anthro in the news 9/18/17

Scene in Bangladesh. Credit: Wikipedia

water problems and cholera alert 

The Conversation published commentary by medical anthropologist Lauren Carruth, assistant professor in the School of International Service, American University: “As hurricanes barrel through some of the most impoverished communities in the Western Hemisphere, and as floods ravage Yemen, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and India, now is the time to rethink and prioritize cholera epidemic prevention and response. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a surge of cholera in Haiti increased the death toll from the disease. Officials in Haiti this week are already urging people to add bleach to their drinking water to prevent the spread of cholera in the aftermath of Irma…The WHO and its partners should lead a vigorous appeal to donors and humanitarian organizations working in several locations – in the paths of Atlantic hurricanes, in flooded regions of South Asia, and in war-torn parts of the Middle East and Africa – where cholera still kills and the risk of an outbreak is high.”

remembering Guatemala in Ohio

The artist with some of his paintings. Credit: The Times-Reporter/Google Images Commons

An article in The Times-Reporter (Ohio) reported on an art exhibit in Dover, Ohio, that displays paintings by Jogendro Kshetrimayum, an artist and anthropologist who teaches cultural anthropology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. His work depicts scenes of the city of Nebaj, Guatemala, an area that resonates with many Maya immigrants in the Dover area.  Maria Luz Garcia, assistant professor of anthropology at Eastern Michigan University, gave a talk at the show’s opening about how migration to the U.S. grew from the effects of genocide that devastated the native Maya population during a 36-year civil war, a war in which the U.S. government supported the country’s army. She pointed to the need for institutional change in the U.S. to create employment opportunities for local Guatemala-born youth who might work as language instructors for example.

immigrants add to Maryland

An article in The Baltimore Sun describes the popularity of the state of Maryland among immigrants to the U.S., noting that three of the ten most diverse cities in America are located in the state: Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Frederick. The article quotes Christina Getrich, professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland whose interests include immigration and citizenship:  “Here, we just have such a range of different people from different places. We’re lucky in the D.C. area.”

don’t say what he says

National Public Radio carried commentary by Barbara J. King, professor emerita at the College of William and Mary, concerning Donald Trump’s use of language. She discusses several analyses including that of linguist George Lakoff. He argues that Trump’s use of repetition and other linguistic strategies is intentional manipulation of his audience and that his language can shape people’s worldviews: “The more Trump’s views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives. This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame…It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.” [Note: But  silence a not good option, either]

take that anthro degree and…

…work as a program creator, writer, and activist. Devorah Shuvowitz is a program creator, writer, and feminist and disability rights activist. She creates and executes educational public programming, qualitative research projects, and arts festivals for diverse communities to develop social, cultural, and political understanding and collaboration. She has developed classes in disability studies within the sub-field of medical anthropology to integrate disability studies into the rehabilitation and medical professions. Shuvowitz has a B.A. in physical therapy, an M.A. in religious studies from New York University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Indiana University.

…become a teacher, a farmer, and then a maker of musical instruments. Bill Bussman taught fifth grade on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in southeastern Arizona from 1973-1976, then started a farm in Caballo, New Mexico. After a few years of that, he turned to making musical instruments and established his business, Old Wave Mandolins in his garden shed. Over 27 years, he has made 585 stringed intruments, mostly mandolins, but also archtop guitars, steelstring guitars, mandolas, octave mandolins, mandocellos, and a dulcimer. His instruments have gone to England, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Japan, and almost every state in the U.S. Bussman has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin.

a Neolithic pot named Kim

The Neolithic pot named Kim. Credit: The Indian Express/Central Asian Museum, Kashmir University

The Indian Express reported on the discovery earlier this year of a 4,000-year-old pot in Sopore, Kashmir, and its unusual name, Kim. It is named after the American reality television star, Kim Kardashian. More significantly, it is the first piece of Neolithic pottery in Kashmir that has been found intact. According to Mumtaz Yatoo of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Kashmir, only stone tools, pieces of pottery, and some human remains had been unearthed thus far: “We found bases or rims, and would then have to imagine the rest of the design. This is the first complete piece.” In terms of the wider significance of the research, Alison Betts FSA FAHA, professor of Silk Road Studies at the University of Sydney and adjunct professor at Kashmir University, said there is evidence in Kashmir of its links with eastern Central Asia, and hence is a key location for the study of the earliest cultural contact between China and the rest of Asia: “Wheat and barley were first domesticated in western Asia while rice and millet were domesticated in central China. From these early centres of domestication, cereal farming spread eastwards and westwards until wheat/barley and millet cultivation met in the middle around 5,000-6,000 years ago in the Tian Shan, Pamir and western Himalayan regions of Central Asia. The Neolithic people of Kashmir were early adopters of cereal agriculture and their practice of using deep underground storage pits has preserved this evidence very well.” Yatoo adds that archaeology will play a critical role in the promotion of tourism in Kashmir, especially by foreign visitors.


anthro in the news 9/11/17

Super Mario games follow player character Mario’s adventures in the fictional Mushroom Kingdom. Credit: Pixabay.

games, technology, and nostalgia

CNBC reported on the revival of some classic video games and the consoles used to play them. Retro fixtures like Atari and Sega are making a comeback, even as the new crop of video games are more sophisticated than ever. The article quotes Jared Miracle, an anthropologist and education researcher who specializes in game studies at the Ocean University of China: “After some generations, all forms of art and media become classics…Think of ‘Donkey Kong’ as having status akin to ‘Oliver Twist.'”

improving bike safety

As reported by The Herald-Sun (Durham, North Carolina), researchers at Duke University are using North Carolina bicycle crash data to improve transportation policy in the city of Durham. Their findings led them to recommend the installation of more crosswalks, additional median islands, and expansion of bike lanes on roads with a high number of reported crashes. They also developed an interactive website that demonstrates how factors such as the time of day, weather conditions, and demographics affect crash risk. The project is an offshoot of an international study conducted by Harris Solomon, associate professor of cultural anthropology and global health at Duke. He originally studied traffic accidents in India which has a large population of bicycle riders.

Continue reading “anthro in the news 9/11/17”

anthro in the news 9/4/17

The port of Houston, 2000. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard, PA2 James Dillard/Wikimedia Commons

foregrounding climate justice

The Huffington Post published a piece, prompted by Hurricane Harvey and calling for attention to climate justice, by K. Jessica Hsu, an anthropologist and solidarity activist, and Mark Schuller, associate professor of anthropology at Northern Illinois University. They write: “Ironically headquartered in Houston, the fossil fuel industry has been funding a half-billion-dollar, decades-long climate change denial campaign…Climate justice explicitly confronts basic inequalities: the world’s biggest polluters are not those directly affected by climate change. The big polluters are also the biggest “winners” in this economic system. It is no coincidence that higher climate vulnerability communities are largely communities of color and disenfranchised communities within the Global South.”

natural hazard vs. disaster

A tsunami warning sign in Japan. Credit: Uwe Aranas, CE Photo/Wikimedia Commons

National Public Radio (Carbondale, Illinois) carried an interview with Roberto Barrios, associate professor of anthropology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, who conducted field research in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He distinguishes between a natural hazard, such as a hurricane, and a disaster, which is a hazard plus human-created practices, like building on a coast or river. He notes that climate change is adding to the frequency and intensity of hazards many of which become disasters .

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anthro in the news 8/27/17

Credit: Pixabay

when the court jester is president 

The Conversation published commentary by Anthony J Pickles, British Academy Research Fellow in the Division of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge: “Across cultures, fools, clowns, and court jesters are powerful critics of any existing order. But what happens when they take power?…A joker in charge is very difficult to challenge. Allow him to rile you up, and he wins; laugh with him, and you reinforce his nihilistic agenda. If the president’s opponents want his presidency to reinforce the US’s norms and institutions rather than destroy them, they can only respond one way: concentrate on achievable, serious goals, and refuse to get distracted by the absurd, surreal personality show with which their president is mocking them.”

monument wars are nothing new

Benedict Arnold memorial at the Saratoga National Battlefield. Arnold, who originally fought for the American Continental Army, was wounded in the foot during the Battle of Saratoga. He later defected to the British, and his name became a synonym for traitor. Credit: Wikimedia

An article in The New York Times discusses monument removal in Europe’s history and includes a comment by Ivaylo Dichev, professor of cultural anthropology at Sofia University in Bulgaria, for whom recent scenes in the United States have a clear resonance: “Eastern Europe went through a similar period in the ’90s, when a lot of Communist-era monuments were removed…”

An article in The San Diego Union Tribune quoted Seth Mallios, an archaeologist and professor at San Diego State University. He earned his doctorate at the University of Virginia and well remembers the Confederate monuments in Charlottesville: “As a kid from California, when Martin Luther King Day was called (Robert E.) Lee-(Andrew) Jackson-King Day, I…didn’t believe what was going on.”

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anthro in the news 8/22/17

Sunset on Guam. Yuki Yagimura/Wikpedia Commons

peril in paradise

KCET TV (California) broadcast a program about growing resistance in Guam to the U.S. military presence there. It includes comments from David Vine, professor of anthropology at American University: “…many in the U.S. military consider Guam, to this day, to be the most important base in the world, certainly one of the most important U.S. military bases…people in Washington and in the 50 states weren’t embarrassed in past decades to call Guam a colony. Today it’s referred to as a territory, but it is a colonized territory. There’s a colonial relationship, and the people of Guam effectively have a kind of third-class citizenship. They can’t vote for president. They don’t have meaningful representation in Congress.”

the many meanings of solar eclipses 

National Public Radio (U.S.) interviewed Anthony Aveni, professor of anthropology, astronomy, and Native American Studies at Colgate University, about solar eclipses and their meaning in different cultures: “People banging pans and making noise and pinching their dogs to make them howl at the eclipse. And an anthropologist asked them about this and said, you know, are you chasing away the demons with your noise? And one responded, said, no, we’re not chasing away the demons. We’re trying to get the sun’s attention.”

Continue reading “anthro in the news 8/22/17”

anthro in the news 8/14/17

Closed due to heat wave. Credit: MTSOfan/Flickr

summer in the city

The Conversation published an article on heat waves, urban life, and social inequality by Merrill Singer, professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He reports on findings from a qualitative study and several of his students conducted in Hartford:  “…our participants often lacked clear knowledge about the nature of climate change, what drives it, how climate change differs from other forms of urban pollution or how people can prepare themselves for limiting its harmful effects. Their strongest concerns were about how oppressive summer heat waves would make their children sick and their own ability to cope with ever-higher temperatures and longer heat spells as they grew older. Some described feeling powerless given the scale of the social and climatic forces aligned against them.” [Blogger’s note: See also a book detailing social patterns of heat wave deaths in Chicago in 1995 by sociologist Eric Klinenberg].

sugar daddies as “blessers”

This hashtag has diverse meanings worldwide. In South Africa, it can convey a blesse role. Credit: The Odyssey Online/Google Images Commons.

North Carolina Public Radio carried a piece about transactional sexual relationships, called blesser/blessee relationships, in South Africa. The blesser is a man who gives money and gifts to a woman in exchange for companionship and sex. Lebohang Masango, poet, writer, and M.A. candidate in anthropology at the University of Witswatersrand, studies blesser culture. Although many see the blesser/blessee relationship as exploiting women, she finds that many young women in such relationships are educated, ambitious and see their time as being valuable: “They understand the risk of HIV, they understand the risk of multiple concurrent partnerships, but there’s this postfeminist sensibility that’s beginning to be entrenched especially among young women of the middle class where they are choosing to do this, even against all of the other stigmas that exist.”

Continue reading “anthro in the news 8/14/17”

anthro in the news 8/7/17

Credit: Canadian Liver Foundation/Google Images Commons.

undetected, untreated, deadly

The Washington Post published an article co-authored by medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University, an infectious-disease physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and co-founder of Partners in Health: “Three years ago, we wrote about the wide gap in access to hepatitis C treatment, hoping that mistakes made in the world’s response to AIDS would not be repeated in another epidemic of a lethal, blood-borne disease. Our worst fears have been realized. The World Health Organization now reports that 4 out of 5 people infected with hepatitis C aren’t even aware of it. Of those who do know, fewer than 1 in 50 have received treatment…This is a failure not of science but of delivery.”

Trump family honor code

Gillian Tett, social anthropologist and writer for The Financial Times, discusses the anthropological model of family honor cultures of the Mediterranean region versus rule of law cultures of northern Europe. She links Trump’s behavior to the Mediterranean model and cites Matthew Engelke, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics, who writes in his new book, Think Like an Anthropologist, that power and status in the Mediterranean region “were often made in the form of bravado and raw assertions of might.” [Blogger’s note: the Mediterranean model clearly has wider regional applicability. Think, for example, of the longstanding family feud between the Scot-Irish Hatfields and McCoys].

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