Anthro in the news 1/3/2011

• China could abandon its one-child policy
This header is a quotation from Susan Greenhalgh’s newest book, Cultivating Global Citizens: Population in the Rise of China. Her book is reviewed by Jonathan Mirsky in the Wall Street Journal. Greenhalgh is professor of cultural anthropology at the University of California at Irvine.

• Rebuild the social in 2011
An economic downturn is a good time to think about growing a “sense of social” writes cultural anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff in an opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun. He urges people (like those reading this blog) to look for “signs of the social” and build on them. Basically: have meaningful face-to-face conversations with other people. Blinkoff is managing director of Context-Based Research Group in Baltimore. His latest project is thewildpigtailproject.com, an arts and anthropology project dedicated to building a “sense of the social.”

• Here’s to healthy drinking
In an audio interview, Dwight Heath says that the Spanish provide lessons about healthy alcohol consumption patterns, and many of them start the day with a drink. Heath is professor of cultural anthropology at Brown University and author of Drinking Occasions.

• Take back the night
One segment of the National Post of Canada’s week-long series about the most interesting ideas of 2010 featured a call from a group French anthropologists to tackle “the other half of the world.” They point to the neglect of the night by anthropologists and propose the launching of nocturnity, the study of night in human affairs. They published their views in Current Anthropology. [Blogger’s note: the French group are correct that the night has been severely neglected, but not completely. One can find scattered insights about night hunting, night tag games, and nighttime sleeping patterns. As far as I know, though, the cultural anthropologists have been outdone so far by a cultural geographer, Reena Patel. She has written an excellent book based on fieldwork she conducted mainly during the night, with some scary interactions. It’s called Working the Night Shift: Women in India’s Call Center Industry].

• It’s a new beginning
In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, writes that Robert Kelly’s December 13 op-ed, “Bones of Contention” is misguided. Colwell-Chanthaphonh argues that the dialogue about repatriation in the U.S. over the past two decades “is a new beginning of collaborative stewardship of Native American history” rather than the end of archaeology.

• Light skinned people are mutants
Nina Jablonski of Pennsylvania State University studies skin color from an evolutionary perspective, but her work has implications for contemporary racism. Her book, Skin Deep, caught the attention of Australian film director Franco Di Chiera, and he has produced a documentary inspired by it. He hopes the film, which aired in Australia this past week, will change people’s opinions on race.

• Please pass the Neanderthal veggies
Analysis of Neanderthal teeth from Shanidar, Israel, and Spy Cave, Belgium, indicates that Neanderthals had a more varied diet than just meat. They ate various plants including cooked grains. Lead researcher and post-doctoral scholar at George Washington University, Amanda Henry says: “…they had some quite advanced technologies and behaviors. ” Findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

• Rethinking Neanderthals again, still
The term “Neanderthal” has long been used in ordinary parlance to refer to brutes. Will their newly discovered Siberian cousins, the Denisovans, be similarly stigmatized? Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, reviews the latest findings on both sets of cousins and the implications for modern humans.

• Does this date work for you? modern human origins revisited
Discoveries in a cave in Israel near Ben-Gurion airport throw into question the generally accepted view that the earliest modern humans evolved in northwest Africa around 300,000-200,000 years ago and began migrating out sometime thereafter. Archaeologists Avi Gopher and Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University say that eight human-like teeth from Qesem cave are 400,000 years old. The researchers have also found associated flint blades, the habitual use of fire, and other evidence of modern humans. Findings appear in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

• In memoriam
Elizabeth Jane Glenn, professor of anthropology at Ball State University for thirty years, died in Muncie, Indiana, at the age of 72 years. She did extensive fieldwork with American Indians, served as chair of her department, and was an “unrepentant liberal Democrat.”

Dee Ann Story, professor emeritus of the University of Texas, died at the age of 79 years. In 1963, she was the first woman to get a PhD from the anthropology program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Story directed archaeological investigations across the state of Texas but is best known for her study of a Caddo Indian site in east Texas.

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