anthro in the news 1/17/17

Friday the 13th fears

The Apopka Voice (Florida) carried an article about the roots of fear surrounding the date of Friday the 13th. The article includes commentary from Phillips Stevens Jr., associate professor of anthropology at Buffalo University:  “Most buildings don’t have a 13th floor, you won’t find 13 people seated a table and some airlines don’t have a 13th row…The taboo comes directly from Biblical stories.” The main story is that of the Last Supper.

source: The Telegraph

silencing sanctuary

Sanctuary sites in the U.S., January 2016. source: Center for Immigration Studies

The Centre Daily (Pennsylvania) reported on a teach-in on immigrants’ rights held at Penn State University and organized by its Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. One speaker, Linda Rabben, associate research professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland and author of Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political History, said universities are often directed by their lawyers not to use the term “sanctuary.” She referenced a letter signed in December by Penn State President Eric Barron, and more than 400 other university presidents in support of DACA (the policy on deferred action for childhood arrivals), noting that nowhere in the letter was “sanctuary” mentioned. “But just because it isn’t mentioned, doesn’t mean people aren’t going to seek it,” Rabben said.

protesting a speaker

According to The Prince George Citizen (British Columbia, Canada), the only indigenous professor on a committee working on a new sexual assault policy at the University of British Columbia resigned from the group after the school invited John Furlong to speak at an upcoming fundraiser. Daniel Heath Justice said in a letter to university president Santa Ono that the decision “silenced and erased” allegations that Furlong physically abused First Nations students while teaching at a Catholic school in Burns Lake, B.C., in 1969 and 1970. The article includes a comment from Charles Menzies, professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, who said he is troubled by the matter.

ethnographic museum in the Philippines

The Sun Star (Baguio, Philippines) reported on the formal opening of the new ethnographic museum, the Museo Kordilyera, of the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) on January 31. The museum will offer three inaugural exhibits: tattoos as body archive from the research work of anthropologist Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores, a retrospective of the works of the late anthropologist Jules de Raedt, and ethnographic photographs by Roland Rabang of the UPB College of Arts and Communication.

take that anthro degree and…

…become a family and life counsellor. Megan Shauri of Orange Country, California, is affiliated with FamilyShare. She frequently writes on family and relationship well-being. She has a B.A. in anthropology and an M.A. in psychology from Brigham Young University.

…run a fishing business. Pete Knutson, with his wife Hing Lau Ng, started a fishing and wholesale and retail business operating out of Seattle in 1979. Knutson worked on big fishing boats to pay for college and did not like the way they handled their catch. A rebel at heart, he was expelled from Stanford University for protesting the Vietnam War, but returned to get his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. Loki fish company sells fresh, smoked, and canned wild salmon at farmers’ markets and via mail order, at

controversial plan for Stonehenge access

As reported by BBC News and other media, the British government has devised a $2.4 billion plan to construct a two-mile tunnel underneath the site of Stonehenge which includes a tunnel under the site and widening the nearby highway. The plan has the support of English Heritage and UNESCO. But many archaeologists worry about the negative effects on the area’s rich and still largely unexcavated prehistoric record.

contesting anti-Neanderthal prejudice

Around 175,000 years ago, Neanderthals built this structure in a cave in France from hundreds of limestone stalagmites. source: The Atlantic

The New York Times magazine carried a lengthy piece detailing the history of the study of Neanderthals, focusing on how so many scientists for so long maintained an image of Neanderthals as clearly distinct from modern humans in terms of their capabilities. The article mentions several archaeologists of the past and present. Perhaps the earliest scholarly arguing against the Neanderthal stereotype as a lumbering brute was Ralph Solecki whose book, Shanidar: The First Flower People. The Neanderthals of Shanidar cave, he said, placed flowers with burials, and so they had “soul.” His idea did not have a lot of traction. A prominent contemporary Neanderthal scholar, Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis,  who began his career in the early ’70s, said,  “When I started working on Neanderthals, nobody really cared about them.” The most recent advocate for a rethinking of the primitivist paradigm dominating Neanderthals is João Zilhão, an archaeologist with the University of Barcelona. He urges scholars in the field to shake off their “anti-Neanderthal prejudice.”


Ben Steere, assistant professor of anthropology and co-director of Cherokee Studies Programs at Western Carolina University, has received the Principal Chief Leon D. Jones Award for Archaeological Excellence, presented by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The award is given for outstanding service to the tribe in the endeavors of archaeology and historic preservation by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office. It was presented in ceremonies at the Cherokee Archaeology Symposium, held in Cherokee, North Carolina.


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