Anthro in the news 6/1/10

• Wouldn’t it be nice…
If their wife is “well paid,” 37 percent of men students surveyed by a campus newspaper at Yonsei University, Republic of Korea, said they are willing to be a househusband. Some 20 percent said they had no idea, and 43 percent said no. Kim Hyun-mi, professor of cultural anthropology at Yonsei University, commented that many young people value gender quality and individual freedom but also depend on their parents for financial support.

• Blood-sucking science
A forty-year blood war is apparently over (note this blogger’s use of the word “apparently”). Four American universities and the US National Cancer Institute are returning blood samples to the Yanomami Indians of the Amazon region of Venezuela. Biological anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, and other researchers, collected 2,000 samples in the 1960s. The Yanomami claim that they never thought their ancestors’ blood would be kept in freezers and used in ways that did not conform with their original agreement. When they get the blood back, they will release it into a river, “pouring the blood of our ancestors to the waters because our Creator, Omame, found his wife, our mother, in the river. Blogger’s note: Given the possibility that scientists have found ways to “bank” the data for research purposes without keeping the actual blood in storage, I hope that any and all derivative material/information are being returned along with the actual blood samples and that the Yanomami have clear rights concerning any possible follow-up studies based on the blood samples.

• What’s the news from Daly City?
“Why is it always foggy in Daly City? Because all the Filipinos turn on their rice cookers at the same time.” Daly City, CA, is the home of the largest Filipino (Pinoy) community in the United States. The New York Times carried an interview-based article about Benito Vergara, a Philippine-born anthropologist who just published a book based on his dissertation: Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City. Formerly assistant professor of Asian-American Studies at San Francisco University, Vergara now works as a web editor for a financial services company and lives in the East Bay area.

• Deep voice
According to a report in ScienceDaily, men with deep voices sound more dominant to other men, regardless of the self-perceived dominance status of the listeners. These findings and others, reported by Sarah Wolff and David Puts of the Department of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, US, come from two experimental studies in which nearly 200 native English-speaking, self-identified heterosexual undergraduate men were asked to rate male vocal recordings. The paper is published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

• Will the real Ardi please stand up?
Ardi was hailed as the big science breakthrough of 2009. One of the major claims to fame about Ardi is that it became bipedal while living in dense forest rather than in open savannahs per the generally accepted model. Some scientists now contest that claim, saying that contextual data, in fact, indicate that Ardi did live in a savannah environment and thus Ardi substantiates the generally accepted model of how environment affected the emergence of bipedalism. Others are arguing about Ardi’s place on the evolutionary tree that led to us: is Ardi a hominid or not? What about its cranium and dentition? Since much of the research on Ardi has been funded by the National Science Foundation, keep asking: how is all this relevant to our world today?

• Archaeological prize for Tunisian-French team
The Tunisian-French team in charge of excavations of and research on the archeological Ammaedara-Haidra site, in the Governorate of Kasserine (also known for a major World War II battle), were recently awarded the World Archeology Prize by the Simone and Cino Del Duca Foundation’s Committee, a charitable foundation based in Paris, France. The team’s fifteen-year effort has involved studies of Byzantine churches, thermal baths, roads, Christian and pre-Christian epigraphs, and Roman and Muslim ceramics, mosaics, and sculptures. Blogger’s note: The Prize goes to the researchers. What about the local people who live near the site? I hope that, at least, tourism to the area generates new employment and educational opportunities for local people through collaborative rather than extractive research.

2 thoughts on “Anthro in the news 6/1/10

  1. ponderingfool

    Since much of the research on Ardi has been funded by the National Science Foundation, keep asking: how is all this relevant to our world today?
    Is this a thought question? Or a questioning of NSF funding?


  2. Good point–the sentence is ambiguous because of my use of the word “this” in the last phrase without an antecedent. I nag my students about the fuzzy use of the word “this” all the time, and I fell into the abyss myself.

    Let’s take it as a thought question!


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