anthro in the news 4/18/16

Global mental health and economics

Source: Flickr

USA Today carried an article about a report from the World Health Organization claiming that every U.S. dollar invested in mental health treatment can quadruple returns in work productivity. The article quotes Jim Kim, World Bank president, medical anthropologist, and doctor: “Despite hundreds of millions of people around the world living with mental disorders, mental health has remained in the shadows…This is not just a public health issue — it’s a development issue.” Also quoted is Arthur Kleinman, professor of medical anthropology and psychiatry at Harvard University: “Mental health needs to be a global humanitarian and development priority… We need to provide treatment, now, to those who need it most, and in the communities where they live…Until we do, mental illness will continue to eclipse the potential of people and economies.”  [Blogger’s note: Sounds like a boon for Big Pharma?]


China’s food industry: Not relevant to the U.S.?

Made in China, sold around the world.

The Huffington Post carried an article about two contrasting zones of presenting the value of scientific research in Washington, DC, this past week. In the White House, President Barack Obama gathered with young students to celebrate scientific discovery. On the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue, adult scientists put on an exhibit illustrating the negative effects of politics on research. One exhibitor was Megan Tracy, assistant professor of anthropology at James Madison University. She received an award of $150,000 from the U.S. National Science Foundation to study the effects of China’s poorly regulated milk market. Some U.S. congressional critics asked what good it did the American taxpayers to help China with its dairy. In response, Tracy notes that the U.S. imported more than $28 billion worth of food from China in 2013.


Blood Year: Book review

Cover for  Blood Year The New York Times carried a review of Blood Year by David Kilcullen. He has a Ph.D. in political anthropology and has served in several military/security roles. The review says, “Blood Year,” a breezy survey of the West’s antiterrorism campaigns, has a message: The strategy Kilcullen helped design has failed, as witness the emergence of ISIS.”

Ghana’s Puppeteers: Film review

Pasatiempo (New Mexico) carried a review of Steven Feld‘s documentary film, J.C. Abbey: Ghana’s Puppeteer. The film tells the story of Ghana’s rebuilding through a series of music videos featuring more than a dozen of J.C. Abbey’s colorful puppets and music by Nii Noi Nortey and Nii Otoo Annan. Feld is quoted as saying: “Nii Noi is a sculptor and visual artist and an instrument maker and performer, the most eclectic, eccentric guy on the scene there…He plays the one-string gonje and the saxophone, and he also invented a family of African instruments with saxophone mouthpieces…” Feld, an emeritus professor of anthropology and music at the University of New Mexico, met Abbey in 2007. A screening to benefit the School for Advanced Research is scheduled for April 20 at the Center for Contemporary Arts.

Feeling the Bern across the Atlantic

According to an article in The Telegraph (U.K.), a Danish anthropology student left his studies to come to New York to volunteer for Bernie Sanders.

Student panel at SFAA conference

The Chicago Tribune reported that three undergraduate students at the College of DuPage — Sharon Grimm, Allen Garza, and Amber Julius — have been selected to present the results of their research at the 76th Annual Conference of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA) in Vancouver, British Columbia. According to their mentor, Derrick Willis, associate professor of anthropology, the project developed from his methods class where students carry out independent research and submit abstracts for conferences. The students did an ethnographic study of the College’s library with the goal of making it more effective for students.

Take that anthro degree and…

…work in development planning. Ahmad Karim is an associate planner at the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning. He has an M.A. in applied anthropology from Indiana University at Purdue.

…become a photojournalist. Nancy Borowick is a humanitarian photojournalist. She has most recently documented the final days in the lives of her parents, who were in parallel treatment for stage-four cancer and died within a year of one another. Her “Cancer Family” photographs have appeared in numerous publications worldwide, and a Kickstarter project aims to raise money to develop a book and traveling exhibition. She has a B.A. in anthropology and photography from Union College in New York State. She lived for a short time in Ghana, where she taught photography at a rural school. Before returning to the U.S., she asked what the school would most want to have if she could raise some money. The answer was a well. She raised enough funding through selling her photographs for the project. “That’s really when I had that epiphany of, ‘Wow, my photographs are not just telling a story, but they could actually create change.’ ”

…become an elementary school teacher. Carolyn Tokunaga, retired, was an employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District for 32 years. She taught Grades 1-4 at schools in South Central Los Angeles, Topanga Canyon, and the San Fernando Valley. While she enjoyed experiencing new environments, meeting new people, and learning new curricula at different schools and grades, she felt that teaching was always about the children with its many rewards – witnessing a concept understood, a skill mastered, or the progress throughout the school year. Equally rewarding was guiding student teachers. For 20 of those school years, Tokunaga served as the on-site union representative for United Teachers Los Angeles, and she continues active participation in it. She has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles.

…work in public health. Lindsey Sova is a research associate in the Department of Family Medicine at the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Among other tasks, she supports the collection, coding, and evaluation of data for health services research studies. She a B. A. in anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and an M.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from the Ohio State University.

…become a documentary filmmaker. Camilla Nielssen is based in Denmark but works around the world. Her films have been set in Afghanistan, India, and Sudan. Her most recent film, Democrats, documents Zimbabwe’s political history. It has won Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival and Best Director at the One World Human Rights Film Festival. She has an M.A. in visual anthropology from New York University.

Bone Rooms: Book review

The Washington Post carried a review by Barbara J. King, a biological anthropologist and Chancellor Professor at the College of William and Mary, of Bone Rooms, by biological anthropologist Samuel J. Redman. Redman describes the latest technology brought to bear on the thousands of human remains housed in the Smithsonian Institution and the ethical issues Smithsonian scientists grapple with as they consult with members of the descendant communities of the individuals in the vaults. King writes: “Redman’s primary focus is the years between the Civil War and World War II, a period when anthropologists collected these remains — and thousands of others that lined the shelves in places like Chicago’s Field Museum and Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum — with no regard for ethics…A strong motivating factor for the extensive research Redman undertook to write “Bone Rooms” was this haunting question: “Given the centrality of death and burial in the human experience, how could seemingly sacred principles be violated so directly and systematically?”

Large stone spheres in Bosnia: Nature or culture?

Fox News reported on the discovery of a large stone sphere in Bosnia and the debate it has sparked. Archaeologist Semir Osmanagich estimates that the sphere— which resembles a giant cannon ball protruding from an embankment—has a diameter of between 7 and 10 feet. A controversial figure in the archaeological community, Osmanagich says that this stone ball is one of several near the town of Zavidovici, and that at one time, there were as many as 80 of them, created by members of a prehistoric civilization. The Bosnian sphere invites comparison to stone spheres in Costa Rica, which occupy four sites that were given a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2014. John Hoopes, chair of the department of anthropology at the University of Kansas and an expert on the Costa Rican spheres, is quoted as saying: “the sphere whose discovery [Osmanagich is] announcing looks like a natural concretion…That said, there is no question but that the stone spheres in Costa Rica, the largest of which measures 2.57 m in diameter, were made by human hands.”

Under the garden: A Roman villa in Wiltshire

According to an article in The Telegraph, work laying an electricity cable beneath the grounds of a home in Wiltshire, U.K., revealed the remains of a Roman mosaic. When archaeologists from Historic England and Salisbury Museum began excavating the site, they found that the mosaic was part of the floor of a large Roman property, similar in size and structure to the Roman villa at Chedworth. But the important remains have been re-buried because Historic England cannot afford to fully excavate and preserve the extensive site. David Roberts, archaeologist for Historic England, is quoted as saying:  “The discovery of such an elaborate and extraordinarily well-preserved villa, undamaged by agriculture for over 1500 years, is unparalleled in recent years.”

In memoriam

Cultural anthropologist Jaber Anasori, who died at the age of 71 years, was an expert on Iranian ritual plays. His many publications include Anthropology and the Psychology of Arts, Culture and Research, Study of Iranian Myths based on Works by Traditional Storytellers, and Breeze of Memories which contains over 150 articles about the oral history of his hometown, Ardebil, located in northwestern Iran.

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