Anthro in the news 12/13/10

• How to slow cholera in Haiti
Paul Farmer and co-authors published an article in the Lancet laying out five steps for slowing the death toll of cholera in Haiti. Several media including NPR, CNN, and the New York Times picked up on step 3: providing cholera vaccine. For more information on all five steps, see a post on this blog.

• More on Haiti: when god is too busy
Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Wesleyan University, teaches a course called Haiti: Myths and Reality. She also writes scholarly articles and poems to get her message across. And she is a performer, bringing her message to the stage through her show Because God is Too Busy: Haiti, Me and the World. Ulysse combines her love of Haiti with her academic training, her singing, and her performance. The Huffington Post carried an article about her work. She will perform God is Too Busy at several locations in the next few months, including at George Washington University in late January.

• UBC-Okanagan anthro students and professor honored
The Center for a Public Anthropology gave its Public Anthropology Award to 15 students in an intro anthropology class at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan. The students wrote essays on the question: Who should be the beneficiaries of anthropological research? The professor, Diana French, was also honored with this year’s Eleanor Roosevelt Global Citizenship Award from Public Anthropology. This is the second year that Professor French’s students have swept the Public Anthropology student awards. The Center for a Public Anthropology will send French to Brazil to present a gift from her class to the Yanomami Hutukara Association.

• Public anthropology voices welcome in Australia
Lindsay Tanner is the inaugural vice-chancellor’s fellow at Victoria University, Australia, and a former federal politician. In an op-ed in the Australian, he talks about the need for more academic input into policy debates: “While disciplines such as nuclear physics and anthropology are obviously important, they’re typically not as proximate to the world of day-to-day problem-solving in business and government as areas where VU [Victoria University] is strong, such as health, transport, communications and financial services. It’s in these areas that our public debate desperately needs stronger intellectual input.”

• Leaks and Chagos
Sean Carey, cultural anthropologist at Roehampton University, published an article in the New Statesman on WikiLeaks about the dedication of the Chagos Archipelago as a marine reserve. He points out that this seemingly benign move in terms of the environment has the consequence of creating a new barrier to the Chagossians seeking the right of return to their homeland. International enviro is the new international security?

• Taking a sabbatical from seeing race everywhere
The Philadelphia Inquirer published an interview with John Jackson, the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication and Anthropology and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the Annenberg School for Communication. He is also an African American. For 40 days, he says, he tried not to see or speak race anywhere. After the brief “sabbatical,” he concluded that complete “de-racialization” isn’t reasonable since race is everywhere and “we produce it every day.”

• Get on the social/cultural bus
For the past several years, Nicholas Wade of the New York Times has covered anthropology from time to time, commenting on discoveries of note by archaeologists or biological anthropologists. Picking up on the kerfuffle, which started in late November, about the proposed revision in the American Anthropological Association’s mission statement to drop the word “science,” Wade depicts anthropology as a riven discipline. Sadly Wade has missed many opportunities in the past year to talk about what anthropologists other than archaeologists and bio anthropologists have accomplished. Blogger’s reco to Wade: start reading blogs such as Somatosphere, Savage Minds, anthropologi, this one, and others, to learn about the contributions of social/cultural anthropologists to public knowledge, public policy, and life in general. Get on the social/cultural bus, Mr. Wade.

• Money before plastic
NPR picked up on a classic topic in cultural anthropology: a non-modern / non-Western form of currency that exists in very large carved stone discs (as tall or taller than a person) on the island of Yap. NPR interviews archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick of North Carolina State University.

• Rethinking repatriation of unidentified American Indian bones
Robert Kelly, archaeologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming argues that unidentified Indian remains should stay with museums for study. He supports research that is collaborative with Indian groups, and he says that new scientific methods may eventually allow for identification.

• Where did wine come from?
According to Patrick McGovern, wine may date back as far as 8500 BC. McGovern is the director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He recently lectured at the Dallas Museum of Art where he covered two millennia of the archaeological evidence of wine and its place in society.

• What lies beneath?
We know that sea levels are higher now than they were many thousands of years ago when modern humans began migrating out of Africa. Several mainstream media picked up an article in Current Anthropology about the existence of a now submerged “Persian Gulf Oasis” that may have been occupied by modern humans starting around 100,000 years ago. It was submerged under the Indian Ocean around 8,000 years ago.

• My mine’s older than yours
Don’t you love “the oldest” category! It’s an ever changing line in the sand. The past week brought news that archaeologists have discovered the remains of the oldest mine in the New World. It’s in Chile and dates from 12,000 years ago. Iron oxide was the sought-after substance. It may have been used as a pigment to dye cloth or in rituals. South Africa holds the worldwide record for oldest mine with a mine dating to 40,000 years ago. Not likely the New World will ever be able to beat that.

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