued education and the support of health care professionals to make sure their door is not closed when a patient is in need of behavioral health services.”

  • The bunny: To eat or not to eat

The Gothamist carried an article about disparate views on whether or not people should eat rabbits. It links to an impeccably-sourced think piece in The Atlantic to the topic.

The view of rabbits as super meat:  Rabbits are easy to raise and butcher in your backyard, they’re light on the environment—producing six pounds of rabbit meat requires the same amount of food and water as it takes to produce one pound of cow meat—and their meat is lean and low in cholesterol. Whole Foods is stepping in as a new supplier.


Call for contributions from GEMS (Gender, Education, Music, Society)

GEMS is extending a call for articles and book reviews/summaries for the upcoming year – particular topics of interest include: women studies, gender studies, LGBTQ or other current topic. Topics do not have to be directed towards “music or music education” – generalization can be made. For the September issue, please consider submitting an article or a book review/summary. Please email me your word document directly to the editor, Dr. Colleen Pinar, at gems_editor@yahoo.com

Submissions are also welcome for later issues.

GEMS’ archives is located at Queens University http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/gems/issue/archive
(Queens University may be working on the OJS system. If you are having trouble downloading a pdf- try Firefox or Chrome).

Articles (Book Reviews/Summaries are also located at the above web address). (more…)

Anthro in the news 8/18/14

Anonymous members protest corrupt governments and corporation in Washington, D.C., in 2013.

  • Anonymous group, transparency, and Ferguson, Missouri

The fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer raises deep questions about police racial bias and public transparency following the shooting. The New York Times and other media described the role of Anonymous, an international hacker group, which claimed to have the name of the police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. “We have the name of the shooter,” the group tweeted. “We just can’t verify. We need to either talk to witnesses or get a second leak source.” Since then, the authorities in Missouri released the name of the office involved in the shooting but the incident is still shrouded in mystery and the town of Ferguson a site of unrest.

Gabriella Coleman, a professor of anthropology at McGill University who studies Anonymous, said she was taken aback that members of Anonymous would be so quick to release unverified information, and would speak so openly about their methods in online chat channels: “My jaw was dropping…because what I was seeing was suggestive but not definitive. Anonymous tends to care about its image quite a bit, and if they were wrong, it would be really bad.” Coleman is author of the forthcoming book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the Many Faces of Anonymous.

  • Is the world ready for Ebola?

Mike Callaghan, a doctoral student in medical anthropology at the University of Toronto, published an article in The Province (Canada) addressing key questions about the response to infectious disease in Canada. He says, “More and more Canadians are scared of Ebola, but few of them are scared for the right reasons. Ebola is definitely deadly, but catching it is actually quite difficult. The virus is transmitted only through the contaminated body fluids of people who are visibly sick. Patients usually die so quickly that outbreaks burn out quickly. Further, the virus is effectively contained by modern health systems.”

He poses these questions for Canadians and others: How do we balance safety and freedom? What is the role of science? How can ethics guide us? When should we risk rolling out untested drugs?

Callagan concludes: “Behind Ebola, a long list of contagions lie in wait. Their arrival will bring a whole set of difficult questions about governance, science and ethics that we do not currently have answers for. That is worth worrying about.”

  • Drones for cultural heritage survival

In Peru (and elsewhere), land grabs for urban development, for tourist sites, for mines, and more threaten cultural heritage site. The New York Times carried a front page article about how drones are a new tool for archaeologists, helping them to find sites and record them with hundreds of photographs. The article profiles the work of Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Peru’s vice minister of cultural heritage, an archaeologist who is also a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. He points to a series of stone walls built more than a thousand years ago by the Moche civilization that now gives way to a grid of adobe walls put up recently by land speculators. “This site is threatened on every side,” he said. (more…)

Anthro in the news 8/11/14

  • Ebola and bio-terrorism

Ebola victim arrives at Emory University hospital. Source: ACJ.com.

CBS News (Atlanta) quoted biological anthropologist Peter Walsh of Cambridge University who warns that terrorists could be able to build a dirty bomb containing the Ebola virus. He says that the risk should be taken seriously of terror groups getting their hands on the Ebola virus:

“A bigger and more serious risk is that a group manages to harness the virus as a powder, then explodes it in a bomb in a highly populated area…It could cause a large number of horrific deaths…Only a handful of labs worldwide have the Ebola virus and they are extremely well protected. So the risk is that a terrorist group seeks to obtain the virus out in West Africa.”

  • Hip-hop diplomacy?

The Herald described the cultural diplomacy efforts of the U.S. State Department and nonprofit groups that send musical troupes, dance groups and teachers abroad to promote American culture and generate goodwill. The approach is part of what’s known as soft diplomacy, the use of the arts and other forms of social interaction — from agricultural programs to public construction — as an instrument of foreign policy that contrasts with the hard diplomacy of the military and the economy. Current cultural diplomacy focuses on youth and includes musical genres such as American hip-hop. (more…)

Anthro in the news 8/4/14

Protective gloves and boots of medical personnel dry in the sun. Source: CNN.

  • On the move: Ebola and ebola fear

Ebola is a fast-spreading virus that liquifies internal organs and kills six in 10 victims. It is not clear if it is a new disease or has been around for a long time. Some academics have talked about it being responsible for the Black Death plague epidemics of the Middle Ages which killed millions across Europe and Asia. The current outbreak has killed hundreds, it has infected over 1,200 people of whom 670 have died. So far, cases have been reported in three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Local, regional, and international travel could speed up the spread of the disease.

The Daily Record quoted Cambridge University’s Peter Walsh, a biological anthropologist and ebola expert: “It’s possible someone infected will fly to Heathrow having infected other people sitting next to them or by using the toilet.

  • The cultural construction of schizophrenia

An article in The Huffington Post describes a cross-cultural study of schizophrenia, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Tanya Luhrmann. Luhrmann, professor of cultural anthropology at Stanford University, has been studying schizophrenia since the early 1990s. In her latest project, she studied how the cultural perception of the mental condition affects patient outcomes in three cities: Accra, Ghana; Chennai, India; and San Mateo, California. She interviewed 12 women and eight men in Accra, nine women and 11 men in Chennai, and 10 women and 10 men in San Mateo.

Her research in India and Ghana reveals that hallucinations and voices are not always considered a problem. More than half of her research participants in India described the voices they heard as those of family members or ancestors. The voices were perceived as guides instead of threats. One Hindu woman in Chennai claimed to hear messages from god and said she was also feeling vibrations. Had the woman been born in San Mateo, she likely would have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. (more…)

Anthro in the news 7/28/14

Flooding on the Marshall Islands. Source: Getty Images.

  • Climate change, blame, and moving on

National Public Radio provided commentary by anthropologist Barbara J. King of William and Mary on “the blame game” about climate change. After reading an article by anthropologist Peter Rudiak-Gould in the August issue of Current Anthropology, “Climate Change and Accusation: Global Warming and Local Blame in a Small Island State“, she gained an appreciation for the scale of the problem of climate change faced by people in the Marshall Islands. Rudiak-Gould seeks to understand how the Marshallese Islanders think about who is responsible for climate change: Do they engage in industrial blame, in which Western, developed and industrialized countries are held to be at fault? Or do they adopt a perspective of universal blame that puts blame on all of us collectively, even Marshall Islanders?

King and Rudiak-Gould have been communicating by email, exploring several questions related to his article. You can read about their exchanges in her piece. The upshot is: talk to the people and move on from there to considering ways to make positive change. King is inspired to talk to people in Norfolk.

  • A migrant who died on the way: Documentary film

The Independent (U.K.) covered a new film documenting illegal immigration into the United States along its southern border with Mexico.  The film, made by the Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, tells the story of Dilcy Martinez, a Honduran who died 20 minutes’ drive from a new life in Tucson. It highlights the work of the Missing Migrant Project, based at the office of the Pima County medical examiner in Tucson, which identified his remains. The story of the fatal journey is the subject of Who Is Dayani Cristal?, released in the U.K. this weekend. (more…)