anthro in the news 3/13/17

Source: Google Images Commons

not all lives are equal 

Al Jazeera published an op-ed by Alex Shams, anthropology doctoral student at the University of Chicago:  “Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced a new executive order to ban refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries. Hidden in the new order is a clause that says the United States government will begin tracking and publicizing, “honour killings” committed by foreign nationals in the US. The idea draws upon a programme Trump unveiled last week that will track crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, part of an effort to show the unique threat they pose to American lives. These laws are not intended to protect these lives. They rest on the idea that human life has a different value based on nationality, and that the life of an American killed by a foreigner has greater worth than a foreigner killed by an American. There is no other way to justify a law that intends only to highlight victims based on the national origin.”

standing up, speaking up

Source: Rony Michaud, Google Images Commons

CBC News (British Columbia) reported on the contribution of John Wagner, professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, in detailing problems with the new water city plan in Kelowna, Canada. Wagner argues that areas like the South East Kelowna Irrigation District where he lives will be left underfunded and unable to accomplish upgrades needed to improve water quality: “I feel like I’m being discriminated against because my water utility, unlike the City of Kelowna or regional district water utilities, cannot get the infrastructure support we need to upgrade our service.”

Latinos in Latino studies

According to a report in The Albuquerque Journal, Mario Gonzales, assistant professor of anthropology at New Mexico Highlands University, is advising the Santa Fe-based School for Advanced Research in creating a new Latino Studies Program aimed at increasing the role of Latino scholars from throughout the United States.  The article quotes anthropologist Michael Brown, president of the School for Advanced Research: “There’s a lot of talent in New Mexico in Latino studies, and professor Gonzales is one of the first people we contacted for our initiative because his work is well known…He’s recognized as an expert in the field.”

exhibit at the University of Cambridge

The Hindustan Times (India) carried an article about a new exhibit at the University of Cambridge which displays hundreds of objects acquired from colonial India focusing on India’s indigenous people. Described as a groundbreaking event at the university’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the exhibit features objects brought to Britain by the anthropologist and Indian Civil Service officer, John Henry Hutton, who was deputy commissioner of Assam (then including the Naga Hills) in the early 20th century.

take that anthro degree and…

…work to prevent child trafficking. Mel Manning of South Woodford, England, is working to set up a support network for girls who might be vulnerable to trafficking.  A former school teacher, she gave up her job to go to graduate school at the University of East London where she earned an M.A. in anthropology, human rights, and justice.

…be a school administrator. Kirsten Sanft will take on the role of heading the new middle school charter school program in Forestville, which is part of the West Sonoma County High School District in California. She is currently principal at Cloverdale High School and before that was assistant principal at a middle school in the Ukiah school district. She has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin Madison and an M. A. in education from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She also completed the education administration program at Sonoma State University.

Neanderthal plaque speaks

As always when it comes to Neanderthal research updates, multiple mainstream media, including BBC and even my small hometown paper, carried reports following publication of an article in the journal Nature detailing findings from DNA found in the dental tartar of Neanderthals living about 40,000 years ago in central Europe. By sequencing DNA preserved in the dental tartar, researchers have found new details of Neanderthal diets and health. Two key points: Neanderthal diets varied by region, and Neanderthals had some knowledge of self-medication.

The BBC article quotes Alan Cooper, director of the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA: “Their behaviour and their diet looks a lot more sophisticated and a lot more like us in many ways…The use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin…Certainly our findings contrast markedly with the rather simplistic view of our ancient relatives in popular imagination.” The research gives new details of the varying diets of Neanderthals. Neanderthals at a cave site in Belgium were prolific meat eaters, dining on rhinoceros and wild sheep supplemented with mushrooms. Others, living further south in Spain, were largely vegans, consuming moss, bark, and pine nuts.

Coverage by The Atlantic pays more attention to the role of Laura Weyrich from the University of Adelaide: “By harvesting and sequencing that DNA, Weyrich has shown that there was no such thing as a typical Neanderthal diet. One individual from Spy cave in Belgium mostly ate meat like woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep, as well as some edible mushrooms. But two individuals who lived in El Sidrón cave in Spain seemed to be entirely vegetarian. The team couldn’t find any traces of meat in their diet, which consisted of mushrooms, pine nuts, tree bark, and moss. The Belgian Neanderthals hunted; the Spanish ones foraged.”

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