anthro in the news 11/14/16


anthropology in the time of Trump

Cultural anthropologist Paul Stoller, professor at West Chester University, published an essay in The Huffington Post revisiting his article of March 2016, The Anthropology of Trump: Myth, Illusion and Celebrity Culture: “In that piece, I tried to demonstrate how Mr. Trump had brilliantly manipulated the fundamentals of celebrity culture—glitz, illusion and fantasy—to create a kind of alternative reality in which shallow perception is more appreciated than profound insight. In the mythic culture of celebrity, as President-elect Trump understands so well, lies become truth and conspiracies become convincing evidence that our system is ‘rigged.’” Stoller argues that ethnography, thick description, and cultural critique are of even greater importance now.

immigrant anxiety in the time of Trump

WTNH News (Connecticut) reported about widespread anxiety among immigrants in the U.S. about a Trump presidency given his many statements about illegal immigrants including this one 150709094619-donald-trump-quote-mexico-large-169that he made at rally: “Day one my first hour in office those people are gone.” Joyce Bennett, assistant professor of anthropology at Connecticut College, is quoted as saying: “It’s putting people in a really nervous position.” She works closely with immigrants in New London, Connecticut. In Connecticut, undocumented immigrants can get a driver’s license, and they have access to health services.

another immigrant view of Trump policies

The Detroit Free Press carried a piece presenting three views on what the Trump presidency may mean for immigrants, including that of Roxanne Varzi, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. 

Note: this post originally carried an incorrect quotation. It should read: The only positive side of Trump’s win for me is that for the first time in 15 years I don’t feel alone anymore. One social media post after the other cries, “I’m scared.” Or “I’m shocked.” Well I have news for folks, I’m not shocked, because this level of bigotry isn’t anything new, it’s just become more inclusive and more transparent…

Mormon views of polygamy changing

According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), survey data indicate that younger Mormons in Utah are more likely to view polygamy as criminal than their parents and grandparents. Janet Bennion, professor of anthropology at Lyndon State College in Vermont who studies polygamy, suggest that the difference is due to emerging anti-patriarchal values among younger people.

refugees contribute to Amman’s arts scene

The Jordan Times covered a talk delivered in Amman by cultural anthropologist Aseel Sawalha, associate professor at Fordham University in New York. She described how, despite the regional turmoil, economic crisis, and the influx of refugees, Amman has become a significant hub for art, galleries, and research centers: “…specific kinds of refugees — I call them ‘refugees with cultural capital’ — and women from [the] upper class and upper-middle class are changing the cultural landscape of Amman.” In the early 1990s, the Jordanian capital was “relatively sleepy…  and there was a lack of cultural activities, unlike in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus.” On her research visit in 2006, “There were strings of contemporary galleries, large-scale projects related to arts and crafts, [and there was a] strong presence of women as key agents in these processes.”

documentary spotlight

The New York Times carried a film review of The Anthropologist, a documentary that focuses on a mother and her daughter over four years set within the context of global climate change and highlighting human adaptability in selected local contexts. The anthropologist/mother in the film is Susan Crate, professor at George Mason University and a pioneer in environmental anthropology. The reviewer says: “ You may spend much of ‘The Anthropologist’ wondering what exactly the filmmakers are getting at, but by the end you realize they have teased out the idea that a defining human attribute is our ability to adjust to change, whether rising seawater or simply the growing up of our own children. It’s an expertly rendered juxtaposition, all the more effective for being unstated.”

take that anthro degree and…

…become a professor of journalism and mass communication. Anandam (Andy) Kavoori is the coordinator of the Environmental Communication Initiative in the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. He has a B.A. in sociology from the University of Delhi, an M.A. in sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, an M.A. in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Maryland College Park. He is the author or editor of ten scholarly books and nearly 50 journal articles and book chapters. He has published scholarly articles in major journals including Media, Culture and Society, Journal of Communication, Global Media Journal, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication Monographs, Global Media and Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journal of International Communication, and International Journal of Cultural Studies. He is the 2006 recipient of the Asian Journal of Communication award in international communication. Kavoori is also the author of two books of fiction, including a critically acclaimed novel, The Children of Shahida.

…become a museum curator. Bryan Bayles is Curator of Health and Anthropology at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas. He designs exhibits that both educate people and foster behavioral change in terms of health, diet, and exercise. “The vast majority of our largely preventable chronic diseases and the burden of disease is not something that’s going to be fixed in a clinical setting,” Bayles said. “Health is something that occurs in a context. You will be more successful in your health behavior change journey if you have community support.” He has an M.A. in art history from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.P.H. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  His dissertation is entitled, The Belly Wants its Heat: Cultural Models of Reproductive Health & Fertility among the Tojolab’al Maya of Chiapas, Mexico.

…become a development consultant. Muhammad Mahbubul Islam Bhuiyan is a consultant doing intervention development research at the Micronutrient Initiative in Dhaka. Committed to mixed methods research, he has 15 years’ experience in development research. His areas of expertise include evaluation, qualitative research and strategic program design, planning, and implementation and use, as well as work in public health, nutrition, healthcare system development, social exclusion, agriculture, gender, aging, and poverty alleviation. He has a B. S. S. (Bachelor of Social Science} in anthropology and an M.S.S. in anthropology from Jahangirnagar University in Dhaka and an M.A. in public affairs from the University of Dhaka.

sunken ships tell tales

Reconstruction of a medieval ship found sunk in the Black Sea. Source: Jon Adams/University of Southampton
Reconstruction of a medieval ship found sunk in the Black Sea.
Source: Jon Adams/University of Southampton

The New York Times reported on a multi-country archaeology research project on shipwrecks in the Black Sea region that date to medieval times. Findings are shedding light on early empires and trade routes. One ship, discovered by a robot, is in impressively complete condition, and some 40 other sunken ships have also been found. Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz of the University of Southampton said he was watching the monitors late one night in September when the undersea robot lit up a large wreck in a high state of preservation: “I was speechless…I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still can’t.” Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology center at the University of Southampton commented: “They’re astonishingly preserved.” Kroum Batchvarov, a team member at the University of Connecticut, said the recent discoveries “far surpassed my wildest expectations.” “It’s a great story,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. “We can expect some real contributions to our understanding of ancient trade routes.” Brendan P. Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, said the condition of the shipwrecks implies that many objects inside their hulls may be intact: “You might find books, parchment, written documents…Who knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It’s amazing.”

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