Anthro in the news 4/9/12

•  The coup in Mali
Africa News carried a conversation with several experts about the current political situation in Mali including cultural anthropologist Isaie Dougnon who is a professor at the University of Bamako and currently a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Florida.

•  Christians and Jews together in Indianapolis
The New York Times reported on anthropological research that is reuniting former residents of Southside, Indianapolis. “Upward mobility, Interstate 70 and the construction of a football stadium hollowed out the neighborhood starting in the late 1960s, scattering its residents and severing bonds of commerce and friendship.” Over the last four years, Susan B. Hyatt, an anthropology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, has searched for former Southsiders and worked to restore ties through social events and reciprocal worship services at a church and a synagogue.

•  Nominee for World Bank president termed “hard left”
An editorial in the Washington Times claims that the U.S. nominee for the next president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, would take the Bank on a hard left turn:  “Dr. Kim, an American, is a physician and anthropologist with a significant background in public health and almost no knowledge of economics. Worse, as New York University’s William Easterly has pointed out, Dr. Kim has displayed considerable skepticism about the impact on the poor of what he calls ‘neoliberalism.’ He prefers to ignore the mountains of evidence that economic growth is the most effective way to reduce poverty.” [Blogger’s note: In the meantime, the price on amazon.com of Kim’s edited book, Dying for Growth, has skyrocketed to $293.14 for a new copy and $96.82 for a used copy.]

•  Being at home in the world
The Chicago Tribune carried an article about the importance of home in America:  “Having a safe place centers us and makes it easier to achieve life goals.” It mentions the work of several scholars including Robert Rubinstein, who teaches anthropology at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County: “We live in a society that is concerned with freedom, and part of that development is being able to make a space for yourself, and having a central place from which to look out at the world. Making the transition from a long-occupied family home to newer surroundings can have a big impact on people at all stages of life, but may be especially traumatic for older people. “This can be very difficult for older people who have lived in a place for 40 or 50 years,” Rubinstein says. “There is a need for many people for counseling for how to go through this process” of downsizing” given the prevalent values in  American culture of independence, autonomy, and control. [Blogger’s note: while this may seem like a common sense finding, its import goes further given the growing trend in the U.S. for people to live along, as documented by Eric Klinenberg in his new book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. What happens to independent alone-living fit, able, and financially viable people when they grow old and unfit and have to move into a group living situation populated by other old and unfit people? According to the article in the Chicago tribune: they will need counselling. Not to mention…medication.]

•  Take that anthro degree and….
become a Cordon Bleu chef and cookbook writer. Ghillie Basan just published her latest cookbook, Modern Moroccan. She has lived and worked in Turkey and the Middle East as an English teacher, food journalist, and restaurant reviewer. She has a degree in social anthropology is  Cordon Bleu trained. She is author of the highly acclaimed Classic Turkish Cookery (shortlisted for both Glenfiddich Book of the Year Award and the Guild of Food Writers’ Cookery Book of the Year), as well as The Middle Eastern Kitchen.

•  Who got to the New World first?
An article in Newsweek’s the Daily Beast advises about the need to look to the archaeological data and keep an open mind.  New findings suggest transatlantic arrivals from Europe before migrations of people from Asia. In a new book, Across Atlantic Ice, archaeologists Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley point out that spearheads and knives made from pressure-flaked flint found throughout the U.S. have no correlation with those found in Siberia, or even Alaska. They do, however, resemble tools made by the Solutreans, who lived 24,000 years ago in France and Spain. The European immigrants may have crossed the Atlantic in a series of voyages from Spain, to  Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland.

•  Walking and talking: how humans made it this far
The Washington Post included a new book by archaeologist Ian Tattersall in a review discussing new perspectives on human health. Tattersall, an anthropologist and curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, attempts to explain how Homo sapiens are the only surviving hominid species in his book, Masters of the Planet. It was a combination of elements including walking upright which helped our ancestors keep cool by exposing more body area to wind and less to the rays of the sun, and the development of language as a key turning point which allowed for more complex lifestyles.

•  …And cooking
A piece in the Times (London) about master chefs, cooking generally and the specific style of barbeque connects to the question of humans as a species and Harvard biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham’s book,  Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.

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