USA Today reported on the surge in hate speech on Twitter during the U.S. presidential campaign especially via social media. The article quotes Sophie Bjork-James, post-doctoral fellow in the anthropology department at Vanderbilt University: “While various groups have been targeted with hate speech on Twitter during this election, I don’t think anything compares to what Jewish journalists are going through…Many white nationalists have been inspired by the Trump campaign to increase their involvement, and a central part of this ideology is anti-Semitism.”
Behind the presidential masks
An article in Smithsonian magazine asks, what’s behind America’s obsession with presidential masks? Among several interpretations reviewed is that of Nancie Loudon Gonzalez, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Maryland. College Park. She links the role of performance during political campaigns to the theory of carnivalesque in which people use humor to come together and seek social change through expressing both hope and fear.
National Public Radio (U.S.) carried an interview about the situation in Haiti with Paul Farmer, medical anthropologist, medical doctor, and co-founder of Partners In Health. The first question: Do you think cholera could spread more widely after the storm as a result of people drinking contaminated water? His answer: “I don’t want to say I’m terrified, but that’ll do. You can die in hours from cholera. It’s one of the true infectious disease emergencies.”
Anthropology needed more than ever
The Huffington Post published an op-ed by anthropologist George Leader, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and adjunct professor at the College of New Jersey.Commenting on presidential candidate Donald Trump’s negative remarks about particular groups of people, Leader writes: “It would serve Americans quite well to learn from the field of anthropology and colleges and high schools should do more to encourage students to take some courses. We must educate our next generation of business leaders, doctors, nurses, engineers and those pursuing all careers towards a worldview that is not limited but conscious. Anthropology should be an integral part of the education of policy makers and law enforcement.”
Registration for courses in the Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology program at the University of Florida is open. Four courses (listed below) are offered in Summer 2016. To explore the courses being offered this summer, and for information on registration and tuition, please visit the Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. These courses are offered 100% online and no on-campus visits are required. The courses carry 3 graduate credits at the University of Florida and may be taken for credit or without credit. Courses are limited to 20 participants.
National Public Radio (U.S.) reported on the role of cultural anthropology in efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola in Guinea.
Doctors, nurses and epidemiologists from international organizations are flying in to help, along with cultural anthropologists. Understanding local beliefs can help get communities to trust international health care workers, says Barry Hewlett, a medical anthropologist at Washington State University. Hewlett was invited to join the Doctors Without Borders Ebola team during an outbreak in Uganda in 2000. There are anthropologists on the current team in Guinea as well.
Before the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders started bringing in anthropologists, medical staff had a difficult time convincing families to bring their sick loved ones to clinics and isolation wards. In Uganda, Hewlett remembers, people were afraid of the international health care workers: “The local people thought that the Europeans in control of the isolation units were in a body parts business … Their loved ones would go into the isolation units, and they would never see them come out.”
Health care workers did not always promptly notify relatives of a death because of the need to dispose of the body quickly, Hewlett wrote in a report on his experiences in Uganda: “The anger and bad feelings about not being informed were directed toward health care workers in the isolation unit … This fear could have been averted by allowing family members to see the body in the bag and allowing family members to escort the body to the burial ground.” In addition, Hewlett points out that the large tarps surrounding isolation units were removed so family members could see and talk with a sick relative.
Efforts to contain such outbreaks must be “culturally sensitive and appropriate,” Hewlett says. “Otherwise people are running away from actual care that is intended to help them.” Medical anthropologists can help doctors and other medical experts understand how a local population perceives disease, death, and loss. Continue reading “Anthro in the news 4/7/14”→
UC Berkeley anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes has been honored by the American Anthropological Association with its first ever Anthropology in Public Policy Award for her trailblazing work shedding light on the dark practice of human organ trafficking.
The award, recognizing anthropologists whose work has had a significant and positive influence on government decision-making, was announced at a recent American Anthropological Association conference in Chicago.
In 1999, Scheper-Hughes, director of UC Berkeley’s medical anthropology program, helped found the Berkeley Organs Watch project. It monitors the organ-transplant trade for abuses among the transnational networks that connect patients, transplant surgeons, brokers, medical facilities and live donors, who often live in the poorest parts of the world.
“When I began the Organs Watch project, it was heretical to suggest that human trafficking for organs was not just a hyperbolic metaphor of human exploitation, but was actually happening in many parts of the world,” Scheper-Hughes said in her acceptance remarks.
But the project generated international headlines, particularly as Scheper-Hughes has called for more accountability from the medical profession in the field of medical anthropology. She also has been asked to testify before national and international governmental and medical panels, and has helped law enforcement agencies uncover illicit organs trafficking around the globe.
In recent years, Scheper-Hughes has advised the European Union, the United Nations and the Human Trafficking Office of the World Health Organization. She has also testified before Congress, the Council of Europe and the British House of Lords. In addition, she has consulted on several documentary as well as commercial films exploring organ trafficking.
In accepting the award, the self-proclaimed “agent provocateur” acknowledged that the complex social issues that anthropologists explore often have no single, simple solution, and one answer can prompt a new problem.
“So, yes,” Scheper-Hughes said in her speech, “I did help interrupt kidney trafficking in Moldova, only to have the international brokers use my Organs Watch web site … to set up a robust scheme in illicit transplants using Afro-Brazilian men from the slums of Recife to service Israeli and European transplant tourists to South African hospitals … And, yes, I contributed to the ban on the use of executed prisoners in China as organ suppliers, only to learn that new organ suppliers could be found in China among rural village girls and Vietnamese immigrants.”
Scheper-Hughes said agent provocateurs must continue “to put their bodies, as well as their words, on the line, and work on behalf of communities and populations under siege…”
For more information:
A 2004 story on the UC Berkeley NewsCenter reported on Scheper-Hughes’ transplant investigations in South America and Africa.
A 2007 story posted by UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin America recounted a presentation by Scheper-Hughes on the “medically disappeared” of Argentina during that country’s “Dirty War” of the 1970s and ‘80s.
An open-access article in The International Journal of Women’s Health and Reproduction Sciences, reports on findings from a study conducted in two cities of Iran with 270 married women aged 18-45 years.
Responses were evaluated according to some established scales such as the Sexual Satisfaction Scale for Women. The authors frame their study within the assumption that women’s sexual well-being is related to marital and family well-being and quality of life in general.
The authors point out that many studies in developed countries show a positive association between education and women’s well-being. In contrast, some studies in Iran have suggested that higher education is not clearly a positive factor in women’s psychological and sexual well-being. Findings from the study indicate that more education for women is not associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction and well-being.
Not to be too flippant, but as many studies have shown around the world, it’s difficult for women to “have it all.” Perhaps the studies from Iran indicate a complex ongoing transition in which women and men are juggling new roles and aspirations.
This international video conference will link the George Washington University with Lahore College for Women’s University (LCWU) in Pakistan for a live student discussion to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. It will provide the opportunity for students at both universities to share views about challenges and prospects for change. The event is part of a new three-year partnership between GW and LCWU funded by the U.S. Department of State.
Convenors/moderators: Professor Barbara Miller, Elliott School, GW
Professor Shaista Khilji, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, GW
Professor Sarah Shahed, Chair, Department of Gender and Development Studies, LCWU
When: Tuesday, December 3 | 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Where: 1957 E Street NW, Lindner Family Commons, 6th floor