Upton on HIV and public health in Botswana

Colgate students and faculty assembled in the Persson Hall Auditorium on Wednesday, March 29 to listen to a talk given by Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Co-Director of Global Health at Depauw University Dr. Rebecca L. Upton. A Colgate alumna with a degree in anthropology, Upton discussed the ways in which the complexities of masculinity and fertility fears might be taken into consideration as Botswana moves forward with different HIV/AIDS prevention programs and policies.

Upton began her lecture familiarizing the audience with male infertility, a topic that is vastly understudied around the world. After spending 20 years in northern Botswana, Upton gathered enough ethnographic data to uncover ways in which Botswanan men discussed voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), a practice that contributes greatly to insights on the potential success of HIV/AIDS prevention programs such as the “magic bullet” and new public health strategies of voluntary adult male circumcision.

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understanding conflict in Central African Republic: q&a with anthropologist louisa lombard

Source: stock.adobe.com

Beginning in 2012, fighting between various factions in the Central African Republic (CAR) caused widespread bloodshed and displaced hundreds of thousands in the Texas-sized nation of 4.7 million people.

Scholars, journalists, and politicians have struggled to make sense of the conflict in the rural, landlocked country — a former French colony.

Louisa Lombard, assistant professor of anthropology at Yale, has spent 13 years conducting ethnographic research in CAR. Her latest book, “State of Rebellion,” puts the recent uprising in social, cultural, and historical context. She examines the role that international organizations and nongovernmental organizations have played in sustaining conflict in the little-known country.

Lombard recently spoke with YaleNews about her book. An edited transcript follows.

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anthropology professors to teach trump 101 class this spring quarter


Two anthropology professors will lead a “Trump 101” class this spring quarter. Kaushik Sunder Rajan and William Mazzarella will use the 100-person lecture course to examine President Trump’s rise, using media, race, and gender as a lens for looking at the future of democracies.

Mazzarella sent e-mails to students in December to gauge interest in the class and later joined Rajan to create a curriculum as part of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), which allows fellows to sponsor lectures, teach classes, and sponsor workshops. The class will be composed of discussions led by graduate students and classes taught by guest lecturers providing perspectives from the fields of anthropology, history, political science, linguistics, English, and philosophy.

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anthropologist psychiatrist sees global health through a cultural prism

Dr. Ippolytos Kalofonos Source: Peggy McInerny/UCLA
Dr. Ippolytos Kalofonos Source: Peggy McInerny/UCLA

As a pre-med major at UC San Diego studying biochemistry, Ippolytos Kalofonos discovered his future career while listening to a guest lecturer at an undergraduate seminar.

Here was a field that wove together his interests in health, medicine and social context, he learned after listening to the medical anthropologist. Kalofonos was always interested in broader issues beyond the lab where he worked. He volunteered at a Red Cross emergency room in Tijuana, and was struck by the various forms of inequality “that were swirling around me” locally, nationally and globally.

“I was really excited by the idea of medicine as a social and cultural system, rather than as just a technical skill set,” he recalled of that moment.

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object lesson: dolls on an anthropologist’s shelf


You can learn about a culture by looking at iconic artwork or inspiring architecture — and also by examining seemingly mundane cultural products like dolls.

Dana Professor of Anthropology Loring Danforth makes that point when he teaches the course “Myth, Folklore, and Popular Culture.”

“The first book we read,” he says, “is Barbie’s Queer Accessories,” by Erica Rand, the college’s Whitehouse Professor of Art and Visual Culture.

Rand’s book, combined with Barbie’s powerful and familiar image, provides a “good vehicle to get people thinking about gender, class, sexuality, sexual orientation, and race in American culture,” he says.

But Barbie is only half the story.

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on cinematic anthropology, the use of sensation in ethnographic filmmaking

Professor Lisa Stevenson at the event. Source: Claire Avisar
Professor Lisa Stevenson at the event. Source: Claire Avisar

To most people, the image of a farm on the outskirts of Montreal, the routine of a professional bodybuilder, and Afghan lullabies have little to do with one another. To students of the Anthropology department’s ANTH 408: Sensory Ethnography course, however, they represent the subjects of a semester’s worth of work documenting, creating, and reflecting upon the process of ethnographic filmmaking.

On January 20, held within the historic limestone walls of Thompson House, McGill’s Anthropology Students’ Association hosted the students, their friends, and professors of a class whose central work focused on sensory ethnography (a practice that privileges audiovisual representations of living subjects and rejects the mediation of dialogue, narration, or subtitles). Prefaced by a cocktail hour, this event provided its attendees an evening of food, drinks, and the chance to engage with the students whose work was showcased. With a set of topics as diverse as their approaches, the films were united under their rich cinematography, experimental approach to the traditional narrative, and the attempt to decode human understandings of the world.



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chimps’ behavior following death disturbing to ISU anthropologist

Iowa State Anthropologist Jill Pruetz describes the disturbing behavior following the death of a chimpanzee at her research site in Senegal. She and her colleagues captured what happened on video. Interview by Dave Olson. Video courtesy of Jill Pruetz

Shocking is one word Jill Pruetz uses to describe the behavior she witnessed after a chimp was killed at her research site in Fongoli, Senegal. The fact that chimps would kill a member of their own community is extremely rare – most aggression is between communities – but the abuse that followed was completely unexpected.

“It was very difficult and quite gruesome to watch,” said Pruetz, a professor of anthropology at Iowa State University. “I couldn’t initially make sense of what was happening, and I didn’t expect them to be so aggressive with the body.”

Pruetz has witnessed many things since establishing her research site in 2001. She was the first to document chimps using tools to hunt prey. However, what she observed in 2013 was different. Pruetz and her research team documented the chimps’ behavior after discovering the body of Foudouko, a former leader of the Fongoli community, who was exiled from the group for five years. As Pruetz explains in the video above, the chimps – many of which Pruetz suspects killed Foudouko – abused and cannibalized his body for nearly four hours. Continue reading “chimps’ behavior following death disturbing to ISU anthropologist”