anthro in the news 1/11/16


Source: Washington Post

Buy a kidney, exploit the poor and desperate

Washington Post published a weekly “In Theory” piece by medical anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the University of California at Berkeley. She is also director of Organs Watch, and advisor to the World Health Organization, the European Union, and the United Nations. She writes: “Be aware that the sale of organs has damaged the families of sellers and their communities — in Syria, India, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine, Brazil, Egypt, the Philippines, Turkey and wherever political refugees wash up on the shores of Europe. A kidney for an (un)safe passage to freedom: This is the unbalanced agreement demanded of many families fleeing political conflict and drought. In the watery slums of Manila, the obligation to sell a kidney for the financial sake of the family is being passed down from the father to his wife to their underage sons and daughters, whose bodies are seen as a family piggy-bank.”


Too many men?

Politico Magazine and the Australian cited Barbara Miller‘s work on male-biased sex ratios in relation to the many refugees entering Europe. Politico mentions her argument that countries should consider a balanced sex ratio to be a public good. The Australian quotes her as saying that heavily male-biased sex ratios can be a risk to local security. [Blogger’s notes: (1) political scientist Valerie Hudson of Texas A & M University has done much to promote awareness of the connection between heavily male-biased sex ratios and violence; a much earlier, foundational study on the social implications of male-biased sex ratios is an article by anthropologists William Divale and Marvin Harris appeared in the American Anthropologist in 1976. (2) It would be most unfortunate if the “too many men” factor were to become a knee-jerk justification for denying male asylum seekers since a common pattern of refugee migration is that a “pioneer” male first arrives and then brings in his family; see the next entry on U.S. family immigration/reunification policies].

U.S. family immigration policies

Cati Coe, professor of cultural anthropology at Rutgers University, published an article in the Huffington Post commenting on suggestions arising in the U.S. to change immigration policies, following the tragedy in San Bernardino, California. Some criticis claim that visa approval through family sponsorship is relatively easy and unsupervised, suggesting that family sponsorship programs allow families to live together easily and quickly. “In fact, our family sponsorship policy keeps families apart for years through application costs and delays. Most Americans are not aware of the hurdles of sponsoring a relative…” Her research on Ghanaian immigrant families reveals how the U.S. immigration system could be fixed and how to prevent terrorism that is simultaneously home-grown and imported from abroad. She is the author of The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants, and Global Inequality.


Revisiting the NATO intervention in Libya

An article in the Foreign Policy Journal looks at how newly disclosed emails show that Libya’s plan to create a gold-backed currency to compete with the euro and dollar was a motive for NATO’s intervention. The article also mentions the “racial cleansing” by rebels who saw black Libyans as tied closely with the regime, noting the “most comprehensive and well-documented study of the plight of black Libyans:” Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa by Maximilian Forte, professor of anthropology and sociology at Concordia University in Montréal.


Alleged human organ trafficking by ISIS

The Huffington Post carried an article on alleged human organ trafficking by ISIS that mentions the work of medical anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the University of California at Berkeley In February of 2015, Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim requested the UN Security Council to investigate the deaths of 12 doctors in Mosul, Iraq who he claimed had been killed by ISIS after refusing to remove organs from dead bodies. He also claimed that some of the bodies found were mutilated with opening in the back where the kidneys are located. Regarding this allegation, Scheper-Hughes told CNN:  “Organ theft during wars, civil wars, dirty wars, wars involving undisciplined armies is not uncommon response to the February claim…The demand for fresh organs and tissues … is insatiable.” The U.S. State Department responded to the February 2015 claims: “We also have no reason to doubt them given other similar atrocities that have been documented and other heinous crimes for which ISIL has proudly taken credit.”


Take that anthro degree and…

Statue in a London Starbucks, Source: Thandie Newton

…become an actress. Thandie Newton. Thandie Newton lived in Zambia until her parents relocated to the United Kingdom because of ongoing unrest in the country. Newton started to audition for acting roles after being forced to stop studying dance after a back injury. Her first acting job was in the movie Flirting in 1991. She was recently in the news when she tweeted a comment about a statue of a black child in a loin cloth spotted on a counter in a London Starbucks. She almost immediately received a tweeted apology from Starbucks about the statue. The statue has now reportedly been removed from the location. It is not currently known if the statue appeared at any other stores

…become a photographer, artist, and educator. David Rackley creates silver gelatin photographs shot on black and white film, processed in a darkroom, and then painted with oils. He is also a reading aide at Center Valley Elementary School in Russellville, Arkansas. He has traveled extensively, photographing in Mexico and Guatemala, as well as South America, Southeast Asia and Europe. Rackley has a B.A. in anthropology from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina.

…become a photographer. Robert Gerhardt has had his work shown in in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and in a number of private collections. He has lived and worked in New York City since 1999. He has a B.A. in anthropology/sociology and art history from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and an M.F.A. in photography from the Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An exhibit of his black and white photographs of Muslim American is on display at Penn State University.

…work in inventory control. John Blaszczyk is inventory control assistant supervisor at Buy Seasons, Inc., in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He says: “My anthropological training has taught me how to successfully manage complex projects from beginning to end through developing project designs, creating realistic timelines, prioritizing tasks, identifying resources, anticipating potential problems, and maintaining flexibility in the face of changing circumstances. Conducting fieldwork required the ability to envision future needs and realize solutions to meet those needs.” Blaszczyk has an associate’s degree in accounting from Milwaukee Area Technical College, a B.A. in anthropology, and an M.S. in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research involved a comparative analysis (Milwaukee and San Francisco) of the illness experiences of recovering alcoholic, gay men with HIV/AIDS who are members of gay Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-Step Programs.

…become a programmer/analyst and space expert. John Strickland has been a professional programmer and analyst since 1980 and has been employed as a Senior Programmer/Analyst for the State of Texas in Austin since 1989. He has been an active member of several space- and science-related organizations since 1961 and is a director of the Sunsat Energy Council. He has published articles for The Humanist, L5 News, Ad Astra, Space News, Solar Power, and other local and regional publications. His writing has focused on U.S. space policy, access to space, and space solar power. He received a B. A. in anthropology with a minor in biology from SUNY at Buffalo and a second B.A. in computer science from St. Edwards University in Austin.

…become an academic administrator. Ros Morpeth is chief executive of the National Extension College (NEC) of the University of Cambridge where she leads its work on opening up educational opportunities for adults and young people, both in the U.K. and in the developing world. Earlier in her career, in the 1970s, she worked at the Cambridge-based distance learning college and then went on to other positions. She returned to Cambridge four years ago to “rescue” the NEC. IN 2015, she was the recipient of an OBE for service to Further Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She has a B.A. in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

…become an artist. Kathleen Hurley Liao’s works, which reference many cultures, have garnered many awards. She has a B.A. degree in anthropology from Columbia University. She quotes artist Paul Klee in her artist statement “One eye sees, the other feels” and goes on to say “It is this ‘other eye’ that guides the creation of my artwork.  I use an automatic process in which I have no preconceived notion of what may appear.  My only aim is to be authentic in the moment.”

…become a filmmaker, author, and conservationist. Kim MacQuarrie is a Las Vegas-based filmmaker and author who has – among other things – lived with a hitherto uncontacted Amazon tribe, won Emmy awards for documentaries he’s filmed, and – in his most recent effort – traveled the length of South America to find stories along the Andes Mountains. His latest book, Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes and Revolutionaries, details his recent trek through the Andes of South America, traveling from northern Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. He has anthropology degrees from San Francisco State University and California State University at Fullerton.

…become a deejay and reggae musician. Born and raised in Toronto, Chatta has been doing music professionally for over 10 years. “When I first touched the music scene, I was very naive. I was trusting and just thought everyone was out to help each other and have a good time at what they love to do, music. Over the years, I began to witness and experience a trend of deceit,,.Clear off Dutty Heart is aimed at those who attempt to add a dose of difficulty to one’s success.” Born Tricia Edwards, Chatta has a B.A. degree in mass communications and anthropology from York University, Canada. She made her recording debut in 2004 with the track My Flow which was followed by an EP, The Speed of Consciousness .In 2008, Chatta was named Top Female Dancehall Artiste by the Canadian Reggae Achievement Awards.


Dakar Rally endangers Argentine heritage

The Buenos Aires Herald reported on potential risks to archaeological heritage and protected ecosystems from the Dakar Rally. Hundreds of vehicles will race through a National Park in Salta as part of the 2016 edition of the race held in Argentina and Bolivia. The Archaeologists Association of Argentina and the Argentine Anthropology Society have issued press releases warning of the risks faced by the archaeological heritage.


Neanderthal genes live on

As reported in the Los Angeles times and other media, disease immunity and allergies of contemporary humans may be linked to Neanderthal genetic heritage. Archaeologists and geneticists are working together to untangle the role of Neanderthal genes in our lives today. In two papers published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, research teams report that in many people, a group of genes that govern the first line of defense against pathogens was probably inherited from Neanderthals. These same genes appear to play a role in some people’s allergic reaction to things like pollen and pet fur. “It’s a bit speculative, but perhaps this is some kind of trade-off,” said Janet Kelso, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, and senior author of one of the new studies. “Increased resistance to bacterial infection was advantageous, but may have resulted in some increased sensitivity to non-pathogenic allergens.”



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