Anthro in the news 12/29/14

[Blogger’s note: Here is the last anthro in the news for 2014. Please stay tuned for my annual “best cultural anthropology dissertations” post coming soon]

Ruth Behar
  • U.S. Cuba relations: Hoping for a miracle

Ruth Behar, professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, published a piece in The Tico Times, reflecting on President Obama’s recent statement on U.S.-Cuba relations:

“When I awoke to the news of President Barack Obama’s proposed U.S. policy changes, I immediately thought: Isn’t it amazing that this occurred on Dec. 17? It’s a day of great significance to Cubans, when thousands of them make an annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Rincón to mark the feast day of San Lázaro…It is a Cuban custom to bring pennies to San Lázaro, hoping they will translate into miracles. Even my father likes to scatter pennies on the porch of his house in Queens…Right now, I don’t know whose promise of miracles to believe in more — those of San Lázaro and Babalu Ayé, or those of President Obama. Maybe both. Maybe both.”

Behar is a daughter of Cuban exiles who pledged not to return until there is political change. Yet she has traveled there many times since the early 1990s to do research. She is the author of several books, including An Island Called Home and Traveling Heavy which tell the story of her return to Cuba. Her writings include anthropological studies, poetry, memoirs, and literary fiction.

  • Social downsides of the booming London restaurant scene

The Guardian carried an article about how the booming restaurant scene in London is related to marked economic inequality that: “produces gastronomic inequality, too.” Not to mention housing strain with high rents and house prices:  “And what if you come to London, where rents are a rip-off, first-time buying is unimaginable, and freelancing in one of those creative industries beloved of Richard Florida means earning sod all? How does a twenty or thirty-something in those circumstances take up the lifestyle offered by the capital? By parking any idea of buying a place, starting a family and settling down.”

The article quotes Sean Carey, University of Manchester cultural anthropologist:  “They [young people] haven’t the money to grow up, so they go out…They queue for burgers, eat at concept diners and Instagram the results – perhaps it makes an unlivable settlement bearable for a while.”

  • Interview with David Graeber

El Mundo carried an extensive interview with cultural anthropologist, David Graeber. Graeber is a professor of anthropology in the London School of Economics and author of the influential book, Debt. [Blogger’s note: The article is in Spanish].

  • Take that anthro degree and…

…become an English teacher in Hong Kong. Miriam Teehan has an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Edinburgh. She then decided to move to Hong Kong to teach English where she is in her second year as a full-time teacher in an international school. While doing her M.A. studies, she also did a TEFL course to qualify her for teaching English as a foreign language. She chose to move to Hong Kong in order to experience a new culture, and also: “I went to Hong Kong because English is so important and the money is good.”

…become the owner of a tour company and a tour guide in Belize. Lyra Spang has an M.A. in anthropology from the George Washington University and a Ph.D. in anthropology with a concentration in food studies from Indiana University. Her dissertation, “Food, Identity and Tourism in Belize,” reflects her interests in food and cultural and national identity. She grew up on an isolated cacao farm on the coast of Toledo District, Belize, where she spent the first 18 years of her life cultivating certified organic cacao trees with her parents and brother and exploring her natural environment. She also had her first experiences as a tour guide, giving guests a thorough introduction to the sea, jungle and farm. She is the founding owner of Taste Belize which offers food and culture tours and cooking classes. You can access some of Spang’s anthropology publications on

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