Anthro in the news 5/6/13

• What New Yorkers are thinking about

The Village Voice included a review of “a fascinating set of videos from an anthropologist named Andrew Irving, a researcher who spent part of 2011 documenting 100 random New Yorkers’ inner monologues.”

Andrew Irving
Andrew Irving, New York Stories: The Lives of Other Citizens/Village Voice
The videos, published by Scientific American, were created by Andrew Irving, professor and director of the Granada Centre of Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester, England. He spent part of 2011 documenting 100 randomly selected New Yorkers’ inner monologues. Irving stood on street corners and asked pedestrians to put on headsets and narrate their streams of consciousness out loud.

While each narrative is distinct, Irving picked up on a recurrent theme of economic instability and concerns in “the age of terror.” Irving told the Voice that this particular project arose out of work he had done in Uganda, trying to understand the thoughts of people diagnosed with HIV.

• Hello, God

Tanya Marie Luhrmann
Tanya Marie Luhrmann/Stanford
In a guest column for The New York Times, cultural anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann, a professor at Stanford University, discusses findings from her ethnographic field work in a charismatic evangelical church in Chicago. It was not at all uncommon for people to talk about hearing God. She asks, what do we make of this?

“I don’t think that anthropologists can pronounce on whether God exists or not, but I am averse to the idea that God is the full explanation here. For one thing, many of these voices are mundane. A woman told me that she heard God tell her to get off the bus when she was immersed in a book and about to miss her stop… Schizophrenia, or the radical break with reality we identify as serious mental illness, is also not an explanation.” She provides more detail in her book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God.

• Survival cannibalism in Jamestown

Time magazine, USA Today, and many other mainstream media reported on findings of cannibalism in the early American settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.

According to forensic anthropologists Douglas Owsley and Kari Bruwelheide, both at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., remains of a girl show cuts marks indicating cannibalism after she had died. Owsley says that he is certain that the marks were not made by animals foraging on the body after death: “I’m very used to seeing post-mortem animal damage from chewing and gnawing, and this is absolutely not that… This is clearly work done by metal tools such as a cleaver or a lightweight hatchet and a knife.”

• Under the car park

Two Roman burials under excavation
Two Roman burials under excavation. Credit: University of Leicester. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Leicester)
Science Daily posted a release on discoveries under another car park in Leicester by the University of Leicester archaeological unit that discovered King Richard III.

The latest dig reveals a 1,700 year-old Roman cemetery: Archaeological Project Officer John Thomas said: “We have discovered new evidence about a known cemetery that existed outside the walled town of Roman Leicester during the 3rd-4th Centuries AD.”

• Assessment of sexual harassment in bio anth spreads to Canada

The Globe and Mail (Canada) carried an article about concerns raised by a U.S. study, led by Kathryn Clancy, professor of biological anthropology at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, revealing problems of male harassment and even rape of females during fieldwork. The article quotes Tina Moffat, associate professor of anthropology at McMaster University in Canada, and current president of the Canadian Association of Physical Anthropologists. [Blogger’s note: the terms biological anthropology and physical anthropology are used somewhat interchangeably].

• Still fighting after all these words

Slate published an essay by Greg Laden summarizing key issues in the ongoing controversy about research ethics in Napoleon Chagnon‘s fieldwork among the Yanomamö of the Venezuelan Amazon.

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