anthro in the news 6/12/17

A scene in Kashmir. Credit: Images Commons

when a national army threatens its people

The Wire published commentary by Partha Chatterjee, professor of anthropology & Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University, in which he addresses the question: When does a nation’s army start to believe that to preserve its authority, it must be feared by its own people? He writes: “The example of Israel that is often cited these days as the model from which India should learn is, in this context, particularly troubling. Israel is, properly speaking, a settler colony that regards Palestinians as a hostile and rebellious other that must be subdued and kept apart. Is that what India’s political leaders believe their relation must be to the people of Kashmir or Manipur or Nagaland? One can only hope that as a nation, we have not reached the edge of a slippery slope.”

racial politics and university admissions

Brazilian people. Credit: Images Commons

The Guardian reported on challenges facing Brazilian higher education in improving enrollment rates of students in lower income categories and black, brown, and indigenous students. Brazil’s law of social quotas was passed in 2012 and was meant to be in full compliance by 2016.  A major problem is rooted in the practice of aspiring students reporting their own racial category. Abuses have been reported with white-looking students gaining admission by claiming to be non-white. The article quotes Rogerio Reis, an anthropology professor: “We saw the most incredible situations unfold…People would shave their heads, wear beanies, get a tan. Just a series of strategies to turn themselves black.” [Blogger’s note: self-stated “racial” identity and “looks” are extremely questionable criteria for determining access to a coveted university slot. Though far from perfect, an income/poverty measure seems preferable depending on the information source].


Continue reading “anthro in the news 6/12/17”

anthro in the news 6/5/17

Credit: Strategic Culture Foundation online journal 8/31/16

hope for democracy at the grassroots

Japan Today published commentary from social anthropologist Dame Henrietta Moore, director of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London where she also holds the Chair in Culture, Philosophy and Design. Noting the seeming political disarray in several major democratic countries, she writes: “Yet all around the world, there are growing grassroots movements challenging this status quo. Recognizing the shortcomings of the political and economic systems around them, people are seizing the opportunity to effect change for themselves and their communities.”

gay sex conviction in Korean military decried

Credit: Heezy Yang/The Korea Herald

The Korea Herald reported on the response from Americans living in the Republic of Korea to the recent conviction by the Korean military of a gay soldier for having consensual sex. The article includes comments from Timothy Gitzen, an activist for Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights for Korea and a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of Minnesota: “…it’s state-sanctioned violence against its own people…It is the same argument people would use in the US to talk about segregation in the military between people of color and white soldiers…”


Continue reading “anthro in the news 6/5/17”

anthro in the news 5/29/17

Ready-to-drink food. Credit:

programmers hooked on Soylent

Salon reported on the popularity of Soylent, a meal replacement powder, in California’s Silicon Valley. The article quotes Jan English-Lueck, professor of anthropology at San Jose State and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future. She has been studying Silicon Valley culture for years and points to how “people are fascinated with speed and efficiency.” Further, “Food is very much a part of how we express our culture…Soylent is one form of highly functional, highly efficient food that isn’t going to interfere with your ability be productive.”

luxury cultures

Scene from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Credit: Wikipedia

The Huffington Post published an interview with cultural anthropologist David Abèlés, director of the French-Argentine Centre in Buenos Aires, about his latest research on luxury markets and arts around the world. He comments: “We cannot distinguish the trends affecting the industry and commerce of luxury from broader changes within capitalism. Anthropology provides a multifaceted point of view by approaching luxury as a total social artefact.”

Continue reading “anthro in the news 5/29/17”

anthropology/global health class explores durham ghost bikes

Ghost bike memorializing cyclist Tony Turner at the intersection of Roxboro Street and Chateau Road in Durham, North Carolina.

What are the relationships between body, health, mobility and urban environments? What happens when these connections are out of balance? And how do traffic and mobility—by vehicle or bicycle—fit into this equation?

These are some of the questions undergraduate students creatively explored this spring in Duke Global Health Institute assistant professor Harris Solomon’s Anthropology and Global Health seminar, which centered around the theme of injury, with ghost bikes as a case study.

The course culminated in three final small group projects—a podcast, a community action event and a website. Each group focused on a different ghost bike in Durham, North Carolina.

Continue reading “anthropology/global health class explores durham ghost bikes”

anthro in the news 5/22/17

Mexico-U.S. border at Tijuana. Credit: Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons

a wall is not the answer

A piece in TIME magazine on the U.S. Mexico border quotes Jason De León, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, who has conducted long-term studies of undocumented border crossings: “As soon as security is increased [in one place], it’s the balloon affect — you grab one area and the flow goes to another area.” He and other experts say that a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, like the fences that are in place now, will not deter immigrants who are willing to risk their lives to cross the border.

stopping police violence

Credit: Nevada CopBlock/Google Images Commons

USA Today carried an article by Sirry Alang, assistant of cultural anthropology professor in the Health, Medicine and Society Program in Lehigh University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She offers a seven-point list of what people in the U.S. can do to end police violence and create a more equitable society in the U.S. They include advocacy work, learning about structural violence, and remembering those who have been killed.

Continue reading “anthro in the news 5/22/17”

anthropology students’ work comes to life with the many stories of main street

Central Hotel, Brower Post Card Collection, W&L Special Collections

Families and people of all ages are encouraged to take part in “The Many Stories of Main Street,” an interpretive downtown Lexington walking tour where one can learn about past generations who lived and worked in Lexington’s historic buildings.

The tour is based on research comprised of both archival and oral history, completed over the past few years by anthropology students at Washington and Lee University. “Students taking a variety of courses, including the Anthropology of American History and Qualitative Methods, researched the original owners and proprietors of downtown Lexington’s historic buildings and developed interesting and engaging ways to tell their stories,” said Alison Bell, associate professor of anthropology at W&L.

Continue reading “anthropology students’ work comes to life with the many stories of main street”

anthro in the news 5/15/17

Credit: GaryckArntzen/Google Images Commons

French election and refugees 

An article in The Huffington Post by two anthropologists says that the French election is good news for refugees: “Macron’s win marks a small victory for the left and anti-populist movements, especially for the millions of forced migrants seeking refuge in Europe. Macron ran on an immigration platform that commended German chancellor Angela Merkel’s generous refugee policy and promised to prioritize asylum issues in his first six months in office.” The authors are Elizabeth Wirtz, doctoral candidate in anthropology at Purdue University, Mark Schuller, associate professor of anthropology at Northern Illinois University and affiliate at the State University of Haiti.

anumerism as a way of life

The Conversation published an article by linguistic anthropologist Caleb Everett, Andrew Carnegie Fellow and professor of anthropology at Miami University, on anumerism, or the practice of not using many words for numbers:  “Numbers do not exist in all cultures. There are numberless hunter-gatherers embedded deep in Amazonia, living along branches of the world’s largest river tree. Instead of using words for precise quantities, these people rely exclusively on terms analogous to ‘a few’ or ‘some…’” In a new book, I explore the ways in which humans invented numbers, and how numbers subsequently played a critical role in other milestones, from the advent of agriculture to the genesis of writing.”

Continue reading “anthro in the news 5/15/17”