Anthro in the news 1/16/12

• The invisible anthropologist speaks about Haiti
Paul Farmer, rarely identified in the media as a cultural anthropologists as well as a doctor and humanitarian health advocate, was quoted on the front page of the Washington Post, above the crease, in an article about Haiti two years after the disastrous earthquake: “‘Recovery is here. It is painfully slow, it is agonizing to watch, but it is recovery,’ said Paul Farmer, a Harvard physician who has spent three decades in Haiti and whose group, Partners in Health, is opening a modern, 320-bed public teaching hospital an hour north of the Haitian capital.”

• Pentagon cuts are not so deep
TRNN interviewed Catherine Lutz about proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget. Lutz, a cultural anthropologist, is Thomas J. Watson Jr. professor of anthropology and international studies at Brown University where she is also chair of the anthropology department and director of the Watson Institute’s Costs of War study. In the interview, she states that “… the big picture hasn’t changed strategically. They’re still—the Pentagon and the Obama administration are still trying to position the U.S. military as the force which can do it all and be everywhere 24-7 to try and monitor and manage or control events… The budget itself has some decrease that’s going to occur, but this is quite small. When you control for inflation, it will be on the order of 4 percent over the next five years in comparison with last five…”

• Ritual sacrifice in context of globalizations and big business pressure
An article in the Daily Mail (London) about the recent “sacrificial” murder of a young girl in rural India quotes Subhadra Channa, professor of anthropology at Delhi University. Channa says that ritual sacrifice has been a tradition in India’s central belt in the past but that it may now be fuelled by attempts by big business to take land: “The tribal people feel really threatened. They are feeling helpless in the face of a big power,” she said.

• Mozambique sees relevance of anthropologists
The Africa news carried an article about a new agreement linking the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) and the Mozambican Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Action that will engage the university in training environmental staff who will monitor new “mega-projects” in the country such as natural gas projects in the Rovuma Basin. The Vice-Chancellor of the University commented on the availability of knowledge at UEM and the need to integrate knowledge into policies: “It is who we train, just to cite a few examples, architects, doctors, sociologists, anthropologists, environmental engineers and educators…”

• Take that anthro degree
…and become a research biologist who makes fascinating discoveries about nonhuman primate sociality. Susanne Schultz graduated with a B.Sc. in anthropology from the University of California at Davis. She went on to earn an M.A. in ecology and evolution from the University of Stony Brook and then a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Liverpool. She is currently pursuing several research projects at Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology under funding from a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship through 2013. BBC picked up on a publication in Nature in which Schultz discusses the importance of being “flexibly social” in human evolution.

…and become a writer. With his B.A. in cultural anthropology from Wesleyan University, Sebastian Junger has gone to become a world-famous writer and documentary film-maker. He is the author of two books — The Perfect Storm and War — and co-producer, with the late Tim Hetherington, of the documentary film, Restrepo. He is also a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. This past week, he contributed a piece called In War, We All Desecrate the Enemy, in the Washington Post. In it, he discusses the four U.S. marines who urinated on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. [Blogger’s note: please read his essay, read his book War, and watch Restrepo. Then you will even more surely understand Junger’s point in the WaPo article that the act of desecration of the four marines is one in which we — in war-supporting countries — all participated].

…and become a realtor. In Nashville, Tennessee, Jessica Averbuch is a partner and managing broker in a Nashville real estate. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from Washington University, St. Louis, and an M.A. from the University of Texas. She moved to Nashville with her husband who is chief financial officer of the company and also runs the mortgage company. She comments on why she likes her work: “The relationships. It’s a business, but it is very personal. In my new role as broker, the agents in my office are my clients, so that creates a whole new set of relationships. It’s an opportunity to train and mentor and help them develop their businesses.” In addition, “I’m really involved in the community. I’m on the board of Renewal House, which serves women battling addiction. I spend a lot of time on that.”

• Cave paintings in Mexico
Mexican archaeologists found 3,000 cave paintings, some almost 2,000 years old, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, according to sources at the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH). The pictographs were found at 40 rock sites. The oldest images depict rites of passage, healing, prayers for rain and mountain worship. They were created by foraging societies that occupied the area during the first centuries of the current era.

• Past lives from the rubble in Tasmania
The Mercury (Australia) quoted archaeologist Parry Kostoglou about recent discoveries in the center of the city of Hobart. What he and his team are finding are remains from living spaces in the 1800s which are “…very well preserved most of the time.” The recent construction boom, he says, is responsible for the finds.

• In memoriam
Karen Ramey Burns, a forensic anthropologist, died in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the age of 64 years. Through her many years of work, she helped ease grief for families of massacre victims and other humans rights abuses. A longtime resident of Athens, Georgia, she taught in the University of Georgia’s anthropology department. Beyond teaching, she was a forensic anthropologist for the state of Georgia, helping law enforcement agencies identify human remains and determine causes of death. Her work took her to mass burial sites in Guatemala and Bosnia, where she identified victims of massacres. She was also a member of teams that identified victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks of 2001, of Hurricane Katrina, and of tragedies in Haiti, Sudan and elsewhere.

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