Anthro in the news 07/30/12

• Dream on, Europe

An article in the Financial Times by cultural anthropologist Gillian Tett has attracted several responses. She argues that a sense of positive energy and mission is missing in Europe now.  One response notes that Europe has been dreaming for a long time. [LINK 2]

• It’s the debt, stupid

The Indian Express carried a review of cultural anthropologist David Graeber’s recent book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years:  “Graeber proposes that the notion that money was invented to simplify barter is an academic fiction. The record suggests that it was invented to quantify debt, which is therefore the foundational economic concept. Debt, created by the first agrarian empires, predated markets, he argues. And the rise of markets was powered by indebtedness, whose most extreme forms are indentured or bonded labour and slavery, a contract in which the slave owes everything, including life and limb. The role of slavery in the rise of empires, from Athens and Rome to the US before abolition, is well-documented. And the indebtedness that mercantile Europe visited upon Africa has lasted for over a century. Shamed by that legacy, Europeans like Bono and Bob Geldof are still trying to have Africa’s loans written off. ”

• Take that anthro degree…

…and become a tv and film star. Having slaved away for the past four years working on her doctorate from the Auckland University of Technology, television and film personality Ella Henry says the best part of the experience is simply getting it done. The 57-year-old has graduated with a Ph.D, in Maori Development. This is her third degree, having picked up a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology and a Masters of Commerce from the University of Auckland in the 1990s. Henry has a long history working in film, television and radio in New Zealand. She was a part of a group who established Nga Aho Whakaari, the association of Maori in film, video and television. Henry has worked at Radio Waatea and has appeared in Maori Television”s Ask Your Auntie programme. She is the chairwoman of the Association of Women in Film and Television NZ and was awarded the Mana Wahine award at the Mana Wa

• Neanderthal cousins in Africa?

Geneticists studying DNA say that, contrary to the accepted view of human evolution, a previously unknown archaic species of human, a cousin of the Neanderthals, may have lingered in Africa until perhaps 25,000 years ago, coexisting with modern humans there and perhaps interbreeding with them. The geneticists findings are published in the journal Cell. An article in The New York Times quotes several fossil experts expressing concerns about this new narrative that is based on genetic reconstructions but does not look at the fossil evidence.

• Baboon takeover should have been prevented

A Kenya-based American expert on primates says Cape Peninsula baboons have become “uncontrollable” because of the “extreme position” of activists who have “thwarted” scientific solutions to the conflict between the monkeys and humans.  In an open letter to the Cape Times, Professor Shirley Strum, a biological anthropologist and professor at the University of California at San Diego specializing in primate studies, criticized baboon monitoring practices:  “The baboons should have been aversively deterred from approaching and feeding on human food from the start and consistently since the first signs. How could anyone let a troop sleep on the roof of an apartment building? It is a joke to have monitors walking behind clapping hands at this point. I’m not even certain major deterrent efforts will be effective for many troops, but it is the only option now short of eliminating most or all of the baboons.”

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