anthro in the news 12/28/2015

Source: Google Images/Creative Commons

To address ISIS, social science essential

Two social scientists at the University of Oxford,, one a social anthropologist and the other an economist, co-authored an article in the Huffington Post about how “…European states need to go beyond the obvious target, ISIS and its twisted interpretation of Islam, and delve deeper into the complex genesis of violence. Violence is located not just in extremist ideology but also in struggles over the distribution of power within and across nations.” And later on, they write about “…the need to problematize the state and its policies alongside their targets of attack. We need to unpack the common sense view of the state as a benevolent agent operating under explicit policy directions.” Mohammad Talib is Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz fellow in the Anthropology of Muslim Societies at the Oxford Centre for Islamic studies, and Adeel Malik is Globe Fellow in the Economies of Muslim Societies.


Miss Honduras at the 2015 Miss Universe contest. Source: Richard D. Salyer/Courtesy of Miss Universe Organization

Stop the killing: A message from Miss Honduras

National Public Radio (U.S.) carried an article about the national costume worn by Miss Honduras, Iroshka Lindaly Elvir, in the Miss Universe contest. It included many decorative skulls. According to archaeologist Rosemary A. Joyce, professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Elvir’s costume drew on Maya culture to bring world attention to violence in Honduras.  The U.N. has ranked Honduras as having the highest murder rate in the world. Joyce noted that: “[Elvir] uploaded pictures to her Facebook page in which she is wearing that outfit holding a sign [that reads] ‘CICIH YA’ which is a call for an independent, U.N.-appointed anti-corruption task force to be appointed for Honduras.”



Beyond inquiry, justice

An op-ed in the Toronto Star by Ronald Niezen, argues that the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women should go beyond apologies and shame about the past: It should see that justice is done. He writes: “We have seen public apologies, shame and sorrow in abundance. In the just-concluded Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on Indian residential schools we heard from survivors’ often tearful testimony how they were physically and sexually abused, their languages and cultures targeted for elimination, their suffering and self-destruction transmitted to succeeding generations…Clearly tears are not enough.” Niezen is professor of law and anthropology at McGill University and holds the Katharine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy.


Possible of Al Huda education in Islamic radicalization?

The Times Union (Los Angeles) carried an article on Al Huda, Islamic schools founded by Farhat Hashmi. Hashmi, an Islamic scholar founded a religious schools that have educated thousands of mainly urban, upper-middle-class Pakistani women in a conservative strain of Islam. The chain of Al Huda schools has more than 70 locations in Pakistan, including in the city of Multan, where Tashfeen Malik, one of the San Bernardino shooters, studied for several months beginning in 2013. Recordings of Hashmi’s lectures, which can be found on YouTube and iTunes, often show her speaking to classrooms filled with rapt young women eagerly scribbling notes.  According to Sadaf Ahmad, associate professor of anthropology at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan: “.Although Hashmi has not advocated violence, she has promoted a specific interpretation of Sunni Islam that does not tolerate other Muslims and non-Muslims, who are sometimes referred to as non believers walking a ‘path of sin…’ It is in this context that their beliefs have the potential to become dehumanizing, dangerous and harmful for others.”


Interview about Franco-Mauritians

The Mauritius Times published an interview with cultural anthropologist Tijo Salverda of the University of Cologne about the Franco-Mauritian elite at home and abroad. The interview covers a lot of ground including the anthropology of elites and Salverda’s findings about the Franco-Mauritian elites. One quotation is: “Franco-Mauritians have realised that their economic power is best served by staying away from politics.” [Blogger’s note: thanks to aw’s Sean Carey for this link].





Take that anthro degree and…

…become an artist and jewelry maker. Mima Pejoska describes herself as an introvert, dreamer, and maker who discovered her love for the crafts early in her life and has developed as an artist in Italy, Germany and the U.S. She said: “Each new study and place thought me how to approach art differently. My academic path started with Ethnology and Anthropology, continued with Design Thinking and finally mastering Jewelry and Objects at the end… all of it circled around my passion for making and creating, and helped me define my skill set and its use. I think this is what mainly defines me as an artist… being interested in what else lies beneath the obvious.” She has a B.A. in ethnology and anthropology from Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in the Republic of Madedonia, an M.F.A. in methods and jewelry from Ente di Formazione IRIGEM in Italy, and further training in goldsmithing.
…become a library professor. Elizabeth Berman serves as an associate library professor and science librarian at the University of Vermont. Her work in the Information and Instructional Services Department focuses on instructional design and pedagogy, marketing and outreach of services, collection management, and educational technologies and user experience. She has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.S. in food systems from the University of Vermont.

…work in international health and development. Lauren Evans is health programs coordinator for the Ghana Health and Education Initiative, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of rural people in West Africa. She discovered her love for international work while teaching English in South Korea after earning a B.A. degree in anthropology from Boston University. She went on to get an M.A. degree in international development from the University of Denver.

…become an entrepreneur and CEO. Tony Deifell is founder and CEO of AwesomeBox, an organization that seeks to change gift-giving. He says that: “Gift giving is a part of life, so we… interviewed people all over the country about the best gift they’ve given, the best gift they got, the worst gift — just listening to all these people’s stories. What we discovered through that process is that people yearn for meaning in their life; for emotion in their life. So while you might say the hardest thing in gift giving is seeking out what a person really wants — but in fact, the hardest problem is that people want to be remembered. They want to be appreciated for their gift; they want to see someone’s face when they open it up. It’s about the connection and people’s relationships and the meaning. So we formed AwesomeBox with that idea.” The entire research approach, he noted, was informed by anthropology. Deifell has a B.A. in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.B.A. in entrepreneurship from Harvard University.

…become a radio presenter. Alison Curtis is a presenter of radio on the Irish radio station Phantom 105.2 where she has presented The Last Splash and The Alison Curtis Show. Born in Canada, she has a B.A. (with honors) in anthropology from the University of Toronto. Alongside her studies, she was actively involved in the Toronto indie scene, managing band nights, writing and editing the college paper, and drumming in a band called The Justice League. After graduating, she moved to Ireland.

…become a musician and instrument maker. Gerald Anderson has always been interested in music. During the 1970s, he was an anthropology student at Emory & Henry College in Virginia when he heard Doc Watson play on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken. He says: “I loved it. I wanted to play guitar like Doc Watson.” After earning his B.A., Anderson began hanging out at a cousin’s music shop, sweeping the floors. “Noting that a degree in anthropology was pretty well useless to a man making guitars, Anderson said he has no regrets. His college experiences make him a well-rounded person.” Since then, he has achieved his dream of playing bluegrass and old-time music and making stringed instruments. He has completed approximately 30 recordings, four of those solo, and has won more than 200 ribbons, mostly on guitar, from musical competitions. In 2007, he played for the Queen of England at the National Folk Festival in Richmond, Virginia, and he has toured in England and Scotland. His most memorable accomplishment was winning the guitar competition at the Galax Fiddlers Convention in 2003. Anderson has built 162 mandolins, 127 guitars, three fiddles, one autoharp, one banjo, and one ukulele.


Visual Curation Lab attracts interest

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia), the Visual Curation Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University has made a strong start in its mission of preserving and reproducing archaeological artifacts using 3-D printing and scanning technology. Its founding director is Bernard Means, professor of anthropology at VCU. So far, the Lab has made 3-D scans and reproductions of a mummified possum, countless Native American artifacts, and a 96-year-old World War II veteran. Two current projects are what is considered the world’s oldest cured ham and the world’s oldest peanut. Both are from the Isle of Wight County Museum in Smithfield, Virginia, artifacts from the Gwaltney family’s longstanding meat processing company. Funding from the U.S. Department of Defense established the Lab. DoD interest relates to the fact that it is the second largest property-holder in the U.S. and is thus responsible for a lot of artifacts.


It just goes on and on: The amazing richness of Stonehenge

The Guardian reported on new discoveries in the Stonehenge area, revealed by ongoing survey work related to the construction of a tunnel under the site to divert traffic from the current highway that cuts across the site. For example, around 3,400 years ago, people cut an immaculate pit a meter deep into the chalk with picks made of red deer antlers. And then a neat trench links it to another pit. The theory is that the pits held huge wooden posts that could have been seen from miles around. The article quotes Phil McMahon, Historic England archaeologist, and his counterpart at the National Trust, Nick Snashall, who laughed and shrugged. Snashall said: “A gateway? A boundary marker? A palisade? The truth is we just don’t know…We won’t even have a date [that it was created] until we get the lab results back.” McMahon said: “This is keyhole surgery…We’re throwing up as many questions as we answer.”


Ancient human bones in the news: Favorite stories of 2015

Kristina Killgrove, a bioarchaeologist and assistant professor at the University of West Florida, writes in Forbes about her top favorite human bone finds of 2015: This year has seen a number of advances in the field of bioarchaeology – the study of ancient human bones – as well as plenty of interesting case studies that show us that people in the past were not that unlike us. In reviewing some of the top themes and stories of this past year, it becomes clear that researchers are getting better and better at understanding people and events that weren’t written down in history, by making bones spill their secrets.”


Rudolph with your eyes so bright

Prompted by questions from his 4-year-old daughter, Dartmouth College anthropology professor Nathaniel Dominy recently wrote a paper published in Frontiers for Young Minds on how the unique properties of reindeer eyes might explain the advantage of having a very shiny nose, particularly if it produces red light.




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