Anthro in the news 2/2/15

  • Applying anthropology: How to find a date for Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day approaches, GMA News (The Philippines) offered a heads up about a Sunday, February 1, TV variety show, Ang Pinaka, with a panel on how to find your dream date. The segment entitled, “The Top Ten Ang Pinaka Smart Ways to Find a Date”, includes Nestor Castro, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of the Philippines. [Blogger’s note: if anyone watched the show, please send in comments!]

  • Adios, comadre
Ruth Behar, Esperanze, and their book. Source: Chronical for Higher Education.

Ruth Behar, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan, says farewell in an essay in The Chronicle for Higher Education, to her longtime friend and comadre, Esperanze. Esperanze died late in 2014.

Behar and Esperanze first met in 1983: “An unusual friendship was born, and over time we became ‘co-mothers’ of a book, Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story (1993). It wasn’t your typical life history. The story of her life was entangled with the story of how we came to know each other and why I was the one who wrote her story down.”

  • On Iran’s letter to Western youth

Tiziana Ciavardinia. Source: Tasnim News.

Tasnim News (Iran) carried an interview with Italian anthropologist Tiziana Ciavardini about the significance of the letter sent by Iran’s Supreme Leader to Western youth. On January 21, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei wrote a letter asking European and North American youths not to judge Islam based on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. He urged Western youths to try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of the religion in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns.

The interview with Ciavardini covers a range of topics including whether the letter can be effective in attracting Western youth to study Islam, prevent Islamophobia in the West, whether the Western media will print the letter, and comments on the letter’s contents in general.

  • Teen pregnancy ad campaign going too far?

An article in Urban Milwaukee describes the recently launched public awareness campaign sponsored by the United Way seeking to reduce teen pregnancy. Ads show teen parents as a hand puppet, a jack-in-the-box, and a pull toy. The intended message is: wait and settle down before having a baby.

But the campaign sends a different message to two university professors who head a project called Hear Our Stories, which works to change and reshape what people think about teen parenting. Aline Gubrium, a medical anthropologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her colleague Elizabeth Krause, associate professor of anthropology, take exception to the ad campaign.

Gubrum is quoted as saying: “We see calling out teen parents as bad examples to other teens, as [is done] in this campaign, as harmful and cruel…Teen parents have important stories to share and rather than stigmatizing and silencing the voices of young parents, our project gives young mothers the opportunities to share their stories.”

Krause said she realizes the campaign is not intentionally cruel, but said its visuals bully teen parents: “It’s not a campaign that has dignity.”

  • Book on Franz Boas: Reviewer wants more on his Inuit experience

The Alaska Dispatch carried a review of a book by Canadian cultural anthropologist and geographer Ludger Müller-Wille, The Franz Boas Enigma. The book asks how Boas became a leading figure in American anthropology, shaping the discipline and mentoring many prominent anthropologists.

The reviewer offers this context: “Boas did his first fieldwork during a year spent in the Canadian Arctic living with the Inuit of Baffin Island. He arrived in the fall of 1883 and to the best of his ability lived as the Inuit did, learning their language, their lifestyle and their cosmology.” Then he zings the book with this comment: “In the end, very little is gained from this book.” His concern is that, while the author credits much of Boas’ views and contributions to his initial time with the Inuit, he “…dashes right past this very experience and never delivers the story he promises.”

  • Forensic anthropologist pioneer in facial reconstruction

The Financial Times magazine profiled the work of forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson:

“Professor Caroline Wilkinson is one of the first people alive to have looked into the faces of a Bronze Age warrior, a Neolithic child — and Father Christmas. She uses a combination of the latest medical and digital-imaging techniques to recreate faces from the past; some from centuries or even thousands of years ago, some more recent. Her highest-profile projects have included King Richard III, who died at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 and whose remains were eventually­ identified in 2012, Mary Queen of Scots, J.S. Bach and Saint Nicholas (Santa, it turns out, had a broken nose and olive skin).” She has worked with remains from around the world as well as forensic cases.

Wilkinson is director of the Liverpool School of Art & Design at Liverpool John Moores University; previously she was head of human identification in the Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification at the University of Dundee.

  • Take that degree and…

…become a conservationist working to preserve great apes. Robert Ford has a master’s degree in public health and anthropology and a doctorate in earth science/physical geography. He has over 35 years’ experience as a professor, administrator, field researcher, development consultant and conservation scientist. Ford has carried out conservation science and park management consulting and planning in many countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Haiti, Pakistan, Ghana, Eritrea, Gabon, the Marshall Islands, Mali, Pakistan, Senegal, Belize, Peru, Bolivia, and China.

…become a psychiatrist, specifically a social psychiatrist with a critical perspective on biopsychiatry. Jeremy Wallace, MD, did a M.Sc. degree in anthropology focusing on culture and mental health run by Professor Roland Littlewood at University College London. It provided him with his first critical look at psychiatry. A practicing psychiatrist working in the public sector in Finland primarily in a psychosis rehabilitation clinic. He is also the author of a book, The Recovering Psychiatrist.

  • Out of Africa and hello Neanderthals

CNN and several other mainstream media covered newly reporting findings about a prehistoric human partial skull found in Manot Cave in western Galilee, detailed in a study published in Nature. Co-author Israel Hershkovitz told the Guardian, “This is the first specimen we have that connects Africa to Europe.” The skull dates back about 55 millennia. This discovery provides the best possibility so far for interbreeding of modern humans with Neanderthals since Neanderthals were established in the region during this time period.

Israel Hershkovitz with the partial skull. Source: CNN.

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