anthro in the news 7/31/17

Anthony Thomas, the two millionth Eagle Scout, addresses a crowd of over 45,000 at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. Credit: Cherie Cullen, U.S. Department of Defense/Wikimedia

a letter to the Boy Scouts, a letter to everyone

Mica Pollock, an anthropologist, education professor, and director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence at the University of California San Diego, wrote an open letter to the Boy Scouts following Donald Trump’s speech at the 2017 Jamboree: “Dear Boy Scouts, I write to you as a mom and as an educator who thinks about how we talk, I ask a basic question about everything people say. Does this talk support each and all of us, or not?” She offers four critical thinking questions to apply to the speech and to any speaker. She then asks, “How do we respond when we hear words that violate key values?”

who owns Tibetan medicine?

Tibet Autonomous Region within China. Credit: TUBS/Wikipedia.

A New York Times article quotes two anthropologists in its coverage of conflicting claims between China and India to commercial rights in Tibetan medicine. Stephan Kloos, a medical anthropologist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, said his preliminary calculations suggest that the industry’s value could be approaching $1 billion. Sienna Radha Craig, associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, said that Unesco recognition could stimulate the industry’s growth without the proper environmental safeguards. In India, China, and Nepal, the effort to expand the industry far outstrips “serious cultivation and conservation…At a certain point that becomes completely untenable.”

affluent foragers

In 1966, Marshall Sahlins proposed that foragers, aka hunter-gatherers, represent the “original affluent society” because their livelihood satisfies all their needs with little effort per week, compared to agriculture and industrialism. A new book by James Suzman, founder and director of Anthropos, revisits that claim, bringing to it nearly 25 years of fieldwork with a group of Ju’/hoansi foragers in Namibia. The book is getting a lot of media attention: The New York Times interviewed Suzman, asking him to discuss five things about the book, The Economist reviewed the book, and The Atlantic published a piece by Suzman, drawing on the book with a focus on the effects of military stipends to some of the people.

discrimination even in death

The Washington Post reported on a zoning change proposal in a town near Quebec City that would allow the building of a Muslim cemetery. Local residents rejected the proposal. The article quotes Yannick Boucher, an anthropology lecturer at the University of Montreal. He said the referendum result was based on “fear of the other” and is part of a rejection of Muslims in Quebec that leads to higher rates of unemployment and higher rates of hate crimes against the community. Boucher estimates that when Muslims die in the province, up to two-thirds are sent back for burial to their countries of origin.

the media and nuclear security

An article in The Indian Express discussed the effects of media, especially fake news, on the Doomsday Clock which just advanced 30 seconds because of it. The article points to a piece in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University, who “delivered a blistering critique of the Washington Post, for allowing its July 8 number to be swamped with G20 news, to the extent that it buried in its digest a report on 122 nations signing on the first ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons.”

anthropology and the Iroquois

Caption: Historical marker for General Ely Samuel Parker. Credit:

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York) published commentary by John Tubiolo, adjunct professor of anthropology at St. John Fisher College, prompted by a statement from a member of the Iroquois to him that anthropologists consider the Iroquois to have disappeared a long time ago:  “The truth is quite the opposite…Their [anthropologists’] contribution to preserving Iroquois tradition goes back to the 1840s, when Rochesterian Lewis Henry Morgan…teamed with Tonawanda Seneca Ely Parker to document Iroquois culture, which did seem at that time to be on the wane do [sic] to overwhelming westward European American expansion across New York and the rest of the country. The Parker-Morgan partnership and successive efforts of other anthropologists to the present have actually been a key element in revitalizing Iroquois culture, including the establishment of Ganondagan State Historic Site. This location of a major 17th-century Seneca Iroquois town is the only place in the New York State parks system dedicated entirely to a Native American educational focus. It was made possible through anthropological research in a collaboration of native scholars with historians and archaeologists.”

imagined community through food

A piece on Nevada Public Radio discussed food nostalgia, focusing on the aroma of rice and barberries as a reminder to an Iranian immigrant to Washington, D.C., of home. The article quotes David Sutton, professor of anthropology at Southern Illinois University. He has studied the role of food in the Greek diaspora and found that Greek immigrants often describe how food from home makes them feel “whole:” “[T]here is an imagined community implied in the act of eating food ‘from home’ while in exile,” Sutton writes in a paper published in the journal, Anthropology and Humanism.

facilitating change in corporate cultures

The South Florida Times carried an article about the contribution of corporate anthropologist Andi Simon, founder and CEO of Simon and Associates Management Consultants, to businesses facing the challenge of constant change in order to succeed. Simon is quoted as saying: “As humans we hate to change…Whether it’s introducing a state-of-the-art computer program or transitioning a company to a wholly new and innovative way of working…Your brain literally creates chemical pain that says, ‘Please stop all that new work.’” Simon advises that providing purpose to the changes by leaders will help with the transition.

take that anthro degree and…

…work for a non-profit organization on international aid and security. Bobby Mackenzie is director and senior fellow at New America and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Mackenzie has fifteen years of applied research and work experience in and about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including research on regional security and conflict, forced migration, urban refugees, and international aid. Mackenzie has a B.A. in economics from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from SOAS, University of London. 

…be a researcher, writer, and activist. Lisa Galarneau is a freelance writer, social media coordinator, and SEO consultant with Connect2Classes and Sound Publishing (The Seattle Weekly and The Bellevue Reporter), in Seattle, Washington. She is also a volunteer and activist for #TheResistance and #Disclosure movements. Galarneau has a B.A. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California Berkeley, a M.Sc. in education from the University of California Hayward, and a Ph.D. in screen and media studies from the University of Waikato.

digging up the bodies

Forbes reported about archaeological work on Easter Island being conducted by a team of archaeologists from the University of California Los Angeles through the Easter Island Statue Project. The team has excavated the underlying torso and body of several of the stone heads, revealing the full base of the statues. They have found etched petroglyphs on the backs of the figures including crescent shapes that may represent Polynesian canoes.

Stonehenge in its regional context

An article from BBC describes how Stonehenge continues to yield important and intriguing findings along with more questions. It reviews findings from two research projects that consider Stonehenge within its larger context: the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project and the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford and U.K. lead on the Hidden Landscapes Project says that it has revealed hundreds of new features and many sites: “Following this survey, we know not only where things are but where they aren’t as well.” Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson of University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, who led the Stonehenge Riverside Project from 2003 to 2009, comments on the sources of the stones and how they were transported to Stonehenge, noting that regional connections were important in sourcing the stones, and that Stonehenge was the center of regional social and political ties. 


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