speaking truth to power
The Washington Post reported on the reaction of primatologist and activist Jane Goodall to being quoted in Ivanka Trump’s book, Women Who Work: “I understand that Ms. Trump has used one of my quotes in her forthcoming book,” Goodall said…“I was not aware of this, and have not spoken with her, but I sincerely hope she will take the full import of my words to heart.” Goodall said legislation passed by previous governments to protect wildlife — such as the Endangered Species Act, efforts to create national monuments and other clean air and water legislation — “have all been jeopardized by this administration.” Further: “She is in a position to do much good or terrible harm…I hope that Ms. Trump will stand with us to value and cherish our natural world and protect this planet for future generations.”
helping heroin-addicted children
The South China Mail carried an article about the widespread heroin-addiction among children in China living along the Myanmar border. Drugs have become ubiquitous, according to Fu Guosheng, a former graduate student of anthropology at Minzu University of China in Beijing. Fu, originally from a village in the area and now an artist and aid worker, noted in her master’s thesis that opium was routinely used in her home town as a gift to greet guests. And it was not rare to see villagers taking heroin on the streets. Zhang Wenyi, who teaches anthropology at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, explained in a recent article how a widening income gap between ethnic groups and modern China had knocked the local Jingpo people off balance, making some turn to drugs. Fu cited family problems and school drop-out rates as other driving forces.
The Huffington Post published a conversation between anthropologist Paul Stoller, professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, and a friend in Paris, over red wine, that turns to U.S. politics.
The New York Times carried a piece focusing on the research of Triloknath Pandit, the first professional anthropologist to visit the North Sentinel Island of India’s Andaman Islands. He led a team that established contact with Sentinelese people in 1991 and was later head of the Andaman & Nicobar Regional Centre of the Anthropological Survey of India. He is quoted as saying: “The negative impact of close contact is inescapable…What an amazing community, but it has been diluted in its outlook, its self-confidence, its sense of purpose, its sense of survival. Now they take it easy. They beg for things.”
a mass disaster
An article in The New York Times about the many deaths of people attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico quoted forensic anthropologist Timothy P. Gocha: “When we get them, we assign them a case number because we have to have a way of tracking cases, but no one deserves to be just a number… The idea is to figure out who they are, and give them their name back.” He works with Operation Identification, a project at Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Center that analyzes the remains and personal items of the immigrants to help identify them.
shelter for refugees
The Guardian reported on the work of an international team, headed by Bath University staff, working on shelters capable of withstanding extremes of temperature. Researchers have launched a three-year project to design housing for refugee camps in extreme climates where temperatures range from 45C to -10C. The international team behind the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project aim to improve living conditions for refugees by creating low-cost and easy-to-construct housing. The research will be the largest global study into thermal, social and air-quality conditions in camps housing displaced people. Jason Hart, senior lecturer in the anthropology of development at Bath University, has worked with refugees in Jordan and the Middle East for 20 years: “I have witnessed first-hand the daily struggles of displaced people to lead dignified lives in difficult conditions, and decent housing can make an immense difference…I am therefore excited to collaborate with colleagues from the fields of architecture and civil engineering in a process of shelter design that meaningfully engages the views and aspirations of refugees themselves.”
Indigenous representation in question
Toronto Metro reported on concerns about the lack the lack of Indigenous representation among Canada Research Chairs. One critic is University of Alberta associate professor of anthropology Kisha Supernant, who identifies as Metis. She said Indigenous people have a valuable role to play in the world of academia. She is disturbed by the lack of Indigenous Canada Research Chairs.
politics of JET
An article in The Japan Times focused on the JET [Japan Exchange and Teaching] Program. Since its modest start in 1987, JET has grown into one of the world’s largest international exchange programs. Nearly 65,000 people from 65 countries have worked in Japan for up to five years under the project. According to the article, there are JET-lovers or haters. Supporters, underlining the word “exchange” in the program’s title, defend it for helping internationalize Japan. Critics, pointing to the word “teaching,” attack it for failing to improve students’ English proficiency and wasting money. The article includes commentary from David McConnell, professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster in Ohio who, drawing on his book, Importing Diversity, points to how some Japanese education ministry officials didn’t want JET to start in the first place and that some ministry officials delayed approval. To avoid threatening the status of Japanese teachers, JET participants were classified as “assistants” and participant numbers were kept low.