Anthro in the news 4/13/15

  • Why some women choose to be circumcised

The Atlantic carried an interview with Bettina Shell-Duncan, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Washington, about common misconceptions about female genital cutting, including the idea that men force women to undergo the procedure. Shell-Duncan favors the term “cutting” rather than “mutilation,” which sounds derogatory and can complicate conversations with those who practice FGC (female genital cutting). She challenges the widespread belief among outsiders that the practice is forced on women by men whereas her research suggests that elderly women often do the most to perpetuate the custom. In Shell-Duncan’s experience, most people who practice FGC recognize its possible health consequences, but they think the benefits outweigh them. Shell-Duncan recently joined a five-year research project, led by the Population Council, whose goal is reducing female genital cutting by at least 30 percent across 10 countries over five years.

  • Where do break-through insights come from?

An article in The Telegraph (U.K.) presents a counter-argument to the big push to teach STEM fields in favor of a curriculum that values creativity and critical thinking. Many examples exist of innovators who gained insights from non-STEM fields. Notably, “…Financial Times journalist, Gillian Tett, perhaps the only mainstream journalist who predicted the financial crash, saw the risks of collateralised debt obligations by drawing on lessons on group dynamics from her PhD in anthropology.

  • Partners in Health volunteer is Ebola-free

The Boston Herald reported that a volunteer from the Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health (PIH) who was sickened with Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone has been released from the hospital and deemed Ebola-free. The article quotes medical anthropologist Paul Farmer of Harvard University: “We’re cheering here in rural Liberia and in Sierra Leone, and are sure our co-workers in Boston and Haiti and Rwanda and Peru and elsewhere are too.” Farmer is co-founder and chief strategist for PIH.

  • Graeber on total bureaucracy

David Graeber published an article in The Age (Australia) drawing on his new book, The Utopia of Rules. He writes that “…Bureaucracy has become the water in which we swim: its practices, habits and sensibilities engulf us.” And more including a riff on the term “deregulation.”

  • Take that anthro degree and…

…become a photojournalist. Yfat Yossifor is a photojournalist at The Bay City Times, with her work appearing regularly in the pages of the newspaper and on mlive.com. Beginning April 10, her work will appear in a show titled “Captured on Location” at Studio 23/The Arts Center in downtown Bay City. She has a B.A. in journalism from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. degree in anthropology from California State University-Fullerton.

…become an international corporate finance executive. Lauren Smart is an executive director at Trucost, heading its financial institutions business globally and heading business development across the company. She also serves on Trucost’s board and senior management team. She is an expert in sustainable finance, and over the last decade has advised leading fund managers, pension funds and banks globally on how to integrate natural capital analysis into their investment decision making. Prior to joining Trucost, she was a senior investment associate in global equity research at Putnam Investments and was a consultant at the U.K. Department for International Development. Lauren holds a B.A. (Hons) and M.A. from Cambridge University in archaeology and anthropology and an M.A. in anthropology and international development from the London School of Economics.

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