anthro in the news 4/25/16

The banality of U.S. politics

Source: Flickr/Creative Commons

Paul Stoller, professor of anthropology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, published a piece in The Huffington Post on the banality of U.S. presidential politics. He leads with this observation: “Am I alone, or is there an exponentially expanding audience of people who have grown tired of our fight club presidential politics? In this 2016 political season, which has now reached the all-important New York primary, there have been endless exchanges during which the various candidates have unabashedly teased, cajoled and insulted one another.”


Trash anthropology in the news

File:Bald Eagle at Tomoka Landfill - Flickr - Andrea Westmoreland.jpg
Source: Andrea Westmoreland, Flickr/Creative Commons

On Earth Day, The Los Angeles Times carried an article about the scope of the world’s trash problem and the obliviousness of Americans to how much trash they create and its effects on the environment. The article mentions the research of cultural anthropologist Joshua Reno of Binghamton University in New York State, author of Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill.


Speaking Arabic while flying

The Huffington Post reported on the potential risks involved in speaking Arabic while on an airplane, given a recent incident on a Southwest Airlines flight when a passenger was off-loaded apparently for speaking Arabic. The article asks why the Arabic language is being stigmatized as a “language of terror.” It includes commentary from William Cotter, a joint Ph.D. student in anthropology and linguistics at the University of Arizona studying language change in the Middle East as a result of political conflict and long-term violence.  As opposed to being the “language of terror, he notes: “The history of Arabic is deep and closely tied to the evolution of intellectual thought, the birth of math and science, etc.”

Cruising to Cuba

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the first cruise ship to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in more than 50 years will set out on May 1, and it will be allowed to include U.S. residents who were born in Cuba. The article draws on commentary about the importance of U.S.  tourists to the Cuban economy from Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute and professor of anthropology at Florida International University:  “Given the fact that Cuba has not identified other sources of capital, tourism is the mainstay of the economy, and they are clearly looking at the U.S. market.”

Population displacement in context

In an op-ed in Eyewitness News, Jeffrey Cohen, professor of anthropology at the Ohio State University, looks at the crisis of Syrian refugees/displaced people in a wider context: “In my book Cultures of Migration, I argue that mass migrations and refugee crises don’t simply happen. They have a history and a trajectory. That work has led me to ask: Who are the Syrian refugees? What made their migration happen?”

Ambedkar anniversary prompts controversy

The Times of India reported on one of the many celebrations in India of the 125th birth anniversary of scholar and social activist, B. R. Ambedkar. A blueprint was revealed at the event for a 125-ft tall bronze statue of the “father of the Constitution” which will be installed in Amaravati, southern India. Speaking at the event was G. V. Ratnakar of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, professor of anthropology, whose research is on the history and evolution of castes in the Amaravati region. [Blogger’s note: Ambedkar’s views and heritage are being vigorously debated as the anniversary celebrations proceed; go to Google News and type in “Ambedkar.”]

Take that anthro degree and…

….work in a non-profit organization.  Oliette Murry-Drobot is executive director of the Family Safety Center in Memphis, Tennessee. She helps more than 2,400 people every year escape abusive relationships and rebuild their lives.  She has a B.A. in anthropology from Rhodes College, an M.A. in applied anthropology from the University of Memphis, and a master’s degree in business administration from Belhaven College.

become a chaplain and work in health care. Anthony Agbali is a spiritual care specialist and consultant at CHw in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has a B.A. in philosophy and theology from Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome-Vatican City, an M.A. in anthropology from Wayne State University, an M.A. in sociology from Wayne State University, and he is a Board Certified Chaplain.

work in a non-profit organization. Sharon Long is regional development manager at Children England where she is the strategic director for the Partnership for Young London. She has a B.A. in creative arts from Manchester University, an M.A. in printmaking from the Camberwell School of Art, and an M.A. in anthropology from Goldsmith’s College, the University of London.

High status female mummy

The Guardian reported on the discovery by archaeologists in Peru of a 4,500-year-old mummy of a woman buried near Caral, one of the oldest cities of the Americas. Archaeologist Ruth Shady Solís said the mummy was probably a noblewoman who died aged 40 to 50 years old and was buried in the  coastal ruins of Aspero, about 14 miles from Caral. Shady Solís deduced the woman’s social status from the value and diverse origins of the objects around her: seashells, carved desert birds, and carved designs of jungle monkeys.

Rebranding “Neanderthals”

BBC News described findings from studies of Neanderthal dental plaque showing that Neanderthal dental health was quite good, indicating that the Neanderthal diet and quality of life were not as bad as what popular negative connotations of “Neanderthal” convey. Research of Karen Hardy, ICREA research professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, and others, has revealed that Neanderthals’ diet included plants such as edible grass, nuts, and legumes, as well as chamomile which has medicinal properties. The Neanderthals may also have used wooden toothpicks to pick or rub their teeth.

In memoriam

Bernard Bate, a professor at Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) and former professor in Yale’s anthropology department, died at the age of 55 years. Bate, an expert on the South Asian language Tamil, was also known for his undergraduate teaching. He taught popular courses on critical, ethnographic and historical approaches to South Asia at both Yale and Yale-NUS.

Bernard “Bunny” Fontana, a cultural anthropologist, archaeologist, and historian of the American Southwest, died at the age of 85 years. Fontana’s career spanned six decades. He wrote histories of the indigenous populations of the Southwest, including the Tohono O’odham in Arizona and the Sonora and the Tarahumara in Chihuahua, Mexico. The leading expert on Mission San Xavier, he was co-founder of Patronato San Xavier, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of Mission San Xavier del Bac. He helped create the Southwestern Mission Research Center at the University of Arizona in 1965 to support borderlands research and education.
A section of the Teotihuacan mapping project. Source: University of Rochester

René Millon, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University Rochester, died at the age of 94 years. His life’s work was dedicated to mapping and excavating Teotihuacán, a 2,000-year-old city located 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. Known for its Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun, Teotihuacán was the largest and most influential city of the pre-Columbian New World. Millon led an international team of researchers who produced the first complete building-by-building map of the city. The use of aerial photography was accompanied by surface surveys and the collection of about one million artifacts from some 5,000 sites within the mapped area. Mapping the city and its environs revealed several thousand ceremonial and residential structures. The project has formed the basis for all subsequent archaeological investigations at the site.


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