Anthro in the news 8/25/14

  • Kidnapping of two Amish girls in upstate New York

The New York Times reported on the kidnapping and sexual violation of two Amish girls in Oswegatchie, New York, near the U.S.-Canada border. The two sisters were abducted from the roadside vegetable stand in front of their house. The police needed photos of the girls to issue an alert, but the family had none because the Amish people generally prohibit photographs partly based on the biblical injunction against likenesses. Thus, cultural norms among the Amish made it especially difficult to conduct the search for the girls. Fortunately, the girls were released from their abductors and returned to their family.

The article quoted Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, a professor of anthropology at nearby State University of New York at Potsdam, who has studied the Amish for years:  “They are in the world but not of the world…They rely on the world. They couldn’t make a living without the world.” Yet, she added, the Amish regard their life on Earth as a passage to eternal life: “They are passing through this world without becoming part of it.” [Blogger’s note: I hope these two girls will, with their faith and their community, be able to recover from the terror and suffering they experienced].

  • Stop sexual abuse of girls in Alaska

Alan Boraas, professor of anthropology at Kenai Peninsula College, wrote an opinion piece on sexual abuse of girls in the Alaska Dispatch News. He ties sexual abuse to subsequent eating disorders:

“Though not all eating disorders are PTSD or sexual assault related, many are, and affect both women and men. Resultant eating disorders are the most fatal of mental illnesses, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sexual assault in Alaska has got to stop.”

Alaska has no eating disorder treatment center.

  • Improving U.S response to mental health and addiction problems

Jennie M. Simpson, a cultural anthropologist, wrote an opinion piece in The Huffington Post, advocating for more attention in the U.S. to integrating services for mental health and addition disorders in primary healthcare settings:

“Primary health care professionals can the first line in communicating this message in communities and with patients. Every primary care professional should have the ability to conduct behavioral health screenings and refer patients to behavioral health specialists and resources. This will take training, continued education and the support of health care professionals to make sure their door is not closed when a patient is in need of behavioral health services.”

  • The bunny: To eat or not to eat

The Gothamist carried an article about disparate views on whether or not people should eat rabbits. It links to an impeccably-sourced think piece in The Atlantic to the topic.

The view of rabbits as super meat:  Rabbits are easy to raise and butcher in your backyard, they’re light on the environment—producing six pounds of rabbit meat requires the same amount of food and water as it takes to produce one pound of cow meat—and their meat is lean and low in cholesterol. Whole Foods is stepping in as a new supplier.

The other side: Margo DeMello, a professor of cultural anthropology at Canisius College, is convinced grocery stores shouldn’t sell rabbit meat. DeMello is the president of the House Rabbit Society and a co-author of the book Stories Rabbits Tell. She says it’s a problem that stores carry the meat of “an animal that has been embraced as a pet in millions of American households.” Sure, Whole Foods’s decision was a response to demand, she says, but they’re only going to end up creating more of it by putting it in their stores.

[With a video that might convince viewers to not eat the bunny].

  • Welcome to Vancouver

The Vancouver Observer joined the city in welcoming the Real life Indiana Jones” who is joining the faculty of the anthropology department at the University of British Columbia this fall. Renowned author Wade Davis has attracted hundreds of students to his first course, Introduction to Anthropology.

  • Trigger warnings in teaching

Alabama Public Radio carried a piece by Barbara King, Chancellor Professor of biological anthropology at William and Mary University, about trigger warnings (meant to avert triggering trauma based on memory and previous experiences) in her course syllabi:

“On Tuesday, I posted syllabi for the two undergraduate anthropology classes I will teach this fall: Evolutionary Perspectives on Gender and Primate Behavior. As the academic year at my college nears its start, I can’t help but reflect on the extra layers of complexity involved in syllabus construction nowadays compared to when I first started out as a teacher in the 1980s. A central question I grappled with earlier this week as I wrote and revised my syllabi was whether I should include trigger warnings.

Trigger warnings are notes on a syllabus meant to alert students that one or more books, articles or films required for class includes material that may cause emotional upset or even, on occasion — depending on students’ personal experiences — post-traumatic stress disorder. Works of literature or film that describe or depict suicide, war, sexual violence and acts of racism may be prime candidates for trigger warnings.”

She considered the debate about trigger warnings, and “In the end…I decided that in one specific context the benefits outweighed the costs and, so, for the first time I have included on a syllabus a trigger warning for a specific reading assignment.”

  • Neanderthal extinction date in question

The New York Times carried an article on a study that seeks to revise the date of the extinction of the Neanderthals to earlier than currently thought. The analysis provides a review of findings from sites extending across Europe to Siberia. Its findings narrow the period that Neanderthals and modern humans overlapped in Europe.

One thought on “Anthro in the news 8/25/14

  1. Pingback: Il coniglio: mangiarlo oppure no? | ClassiCult

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