anthro in the news 12/26/16


Roma in Poland
Roma in Poland, Source: The New Yorker

blaming Roma

Al Jazeera published an op-ed by Andrzej Mirga, anthropologist and chair of the Roma Education Fund, and a Roma from Poland. He argues that racism is the reason why Europeans fear refugees, not the failed integration of Roma into society. Muslims and Roma share the condition of being the most hated minorities in the region. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that 64 percent of Hungarians hold unfavorable views of Roma and 72 percent have a negative opinion of Muslims. Mirga writes, “In Poland, my home country, these figures are 47 percent and 66 percent respectively, even though both groups together total just 40,000 in a country of close to 40 million, mostly white Catholics.” According to a report by the Polish National Prosecutor’s Office, hate crimes increased by 13 percent in the first half of 2016 in Poland, affecting primarily Muslims, but also Roma, Jews, and blacks.

land conflict in Mexico

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

An article in Reuters described the conflict between ranchers and Huichol Indians in Mexico over the ranchers’ intensive grazing and planting. Deforestation, and use of chemicals. It includes commentary from Paul Liffman, a research associate professor of anthropology at Rice University in Texas and Huichol expert:  The conflict echoes the Standing Rock dispute in the U.S. state of North Dakota where Native American activists and supporters have demanded a halt to an oil pipeline project. He noted that indigenous groups have been making land claims more forcefully since a 1989 United Nations convention provided a legal framework.

take that anthro degree and…

engice…become a writer and wilderness guide. Michael Englehard works as a wilderness guide in Arctic Alaska and has written several books with the most recent being Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon. On his website, he says: I first discovered storied landscapes as an anthropology student. Accompanying Native Alaskan elders on hunting and fishing excursions, I shared in the place-based experience of people who maintained fluency in nature’s idiom to an unequaled degree. Each slough, each mountain pass, each peregrine roost or bear den spoke to them of a past that is also present. The landmarks and associated stories express a worldview as much as they embody knowledge. They focus the traditions of people whose history and self-image largely reside in the land. They define homeland rather than wilderness. They endure as part of a moral universe, eloquent reminders that continue to shape the identities of groups and individuals.” Engelhard has an M.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks

…become a diversity advocate. Morgan Romine is the co-director of AnyKey, an esports diversity initiative that aims is to provide resources and support for competitive gamers. Since its founding in February 2016, AnyKey has produced four whitepapers covering topics from women in esports to online harassment. Romine comments: “We’re a little bit of an unusual organisation on the industry side because we are research-oriented first…My co-director T.L. [Taylor, author of Raising the Stakes] is a professor at MIT, and I’m an anthropology PhD. Together we formulate a lot of our questions from the academic side. Then we bring in experts from various parts of esports, be they players or business people or researchers or peripheral manufacturers or whatever, and we organise workshops around those. From those workshops, we get our initiatives—theoretical strategies for how we might be able to address some of the problems that we’re seeing.” Romine has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California Irvine.

protest pictographs

The Los Angeles Times reported on research about American Indian pictographs in San Diego County that may show protest at the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. Dozens of drawings cover ae 26-foot-wide rock in northeastern San Diego County. One drawing appears to be a conquistador wearing an armored chest plate and raising a sword. Underneath him, perhaps protected by a group of eagle feathers, is a stick figure that could represent an American Indian who has been slain or is being threatened. The article quotes Steve Freers, archaeologist and American Indian art expert: “It’s an incredibly unusual design.”

lost and found in England

An archaeological site in the Cambridgeshire Fens in England, according to a report from CNN, has revealed a prehistoric settlement from the Bronze Age dating to around 3,000 years ago. The site, called Must Farm, has provided rich findings including pottery, textiles, metal work, and timbers. Site manager Mark Knight from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, is quoted as saying that findings offer “a genuine snapshot” of a lost world. According to Cambridge professor of archaeology Cyprian Broodbank, there may have been “a mosaic of thriving communities” scattered along the waterways across the English Fens, and that the people living there were much more sophisticated than previously thought.

in memoriam

Helal Uddin Khan Shamsul Arefin, former professor of anthropology at Dhaka University, has died at the age of 68 years. He retired in 2014 and then joined the European University of Bangladesh as pro-vice chancellor. He was involved in various socio-cultural organizations and movements supporting small ethnic groups’ rights and education in Bangladesh.

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