Anthro in the news 6/25/12

• Global migration and remittances not in crisis
The Ghanaian Chronicle reviewed a new book on migration and remittances, published by the World Bank, on the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Findings are that migrant workers are not streaming back home, despite worsening employment prospects and anti-immigration rhetoric in some destination countries. The book is co-edited by Dilip Ratha, Manager of the Bank’s Migration and Remittances Unit, Ibrahim Sirkeci, professor of Transnational Studies and Marketing at Regent’s College, London, and Jeffrey Cohen, associate professor of anthropology at Ohio State University. Cohen is also co-author of the book’s first chapter on remittance flows and practices during the crisis.

• Asian immigration to the U.S. rising
A study from the Pew Research Center shows that Asian Americans are now the United States’ fastest-growing ethnic group, overtaking Latinos. Asian Americans are also the country’s best educated and highest-income ethnic group. The Pew study combines recent census and economic data with an extensive, nationally representative survey of 3,500 Asian Americans. An article in the Los Angeles Times discussing the study quotes Tritia Toyota, a former Los Angeles television reporter who is now an adjunct professor of anthropology and Asian studies at UCLA: “This really opens up a conversation and sheds light on a community that is extremely heterogeneous and very complex.”

• Ethnocentrism and University of Virginia leadership
Paul Stoller, professor of anthropology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, published an article in the Huffington Post linking the recent firing of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan to what anthropologists call ethnocentrism: “It is a clear example of how ethnocentric thinking produces devastating social, political and educational results. Most anthropologists say that you are ethnocentric when you use your own set of rules, procedures and beliefs to make judgments about other people who don’t share your view of the world.” Stoller goes on to explain his perspective on two kinds of ethnocentrism: (1) “my way or the highway” ethnocentrism which says: I more powerful than you, so you have to do things my way; and (2) “if only they’d leave me alone” ethnocentrism which works with this logic: I know you have more power (money, arms, influence) than I do, but I am morally superior to you, which means that I’ll just have to learn to live with your incredibly stupid life ways. Read his article and find out which variety applies to the University of Virginia situation.

• Take that anthropology degree and…
…become an online entrepreneur connecting services with people seeking services. With Spain’s crisis deepening, its citizens are not waiting for its institutions and leaders to deliver a recovery. They are turning to cooperative economic models: bartering, professional exchanges, ethical banking, and crowdfunding. Nurya Lafuente found her niche here. In 2008, with a degree in social education and anthropology, she could find no work. So she created an online company called Yo Voy (which translates to “I go”). Hundreds of people contact her and tell her what service they can offer, and she connects them with people who need that service. She charges an hourly wage for the time it takes her to make the connection or to do the work herself: filing immigration papers, paying a traffic fine, or organizing a party. She says, “I don’t know how to do anything, but I know where to find everything…I specialize in making things work for others.”

• Stonehenge the United Nations of its times
After 10 years of archaeological investigations, researchers conclude that Stonehenge was built as a monument to unify the peoples of Britain, following a long period of conflict and regional difference between eastern and western Britain. Its stones are thought to have symbolized the ancestors of different groups of earliest farming communities in Britain, with some stones coming from southern England and others from west Wales. The research teams, from the universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Southampton, Bournemouth and University College London, all working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP), explored not just Stonehenge and its landscape but also the wider social and economic context of the monument’s main stages of construction around 3,000 BC and 2,500 BC.

• More on Stonehenge
Stonehenge was aligned with the midwinter solstice sunset where people gathered for feasts as part of a Stone Age “neolithic Christmas” according to Mike Parker Pearson, professor of archaeology at Sheffield University. The historic stone monument has been commonly associated with the annual celebration of summer but he suggests the winter festival was more important as it was a time when people would kill their animals: “People needed to draw together and concentrate their resources so in some senses, it’s quite easy to understand why the Midwinter was so important to them.”

• Oldest toilet in Vietnam
Australian National University researchers think they may have found Vietnam’s earliest constructed toilet. While excavating a 4000-year-old neolithic village, an archaeological team stumbled across more than 30 preserved faeces belonging to humans and dogs that contained fish and shattered animal bones. The remains could provide clues on how Southeast Asia evolved from a traditional hunter-gatherer society to a farming community.

• Art keeps getting older: Very old rock art in Australia
A New Zealand archaeologist says he has found one of the world’s oldest examples of rock art in a remote part of the Northern Territory, Australia and there could be even older pieces nearby. Bryce Barker of the University of Southern Queensland, originally from Kerikeri, worked with a team of Australian and French archaeologists and found rock art in Arnhem Land carbon-dated to be at least 28,000 years old. Barker says humans occupied the site as far back as 45,000 years ago. A 35,000-year-old stone axe was found close by. Barker says there are signs of older rock art at Narwala Gabarnmang which is accessible only by helicopter. He is quoted as saying, “We’ve got an occupation there of 45,000 (years ago) so were they painting art that early?”

• In memoriam
Patricia R Pessar, Yale University anthropologist and renowned scholar of transnational migration and refugees, died at the age of 63 years after a long illness in May 2012. After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Patricia led an active scholarly career including fieldwork in the Caribbean and in Latin America. She is the author, co-author, or editor of numerous books and edited journal volumes. She started her career at Duke University, then moved to Georgetown University where she helped direct the Center for Immigration Policy and Refugee Assistance. She subsequently held appointments at Florida International University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before joining the Yale faculty in 1993. At Yale she co-founded the Ethnicity Race & Migration Program and undergraduate major.

Dan Shea, archaeologist of Latin America and longtime professor of anthropology at Beloit College, died after a fall while on a research trip to Chile with several students. Dan was born near Oshkosh, Wisconsin and has been a lifelong resident of Wisconsin. He recent research involved working on dendrochronology, using samples from the Atacama Desert that would provide information about global warming.

Paul Sussman, archaeologist and novelist, died of a ruptured aneurism at the age of 45 years. Sussman became a best-selling author with a series of thrillers described as “the intelligent reader’s answer to The Da Vinci Code.” Apart from writing, his passion was archaeology, and in 1998 he unearthed the only item of pharaonic jewellery to have been excavated in Egypt’s Valley of The Kings since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. Sussman’s passion for archaeology and writing, combined with a love for Middle Eastern politics and current affairs, combined in his first novel, The Lost Army of Cambyses. With global sales of over two million, his first three books were translated into 33 languages. Five days before his death, Sussman, who had recently completed Labyrinth of Osiris, due for publication in July, posted on his site: “proof copy of the new book arrived in the post this morning – very exciting. Curiously I am more excited about this one than any of my previous novels!”

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