anthro in the news 4/24/17

Credit: Google Images Commons/Youtube

government of deconstruct

The Huffington Post published an op-ed by cultural anthropologist Paul Stoller, professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He comments on Trump’s first 100 days: “It’s pretty clear that Donald Trump wants to govern in the same manner he would undertake a real estate development project. In real estate development there are two ways to move forward on a project: (1) raze the existing structure and replace it with something that is entirely new; or (2) keep the existing structure but gut it from the inside and replace it with revolutionary interiors.” Stoller compares Trump’s style to that of leaders of millenarian, or cargo cult movements.

what the world needs now

What is a business? Credit: Google Images Commons/Business Dictionary

Gillian Tett, former social anthropologist and now journalist with The Financial Times, writes in the FT about the value to business of anthropology and other social sciences:  “Companies realise that as the world becomes more globalised, there is more — not less — need to understand cultural difference…as a former anthropologist myself, I am delighted that parts of the business world are actually recognising the benefits of social science; and I am doubly excited if it means that long-neglected anthropology departments might get more funding, and that their graduates might find jobs.” [Blogger’s note: the presence of anthropologists in business might, importantly, lead to transforming business practices to be more socially responsible by including attention to….people and no just profits].


take that anthro degree and…

…become a clinical psychologist. Eytan Bercovitch is a psychologist with the California Department of State Hospitals. At Napa State Hospital, he is involved both in treatment and program development, especially the Spanish language services and the Dialectical Behavior Therapy program. As a licensed clinical psychologist, his anthropological training helps him connect to people in a way that recognizes their unique individual qualities while also honoring their ties to their communities, religions, and cultures. He has a B.A. in anthropology and psychology from Yale University, a Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University, and a Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute.

…become a chef and writer. James Campbell Caruso, born in Boston, was raised in the Basque and Italian cooking tradition of his grandmother and mother.  He is owner of and chef at two restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the author of three cookbooks, and has been a Beard semifinalist in the Best Chef in the Southwest category five times. He approaches the menu at his restaurants with an appreciation for authenticity. He has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of New Mexico.

mapping American Indian trails

The Union (Grass Valley, California) carried an article about a talk by Hank Meals and Tanis Thorne on Footprints in the Foothills: An Attempt to Map the Trails of the Indigenous Population. It was hosted by the Sierra Science Lecture Series at the Nevada County Campus. By mapping known settlements, archaeological sites, ethnographic information, and oral histories, Meals and Thorne hope to demonstrate the complexity of the trail network that accessed resources, enabled trade, and maintained alliances among different communities. Meals, who has a B.A. in anthropology from San Francisco State University, has worked extensively with the U.S. Forest Service as an archaeologist and historian and has numerous internal publications related to the Yuba Watershed. Thorne, a historian, pursued a career of researching, writing, and teaching about Native Americans, especially California Indians. For 25 years before retiring in 2015, she taught Native American courses at the University of California Irvine.

everyday art in Paleolithic France

Newsweek reported on a discovery in southwest France of the earliest known depiction of an animal on a slab of rock. According to a paper published in the journal, Quaternary International, it was created by the Aurignacians, the first modern humans to arrive in Western Eurasia from Africa between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago.  The engraving is of an aurochs, a wild cow that is the ancestor of all domestic cattle but now extinct. New York University professor of anthropology Randall White, who led the expedition, says its hind and front legs were carved around lines of dots that were probably used to guide the artist or represent something abstract like the animal’s spirit.  It was found at a work site, suggesting that these early people had both the time and inspiration to create art, thus contradicting a view of Paleolithic life as brutish and totally taken up by the pursuit of food.

Hobbits are us

An article in The Independent described findings by Australian scientists who have analyzed remains of Homo floresiensis, nicknamed The Hobbit, a diminutive early human ancestor who lived on the island of Flores, Indonesia. Debbie Argue, of the Australian National University, who led the research, said: “The analyses show that on the family tree, Homo floresiensis was likely a sister species of Homo habilis.” It means these two species shared a common ancestor. “It’s possible that Homo floresiensis evolved in Africa and migrated, or the common ancestor moved from Africa then evolved into Homo floresiensis somewhere.” Conclusion: Homo floresiensis has moved to the ancestral line of humans and out of the extinct line of Homo erectus. [Blogger’s note: Welcome, Hobbits!]

protein inequality in Napoleon’s army

The Guardian reported on a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology by Sammantha Holder and colleagues entitled, Reconstructing diet in Napoleon’s Grand Army using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis. Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812 resulted in massive death within his army. The researchers found substantial variation in isotopic ratios among individuals excavated from a mass grave. The majority of individuals from the grave ate C3 plant-based diets—characteristic of many Northern European countries–but individuals differed significantly in the amount of terrestrial animal protein they consumed. Holder et al. conclude that the strikingly wide range of isotopic ratios found in the remains is “indicative of dietary variation associated with a multiethnic and socially stratified military population.”

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