anthro in the news 6/20/16

Gun speak is louder than words

Source: Creative Commons
Source: Creative Commons

National Public Ratio (U.S.) interviewed Robert Myers, a professor of anthropology and public health at Alfred University in New York, about his research on language, violence and culture. He said that listening to people’s talk reveals cultural themes, namely “gun speak” and how it reflects the prevalence of guns in the U.S. Myers notes that gun speak – including expressions such as silver bullet, getting shot down, stick to your guns — permeates American culture and is used by everyone including men and women, Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and people who have never even seen a real gun: “It’s just part of our way of talking…It’s so common. It reflects this longstanding obsession that we have with guns…”

Wall Street culture

978-0-8223-4599-2_prMarketplace (U.S.) carried an interview with Karen Ho, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota and author of Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. The interview topics include the people and culture of Wall Street, the effects of the 2008 financial crash, and the possibility of change on Wall Street. In terms of change, Ho says: “…there are bigger steps and smaller steps…One is certainly to change the policy landscape so that Wall Street financiers and investors are actually measured by what happens five to seven years from now, as opposed to yearly or quarterly bonuses.” [with audio]

On Muslims in America and Trump’s Muslim Ban proposal

The Atlantic asked six experts to comment on “what is going on” with Muslims in America and especially Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country. One of the commentators is Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, senior editor at Sapelo Square and assistant professor of anthropology and African American studies at Purdue University. Her response begins with this statement:  “What’s going on is that Donald Trump’s suggested ‘Muslim ban’ is simply standard White American racism, 21st-century edition. How do I know this? Because black Muslims have been contending with such racism since 1776. Part of my inheritance, as a black Muslim citizen of the United States, is knowing how to spot this phenomenon, which is as durable as it is elastic.”

Dying for glory

In an article about ISIS martyrs, TIME magazine included insights from cultural anthropologist Scott Atran, a terrorism expert and the Director of Research Anthropology at the National Center of Scientific Research in Paris. He is quoted as saying: “Dying large and going for glory can be a mighty motivator… ISIS is terrific at getting young men from the petty criminal world to do that. Most of them don’t want to be petty criminals. They do it for the opportunity costs typical of a marginalized population, then ISIS comes along and says, ‘Look at what this society, without a moral compass, has forced you to do. Well, liberate yourself from these chains.’”

What’s a loaded handgun doing in a park?

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York State) reported on the discovery of a loaded handgun in a park in Brighton, New York, near a children’s playground area. At the park with her husband and 4-year-old son was Kristin Doughty, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester. She published an account of the incident on a Facebook page for Brighton:  “This seems to me something that as a community we should be aware of.” Gun enthusiasts have been pressing local lawmakers around the U.S. to repeal bans on carrying guns in parks since 2009, when President Obama signed a bill lifting a ban in national parks that was tacked to a bill reigning in the credit card industry.

Paul Farmer’s prescription

Minnesota Public Radio published Paul Farmer’s keynote remarks from a University of Minnesota symposium on social medicine and health equity.  Farmer, a medical anthropologist, physician, and co-founder of Partners in Health, has devoted his career to improving health care around the world in the belief that “health is a right, not a commodity.” In his view, the major barrier to health care equity is a failure of imagination. [with audio]

Trending Hollywood

The Los Angeles Times carried an interview with cultural anthropologist Susan Kresnicka who works with the Troika Design Group in Los Angeles. She comments on her father’s disappointment when she veered from a path to medical school and instead earned a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. She then trained as a chef and worked as one for several years before moving into her current position in media research related to Hollywood trends. Her career advice: Whenever possible, broaden the expertise, Kresnicka said. “When you force yourself to open your mind to people who have a different set of boundaries based on their training, you will open up new questions and see different things, learn new things. Whatever topic you are studying, you are going to understand it better by coming at it from multiple angles.”

Music documentary is about more than music

Ron Emoff (right). Source: The Newark Advocate

The Newark Advocate (Ohio) reported on a documentary film on the live music scene and its social context in Newark. Ron Emoff, a musician and professor of music and anthropology at Ohio State University Newark, along with his wife Cathi Goldie, created a documentary about local music. They talked with many musicians and then decided to focus on six: Landon Rowe, Roof Dogs, Jack Ballengee Morris, Rese Jhordan, This Nation Will Devour Us, and Shane Hexem. Emoff is quoted as saying: “We wanted to present a side of Newark to folks so they can see the admirable elements of Newark that don’t get reported anywhere…It’s a film about how Newark as a place is imagined into being by these different creative artists…It’s about creativity and place.”

Take that anthro degree and…

…work in marketing. Anthony Martinez Beven is a marketing manager at Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has B.A. degrees in anthropology and sociology and a minor in journalism.  Following graduation, he was an intern with The Oakland Press (California) and later covered health and Hispanics as a freelancer from 2004 to 2014.

Neanderthals got around

Caption: The cave of Dhar Ghalam. Source: Wikipedia
Caption: The cave of Dhar Ghalam. Source: Wikipedia

According to an article in The Malta Times, analysis of a tooth discovered in Malta in 1917 indicates that it is from a Neanderthal individual, thus pushing back Maltese human prehistory by 30,000 years. Anton Mifsud, a retired pediatrician and archaeology buff, has long supported the view that Neanderthals were the first humans to occupy Malta. He consulted with three experts who agree with him that a tooth found at Ghar Dhalam has Neanderthal characteristics. They are Aida Gomez-Robles of George Washington University, Shara Bailey of New York University, and Tim Compton of the Natural History Museum, London.

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