Anthro in the news 4/23/12

ASHO-1657-6-B World Bank
World Bank Photo Collection. Flickr/Creative Commons

• WB choice
Many articles in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere discussed the announcement of Jim Yong Kim as the next president of the World Bank. While many did not mention the fact that Kim has a medical degree and a doctorate in anthropology, some did. The news from Africa News (Lagos) was not positive, as highlighted in the headline: “World Bank – Okonjo-Iweala Loses to America’s Kim.” The article comments, “The World Bank, yesterday, chose Korean-born American health expert Jim Yong Kim as its new president, maintaining Washington’s grip on the job and leaving developing countries questioning the selection process.” [Blogger’s note: No one should disagree on that point, and my bet is that the next round will be more open, as it should be for the IMF presidency as well]. The Guardian (London) presented a more favorable view, quoting the outgoing World Bank Group President, Robert Zoellick, in congratulating Jim Yong Kim for being chosen to become the 12th president and offering his support in ensuring a successful handover: “I am pleased to work with Jim Yong Kim during the transition. He is an impressive and accomplished individual. Jim has seen poverty and vulnerability first-hand, through his impressive work in developing countries.”

• New policy research institute at Oxford will include anthropologists
Oxford University has opened a new economics research institute to help prevent future global financial meltdowns and euro-zone debt crises. The INET@Oxford centre will be part of the Oxford Martin School, a research unit that seeks solutions to the world’s most pressing problems in medicine, environment and technology, among others. It will draw on the expertise of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, a New York-based non-profit think-tank founded by the business magnate George Soros. The center aims to promote “urgently needed” innovative thinking on economics and educate the next generation of economists, business leaders and politicians. Among the academics involved are physicists, psychologists, anthropologists and biologists. Professor Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School, said the centre hoped to make “major advances in key areas of economic theory and policy” and would focus on some of the greatest economic challenges we face, “from avoiding future financial crises to ensuring that the positive potential of globalisation is realised and its risks mitigated”.

• Women having a baby at 40 find happiness
Once older mothers get through IVF and warnings of difficult pregnancies, what follows is a joyful elixir of youth, according to a new study covered in the Guardian. The subject of pregnancy at 40-plus tends to be described in terms of risk and negatives, with the emphasis on getting safely through delivery. Andrea Cornwall, professor of anthropology and development at the University of Sussex, says that younger women face “…a minefield of expectations in figuring out when and whether to have a child…And when they do have children, theirs is all too often the lot of a constant juggling of career and childcare, and niggling resentments as once-equal relationships are frayed with the encroachment of gender gaps in pay, in domestic labour and in self-esteem. Not so the older woman. Motherhood can be a satisfying new direction after years in the working world, a welcome addition to a secure and settled career. Among older mothers there is a joy and a lightness of being that comes of having had the time to enjoy other pleasures, and now being able to savour this one.”

• Kalinga tattoos
Analyn ‘Ikin’ Salvador-Amores is the first Filipina scholar to obtain a masters degree and a doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Hertford College, Oxford University. She was supported by the International Fellowships Program of the Ford Foundation. A native of Baguio, she pursued a research topic closest to her heart, Kalinga’s traditional tattoos in diaspora. She told ABS-CBN Europe during her graduation rites in Oxford: “I feel there is greater contribution when I return to the Philippines because we become cultural leaders in our own fields and anthropology is a discipline that needs beefing up in the country. Philippines is a very anthropologically interesting place to study, especially in the Cordillera region.”

• Who you gonna call?
BBC news carried an article about a study of three million people’s mobile phone calls showing that married women call their spouse more than any other person until they get older. Then they call their daughter, especially when their daughters become old enough to have children, after which they become the most important person in their lives. Married men call their spouse most often for the first seven years of their relationship. They then shift their focus to friends. According to one of the study’s co-authors, professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, the investigation shows that pair-bonding is much more important to women than men: “It’s the first really strong evidence that romantic relationships are driven by women.” Findings from the study are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

• Forensic anthropology in Rwanda
The National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) is working with U.K.-based Canfield University to implement a program to have the bodies of genocide victims conserved for 150 years without any deterioration. The Executive Secretary of CNLG said that the preservation process is aimed at keeping historical records for future generations. “We should keep remembering,” he said. “The generations that will come after ours will also need to know that history. It is a bad history but it is our own history. So we do not want the proof to disappear. Be it the machetes that have been used, clothes, shoes and identity cards’ they should all be kept.” The task will be done through a long term preservation technique that will be implemented by forensic archeology and anthropology experts from Canfield.

• Forensic anthropology in Guatemala
ABC covered the findings of at least 99 skeletons of Indians massacred during the 1960 to 1996 civil war at an old military outpost. The skeletons were found in Guatemala’s northern Alta Verapaz region on a site now used by the United Nations’ Regional Command for Peacekeeping Training, said Edgar Telon del Cid, an expert from the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG). Other research, including statements from the victims’ families, indicates 200 to 300 Indians could be buried in graves at the site. FAFG anthropologist Raul Archila said constant rains in the mountainous region hinder the excavation work, which began in February.

• Running the distance
Canada’s Globe and Mail mentions the work of Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, in an article about human long-distance running abilities. The ability to run long distances played a key role in our evolution, according to Lieberman. In 2004, he made a list of 26 distinct features of the modern human skeleton that appear to be specifically designed for running, from the specialized neck tendon that keeps our head from flopping when we run to the unusually short toes that improve our stability and leverage.

The Red Shoes
The Red Shoes. Flickr/Creative Commons

• The woman with the red dress on
The Times of India, and other media, picked up on a study showing that women wearing red may be a turn-off for men rather than the other way around. Sarah Johns, evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Kent, who led the study, is quoted as saying: “Our results really challenge the commonly held view that the colour red promotes sexual attractiveness by acting as a proxy for female genital colour…However, we found that men showed a strong aversion to redder female genitals. Our study shows that the myth of red as a proxy for female genital colour should be abandoned…” Findings from the study are published in the open access source, Public Library of Science ONE. [Blogger’s note: do we really need further study of this topic?]

• Human ancestors on the ground
The first study of ground-nest building by wild chimpanzees offers new clues about the ancient transition of early hominins from sleeping in trees to sleeping on the ground. An international team of primatologists from the University of Cambridge and Kyoto University, led by Dr Kathelijne Koops, studied the chimpanzee population in the Nimba Mountains in Guinea. While most apes build nests in trees, this study focused on a group of wild West African chimpanzees that often shows ground-nesting behavior. Findings from the study are published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology,

• In memoriam
Bradley Blake, a retired anthropology professor at New Mexico State University, died on March 15 at the age of 81 years. Lois Stanford, an associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, commented that “He is an important part of the history of this department, and there is not a corner of the state of New Mexico where you cannot run into someone who had some contact with Brad Blake when he was director of the museum.”

One thought on “Anthro in the news 4/23/12

  1. Go to the web sites of the anthropology progarms of interest to you. There is likely to be a information page for prospective grad students (see example below). Note that in the example below, they specify only courses in the social sciences and the humanities as undergraduate preparation for graduate school in cultural anthropology. You obviously are well-versed in the humanities and you are probably well-read in history, political science, etc. as well. So, your BA may not be as unrelated as you think.

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