Anthro in the news 10/31/11

• The anthropologist behind Occupy Wall Street
Several mainstream media outlets carried stories about cultural anthropologist David Graeber, said to be the anthropologist behind Occupy Wall Street. As reported in Business Weekly and other sources, David Graeber says he had three goals for the year: promote his book, learn to drive, and launch a worldwide revolution. The first is going well, the second has proven challenging, and the third is looking up. Graeber has published innovative theories on exchange and value, exploring phenomena such as Iroquois wampum and the Kwakiutl potlatch. His pamphlet, Toward an Anarchist Anthropology, is widely read. An American, he teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London.

• Drug trafficking and rising femicide in Latin America
Drug trafficking does not offer job opportunities where one wants to promote gender equality. These job are very dangerous and may be particularly dangerous for women. The Honduras Weekly quoted cultural anthropology professor Howard Campbell of the University of Texas-El Paso on the current and historic roles of women in drug trafficking in Latin America as both mules and bosses. The article also points out the high mortality rates of women involved in drug trafficking. Disposable workers in the interest of criminal capitalism.

• What’s that thing you are holding?
The Chronicle for Higher Education profiled cultural anthropology professor Balmurli Natrajan‘s course where he shows his students a simple object, usually a pen. “What do you see?” he asks. At first, they describe the obvious: a pen. Then he urges students to think about the pen’s life. What is it made of? Where did it come from? “They start seeing that there are human beings, dead and alive—some of them barely alive—that have actually gone into the making of that object,” explains Natrajan. “They start excavating some of those things that are hidden.” Natrajan has been teaching anthropology courses at William Paterson University, in New Jersey, for more than six years, but he says this course is easily the most beloved by his students. It’s called “Global Transformations and the Human Condition.”

• Forensic anthro identifies victims of ethnic warfare
Foreign Policy magazine carried an article including video clips and impressions from a trip to Tuzla and Srebrenica to meet with investigators and victims of the July 1995 massacres. Journalist Michael Dobbs went to the DNA tracking facility in Tuzla operated by the International Commission on Missing Persons. A clip shows an interview with an ICMP forensic anthropologist describing the laborious process of matching DNA samples to an individual victim. It’s all in the numbers.

• Fox News Latino covered findings by Japanese archaeologist
Archaeologist Saburo Sugiyama found that the architects of the ancient city of Teotihuacan based their designs on a numerical measure equivalent to 83 centimeters (32.68 inches). Teotihuacan is the largest city built by indigenous peoples in Mexico.

Barbara King

• Kudos
The trial period is over. William & Mary’s biological anthropologist, Barbara King is a permanent contributor to the blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture, a web-based feature of National Public Radio. She will join an existing group of regular contributors as the only anthropologist—and the only woman author. Guest no longer.

“I was asked to blog for an unspecified time as a mutual trial period,” said King, Chancellor Professor of Anthropology. The title of the blog, 13.7, refers to the age of the universe in billions of years. NPR describes the feature as the “intersection of science and culture.”

Sarah Parcak, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named a 2012 TED fellow. She is among a group of 25 innovators chosen from around the world to join the elite TED Fellow community. All TED fellows are asked to give the “talk of their lives” in only a few minutes.

Sarah Parcak

Parcak uses satellite imagery to uncover archaeological sites. She recently made international headlines when she discovered lost pyramids, tombs and an entire city that had been hidden for thousands of years underneath the deserts and fields of Egypt.

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