anthro in the news 11/28/16


dear “comrade”

Quartz published an article about the changing use and meaning of the term tongzhi, “comrade,” in China. Originating in the early Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.E), the word tongzhi was a common form of address during China’s Communist Revolution of 1921-1949. The article quotes linguistic anthropologist Andrew Wong, associate professor at the University of California East Bay, who says that the term “signalled solidarity, equality, respect, and intimacy among the revolutionaries.” With the emergence of a market economy starting in 1978, the term’s popularity waned. In the late 1990s, Chinese gay people began to use tongzhi as a term of address, it is still in use today. Party rules published earlier in November outline stricter party governance, including the revival of the use of tongzhi to promote an atmosphere of social equality. In the meantime, complications will arise given the ongoing and widespread use of the term among gay people. [Blogger’s note: for related reading, see Tiantian Zheng’s ethnography, Tongzhi Living: Men Attracted to Men in Postsocialist China].

well worth revisiting

9781598535051The Philadelphia Inquirer carried a review of a two-volume, edited set of works by Loren Eiseley. Eiseley, who died in 1977, was the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and the History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. The Library of America and editor William Cronon have presented his work in Collected Essays on Evolution, Nature, and the Cosmos that “serves as a treasure trove of 20th-century science writing.” The review goes on to say that Eiseley had “a singular voice in American letters, one well worth revisiting.”

objects need stories

The Adelaide Review has a monthly feature on a notable person in the area, and this week’s selection is John Carty, head of anthropology at the South Australian Museum.  As an undergraduate, he studied philosophy and poetry at the University of Melbourne. After graduating, he realized he had barely touched on Australian history, so for his Ph.D. he decided to learn from Indigenous Australians about their art practices. He lived in the desert community of Balgo Western Australia for three years, learning to speak Kukatja and gaining knowledge of the Martu and Ngaanyatjarra languages. As a museum curator, Carty promotes a collaborative model that engages and acknowledges the community, particularly the Indigenous community. The Museum, he says, “has the objects but we don’t always have the story.” Carty emphasizes that the objects are not “vestiges of a lost people, distant things from an imagined past” but objects from “a cultural history that is still alive and practiced and a part of a wider story that has a place in the public imagination and in the psyche of reconciliation.”

hunting with birds of prey

s200_lauren-mcgoughThe Oklahoman reported on the North American Falconers Association national field meet held in western Oklahoma. Some 230 falconers from across the United States and Europe gathered to share their interest in hunting with birds of prey. Lauren McGough of Oklahoma City and her golden eagle, Miles, were participants. A University of Oklahoma graduate, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in social anthropology at St. Andrews University. She lived in Mongolia for two years,  hunting with golden eagles and was featured on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. She also has spent time in the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Scotland and Africa hunting with local falconers and their birds of prey. “Falconers are such a small community, you are instantly in with everyone, so I can travel to any country and if there is a falconer, I can stay at their place and go hunting…Falconry is on every continent except Antarctica, and every continent has its own flavor of falconry and there is just an unending amount to explore and enjoy.”

take that anthro degree and…

…become a doula. Hillary Melchiors is a certified birth doula practicing in Evansville, Indiana. A birth doula gives informational, emotional, and physical support during labor and delivery. She has taught at the University of Southern Indiana in addition to owning The Doula Group of Evansville. According to Melchiors, “I think one of the benefits I bring to the table as doula and a medical anthropologist is I have much different insight and a broader view of birth.” She is trained to analyze academic research but is also able to see the practical implications of that research, putting it into perspective for each birth. She has a self-designed B.A. from Indiana University Bloomington, and an M.P.H., an M.A. in anthropology, and a Ph.D. in medical anthropology from Case Western Reserve University.

…become a theater director. Kira Simring has been the artistic director at the cell, an incubator for new theatrical works in New York City, since its inception in 2006. She has worked closely with playwrights, composers and performance artists to develop and realize their work. Her directing credits include the premieres of Crackskull Row by Honor Molloy (New York Times Critic’s Pick); Hard Times: An American Musical, by Larry Kirwan (New York Times Critic’s Pick); and The McGowan Trilogy, by Seamus Scanlon (New York and U.K. Premieres). Simring’s work has been seen at The New Theatre Row Theatres, NYU Skirball Center, The Thalia Theatre at Symphony Space, The Connecticut Grand Opera, CenterStage in Baltimore, and The Kino-Theatre near London. She has received a Shubert Fellowship and is a three-time Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival award-winner for Best Director. She has a B.A. in anthropology from Smith College and an M.F.A. in drama from The New School in New York City.

…become a higher education administrator. Michelle Behr is chancellor of the University of Minnesota as of February 2017. She is currently the provost, senior vice president for academic affairs, and dean of the College at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. Previously, she has served as a faculty member, department chair, university assessment coordinator, and college dean at several public institutions of higher education. Behr has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and an M.A. in anthropology and a Ph.D. in geography from Arizona State University.

in memoriam

Cultural anthropologist Sandra Morgen has died at the age of 66 years. She was a professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon, director of its Center for the Study of Women in Society from 1991-2006, and later held leadership roles in the graduate school before returning to teach. Colleagues said Morgen touched all areas of the university and that her commitment to taking women’s perspectives seriously resonated well beyond campus. Morgen studied women’s and gender issues as related to race, class and public policy and played a critical role in the founding of feminist anthropology and the anthropology of contemporary North America in the 1980s. She spearheaded a major shift in anthropology with a project that led to the publication, Gender and Anthropology: Critical Reviews for Research and Teaching, which sparked the revision of many of the most widely used anthropology textbooks.

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