Anthro in the news 6/16/14

  • Mixed emotions in Brazil about the World Cup

Source: The Telegraph.

BBC News, among many other media, reported on the mixed reactions in Brazil to the launch of this year’s World Cup competition – from jubilation among some to resentment and protest among others. The BBC quoted cultural anthropologist Arlei Damo of the University of Rio Grande do Sul:

“There is a real conflict…The usual love affair with the Selecao has been undermined by many things – the protests, the realisation that few Brazilians can’t afford to watch them as they wanted to. The emotions aren’t flowing as they typically would.”

  • Can fathers be good “mothers”

An article in The National Post (Canada) raises the stereotype based question of whether fathers can be good mothers. In addition to reviewing findings from some ongoing studies about “mother”- associated roles and behavior such as nurturance and listening, the article quotes cultural anthropologist Barry Hewlett of Washington State University, who researches childhood: “It’s quite clear both men and women can be sensitive and excellent caregivers of children.” For the past 40 years, Hewlett has studied the Aka Pygmy peoples of Central Africa, where fathers spend more time in close contact to their babies than in any other known society and where mothers are the disciplinarians. Watching the fathers bounce babies on their knees while they socialize with other males makes it a less convincing case that care is specifically innate according to gender, he said. The only “obligate” responsibility for care giving that’s innate to women is breastfeeding, Hewlett noted.

  • Embroiled tenure case at Harvard

The Boston Globe carried an article about the tenure denial at Harvard of cultural anthropology professor Kimberly Theidon. Theidon says she was told her department had voted unanimously to grant her tenure, and e-mails from colleagues described “stellar” reviews of her work from scholars in her field. In the end, Harvard turned down Theidon for tenure, and her time at Harvard is over at the end of this semester. According to the article:

“To Theidon, the rejection was evidence of both gender discrimination and retaliation for her support of students victimized by sexual assault and sexual harassment, just as the university was facing a burgeoning student movement alleging the college was mishandling sexual assault cases. She filed a claim in March with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.”

  • Paul Farmer talks global health in Toronto

The Star reported on a talk that medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, of Harvard University, gave at the University of Toronto on a wide range of issues related to global health. He addressed health inequality worldwide, the role of Partners in Health in Haiti, and the role of “medical voluntourism,” and the need for more compassion in the world.

  • Human behavior recognized as important in energy research

An article in Wired reported on how the focus in energy and climate studies is shifting to include attention to people and is increasingly drawing on methods and findings from the social sciences. Engineers are learning that they need to know about behavior that shapes energy use and how people can be persuaded to use less energy. The article drew extensively on the work of cultural anthropologist Susan Mazur-Stommen, who directs the Behavior and Human Dimensions Program at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. She said: “Engineers do innovative things, and that’s still continuing…But engineers are not great at understanding human behavior. They’d make these rational arguments about saving money or energy, and people would say, ‘That’s great!’ But people didn’t change.”

  • Turkey

The Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey) carried an interview with cultural anthropologist Nükhet Sirman a professor of anthropology at Boğaziçi University. In discussing the recent retreat of the PKK, she said: “Families who are making calls to get their children back [from joining the PKK] have seen hope for change, but the current realities have not changed on the ground for the youth.” Kurdish youth are still leaving home to join the PKK.

  • What lies beneath

According to The Yorkshire Post (U.K.), archaeologist Glenn Foard of Huddersfield University, a leading battlefield archaeology, is developing a project to unearth what lies beneath the site of the battle of Hastings. He is facing the challenge of sorting the modern artifacts left behind by battle re-enactors from items left from 1066. The first stage, likely to take place in spring 2015, would be to spend a week machining away the top layers of soil at a substantial area of the battlefield, in order to eliminate modern artifacts. Then there would be a search for genuine remains.


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