Anthro in the news 1/6/14

  • Hope for the world in 2014

    Blue Fireworks by Neurovelho. Wikimedia Commons.

Wade Davis, as reported in an article in The Province says, “Each culture is a unique answer to a fundamental challenge: What does it mean to be human and alive?”  So, while he recognizes problems with population growth, eco-degradation, and the rapid loss of the world’s languages, he offers a New Year message of hope, “The world is not dying. It’s not falling apart. It’s changing…What young generation has ever come into its own in a world free of peril? I personally believe that pessimism is an indulgence, despair an insult to the imagination. There are wonderfully positive things out there.”

Davis will take up his position as professor of cultural anthropology at the University of British Columbia this fall.

  • What’s important in Ireland in 2014? Ask a cultural anthropologist

Ireland has transformed over the past six years. Attitudes towards money, work, marriage, masculinity and femininity, care of the elderly and the very idea of society are changing. New technologies are transforming the way we live, work and play. The impact of social media on youth culture is obvious, but technological innovations are also revolutionizing healthcare and work. Continue reading “Anthro in the news 1/6/14”

Anthro in the news 7/18/11

UPDATE: Zahi Hawass has confirmed that he is losing his appointment as Egyptian Antiquities Minister in an ongoing cabinet shuffle.

• Whose lies are better?
Two weeks ago, cultural anthropologist Mike McGovern of Yale University published an op-ed in the New York Times about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case in which he argued for understanding of why the immigrant hotel maid would have lied on her asylum application. His position is that life in Guinea can be so difficult and dangerous that lying to get out can make sense, given the context. Now, Robert Fulford, professor of journalism at Massey College of the University of Toronto, claims that McGovern abuses the concept of cultural relativism and is building a culture of excuse-making. Blogger’s note: there appears to be the likelihood of lying on both sides of the case. Questions are: whose lies will be more damaging to the person’s credibility, and whose lies will be left to lie?

• Gillian Tett on the European financial situation
Cultural anthropologist Gillian Tett, an award-winning journalist at the Financial Times, where she is an assistant editor overseeing global financial markets coverage, appeared on the U.S. news television show, Morning Joe. She discussed the European financial situation and, particularly, Irish banking. And she actually managed to work in the word ‘anthropology’!

• Morocco’s Arab Spring
Paul Silverstein, cultural anthropology professor at Reed College, gave a radio interview about Morocco’s response to the Arab Spring movement. He also comments on Morocco’s new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved on July 1.

• Anthro of chess
Robert Desjarlais, a cultural anthropology professor at Sarah Lawrence College, has published a new book on chess, Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chess Board. The Boston Globe online included a piece on the book in its section on (guess what?) chess.
Continue reading “Anthro in the news 7/18/11”

Anthro in the news 6/27/2011

• The trauma of war and rape
In the first of a two-part story, CNN highlights the work of cultural anthropologist Victoria Sanford, whose research has involved listening to victim narratives of Maya women in Guatemala since her doctoral studies at Stanford University in the early 1990s. A Spanish speaker who had worked with Central American refugees, she befriended the few Maya in the area. “I was moved by their stories, but even more so because they were intent on someone hearing them,” she said, “And no one was listening.” She joined the nonprofit Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology investigative team and went to Guatemala. Sanford talked to the women, who told other women about her, and soon she was recording their stories. Over time, and after hearing many stories, Sanford suffered from a kind of “secondary trauma” including paralysis.

• Conflict in Uganda and a possible love complication
The New York Times quoted Mahmood Mamdani, professor anthropology and government at Columbia university, in an article about an ongoing bitter personal rivalry in Uganda that involves President Musaveni and his rival and former friend, Kizza Besigye. Things may be complicated, the article suggests, by a woman, Winnie Byanyima, who is married to the president’s rival but who may have had a romantic involvement earlier with the president. Other matters are likely part of the story as well. Mamdani comments that the government is “clueless” about how to deal with Besigye’s opposition movement. He didn’t comment on the love factor.

• Culture and asthma
Cultural context and behavior shape the diagnosis and treatment of asthma according to David Van Sickle, medical anthropologist and asthma epidemiologist of Reciprocal Labs in Madison, Wisc. Van Sickle’s fieldwork in India revealed that physicians were hesitant to diagnose patients with asthma because of social stigma.

• Treating autism: two cases in Croatia
Drug Week covered findings from a study conducted in Osijek, Croatia, which discusses the treatment of autism in a boy and a girl with risperidone. K. Dodigcurkovic and colleagues published their study in Collegium Antropologicum.

• Profile of a forensic anthropologist
The Gainesville Sun carried a profile of Michael Warren, an associate professor of anthropology and director of the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He has conducted hundreds of forensic skeletal examinations for the state’s medical examiners and has participated in the identification of victims of mass disasters and ethnic cleansing, including the attacks on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina and the recovery and identification of the victims found within the mass graves of the Balkans. He recently testified in the Casey Anthony murder trial.

• Medieval persecution
The remains of 17 bodies found at the bottom of a medieval well in England could have been victims of persecution, new evidence suggests. DNA analysis indicates that the victims were Jewish. They were likely murdered or forced to commit suicide. The skeletons date to the 12th-13th centuries, a time of persecution of Jewish people in Europe. Professor Sue Black leads the research team. She is a forensic anthropologist in the University of Dundee’s Centre for Anthropology and Human Identification.
Continue reading “Anthro in the news 6/27/2011”

Anthro in the news 8/19