UPDATE: Zahi Hawass has confirmed that he is losing his appointment as Egyptian Antiquities Minister in an ongoing cabinet shuffle.
• Whose lies are better?
Two weeks ago, cultural anthropologist Mike McGovern of Yale University published an op-ed in the New York Times about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case in which he argued for understanding of why the immigrant hotel maid would have lied on her asylum application. His position is that life in Guinea can be so difficult and dangerous that lying to get out can make sense, given the context. Now, Robert Fulford, professor of journalism at Massey College of the University of Toronto, claims that McGovern abuses the concept of cultural relativism and is building a culture of excuse-making. Blogger’s note: there appears to be the likelihood of lying on both sides of the case. Questions are: whose lies will be more damaging to the person’s credibility, and whose lies will be left to lie?
• Gillian Tett on the European financial situation
Cultural anthropologist Gillian Tett, an award-winning journalist at the Financial Times, where she is an assistant editor overseeing global financial markets coverage, appeared on the U.S. news television show, Morning Joe. She discussed the European financial situation and, particularly, Irish banking. And she actually managed to work in the word ‘anthropology’!
• Morocco’s Arab Spring
Paul Silverstein, cultural anthropology professor at Reed College, gave a radio interview about Morocco’s response to the Arab Spring movement. He also comments on Morocco’s new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved on July 1.
• Anthro of chess
Robert Desjarlais, a cultural anthropology professor at Sarah Lawrence College, has published a new book on chess, Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chess Board. The Boston Globe online included a piece on the book in its section on (guess what?) chess.
• Deep politics of Egyptian archaeology
The Arab spring has not been great for Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities minister. According to an article in the New York Times, demonstrators in Cairo are calling for his resignation. Their primary complaint is his association with the Mubaraks.
• Smuggling Egyptian antiquities
The New York Times reported that four people were charged with smuggling Egyptian antiquities. The article quoted Zahi Hawass, Egyptian antiquities minister, as saying that it is important to “not only catch the four criminals but to know who are behind them.”
• Many new old sites in Mexico
U.S. researchers this year discovered 67 pre-Hispanic and colonial sites in the mountainous region of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History, some of the sites date back to 1000 BP. Anthropologist Stacie M. King, who is in charge of the project, noted that research so far has revealed pre-Hispanic remains of a ceremonial center, evidence of ball games, and cave paintings.
• Pay to dig it
Professional archaeologists, along with amateurs who pay to participate, are excavating Native American and Spanish artifacts at a site on Black Hammock Island, Florida. The Jacksonville News reported on the work of Robert “Buzz” Thunen, an archaeologist and professor at the University of North Florida. He says the site will reveal details about Native American life before and after contact with the Spanish missionaries who settled on the island.
• Review of the latest human origins quest book
Rachel Newcomb, associate professor of anthropology at Rollins College, reviewed for the Washington Post, a new history of early human fossil hunting in Africa, Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life, by Martin Meredith.
• Online access to Idaho bone collection
The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the work of Herbert D. G. Maschner, research professor of anthropology at the University of Idaho and director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic Project is now live. It is an interactive and virtual museum of mammal, bird, and fish from the North American Arctic and Greenland.
President Barack Obama nominated museum anthropologist Dorothy Lippert to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. She is currently a case officer in the Repatriation Office of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.
Cultural anthropologist Joy Hendy has been appointed to the De Carle Distinguished Lectureship at the University of Otago. Over four months, she will conduct research on Maori scientific beliefs.
Cultural anthropologist Adriana Petryna has been named the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in Anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.