Anthro in the news 7/26/10

• Death Valley, New Mexico
The Espanola Valley of northern New Mexico has the highest rate of heroin-related deaths in the United States. The only prize for this distinction is the constancy of death. Angela Garcia is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande. She spent three years living in the Valley, doing participant observation. In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, she writes about the death of a two-year-old named Dion.

• Chris Beyrer: epidemiologist, social activist, Buddhist, and BA anthropologist
Read this Lancet interview for a great example of what a BA in cultural anthropology can lead to: Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, is Professor and Director of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program and of the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights. His five years in Thailand led to his book, War in the Blood: Sex, Politics and AIDS in Southeast Asia. Beyrer’s joint BA degree in anthropology and Asian Studies is from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, NY. His medical degrees are from Johns Hopkins.

• Girls being bad
Research by cultural anthropologist Donna Swift indicates that girls in the Tasman Police District, New Zealand are behaving more violently. For young girls aged six to eight years, one apparent causal factor is witnessing violence at home; for older girls, violent behavior is related to alcoholism and having a relationship with a significantly older male. Swift is also involved in awareness and prevention programs.

• Catering for a Roman orgy
The Guardian profiled the “improbable research” of Merry “Corky” White, cultural anthropology professor at Boston University, for her applied research on how to cater a Roman orgy for a party in Cambridge, Massachusetts. How did she do it? She consulted many old texts. Dessert was honey buns shaped to look like…buns.

• Anthro adds to joy of cooking
And more on the food and culture scene in Boston: the Boston Globe carried an article on cooking classes in and around Boston including mention of one by Ahmad Yasin who adds a dash of anthropology to his classes. Boston University is in the mix with its culinary degree programs launched by Jacques Pepin and Julia Child. I hope my university wakes up, smells the stirfry, and launches a food, culture, and sustainability program!

• Comics for literacy
Christina Blanch, an instructor in cultural anthropology at Ball State University, participated in a panel at the San Diego Convention Center on “Comics in the Classroom.”

• New beer from a very old recipe
Dogfish Head brewery has released a new-old beer: Chateau Jiahu. The recipe is based on analysis of the remains found in 9,000 year-old pottery jars in Jiahu, China. Patrick McGovern, molecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, developed the recipe. McGovern is undoubtedly the world’s leading archaeo-alcohologist.

• A feast of finds at Stonehenge
Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham, England, and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, Austria, think they have found what might have been a large feasting area that was encircled by wooden henges.

• Second Venus of Orkney
A headless Venus standing a bit over one and a half inches tall has been found in Westray, Orkney, raising the Orkney total Neolithic Venus count to two. Not bad considering that the US has zero. Sounds like a World Cup score.

• Scots getting hot on archaeology
As you can imagine, with the find of Venus II, and encouraged by popular television shows such as BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?,” amateur interest in archaeology has grown steadily in Scotland over the past five years.

• The way she looks
Facial reconstruction of a 10,000-year-old woman’s remains suggest a more complex origin of human populations in the Americas. Ripan Malhi, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, is quoted by CBS News: “Using facial reconstruction to assign ancestry to an individual is not as strong as using ancient DNA…” So there you are: you just can’t go on looks alone.

• Inuit remains returned with apologies
Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History is returning the remains of 27 Inuit individuals removed from marked graves in a Christian cemetery in Labrador in the 1920s. A construction side in a small town in Ontario, Canada, has revealed thousands of artifacts from 2,000 years ago to recent times. Leaders of two local aboriginal groups are pushing for a halt or modification of the sewer project in order to protect the site.

• Firing back at the US Department of Defense in Guam
The United States Department of Defense plans to develop the historic Pagat area of Guam into a firing and training range for the Marine Corps. Kuam News mentions the presence at the demonstration of Hermon Farahi, George Washington University MA Anthropology candidate, who is in Guam this summer doing research and creating a documentary on the military build-up and indigenous Chamorro responses.

• Scientific American series by de Waal
Whatever Emory University primatologist Frans de Waal writes is worth reading. SA just published the fourth in a series of articles by him.

• Kudos
John Gledhill, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Manchester, was elected Fellow of the British Academy, joining nearly 900 other scholars so honored. Gledhill is a political anthropologist specializing on Latin America.

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