Anthro in the news 2/24/14

• Bolivia under water

As described by an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Bolivia is suffering from weeks of heavy rains that have caused rivers to swell, homes to flood, and crops to rot.

Bolivia map
Bolivia map/ezilon.com

More than 58,000 families have been affected in the past month, and 56 people are reported dead, but limited reporting from isolated communities could mean that these numbers are significantly higher.

The article quotes Matthew Schwartz, a doctoral student at the University of New Mexico, who works with the Tsimane, an indigenous group:

“As dire as the situation is for campesino and Tsimane communities close to San Borja, it’s really bleak for the further-out communities.”

Members of the University of New Mexico’s research team are currently at work in flood-affected areas, helping to deliver supplies and provide other support.

• Youthful trend in illegal U.S. border crossing

The Los Angeles Times reported on a rising trend of lone teenagers and even children crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S. While the overall number of undocumented immigrants has slowed compared to five years ago, a new surge of immigration includes children and teenagers traveling through the rugged area into south Texas.

Up to 120 unaccompanied youths are arriving each day, a number that has tripled over the last five years. The young immigrants tell harrowing stories of being abused before and during their journeys, according to Susan Terrio, cultural anthropology professor at Georgetown University who interviewed 40 youths:

“They witnessed or survived robberies and fell victim to brutal attacks and sexual assaults. They outran or hid from federal police and border patrol agents. They struggled with hunger, illness, and exposure to the elements and saw fellow migrants lose limbs or die while jumping on or off cargo trains.”

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Anthro in the news 2/17/14

• Lessons learned about AIDs?

The Washington Post published an op-ed by medical anthropologist, health advocate, doctor, and professor at Harvard University, Paul Farmer.

Paul Farmer
Paul Farmer/Wikipedia

He asks whether, a decade after the global AIDS response began in earnest, the lessons learned will be sustained over time and used to fight other diseases. He notes the similarities between the prevalence of chronic hepatitis C infections today and AIDs in the 1990s.

Hepatitis C inflicts 170 million people worldwide, is the leading indication for liver transplant in the United States, and a common cause of liver failure around the world. For some, however, Hepatitis C is about to become curable thanks to the knowledge doctors and researchers gained fighting AIDs.

• Source your chocolate

Cultural anthropologist Mark Schuller, anthropology professor at Northern Illinois University, writes in The Huffington Post about where chocolate comes and options for the future. He highlights a documentary film, “Nothing Like Chocolate,” by sociologist Kum-Kum Bhavnani of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Noting that over 40 percent of the world’s chocolate comes from Côte d’Ivoire, the film documents the violence behind its harvest, including civil war and child labor. It reveals the growing consolidation of the chocolate industry by transnational agribusiness corporations like Nestle and Hershey’s who continue to buy up small producers.

On a more positive note, the film highlights an alternative to this process in the Grenada Chocolate Company: “Within 5 years, the co-operative was producing 9 to 10 tons of local organic chocolate. Nothing Like Chocolate looks at this revolutionary experiment, focusing on how solar power, appropriate technology and activism merge to create a business whose values are fairness, community, sustainability and high quality.”

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Valentine’s Day goes global and so much news about it!

It’s fascinating to see how certain holidays spread around the world, and how they are marked, celebrated, and “localized” in different countries and regions and among different groups. Valentine’s Day is clearly going global, but with many regional and local permutations. Some of those variations have to do with the very fact that Valentine’s Day is associated with love and romance and, let’s face it, sex. Here are some news bits about Valentine’s Day 2014 around the world.

Cupid
Cupid. Flickr/Arwen Willemsen

Just wanting somebody to love:

In France, Internet dating rises before Valentine’s Day. According to an article in The Global Times, “The Internet is powering Cupid’s wings in France, with use of online dating sites soaring, according to matchmakers preparing to help singletons maximize their seduction opportunities this Valentine’s Day. Of the 18 million single people in France “one in two uses Internet dating,” said Jessica Delpirou, director in France of the Meetic dating website, which was launched in 2001 and recently taken over by the US website match.com. The run-up to St Valentine’s Day — before New Year resolutions are forgotten — is a particularly busy time. “

What’s Valentine’s Day all about?

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GW event: From incitement to violence to conflict mitigation

When: Monday, December 16, 2013
9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Where: Lindner Family Commons, Room 602
1957 E Street NW

This panel discussion will cover topics including:
How do we know when atrocities are imminent for a country facing conflict?
Does media have the potential to provide early warning of mass violence?
Are there media interventions that can work to prevent violence?

Featuring:

Alison Campbell, Internews Humanitarian Communications Partnership Manager and former Country Director for Burma
Ida Jooste, Internews Country Director for Kenya
Will Ferroggiaro, Internews Project Director – Conflict and Media
Mark Walsh, Internews Country Director for Kyrgyzstan

Discussant:
Matthew Levinger, Visiting Professor of International Affairs, GW

RSVP: http://go.gwu.edu/internewsconflictmitigation

Sponsored by the International Development Studies Program and Internews

 

Are laptops the best way to educate children in Kenya?

One Laptop per Child at Kagugu Primary School, Kigali, Rwanda
One Laptop per Child at Kagugu Primary School, Kigali, Rwanda/Wikipedia

Several media sources carried an article about the response in Kenya to a proposed project, to be funded by Microsoft, to provide laptops to school children.

Musau Ndunda, of the Kenya National Association of Parents, said that the program is bound to fail in a country that lacks enough teachers and where others strike regularly for better pay. He pointed out that currently teachers do not have the capacity to implement the laptop project because they have not been trained and the government has not developed a curriculum for the project.

Further, the laptops may be lost or stolen. Ndunda cited a recent scandal in which 70 million textbooks in a free primary-school education program went missing: “If they are able to lose such an amount of textbooks then with the laptops it might be worse.” He wondered how the laptops will be safe in households among the country’s poor, saying “You cannot keep such a gadget in your house if you don’t have something to eat.”

For related reading, see this recent UNESCO report about how the major donors are pulling back funding for basic education in developing countries: Schooling for millions of children jeopardized by reductions in aid.

Blogger’s query: What about the power grid needed for all these laptops? They don’t work on solar energy, as far as I know.

Anthro in the news 1/28/13

• “Invisible cultural anthropologist” Jim Kim in the news

Anthro in the news picked up on two mentions of Jim Kim, medical anthropologist, physician, humanitarian development expert, and current president of the World Bank.

Jim Yong Kim, president of The World Bank
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim/Moritz Hager, Wikipedia

First, his op-ed, “Make Climate Change a Priority,” appeared in the Washington Post opinion section in which he wrote: “As economic leaders gathered in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, much of the conversation was about finances. But climate change should also be at the top of our agendas, because global warming imperils all of the development gains we have made. If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a report in November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.”

Second, an article in an economic/trade-focused forum discussed Kim’s visit to Tunisia to promote private sector development: “World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today concluded a two-day visit to Tunisia during which the Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, announced a $48 million investment to support the growth of private entrepreneurs. Kim met the country’s leadership and civil society to discuss the reform agenda and Tunisia’s progress two years after its popular uprising. ‘We are here as strong supporters of the Tunisian revolution,’ said Kim. ‘[The people of Tunisia] went through some very difficult times, but in doing what you’ve done, you’ve inspired the entire world. [Now] we’ve got to make sure that Tunisia is successful in showing that Islam and democracy go together, that you can have economic development that includes everyone.'”

Kim emphasized ongoing World Bank Group support for Tunisia’s aspirations through programs that address improved governance and accountability, opportunities for women and youth, private sector job-creation and investments in interior regions.
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