anthro in the news 11/21/16

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two views on the Trump win: class or region?

An article in The Minneapolis Star Tribune included commentary from two social anthropologists at the annual conference of the American Anthropological Association. Christine Walley, professor of anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed a documentary she made, Exit Zero, about the closing of a steel mill in Illinois, and drawing from her book with the same title. It is an example of the changes that caused white, rural Midwestern workers to turn to Trump. Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University, agrees. He wrote a book, The Insecure American, which looked at the U.S. in 2009 when many in the middle class retreated to gated communities and were worried about their retirement funds, health insurance, terrorist attacks and immigrants. “A lot of people are trying to understand this election in terms of class,” Gusterson said. “But I’m more struck by how geographical it was.”

fascism in the land of the free

From Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot Source: Adbuster Magazine, 11/10/15
From Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
Source: Adbuster Magazine, 11/10/15

Mark Schuller, professor of anthropology and NGO leadership at Northern Illinois University, published an article in CounterPunch reviewing social repercussions of Trump leadership and values which have strong elements of fascism. He ends by noting that: “…the historical and anthropological record[s] show that empires often descend into fascism during their final decline. Whether this is the end of empire, and whether there are alternatives, is up for we the people to decide.”


symptom-free Ebola

As reported by U.S. National Public Radio and other media, researchers have identified people in West Africa who were infected with the Ebola virus but never reported being sick. Thus, the epidemic was more extensive than thought and less lethal, in mild cases. The lead researcher is Gene Richardson, a medical doctor pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology at Stanford University. Medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, professor at Harvard University, is a co-author. Findings are published in the PLOS: Neglected Tropical Diseases.

women war victims in Bangladesh speak

41w-hpynscl-_sx331_bo1204203200_The Daily Star (Dhaka) reported on a symposium in Dhaka focused on women rape victims of the Bangladesh War of Independence. Ten Biranganas (“brave women”) were present at the seminar on the socio-economic conditions of the women raped by the Pakistani military and their local collaborators in the Liberation War of 1971. Nayanika Mookherjee, reader in Socio-Cultural Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology, of Durham University of the United Kingdom, presented a key-note speech based on her book, The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and Bangladesh War of 1971.

take that anthro degree and…

…become an artist and art instructor. Terrell Taylor teaches art at Meridien Community College (MCC) in Mississippi. She is also an artist whose mixed media work is on exhibit at the Miller Art Gallery at MCC through February 2017. She describes herself as eclectic: “What I have gathered and collected made from my rather broad and eclectic background is perhaps a reflection of a life well lived…I have had a life worth sharing with others, and that is part of the reason I am most happy when making art.” She became more serious about her work while completing an anthropology degree in Central America. “Later, I worked for the National Park Service, in Tallahassee, Fla., as an archaeologist…That period of work in ethno-archaeology studies led me further afield, when a friend invited me to apply for a teaching position in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I was greatly influenced by Native American and Latin American cultures. I returned to the United States with a passion for teaching and pursued art education.” In addition, Taylor was an artist in residence in Greve, in the Chianti region of Italy. She has a B.A. and M.S. in anthropology from the University of Southern Mississippi and an M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) from the University of Alabama.

…become an artist. In the paintings of Anna Valdez, the studio is both the subject being painted and the setting of the painting. Her works are packed with plants, fabric, and other paintings. In her newest series, Still Life, the Oakland, California-based artist focuses on the houseplant as a source of inspiration. “I wanted to be an archeologist or an anthropologist,” Valdez says. “I went and studied anthropology and got a bachelor’s degree in sociocultural anthropology…I don’t know how I got into painting, exactly. One day, I woke up and was like ‘Okay, I really like being able to tell stories about my experiences.’ Painting seemed like a good medium for that.” She has a B.A. in anthropology and art studio from the University of California Davis and an M.F.A. from Boston University.

before Stonehenge

An article in The Independent described research revealing a vast 5,600-year-old religious complex near the Stonehenge monument and predating it by 1,000 years. The site was discovered as developers were preparing to build houses on Ministry of Defence land to accommodate British Army personnel returning from Germany. The dig has been funded by the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation. Archaeologist Martin Brown of the U.K.-based global consultancy company WYG, responsible for the housing development project, said: “These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular. So far, archaeologists from Wiltshire-based Wessex Archaeology have excavated around 100m of ditch, probably representing around 17 per cent of the monument’s outer circuit. That investigation has already enabled them to get a sense of some of the rituals that were carried out there. The mortuary or other religious ceremonies may well have involved feasting on large quantities of beef – and the use and deliberate smashing of ceramic bowls. Some fragments of the smashed bowls and cattle bones were then placed in the ditch ends, flanking the complex’s multiple entrances. Some of the ditches were also used for the ritual deposition of human skull fragments, potentially re-deposited from other funerary monuments like the nearby long barrow tombs.”

pyramids within a pyramid

Chichen Itza in 1859-1860 before vegetation was removed. Source: Wikipedia
Chichen Itza in 1859-1860 before vegetation was removed.
Source: Wikipedia

CBS and other media reported on archaeological research at the pyramid of Kukulkan at the Maya site of Chichen Itza. While archaeologists have long known that a smaller pyramid is encapsulated underneath the visible temple, they did not know that yet a third, smaller pyramid may be an even earlier structure. Denisse Lorenia Argote, of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, said the first structure may be in the “pure Maya” style from between 500 and 800 C.E.  University of California, San Diego anthropology professor Geoffrey Braswell, who was not involved in the latest project but who has conducted research at Chichen Itza, said the discovery may be new, or may be a structure detected in the 1940s. He said that while digging into the intermediate-layer pyramid in the 1940s, one archaeologist found a third platform buried within it. Braswell compared the Kukulkan pyramid to a Russian nesting doll, with each layer encapsulating another:  “To make matters more complicated, “ Braswell says, “the third Russian doll moving in may actually be one of a set of several small dolls rattling around inside the same shell. We just do not know.”

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