Anthro in the news 3/28/11

Japan has to deal with “nuclear allergy”
Contaminated water, spinach, people and perhaps more. Peter Wynn Kirby writes about concepts of pollution,  contamination, and stigma in Japan. He is a researcher with the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford and a research fellow at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. His latest book is Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan.

Lessons from Chernobyl about radiation pollution
Adriana Petryna, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, was quoted in the New York Times: “Mismanagement of information creates consequences down the line.” Additionally, regarding the post-tsunami/quake/nuclear situation in Japan, the same article quoted Joshua Breslau, medical anthropologist at UC Davis: “We have to be careful that we don’t create a whole class of victims, that we don’t put people in some diagnostic box that makes them permanently dependent.”  Blogger’s note: kind of we-ish, isn’t it?

Spiritual healing in Cuba
Drug Week picked up on a new publication in Anthropology & Medicine about Cuban scientific spiritists in Havana. The lead author is Santo D. Espirito and colleagues at the University of Lisbon.

Hot stuff
Louisiana’s Avery Island is the home of the legendary tabasco hot sauce manufactured, since 1868, by the McIlhenny family. The Economist quoted Nick Sitzer, folklorist and professor of anthropology and American studies at Tulane University, in an article about how the McIlhenny family provides for its employees full health, dental and retirement benefits. Blogger’s note: for further reading, enjoy Jeffrey Rothfelder’s McIlhenny’s Gold: How a Louisiana family Built the Tabasco Empire.

Book launch in Islamabad
A galaxy of diplomats, intellectuals, educationists, students and foreigners at the premises of German Embassy in Islamabad celebrated the publication of At the Shrine of the Red Sufi: Five Days and Nights on Pilgrimage in Pakistan, by German cultural anthropologist, Dr Jürgen Wasim Frembgen.

Don’t cut anth
Mounting opposition to proposed cuts at Glasgow University includes resistance to cutting anthropology courses.

• Dirty museum exhibition
From Dutch obsession with cleanliness to English chamber pots and more, a new exhibit in London mounted by the Wellcome Collection looks at dirt around the world. “Dirt: the Filthy Reality of Everyday Life” exemplifies the great cultural anthropologist Mary Douglas‘s dictum that dirt is “matter out of place.” Depending on context, dirt can excite disgust, moral outrage or sexual excitement. Blogger’s note: What more can you ask for? The exhibit is free at the Wellcome Collection until August 31.

Recognizing American Indian artists
Attribution is important in the Western, capitalist cultural world. Not so in many non-capitalist contexts. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is studying many American Indian objects that are non-attributed to see if an individual artist can be name, or at least some information of provenance can be found. Aaron Glass is part of the effort; he is an assistant professor at the Bard Graduate Center.

Don’t trash this museum
The government in Uganda appears to be determined to demolish the national museum in Uganda, saying it is not necessary. The museum was built in 1954 and has exhibits of traditional culture, archaeology, history, science, and natural history. The site is being proposed for construction of a 60-story building to house the East African Trade Center.

• Archaeology jobs lost in Ireland
Since the end of Ireland’s economic book, 80 percent of jobs for archaeologist have been lost.

Faking it
A sculpture of a supposed pre-Columbian, Maya warrior sold for $4.1 million at a Paris auction house. Experts from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said it, along with 66 other pieces in the auction, is a fake.

• Move over Clovis
New and definitively dated finds of stone tools in Texas indicate that early humans in North America pre-date the Clovis people. Sorry, Clovis-first lovers. For outsiders: this is a huge argument in Americanist archaeology. Blogger’s advice: duck to avoid bullets but go for pre-Clovis first.

• Sacred site lost to gas well
Aboriginal stone arrangements have vanished after development of a gas well by Queensland Gas Company. Barunggam tribe member Neil Stanley said the site was a place for male initiation. Archaeology consultant Michael Strong said “it would be appalling” if the site had been damaged.

Out of Africa and into India really fast
Acheulian stone tools, the definitive Paleolithic stone tools associated with Homo erectus in Africa, are dated to 1.6 million years ago. Now, such stone tools found in India have been dated to, possibly, 1.6 million years ago. How did this happen? The new, old dates for the Indian stone tools will be likely be contested, so stay tuned. Blogger’s note: isn’t always that new finds produce older dates? So, assuming the India dates are correct, then isn’t it likely that even older Acheulian stone tools will be found in Africa?

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