Anthro in the news 2/28/11

• Plaque it: Tally’s Corner, DC
Elliot Liebow bucked the tide in the late 1960s when he decided to do his cultural anthropology dissertation research in a US city. Moreover, he chose to do participant observation with a group of low-income African American men. During his research, Liebow hung out around a street corner in Washington, DC. Forty-four years later, a reader sends this question to Answer Man, aka John Kelly of the Washington Post:  “Where exactly was the street corner that he [Liebow] wrote about?” Kelly got in touch with Harriet Liebow, Elliot’s wife, who survives him. She revealed the heretofore unknown location of Tally’s Corner: it’s the corner of  11th and M streets. Blogger’s note: Tally’s corner should have a cultural heritage plaque, and it should be included in DC tours.

• Here’s looking at anthropology
“National anthropology” in Australia is the study by Australian anthropologists (mainly White) of indigenous/Aboriginal peoples. It is now under attack, from within anthropology itself. Melinda Hickson, senior lecturer in anthropology at the Australian National University, has brought the issues together in an edited book, Culture Crisis: Anthropology and Politics in Aboriginal Australia. She refers to the  “demise of anthropological authority.”

• McDonalds at the sacred-secular divide
Sean Carey of Roehampton University provides an update on the McDonalds controversy in Mauritius.

• Let’s not say goodbye
The Guardian carried an article about disappearing languages and the work of Cambridge University’s World Oral Literature Project led by Mark Turin. The database provides information about endangered languages and audio clips

• American treasures (not)
Kirk French of Penn State University and Jason De León of the University of Michigan are archaeo professors now starring in a new show on the Discovery Channel. French and De León take viewers on the road in America to discover “treasures” (not their preferred word for the title of the show).

• If you dig it…
An amateur archaeologist in Collinstown, Ireland, unearthed human and other remains dating back more than 4,000 years ago when constructing a shed in the back of his house and bad weather created a landslide.

• What child is this?
Announcement of the discovery of the oldest human remains, those of a cremated child, in Alaska, attracted widespread media attention. The child was cremated in the cooking pit of a house which was then abandoned. Ben Potter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and several colleagues lead the excavation and study. The Washington Post quoted Potter: “This is a child people loved, took care of…the fact that the house was abandoned speaks to that.”

• Very old Jewish bath in America
Excavations beneath a historic synagogue in Baltimore, Maryland, have revealed what is likely to be the oldest Jewish ritual bath complex in the United States, dated to around 1845.

• Very old backache in Spain
Backache could be four million years old according to Ashier Gomez-Olivencia of Cambridge University. The main evidence is a damaged spine discovered in northern Spain.

• Very old shoes in China
An article in the China Daily mentions American anthropologist Eric Kostlin and his opinion that a human toe bone that is 40,000 years old indicates that humans were wearing shoes then. That date significantly precedes the competitor date of a cowhide sandal found in Egypt and dated to 2000 BCE.

• Drink to me from my skull
Carefully clean skulls found in Somerset, England, and dating to nearly 15,000 years ago were likely used as drinking vessels. What liquid the vessels might have contained is unknown. The New York Times quotes Silvia Bello, a paleontologist at the Natural History in London, as saying that the finds suggest s a funeral ritual.

• Stonehenge  rocks
Archaeologists are “sourcing” the stones of Stonehenge and trying to discern how they arrived in Wiltshire. It seems that the outer stones were locally sourced but two of the inner stones are from Wales.

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