Anthro in the news 6/21/10

• Anthropologists offer insights into the Uzbek situation
“There is no way but to bring them back,” says Sergei Abashin, senior researcher at the RAN (Russian Academy of Sciences) Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology in Moscow, referring to the refugees who recently fled to Uzbekistan. He told BBC that the Kyrgyz state has been either unwilling or unable to stop the conflict and that the world powers have also shown irresponsibility. Vladimir Zorn, deputy director of the Institute, points to economics and history as being underlying causes of the recent violence.

• Afghanistan: land of hope and sorrow
Marc Edelman, professor of cultural anthropology at City University of New York, points out in a letter to the New York Times, that recently published reports of huge mineral wealth in Afghanistan are not likely to bring prosperity to the country as a whole. Rather, as in similar contexts, wealth under the ground will probably bring more conflict on the ground.

• Sebastian Junger’s anthropological zeal
A review in the New Zealand Herald of Sebastian Junger’s latest book, War, which is based on 14 months in Afghanistan, says that Junger “…explores the nature of sexual deprivation, courage, boredom and the sheer excitement of war with an almost anthropological zeal.” What in the world is “anthropological zeal”? The next line says, “His meticulous, pared down prose is deliberately unemotional.” This blogger is a bit confused. Let it be noted for the record, however: Junger earned a BA in cultural anthropology from Wesleyan University in 1984. Whether or not that degree is responsible for his reputed anthropological zeal and/or his unemotional prose, who knows.

• Suckers for babies
The lead article in the New York Times science section on paternal behavior among nonhuman primates quotes Sarah Hrdy, biological anthropologist and professor emerita in the Anthropology Department of the University of California at Davis: “Lots of primates are suckers for babies.”

• A good gringo
Fluent in the Cofan language, Randy Borman, son of American missionaries, has helped the Cofan Indians acquire substantial territory in northern Ecuador. Michael Cepek, cultural anthropologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio comments about the Cofan in the Washington Post: “In the 1980s, some people thought they’ll disappear. They were small, monolingual; they didn’t have a strong political structure…Lo and behold, 20 years later, they are not just surviving, they are thriving.”

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