anthro in the news 3/6/17

Source: Google Images Commons
Source: Google Images Commons

science education K-12 must include humans

The Idaho Statesman published an op-ed by John Ziker, chair of the anthropology department at Boise State University in Idaho, with contributing writers Katherine Reedy, anthropology chair at Idaho State University, and archaeologist Mark Warner of the University of Idaho Moscow. They write: “We urge the Idaho Legislature to adopt the standards for Idaho’s K-12 science students that include the science of human activities on the global environment. Preparation of the next generation to tackle this great challenge of the 21st century is at stake.”

Trump deters international scholars

As reported in The Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico), Trump’s immigration policies and statements are having a negative effect on international scholars. [Blogger’s note: I realize that Trump would not be at all concerned about this situation because he is anti-scholarship, but “we” are]. Nancy Owen Lewis, research associate at Santa Fe’s School for Advanced Research and program chair for the annual Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA) conference, said a frequent conference attendee who is Muslim, Mexican scholar Salomon Nahmad, will not come this year. She is quoted as saying that Nahmad “was so distressed with Trump’s policies and attitudes towards immigrants,” he didn’t want to risk it.


climate change of another sort: ICE

TIME magazine carried an article describing how a young woman in the process of renewing her permission as a “Dreamer” to remain in the United States legally was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after speaking at a press conference where she urged President Trump to protect people like her. Daniela Vargas was detained by ICE agents who pulled over a friend’s car on a nearby freeway after she left a coalition of clergy members, civil rights lawyers, and other advocates for immigrants at Jackson City Hall. The article includes commentary by Angela Stuesse, anthropology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:  “I don’t think anybody around her realized the risk that was involved…She wanted to share what she had been through to help the community there.”

building relationships between artifacts and descendant people 

A Barkindji elder lays her hands on the canoe: ‘This is what our collection is about. These women had waited their whole lives to touch it,’ Carty says.  Source:  John Carty/South Australian Museum
A Barkindji elder lays her hands on the canoe: ‘This is what our collection is about. These women had waited their whole lives to touch it,’ Carty says.
Source: John Carty/South Australian Museum

The Guardian reported on the innovative work of John Carty, head of anthropology at the South Australian Museum and professor of anthropology at the University of Adelaide. He is working against the grain by developing ways to reunite indigenous artifacts with indigenous people, their stories, and meaning, as the redefined mission of the South Australian Museum which he joined in 2015. 

repatriation wars not over

9780226298993The Seattle Times published an op-ed by Chip Colwell, senior curator of anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and author of Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture. He argues that the resolution of the 20-year-old battle over the remains of Kennewick Man may be over, “But, at this rate, the repatriation wars will not end. Although many museums and tribes amicably work together to follow the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), some continue to stoke controversy by pitting the interests of science against those of Native Americans. For instance, a letter last year in the journal Science likened the legal process of repatriation in the U.S. to terrorists’ destruction of heritage in the Middle East, a crime against humanity.”

take that anthro degree and…

…become a management consultant. Asma Abdullah is an independent consultant for CultureMatters in Malaysia, specializing in cross-cultural management. She seeks to promote intercultural understanding among Malaysians, especially youth. Abdullah has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. 

…become a writer, journalist, social activist, and speaker. Kelsey Timmerman is co-founder of The Facing Project, which connects people through stories to strengthen communities across the U.S. It guides communities to enlist a team of writers to be paired one-on-one with citizens who are facing life circumstances that deserve to be shared to educate the broader community. The pairs meet, get to know each other, and share stories of triumph and tragedy, of loneliness and community, of hate and happiness, of deep depression and lofty goals. The writers take on the voice and persona of their interlocutors and write as if they were them, bringing to life a voice that has been silenced, while maintaining anonymity. Projects culminate with a book to be shared throughout the community and acted out by local actors through community theatre and monologues. Thus communities can sit down together to discover grassroots solutions. Timmerman is the author of Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes and Where Am I Eating? An Adventure through the Global Food Economy. His writing has appeared in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, Condé Nast Portfolio, TIME magazine, and has aired on NPR. Timmerman has a B.A. in anthropology from Miami University in Ohio.

pre-modern human skulls found in China

As reported by BBC News, two partial skulls found in Xuchang, China, dating to between 105,000 and 125,000 years old, show similarities to and differences from their Neanderthal contemporaries in the west. Erik Trinkaus, the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences and professor of physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of the authors of a study on the remains in Science. He said it was not possible to say at this stage whether the ancient people from Xuchang were connected to the Denisovans.

matrilineality and possible co-dominance at Chaco Canyon

source: Wikipedia
source: Wikipedia

The New York Times reported on DNA findings about 14 burials in a small room at the Chaco Canyon site, interred over 330 years, starting around the year 800 C.E. In a study published in Nature Communications, scientists say they were all related to the same female ancestor, which could provide clues to the power structure of the ancient society that lived in Chaco Canyon. They believe that power and influence in Chaco Canyon was hierarchical, belonged to this small group of people and was passed down through a female line. “At the center of Chaco is an elite matriline,” said Douglas J. Kennett, an archaeologist at Penn State University who was lead author on the paper. Yes, given that the most elaborate burials in the same crypt involved males, Kennett thinks it was possible that both men and women held powerful positions. This equal leadership is not uncommon among some indigenous people of the Americas, said Rosemary Joyce, an archaeologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the study. But other experts point to limits to the conclusions that can be drawn from the DNA in the bodies in the crypt: “All we really know is that all of these are ultimately offspring of the same woman,” said Sarah Nelson, an archaeologist at the University of Denver who was not involved in the research, and who has studied gender and power using human remains found in China and the Korean Peninsula. “Maybe the female is seen as owning the place, or maybe she is in touch with the spirits, and maybe she can only pass that down to her daughter.”

it wasn’t always so: shift to male dominance in Bronze Age China

As reported in The Boston Globe, archaeologists examined Neolithic Age graves from the Chinese Central Plains dating to about 5,000 years ago and graves from the more recent Bronze Age. They documented the riches accompanying male and female skeletons and examined their bones for signs of stress.  The evidence suggests a decline in female status and dietary health from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age around 2,500 years ago, according to a study from Queens College in New York City.  “These are really tough data sets to get, and they’ve done really difficult work by pulling all of these together,” said Tristram Kidder, Edward S. and Tedi Macias Professor and chair of environmental studies at Washington University in St. Louis:  “What they found is a very significant change in China’s history — this shift towards patrilineal, male-dominated society.”

adapting to climate change: insights from archaeology


KPBS (San Diego, California) radio interviewed
Isabel Rivera-Collazo, assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the University of California San Diego. She spoke on Midday Edition about what archaeology can reveal about adapting to climate change. [with audio]

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