Anthro in the news 1/17/11

• In Sudan: the Crusades still?
Cultural anthropologist and Africa scholar Mahmood Mamdani says that the creation of a new Western sanctioned nation-state in southern Sudan — a religiously and politically contested area at the edge of the Arab-Muslim world — is proof that the jihadis are fighting an international system bent on stemming the spread of Islam. Mamdani is a professor at Columbia University and author, most recently, of Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror.

• So you think you deserve an A in this course?
In her letter to the editor of the NYT, Carol Delaney questions proposed bills in the U.S. that would allow students and professors to take guns to campus. “What professor won’t worry about giving failing grades when an angry student can march into [or her] his office and shoot him [or her]?” Delaney is emerita professor of cultural anthropology at Stanford University.

• The economics, not erotics, of the bound female foot
A Wall Street Journal article on the end of female footbinding in China includes insights from two Stanford University anthropologists: Melissa Brown, assistant professor of cultural anthropology and Hill Gates, emerita professor of anthropological sciences. Both point to the economic factors underlying the practice. In the words of Brown: “How do you get a naturally healthy 6-year-old to sit for hours? You break her feet.” The practice, in this view, forced girls and women to work at home, spinning yarn, processing tea, and shucking oysters.

• Culture through cooking
A WaPo article about Diana Kennedy’s magisterial new book on Oaxacan cuisine conveys her message to everyone that they should learn about world cultures through their food. She also specifically exhorts anthropologists to learn to cook. Blogger’s note: Whether anthropologists and people with an anthropological heart are following Kennedy’s advice or marching to their own drum, it is remarkable how many top chefs have an anthropology background including Kennedy’s nemesis, Rick Bayless.

• UBC Museum of Anthropology cancels exhibit on disappeared women
The University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology canceled an exhibit that was supposed to open in February featuring 69 massive portraits of women who vanished from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The museum director said that the exhibit was not likely to produce the kind of positive dialogue originally intended.

• Rise in juvenile delinquency in Brunei
The rise in the number of young offenders in Brunei in recent years may be related to rising birth rates and increased vigilance by law enforcement, said Professor Frank Fanselow, head of the Sociology-Anthropology programme at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Overall rates of juvenile delinquency in Brunei are low compared to rates worldwide.

• Neanderthal life span
The life span of Neanderthals was no shorter than that of early modern humans according to a new study by Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis. Findings are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Blogger’s note: Perhaps it was not so brutish, either.

• Oldest winemaking
It was red, Armenians, and of an ancient vintage — around 7,000 years old. American, Armenian, and Irish archaeologists have discovered the oldest known site for wine making, storage, and consumption in a cave site which includes a fermenting vat, a press, storage jars, and drinking vessel cup made from an animal horn. NYT coverage cites several archaeologists including the world’s leading expert on the prehistory of wine, Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania. Findings are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

• Oldest domesticated dog in Americas
A graduate student researcher in the University of Maine’s department of anthropology, Samuel Belknap III, found a 9,400 year-old skull fragment of a domesticated dog in Texas that is the oldest of its kind in the New World. He is working under the supervision of Kristin Sobolik, professor and department chair of anthropology at the University of Maine where she is also the associate director of the Climate Change Institute. Findings are published in the Journal of Physical Anthropology.

• Kudos
Tom D. Dillehay has been named the Rebecca Webb Wilson University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University. Dillehay is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Professor Extraordinaire and Honorary Doctorate at the Universidad Austral de Chile. He has carried out numerous archaeological and anthropological projects in Peru, Chile, Argentina and other South American countries and in the United States. His interests are migration, political and economic change, and interdisciplinary and historical methodologies designed to study those processes.

Denise Henning has been appointed president and CEO of Northwest Community College in Terrace, British Columbia. She is a Cherokee/Choctaw originating from Oklahoma with a PhD in educational management and development from New Mexico State University and BA and MA degrees in urban studies and anthropology from the University of Nebraska.

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