anthro in the news 8/14/17

Closed due to heat wave. Credit: MTSOfan/Flickr

summer in the city

The Conversation published an article on heat waves, urban life, and social inequality by Merrill Singer, professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He reports on findings from a qualitative study and several of his students conducted in Hartford:  “…our participants often lacked clear knowledge about the nature of climate change, what drives it, how climate change differs from other forms of urban pollution or how people can prepare themselves for limiting its harmful effects. Their strongest concerns were about how oppressive summer heat waves would make their children sick and their own ability to cope with ever-higher temperatures and longer heat spells as they grew older. Some described feeling powerless given the scale of the social and climatic forces aligned against them.” [Blogger’s note: See also a book detailing social patterns of heat wave deaths in Chicago in 1995 by sociologist Eric Klinenberg].

sugar daddies as “blessers”

This hashtag has diverse meanings worldwide. In South Africa, it can convey a blesse role. Credit: The Odyssey Online/Google Images Commons.

North Carolina Public Radio carried a piece about transactional sexual relationships, called blesser/blessee relationships, in South Africa. The blesser is a man who gives money and gifts to a woman in exchange for companionship and sex. Lebohang Masango, poet, writer, and M.A. candidate in anthropology at the University of Witswatersrand, studies blesser culture. Although many see the blesser/blessee relationship as exploiting women, she finds that many young women in such relationships are educated, ambitious and see their time as being valuable: “They understand the risk of HIV, they understand the risk of multiple concurrent partnerships, but there’s this postfeminist sensibility that’s beginning to be entrenched especially among young women of the middle class where they are choosing to do this, even against all of the other stigmas that exist.”

heads up: Juche

The Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana) included commentary by Lawrence Kuzner, professor of anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, in which he offers insights into Kim Jong Un’s thinking: “Our officials need to understand that Kim Jong Un’s thought is framed by a strict state religion called Juche. North Korea’s founder and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, crafted this state religion, which includes Korean nationalism, absolute obedience to and sacrifice for a strongman ruler, worship of the Kim family and an unending black-and-white struggle against evil. My research has identified an extremely close correlation between mentions of Juche and subsequent escalations of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.”

legacy in the Virgin Islands

An article in The Virgin Island Daily News described the importance of the research of Svend Holsoe (1939-2017), emeritus associate professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware.  Holsoe photocopied and microfilmed many documents from censuses, church and health records, and sales of enslaved, ship’s manifests, telling the story of thousands of enslaved captives. He donated the documents to the St. Croix Population Databases. Holsoe worked on hundreds of family trees, and these can be found on the website VI Families, vifamilies.org.

did the earth move?

The Washington Post published a review of Coming of Age: The Sexual Awakening of Margaret Mead, a book about five years of Mead’s life, from 1921-1925 when she was a young researcher. The author, Deborah Beatriz Blum, was a graduate student when she met Mead in 1972. According to the reviewer, Blum “promises a tale of sexual discovery” which is not quite fulfilled. The reader is left wondering about Mead’s thoughts about her sexual relationships: “Did the earth move? Did her affairs change her sense of her own sexuality, or of women or men? Did it inform her research in the field? We don’t know.”

study break to star in a movie

The Times of India reported that Santhy Balachandran, a D.Phil. student in anthropology at the University of Oxford, is taking time out from her dissertation research to perform in the film Tharangam, directed by Dominic Arun.

unhinged America


The Atlantic published a lengthy extract from a forthcoming book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire–A Five Hundred Year History, by Kurt Anderson, a novelist, essayist, and radio show host. Included in the piece is a paragraph about anthropology of the 1960s: “Over in anthropology, where the exotic magical beliefs of traditional cultures were a main subject, the new paradigm took over completely—don’t judge, don’t disbelieve, don’t point your professorial finger. This was understandable, given the times: colonialism ending, genocide of American Indians confessed, U.S. wars in the developing world. Who were we to roll our eyes or deny what these people believed? In the ’60s, anthropology decided that oracles, diviners, incantations, and magical objects should be not just respected, but considered equivalent to reason and science. If all understandings of reality are socially constructed, those of Kalabari tribesmen in Nigeria are no more arbitrary or faith-based than those of college professors.” [Blogger’s note: this caricature of extreme cultural relativism is worse than annoying and insulting. It dismisses the longstanding and leading role of cultural anthropologists, starting at least with
Franz Boas, in grappling with an enduring and vital question: how to live in a world with multiple and often competing systems of knowledge and values.] 

gender gap in tech: letter to the editor

The New York Times published a letter to the editor from Shari Jacobson, associate professor of anthropology at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania: “James Damore’s speculation that women may be biologically incapable of succeeding in engineering is unmoored from any neuroscientific evidence about human brains and ignorant of the copious evidence about social and cultural influences on gender.”

take that anthro degree and…

…become a health sociologist and academic administrator. Laura Gitlin is the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University. Previously, she was an applied research sociologist and the Isabel Hampton Robb Distinguished Professor in the department of community public health at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. She serves on the editorial board of The Gerontologist and is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Gerontological Society of America, and the New York Academy of Sciences. Her work has been recognized with several honors, including an M. Powell Lawton Award from the Gerontological Society of America. Gitlin has a B.A. in anthropology from Temple University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Purdue University.

challenge in identifying remains

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the work of a team including a forensic anthropologist and archaeologists involved in returning the remains of three Northern Arapaho boys – Little Chief, Plume, and Horse — to their family in Wyoming from a burial site in central Pennsylvania. The researchers discovered two bodies at one of the boys’ grave sites, confirming fears that the markers in the Carlisle Post Barracks cemetery might not be accurate. The boys attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Cumberland County, a boarding school for Indian children, in the late 1800s. Officials have scheduled a news conference for Monday with an archaeologist and anthropologist who examined the remains.

archaeology archive to be digitized

The voluminous collection of papers, slides, research notes, recordings, and human remains collected by the late Calvin Wells (1908-1978) is being digitized at the University of Bradford. Charlotte Roberts, professor of archaeology at the University of Durham and president of the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology, said the archive would be invaluable for researchers: “Calvin Wells remains one of the most prolific publishers from the UK in this field today, who studied a diversity of subject matter from artistic representations of disease in the past to mummified remains. In many instances his publications were ‘firsts’ and continue to be cited in our field today.”

early Chinese-African relations

All Africa reported on a conference in Kenya on Ancient and Contemporary Relations between China and East Africa that was jointly organized by the National Museum of Kenya, the School of Sociology and Anthropology of Sun Yat-sen University, and American University in Washington, D.C. More than 30 experts from countries including China, the U.S., and Kenya attended. The article highlights the research of archaeologist Chapurukha Kusimba of American University, who is working with a team at a site on Manda Island in Kenya. They have excavated three skeletons that are Chinese, and one may date to when Chinese navigator Zheng He travelled to East Africa in the 15th century.

archaeologists versus tourism development

The Hurriet Daily News (Turkey) carried a piece on warnings from archaeologists that development must not threaten the very sites that visitors wish to see. “If we fail to protect our cultural environment as a crown jewel, tourism products that potential investors want to sell will lose their value,” said Stathis Gotsis of the Greek Archaeologists’ Association.

prehistoric human cannibalism

The entrance to Gough’s Cave in Cheddar, England.
Credit: Philippa Crabbe/Creative Commons

The New York Times reported on findings made at a prehistoric site called Gough’s Cave, in southwestern England, where human bones that are approximately 15,000 years old bear unmistakable signs of ritualized cannibalism. Silvia Bello, of the Natural History Museum in London, and her colleagues report on what appears to be a purposeful engraving of a zigzag pattern on a human arm bone. Previously, Bello and others described what may have been drinking vessels made from skulls at the site. Together, the skull-cups and arm bone engraving, paint the richest, most unambiguous picture yet of early ritualistic cannibalism, said James Cole, an archaeology lecturer at the University of Brighton, who was not involved in the research. Pat Shipman, adjunct anthropology professor at Pennsylvania State University, also not involved in the study, comments that the findings indicate that such matters as treatment of the dead and what is deemed acceptable to eat have shifted through history:  “…there’s a lot more variability in human cultures, and cultural behavior, than we might think.” Findings are published in PLOS One

revising Neanderthal population history

The Japan Times reported on findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences based on comparing the genomes of four human populations: modern Eurasians, modern Africans, Neanderthals and Denisovans. In contrast to previous research suggesting that near the end of their existence only about 1,000 Neanderthals remained, the new study shows that although they existed in isolated groups across Europe, their population likely was in the tens of thousands The article quotes lead author Alan Rogers, professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Utah: “This hypothesis is against conventional wisdom, but it makes more sense than the conventional wisdom…There’s a rich Neanderthal fossil record. There are lots of Neanderthal sites…“It’s hard to imagine that there would be so many of them if there were only 1,000 individuals in the whole world.”

welcome to Alesi

CNBC and other mainstream media reported on the finding by an international team of researchers of a fossilized primate skull that may shed light on the common evolutionary heritage of apes and humans. “What the discovery of Alesi shows,” said lead author Isaiah Nengo, a professor of anthropology at De Anza College in California and Stony Brook University in New York, “is that this group was close to the origin of living apes and humans and that this origin was African.” The lemon-sized skull of an infant, nicknamed Alesi, was discovered in Kenya. It dates to the middle of the Miocene era, a little-understood time when many species of ape arose in Africa, including the common ancestors of modern apes and humans. The fossil resembles modern-day gibbons. “Gibbons are well known for their fast and acrobatic behavior in trees,” said Fred Spoor of University College London and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology “But the inner ears of Alesi show that it would have had a much more cautious way of moving around.” Findings are published in the journal Nature.

 

anthro in the news 8/7/17

Credit: Canadian Liver Foundation/Google Images Commons.

undetected, untreated, deadly

The Washington Post published an article co-authored by medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University, an infectious-disease physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and co-founder of Partners in Health: “Three years ago, we wrote about the wide gap in access to hepatitis C treatment, hoping that mistakes made in the world’s response to AIDS would not be repeated in another epidemic of a lethal, blood-borne disease. Our worst fears have been realized. The World Health Organization now reports that 4 out of 5 people infected with hepatitis C aren’t even aware of it. Of those who do know, fewer than 1 in 50 have received treatment…This is a failure not of science but of delivery.”

Trump family honor code

Gillian Tett, social anthropologist and writer for The Financial Times, discusses the anthropological model of family honor cultures of the Mediterranean region versus rule of law cultures of northern Europe. She links Trump’s behavior to the Mediterranean model and cites Matthew Engelke, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics, who writes in his new book, Think Like an Anthropologist, that power and status in the Mediterranean region “were often made in the form of bravado and raw assertions of might.” [Blogger’s note: the Mediterranean model clearly has wider regional applicability. Think, for example, of the longstanding family feud between the Scot-Irish Hatfields and McCoys].

rethinking a curse word

Quartz published an article about “The C-word,” one of the harshest curse words in the English language. Camilla Power, senior lecturer in anthropology at East London University, illuminates the history of “The C-word” on the July 25 episode of Very Bad Words. While the taboo against using it is extremely strong, there may be reason for women to reclaim the word given its historic uses which include reference to a strong, powerful woman.

better suicide prevention messaging

As reported in The Indian Express, Elizabeth Morino, assistant professor of anthropology at Oregon State University Cascades, finds that suicide prevention messages may be more effective if they are tailored to specific groups. She says that to be effective, public messaging should not be culturally neutral: “Information by itself isn’t changing minds at all…But if the language in the message is sensitive and respects culturally specific values, then people are more open to the information and will maybe change their decisions.” Findings are published in the Archives of Suicide Research

Ainu skull comes home 

Japan Today reported on the repatriation of an Ainu skull, handed over by a German research group to representatives of the Ainu. A German took the skull secretly from a grave in Japan in 1879. Alexander Paschos, chairman of the Berlin Society of Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory, said the group decided to return the skull as a “goodwill gesture.” [Blogger’s note: “goodwill gesture” hardly seems the right term for a long overdue return of stolen cultural heritage.]

the anthropology of South Asia on display

An article in The Hindustan Times (India) covered an exhibit at the University of Cambridge of the many theories and ways of categorizing the people of India since the early days of the East India Company. The exhibit is part of the India Unboxed series marking 70 years of Indian independence and the U.K.-India Year of Culture. The curators are quoted as saying: “In the early nineteenth century, anthropologists tended to describe Indian castes and tribes in Romantic terms. But, as the British Empire continued to expand, anthropology was also used to support scientific racism and colonial violence.”

protesting professor

The Daily Star (Bangladesh) reported on a sit-in by Sayeed Ferdous, anthropology professor at Jahangirnagar University in Dhaka. He is demanding withdrawal of a vandalism case filed against 56 students. 

take that anthro degree and…

…become a market analyst and advisor. Johanna Faigelman is CEO and founding partner of Human Branding, a Toronto-based firm that advises businesses about developing and marketing new products that respond to multicultural consumers. She argues that traditional market analysis is too superficial and that businesses must develop an understanding of multiple cultures and values and the social context in which they operate. Faigelman has a B.A. in cultural anthropology from McGill University and an M.A. in cultural anthropology from York University.

submerged Buddhist site in China 

According to an article in The Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka), Chinese archaeologists are expected to start underwater exploration of a Buddha statue that has partially emerged from the water in a reservoir. After the head of the Buddha was seen in January at Hongmen Reservoir in the city of Fuzhou, in Jiangxi province, archaeologists conducted a brief underwater investigation. The new research will focus on the ruins of a temple and ancient town in the reservoir, according to Xu Changqing, head of the Jiangxi Provincial Research Institute of Archaeology.

archaeologist hosts TV show

According to an article in The Gainesville Sun, archaeologist Blue Nelson is co-hosting a show on the History Channel about found artifacts. He is a project archaeologist with SEARCH, a cultural resources company, in Jacksonville. The show follows Nelson and the other hosts as they travel the U.S. and meet with people who have artifacts, some that have been in families for generations and some that were found more recently outdoors. The hosts study the artifacts and try to provide context: Where did this come from? Who used it last? How did it get here? Nelson comments that “What we do not want to do with the show is promote people looting sites or picking up artifacts from national parks or state parks.”

digging Ottawa

CBC (Canada) reported on how Ottawa is marking Archaeology Month by inviting the public to help dig and sift through its history this August. On several weekends, archaeologist Ian Badgley is leading a team of researchers and volunteers to look for Indigenous artifacts on the shore of the Ottawa River at Lac Leamy Park. Badgley is quoted as saying: “We’re at the heart of a vast continent-sized communications and trade network because of the three river basins — the Gatineau, the Rideau and the Ottawa — and their tributaries.”

Archaeology Day at Cahokia

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried an article about the celebration of Archaeology Day, August 5, at the site of Cahokia. It quotes John Kelly, senior lecturer in Washington University’s department of anthropology, who started leading a team in 1998 to re-study structures found earlier and to expand on earlier research. Students and volunteers have been helping Kelly with the project every summer since then. On Archaeology Day, hundreds of tourists, families, and history buffs took part in activities such as spear-throwing and sieving through dirt from the excavation, as well as watching demonstrations on bow and arrow making, stone carving, and other Native American practices.

 

anthro in the news 7/31/17

Anthony Thomas, the two millionth Eagle Scout, addresses a crowd of over 45,000 at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. Credit: Cherie Cullen, U.S. Department of Defense/Wikimedia

a letter to the Boy Scouts, a letter to everyone

Mica Pollock, an anthropologist, education professor, and director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence at the University of California San Diego, wrote an open letter to the Boy Scouts following Donald Trump’s speech at the 2017 Jamboree: “Dear Boy Scouts, I write to you as a mom and as an educator who thinks about how we talk, I ask a basic question about everything people say. Does this talk support each and all of us, or not?” She offers four critical thinking questions to apply to the speech and to any speaker. She then asks, “How do we respond when we hear words that violate key values?”

who owns Tibetan medicine?

Tibet Autonomous Region within China. Credit: TUBS/Wikipedia.

A New York Times article quotes two anthropologists in its coverage of conflicting claims between China and India to commercial rights in Tibetan medicine. Stephan Kloos, a medical anthropologist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, said his preliminary calculations suggest that the industry’s value could be approaching $1 billion. Sienna Radha Craig, associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, said that Unesco recognition could stimulate the industry’s growth without the proper environmental safeguards. In India, China, and Nepal, the effort to expand the industry far outstrips “serious cultivation and conservation…At a certain point that becomes completely untenable.”

affluent foragers

In 1966, Marshall Sahlins proposed that foragers, aka hunter-gatherers, represent the “original affluent society” because their livelihood satisfies all their needs with little effort per week, compared to agriculture and industrialism. A new book by James Suzman, founder and director of Anthropos, revisits that claim, bringing to it nearly 25 years of fieldwork with a group of Ju’/hoansi foragers in Namibia. The book is getting a lot of media attention: The New York Times interviewed Suzman, asking him to discuss five things about the book, The Economist reviewed the book, and The Atlantic published a piece by Suzman, drawing on the book with a focus on the effects of military stipends to some of the people.

discrimination even in death

The Washington Post reported on a zoning change proposal in a town near Quebec City that would allow the building of a Muslim cemetery. Local residents rejected the proposal. The article quotes Yannick Boucher, an anthropology lecturer at the University of Montreal. He said the referendum result was based on “fear of the other” and is part of a rejection of Muslims in Quebec that leads to higher rates of unemployment and higher rates of hate crimes against the community. Boucher estimates that when Muslims die in the province, up to two-thirds are sent back for burial to their countries of origin.

the media and nuclear security

An article in The Indian Express discussed the effects of media, especially fake news, on the Doomsday Clock which just advanced 30 seconds because of it. The article points to a piece in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University, who “delivered a blistering critique of the Washington Post, for allowing its July 8 number to be swamped with G20 news, to the extent that it buried in its digest a report on 122 nations signing on the first ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons.”

anthropology and the Iroquois

Caption: Historical marker for General Ely Samuel Parker. Credit: nyhistoric.com

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York) published commentary by John Tubiolo, adjunct professor of anthropology at St. John Fisher College, prompted by a statement from a member of the Iroquois to him that anthropologists consider the Iroquois to have disappeared a long time ago:  “The truth is quite the opposite…Their [anthropologists’] contribution to preserving Iroquois tradition goes back to the 1840s, when Rochesterian Lewis Henry Morgan…teamed with Tonawanda Seneca Ely Parker to document Iroquois culture, which did seem at that time to be on the wane do [sic] to overwhelming westward European American expansion across New York and the rest of the country. The Parker-Morgan partnership and successive efforts of other anthropologists to the present have actually been a key element in revitalizing Iroquois culture, including the establishment of Ganondagan State Historic Site. This location of a major 17th-century Seneca Iroquois town is the only place in the New York State parks system dedicated entirely to a Native American educational focus. It was made possible through anthropological research in a collaboration of native scholars with historians and archaeologists.”

imagined community through food

A piece on Nevada Public Radio discussed food nostalgia, focusing on the aroma of rice and barberries as a reminder to an Iranian immigrant to Washington, D.C., of home. The article quotes David Sutton, professor of anthropology at Southern Illinois University. He has studied the role of food in the Greek diaspora and found that Greek immigrants often describe how food from home makes them feel “whole:” “[T]here is an imagined community implied in the act of eating food ‘from home’ while in exile,” Sutton writes in a paper published in the journal, Anthropology and Humanism.

facilitating change in corporate cultures

The South Florida Times carried an article about the contribution of corporate anthropologist Andi Simon, founder and CEO of Simon and Associates Management Consultants, to businesses facing the challenge of constant change in order to succeed. Simon is quoted as saying: “As humans we hate to change…Whether it’s introducing a state-of-the-art computer program or transitioning a company to a wholly new and innovative way of working…Your brain literally creates chemical pain that says, ‘Please stop all that new work.’” Simon advises that providing purpose to the changes by leaders will help with the transition.

take that anthro degree and…

…work for a non-profit organization on international aid and security. Bobby Mackenzie is director and senior fellow at New America and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Mackenzie has fifteen years of applied research and work experience in and about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including research on regional security and conflict, forced migration, urban refugees, and international aid. Mackenzie has a B.A. in economics from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from SOAS, University of London. 

…be a researcher, writer, and activist. Lisa Galarneau is a freelance writer, social media coordinator, and SEO consultant with Connect2Classes and Sound Publishing (The Seattle Weekly and The Bellevue Reporter), in Seattle, Washington. She is also a volunteer and activist for #TheResistance and #Disclosure movements. Galarneau has a B.A. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California Berkeley, a M.Sc. in education from the University of California Hayward, and a Ph.D. in screen and media studies from the University of Waikato.

digging up the bodies

Forbes reported about archaeological work on Easter Island being conducted by a team of archaeologists from the University of California Los Angeles through the Easter Island Statue Project. The team has excavated the underlying torso and body of several of the stone heads, revealing the full base of the statues. They have found etched petroglyphs on the backs of the figures including crescent shapes that may represent Polynesian canoes.

Stonehenge in its regional context

An article from BBC describes how Stonehenge continues to yield important and intriguing findings along with more questions. It reviews findings from two research projects that consider Stonehenge within its larger context: the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project and the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford and U.K. lead on the Hidden Landscapes Project says that it has revealed hundreds of new features and many sites: “Following this survey, we know not only where things are but where they aren’t as well.” Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson of University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, who led the Stonehenge Riverside Project from 2003 to 2009, comments on the sources of the stones and how they were transported to Stonehenge, noting that regional connections were important in sourcing the stones, and that Stonehenge was the center of regional social and political ties. 

 

anthro in the news 7/24/17

University of Wisconsin students protesting Trump’s presidency and proposed policies. Credit: The Badger Herald/Google Images Commons.

run for it: anthropologists in politics

The Huffington Post published an article by Tori Jennings, adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, about the need for anthropologists to seek political roles in the U.S. After watching with dismay the effects of a conservative takeover in Wisconsin including the state university system, she decided to get involved in local politics the night Trump was elected. Now a member of the Stevens Point City Council, she writes: “An anthropologist running for city council should hardly be that surprising. Our discipline after all, is highly applied. Not only is anthropology interesting we tell our students, it’s useful for tackling real-world problems. Two decades before Laura Nader challenged anthropology to ‘study up’ in her provocative 1972 essay Up Anthropology, the idea of ‘action anthropology’ had already taken root in the renowned work of American anthropologist Sol Tax.”

no jobs, no babies

An article in The Atlantic proposes that a key neglected factor in explaining Japan’s low and declining birth rate is the lack of well paid jobs for men in a context in which men are still largely understood to be the family income-earner. The article quotes Anne Allison, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University and author of Precarious Japan: “The gender stuff is pretty consistent with trends around the world—men are having a harder time…The birth rate is down, even the coupling rate is down. And people will say the number-one reason is economic insecurity.” 

Continue reading “anthro in the news 7/24/17”

anthro in the news 7/17/17

Credit: Brazil Law Blog/Google Images Commons.

labor rights in Brazil under attack

An article in the Los Angeles Times reported that Brazil’s Senate approved an end to unemployment insurance, longer working hours, and reduced vacation time. The article quotes Silas Fiorotti, an anthropology researcher at the University of Sao Paulo: “…I will not support the dismantling of labor justice…The intention is to reduce the number of labor lawsuits against employers. They just want to impose criteria that make it so that workers don’t have free access to labor justice.”

liberation cricket vs. neoliberal cricket

Beausejour Cricket Stadium, St. Lucia. Credit: Timothy Barton (timtranslates.com)/Creative Commons.

The Huffington Post published commentary by Adnan Hossain, a postdoctoral fellow in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He writes about changes in Caribbean cricket: “Once a site for anti-colonial resistance and consolidation of a West Indian identity, contemporary Caribbean cricket is devoid of such political connotations. This paradigmatic shift may account for the sad state of the West Indies cricket team this year. It seems that neoliberal cricket just can’t compete with the liberation cricket of yore.”

Continue reading “anthro in the news 7/17/17”

anthro in the news 7/10/17

Maori flag. Credit: Wikipedia

“thuggish, stupid youth” stereotype banished

TheFIX (Australia) reported that Maori Television in New Zealand has pulled an Australian mini-series, Jonah from Tonga, from the air. The article includes commentary from social anthropologist Helen Lee, professor and head of La Trobe University’s sociology and anthropology department: “I just think it’s dreadful. It’s just awful. It’s creating a terrible stereotype that’s just deeply offensive to Tongans…It’s just a stereotype of this kind of thuggish, stupid youth which does not in any way represent what Tongan youth are like.”

educated women freezing eggs

Credit: Google Images Commons

The Independent reported on a study, led by medical anthropologist Marcia Inhorn of Yale University, of 150 women in the U.S. and Israel who had undertaken elective egg freezing. In-depth interviews reveal that the primary motivation among educated, professional women is the lack of a suitable spouse or partner. This finding contradicts previous reports, mainly in the media, that women freeze their eggs to defer pregnancy for professional reasons.


Continue reading “anthro in the news 7/10/17”

anthro in the news 7/3/17

Volunteers promote breastfeeding in Laos. Credit: UNICEF.

nature, culture, and breastfeeding


NPR (U.S.) reported on anthropological research about how mothers gain breastfeeding expertise in different cultural contexts. Brooke Scelza
, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Los Angeles, was surprised to find, when she had a baby, that breastfeeding was not automatically easy.  Given the importance of infant feeding for its survival, she wanted to learn more about the practice, so she did research among the Himba of northern Namibia where all mothers breastfeed. She learned about the importance in that context of a woman’s mother in infant care. In some cases, new mothers learn breastfeeding from other women in the group, as among the Beng of the Ivory Coast as studied by cultural anthropologist Alma Gottlieb of the University of Illinois. The article mentions that other supportive factors may be constant contact between the mother and infant following birth and lack of stigma about breastfeeding in public.

cosmetic surgery on the rise

An app available through Google Play.

The Times of India and other media reported on a study by the Nuffield Council that shows a rising number of women under 40 in the U.K. who seek cosmetic procedures including facelifts, nose reshaping, breast enlargement or reduction, tummy tucking, and more. The increased demand for appearance-enhancing procedures may be due to the influence of social media in creating “appearance anxiety.” Jeanette Edwards, professor of social anthropology at the University of Manchester and chair of the Council  inquiry, said:  “We’ve been shocked by some of the evidence we’ve seen, including make-over apps and cosmetic surgery `games’ that target girls as young as nine.”

Continue reading “anthro in the news 7/3/17”