Anthro in the news 3/14/11

• Bedouin warriors not motley
Not just a “motley army of poorly armed civilian volunteers,” most of the Libyan opposition fighters are descendants of a long line of warriors. Philip Carl Salzman, professor of cultural anthropology at McGill University, makes this point in a letter to Canada’s National Post: “In the current uprising against the Gaddafi regime, we see a resurgence of the tribes and the reactivation of traditional Bedouin mobilization and martial values.”

• Rethinking tribal power in Libya
Another view, from Khalil Ali Al-Musmari, a retired professor of anthropology, says that foreign media have misrepresented tribal power in Libya. Educated, urban Libyans make their own decisions. In the desert outposts, however, tribes play an important role as villagers decide whom to fight.

• Another big drug from the San
Cultural anthropologist Sean Carey of Roehampton University published an article in the March issue of African Business about an anti-depressant herb known to the San people of southern Africa. The San prozac herb could be more financially successful than diet drug made from hoodia. Follow the money and hope the San get major financial rights and do a good job using the money for their own welfare.

• Last Neanderthals in Greece
Two sites in the Pindos Mountains, dated to between 50,000-35,000 years ago, contain hundreds of stone tools that may have been used by the last Neanderthals in Greece and perhaps Europe.

• Our southern African roots
An extensive genetic study of foraging populations of southern Africa supports the view that modern human origins lie in southern Africa. BBC news cites a co-author of the new study, Brenna Henn of Stanford University and Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London (not involved in the study). The paper appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

• Basques in Boise, Idaho
A DNA study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology reports on the loss of genetic diversity among Basques in Boise due to the founder effect (being descended from a small number of individuals).

• Bonobos: give peace a chance
More on our hippie relatives from Brian Hare of Duke University and Vanessa Woods. Hare and Woods report on our peaceful ancestors who now, sadly, live in the war-torn Congo. We humans should give them a chance.

• Darwin on the hand
Charles Darwin’s assertion that the human hand evolved as a result of tool is supported by experimental research. Stephen Lycett, senior lecturer in human evolution at Kent University, and Alastair Key, of the department of anthropology at Kent University, published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

• In memoriam
Mahmoud Rouh Alamini, a leading figure in establishing cultural anthropology in Iran, died on March 8 at the age of 82 years. He is the author of several books including Old Rites and Fests in Today Iran, Quest with a Lamp, Roots of Culture Studies, On Culture and Swear by Your Shakhe Nabat. He received a B.A. in social sciences in 1960 from the University of Tehran. He received a Ph.D. degree in 1968 from Sorbonne University.

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