Anthro in the news 8/23/10

• If Clef were president
Louis Herns Marcelin, a Haitian-born cultural anthropology professor at the University of Miami is paraphrased in the Seattle Times as saying that people with money and influence in Haiti are more likely to fear outsiders.

• About the mosque (you know which one)
An article in the Huffington Post discussed how Muslims around the world are watching the US debate about the proposed mosque and community center at Park 51 in New York City near the location of the former World Trade Center towers. It included commentary from Zubair Ali, a retired Pakistani professor of anthropology who has lived in the US and who is presumably Muslim. He said that any decision to stop the mosque will empower those who say the US is waging a war against Islam. The New York Times included this statement from Muntasir Sattar, an anthropology student at Columbia University: “It’s been nine years, but it feels like we haven’t moved an inch since then to come to terms with the issues.”

• Take your cruise ship and…
Mauritius is pumping up efforts to promote cruise ship tourism. According to cultural anthropologist Sean Carey of the Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism at Roehampton University, the Vanilla Island should tell the cruise ships to shove off since little evidence indicates any long term positive effects for the destination while much evidence suggests negative environmental and social effects.

• Dilemma about book on nuclear testing resolved
Cultural anthropologist Hugh Gusterson of George Mason University is relieved to know that nuclear testing will not start again. That means he can carry on with his current book plans.

• Rural Thais no longer provincial
William Klausner, one of the “most senior and best known observers of rural Thailand,” has urged Thailand to address its urban-rural divide and city people’s disdain toward rural people: “The villagers are no longer uneducated and they’re no longer provincial…today they have mobile phones, televisions, satellite dishes and ‘even the odd computer in the village’.” Hope might instead lie in the maintenance of a healthy disdain of the “provincial” people toward the city dwellers.

• Get out of my genes
Don’t freshmen have enough to worry about? A plan to offer free genome scans to incoming freshmen at the University of California at Berkeley has been modified under protest from many students. Cultural anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes supported the state’s decision to back off from the tests. The Dean of Biological Sciences was not pleased.

• What can you do with a degree in anthropology?
Much appreciation to the Guardian for posing this question and offering some insights. Readers of this blog know that with a BA in anthropology you can, for example, become a top chef (Rick Bayless), a hip hop star (Ndeka), a novelist (Camilla Gibb), leading financial journalist (Gillian Tett), or documentary-maker and author (Sebastian Junger). Go for it, anthros.

• Speaking of which, a great job for anthros: film producer
Michael Lieber, a former cultural anthropologist, is producing a new political action thriller in which an anthropologist goes to West Africa to clear the name of a friend who is implicated in a terrorist attack. James Bond screen writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are involved. This could be good! Can you imagine swapping out the anthropologist in the lead part for….an economist?

• Last slave ship to the US
Just as there was a first one, there had to be a last one and thank goodness for that. Neil Norman, anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia is excavating sites in north Mobile county, Alabama, to learn about the lives of slaves who arrived from Benin on the Clotilde in 1860.

• Students excavate Civil War POW camp in Georgia
Mary Craft, a graduate from Gainesville State College, discovered the camp and is now working with others to excavate the site and develop the exhibit about it.

• Addicted to archaeology
The Frederick NewsPost carried a story about student excavators working at an African American slave site in Maryland. It highlights the dedication of Shayla Monroe, a senior archaeology major at Howard University.

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