Anthro in the news 5/16/11

• Get a life, birthers
Alan Boraas, professor of anthropology at Kenai Peninsula College, offers on the ground evidence that the President of the United States is “American”: If Trump and other birthers hung out in the same Soldotna coffee shop that I do they could have asked fellow Americano-sipper Mary Toutonghi about Barack Obama’s origins. As described in a 2009 article by Jenny Neyman in the Redoubt Reporter, Toutonghi baby-sat the infant Barack after his mother returned to Seattle from Hawaii in 1962. Dunham had spent most of her high school years in Seattle and had gone off to the University of Hawaii, met a man, got pregnant, got married, had a son, and moved back to Seattle’s Capitol Hill district. Dunham lived in an old lumber-era mansion that had been converted to a four-plex managed by Toutonghi and her husband, a student at Seattle University. Dunham took evening classes at the University of Washington twice a week and Toutonghi baby-sat Barack along with her own kids. If Dunham had given birth to Barack in Africa a few months earlier, Toutonghi would surely have heard about it.

• “If nothing else, I gave you an interesting life”
During the past week, more reviews appeared of the biography of Ann Dunham, cultural anthropologist and mother of President Barack Obama. Here is an excerpt from the review in Newsweek: “In 1960, before the Civil Rights Act, before the women’s movement, a smart, white 17-year-old arrived at college to find herself pregnant within a matter of weeks. The startling part was not that she dropped out of school at the end of the semester. Or that the father of the child she was carrying was from a different continent and of another color. Nor was it startling that she married him, at a time when doing so qualified as a felony in nearly half of America. Or that she divorced her husband shortly thereafter. The startling part was her conviction–as the child grew into a man–that her son was so gifted ‘that he can do anything he ever wants in the world, even be president of the United States.’ And that she was right.” Other reviews appeared in the Seattle Post, The Washington Times, and the New York Times Sunday edition.

• Kudos
Senior British diplomat James Bevan has been appointed as the U.K.’s High Commissioner to India. Bevan studied Social Anthropology at Sussex University before joining the Foreign Office in 1982.

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