anthro in the news 10/10/16

Land rights are key in Colombia

Indigenous people want land rights. Source: Bluedotpost.com
Indigenous people want land rights. Source: Bluedotpost.com

The Washington Post published an op-ed by cultural anthropologist Omaira Bolaños, Latin America program director for the Rights and Resources Initiative. She argues for property rights reform: “One of the most devastating aspects of the war for me was to see indigenous, peasant, and Afro-Colombian communities who spent their entire lives investing in and caring for their territories suddenly left with nothing. Displacement has a particularly destructive impact, leading to the loss of livelihoods, languages and cultures, and to the tearing apart of social fabrics — in addition to the lives lost to violence. For a lasting peace to take root, the legal recognition of collective property rights for indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities would be an important step in addressing the war’s damages and in continuing a process of comprehensive land reform.”


Disney-ification of Tibetan culture

Tibetans perform for tourists. Source: Getty Images/Kevin Frayer
Tibetans perform for tourists. Source: Getty Images/Kevin Frayer

An article in The Washington Post described the effects of the ever-growing number of Chinese tourists in Tibet. It quotes P. Christiaan Klieger, a San-Francisco-based cultural anthropologist, historian, and writer:  “It is very similar to how the United States treated its developing West 100 years ago…They are commodifying the native people and bringing them out as an ethnic display for the consumption of people back east.” Other critics point out that such domestic tourism is part of a plan to bind Tibet ever more tightly into China. Tourism development trivializes Tibet’s culture, marginalizes its people, and pollutes the environment. Tibetans are neither consulted nor empowered in this process. The top jobs and most of the profits go to companies and people from elsewhere in China.

Continue reading “anthro in the news 10/10/16”

anthro in the news 9/21/15

 

North American totem pole; source: Erika Wittlieb, Creative Commons
North American totem pole; source: Erika Wittlieb, Creative Commons

Indigenous tourism offers hope

CBA Canada reported on a gathering of iIndigenous groups from around the world in Vancouver, British Columbia, to discuss and promote the burgeoning field of “indigenous tourism” or “indigenous cultural tourism” with attention to the value of the unique relationship between First Nations and the environment. Delivering the conference’s keynote address was Wade Davis, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of British Columbia and National Geographic explorer-in-residence. He said that indigenous tourism could potentially revolutionize the industry by encouraging a better appreciation of cultural diversity:

“I think there’s a moral and huge opportunity to become ambassadors for an entire new way of being, a new geography of hope,” said Davis. But it needs to go beyond leveraging quotas of First nations into the field. “Real tourism is when aboriginal societies on their own terms can share their visions of life in a profound way that gives the visitor a true sense of authenticity, such that a visitor goes away as an avatar of the wonder of culture.”

 


Protests for peace in Japan

Symbol for peace in Japanese

 

USA Today reported on a surge of youth protests in Japan opposing legislation that would weaken Japan’s post-World War II commitment to pacifism. Weekly gatherings have grown into the largest protest movement Japan has seen in half a century. A crowd estimated by organizers at more than 100,000 turned out on a recent weekend, and nightly demonstrations have taken place outside the parliament building and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence nearby. Young people provided the spark for mass protests this summer, said David Slater, a professor of cultural anthropology and director of Sophia University’s Institute of Comparative Culture, in Tokyo:  “Young people have not been apathetic; they have just been disgusted with politics, as have most of the Japanese adult population… This last set of bills just pushed the whole citizenry too far…”

 

Continue reading “anthro in the news 9/21/15”

Anthro in the news 01/19/15

  • Afghan-American youth who turn to extremism

Morwari Zafar writes in Time magazine about why some Afghan-American youth may turn to radicalism. Zafar is conducting fieldwork among Afghan-Americans for her dissertation in social anthropology at the University of Oxford. She writes: “The current policy climate risks insularity by focusing on external motivators — such as unemployment, disenfranchisement and susceptibility to recruitment via social media. Such an approach raises valid points, but it is conducive only to identifying a limited range of resolutions.” [Blogger’s note:  Morwari Zafar is a visiting scholar with the Culture in Global Affairs Program, within the Elliott School’s Institute for Global and International Studies, at GW].

  • Korean adoptees seeking Korean roots

The New York Times Magazine carried an article describing how many Korean adoptees, from locations around the world, are returning to the Republic of Korea. The article mentions the work of Eleana Kim, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging. Kim notes that many adoptees fear that searching for their Korean roots is seen as a betrayal of their  adoptive parents and they dread “coming out” to their adoptive parents, whether in the form of birth-family searches, returning to birth countries, or criticizing the adoption system.

  • Spotlight on Breastfeeding

On NPR, biological anthropologist and blogger, Barbara King of William and Mary, interviews cultural anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler of the University of Delaware on cross-cultural breastfeeding practices. Dettwyler discusses cross-cultural patterns of which mothers decide to breast feed and for how long as well as social stigma toward women who may breast feed for “too long” in some people’s opinion.

  • Book in the news: Social inequality in South Africa

Seattle radio KUOW interviewed a co-author of a new book on South Africa showing that the country is less equal today than during apartheid. After Freedom: The Rise of the Post-Apartheid Generation in Democratic South Africa is an ethnographic account of seven young South Africans whose lives illustrate the realities of South Africa today. It is written by cultural anthropologist Katherine S Newman, provost at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Ariane De Lannoy, a sociologist and researcher at the University of Capetown. The radio interview ranges from the research methods, some of the people in the book, and parallels between poverty in South Africa and in the United States. Continue reading “Anthro in the news 01/19/15”

Anthro in the news 3/17/14

  • Beauty pageants: women’s empowerment via male purview?

Future political leaders? Mantoos.com. December 30, 2010.

An article in The New Statesman leads with this line: “In the US, beauty pageants are an increasingly popular way for young women to begin a career in public office.” The article begins by discussing (female) beauty pageants as a business, noting that in the U.S. there are two main franchises, Miss America and Miss USA, which run competitions nationally and statewide, down to local level. In addition, countless small, independent events occur annually with a high degree of specificity: Miss Chinatown USA for Chinese Americans, Miss Latina US, Miss Black Deaf America, and Miss Earth United States.

The article describes the work of Beverly Stoeltje, a professor of cultural anthropology at Indiana University. She says that although American culture was founded on the rational principles of a republic, a yearning remains for something of the Old World: “We have these pageants, which crown these queens. In this culture, since we don’t have monarchs, we create them.” Continue reading “Anthro in the news 3/17/14”

Journal issue on applied anthropology of tourism

The latest issue of Anthropology in Action includes the uses of tourism development projects in solving the problems of inter-communal violence, the politics of representation as well as understandings of audiences and media-based constructions of “‘the toured;” and the ways in which the state and capital intersect in the development of tourism policy. This journal is not open access.