• Yo-Yo Ma’s anthropological soul
Classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma is, according to an article in the Washington Post, “one of the most recognizable classical musicians on the planet.” Besides being a star of the musical world, he is also a social activist, in his own way. “I realized late in life,” Ma says, that my twin passions are music and people. Maybe that is why I am an odd person in this profession.” The article goes on to point out that Ma’s wonderful oddness may be in part due to his liberal arts education at Harvard where he expanded his view beyond music: “I have been passionate about music … but people in my dorm were equally passionate about other things. So suddenly, it was like, oh my gosh, what a huge world.” He is still an avid fan of anthropology. Blogger’s note: Thank you, Yo-Yo Ma.
• Knowledge about domestic violence for prevention
What safety nets are in place to protect women from domestic violence/partner abuse? The recent murder of two women in Miyagi Prefecture has raised concern about how to provide protection for potential victims. The Daily Yomiuri (3/14, page seven) of Tokyo quotes Ichiro Numasaki, professor of social anthropology at Tohoku University: “Many victims of domestic violence are scared to end the relationship because they are kept under the control of the abuser … Police need to learn more about domestic violence itself.”
•”I’m done with Indian stuff”
According to an article in The New York Times, a likely American Indian site has been, or soon will be, destroyed due to pressure from local business interests to “develop” the area. Harry Holstein, a professor of archaeology, has been lobbying for protection of what was a mound. Leon Smith, the mayor of Oxford, wasn’t eager to discuss the issue with the NYT: “You’re not going to hear from me … I’m done with Indian stuff.” He plans to top off the mound, level it and build a restaurant, hotel or clinic: “It’s going to be pretty,” he said. Blogger’s note: Yet another chapter in the shameful treatment of American Indians and their heritage in the United States.
• Career skill: anthropology students love the odd
A story on NPR applauds a new documentary, The Parking Lot Movie. It’s about a parking lot in Charlottesville, Va., and the characters who populate it. Most of the workers, all male, are students from the University of Virginia. The manager, who is also the filmmaker, says: “The anthropologists are always the best. They have a perspective that allows them to look at oddness and be interested in it, and not be bored.”
• Culture and AIDS in Lesotho
The Chronicle of Higher Education carried an article on the efforts of David Turkon to push policy makers to rely more on anthropological research in combating AIDS. Turkon is associate professor of cultural anthropology at Ithaca College and chair of the AIDS and Anthropology Research Group within the American Anthropological Association.
• Freedom of speech in China
Scott Simon, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Ottawa University says that freedom of speech in China is a global issue. He hosted a discussion forum profiling three Chinese human rights activists.
• Homage to American Jewish cultural anthropologist who redefined “blackness”
A review of the 2009 film, Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness, praises it as a “dense and fascinating documentary. ” Herskovits, a Jewish American cultural anthropologist, pioneered African American studies in the United States.
• Welcome to England and off with your head
Excavations for a road near the London 2012 Olympic sailing site unearthed a mass grave of 51 young Viking males. All were decapitated, and some showed multiple body wounds. The remains are dated between 890-1030 CE.
• Prehistoric climate change responders
Ezra Zubrow, professor of archaeology at the University of Buffalo, has been conducting research with other scientists in the Arctic regions of Quebec, Finland and Russia to understand how humans living 4,000-6,000 years ago coped with climate change. Zubrow is quoted in Science Daily: “…analysis of data from all phases of the study eventually will enable more effective collaboration between today’s social, natural and medical sciences as they begin to devise adequate responses to the global warming the world faces today.”
• Sick or just small? Hobbit debate still newsworthy
The Canberra Times quoted several biological anthropologists commenting on a recent publication in the Journal of Human Evolution in which Peter Brown and Tomoko Maeda argue for the position that the Hobbits (aka Homo floresiensis) were small but healthy. Dean Falk, Florida State University, supports their view. Daniel Lieberman, Harvard University, now agrees that the Hobbits represent a new species. Ralph Holloway, Columbia University, has not ruled out the disease hypothesis.
• Those bonobos are sharing again
BBC News picked up on research by Brian Hare, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, showing that bonobos share food. He conducted research on orphaned bonobos living in a study center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In experimental settings, the bonobos willingly share food with other bonobos. He now wants to understand why they share. His findings are published in Current Biology.
• American biological anthropologist wins Max Planck Research Award 2010
Tim Bromage has been awarded one of the two annual Max Planck Research Awards for his achievements in establishing the field in human evolution of growth, development and life history. Bromage is professor of basic science and craniofacial biology and of biomaterials and biometrics in New York University’s College of Dentistry. The award carries a stipend of $1.2 million.