Anthro in the news 10/11/10

• Hunger in a rich land
According to a recent poll, Philadelphia is one of the poorest–and hungriest–10 cities in the United States. There is intergenerational hunger, hunger exacerbated by the cut-back in federal eligibility for welfare, and hunger because of the recent and continuing economic recession. Cultural anthropologist Mariana Chilton, an assistant professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health, says that “hunger is ugly” because of its negative effects on children and on urban life. Nutritional deprivation affects brain development, she says, as well as student classroom engagement. Chilton is a national figure in hunger policy/programs, and she is also working with Sesame Street to help figure out how it can talk about hunger in America.

• Teen drinking culture
The Century Council has funded a research project at George Mason University to understand underage drinking in the U.S. in order to promote responsible decision making. The study is looking at the dynamics of teen drinking, the age at which teens start drinking, where they get the alcohol, how dangerously they drink, and how some teens manage not to drink. Cultural anthropology professor Hugh Gusterson of George Mason Univserity is co-directing the study.

• Mammography screening and culture
Medical anthropologist Galen Joseph published an article about the different perceptions of, need for, and use of mammography screening among Latino and Filipino academics and social service providers in the San Francisco area. Joseph is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine of the University of California at San Francisco. The findings, which have relevance to interventions, are published in the journal Health Education and Behavior.

• Food anthropologist career option
Mehmet Gur’s high-end Istanbul restaurant, Mikla, employs an anthropologist with a doctorate in food cultures whose mission is to provide insights for the restaurant’s menu about non-processed food and rare ingredients of Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

• Unknown (to us) language discovered
A previously unknown language (to outsiders) has been discovered in northeastern India. The language is called Koro and is spoken by 800-1,200 people. It is in danger of extinction. The researchers are K. David Harrison of Swarthmore College and Gregory D. S. Anderson, director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. They worked with Indian researcher Ganesh Murmu. Their findings will be published in Indian Linguistics.

• Just like us: compassionate Neanderthals
In addition to their recent rebranding as creative tool makers, Neanderthals now are likely to be compassionate caregivers of sick individuals–another form of behavior long associated with modern humans. The findings are from a study led by Penny Spikins, lecturer in the Department of Archaeology of the University of York and are published in Time and Mind.

• In memoriam
Joan Miller, professor of anthropology at San Diego State University, died on September 28. She was a biological anthropologist who also taught a cultural film class. She was an active member of the Save the Chimps foundation.

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