anthro in the news 8/22/17

Sunset on Guam. Yuki Yagimura/Wikpedia Commons

peril in paradise

KCET TV (California) broadcast a program about growing resistance in Guam to the U.S. military presence there. It includes comments from David Vine, professor of anthropology at American University: “…many in the U.S. military consider Guam, to this day, to be the most important base in the world, certainly one of the most important U.S. military bases…people in Washington and in the 50 states weren’t embarrassed in past decades to call Guam a colony. Today it’s referred to as a territory, but it is a colonized territory. There’s a colonial relationship, and the people of Guam effectively have a kind of third-class citizenship. They can’t vote for president. They don’t have meaningful representation in Congress.”

the many meanings of solar eclipses 

National Public Radio (U.S.) interviewed Anthony Aveni, professor of anthropology, astronomy, and Native American Studies at Colgate University, about solar eclipses and their meaning in different cultures: “People banging pans and making noise and pinching their dogs to make them howl at the eclipse. And an anthropologist asked them about this and said, you know, are you chasing away the demons with your noise? And one responded, said, no, we’re not chasing away the demons. We’re trying to get the sun’s attention.”

policing women 

Al Jazeera published a piece by Anneeth Kaur Hundle, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California Merced, on a new dress code for public servants in Uganda. Under the guidelines, men may not wear tight trousers, must wear a jacket and tie, and keep their hair short and well-groomed. The dress code for women is much more detailed: women should not dress in a short skirt that is above the knees and should wear a stylish long-sleeved or short-sleeved blouse. Cleavage, navel, knees, and back must be covered at all times. Bright-colored hair, braids or hair extensions, long nails, and bright or multicoloured nail polish are forbidden.

personal debt a looming crisis

The New Statement published a piece by David Graeber, professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics: “This is a call for a public inquiry on the current situation regarding private debt. For almost a decade now, since 2007, we have been living a lie. And that lie is preparing to wreak havoc on our economy. If we do not create some kind of impartial forum to discuss what is actually happening, the results might well prove disastrous.”

intergenerational nutritional trauma

An article in the Toronto Star addressed the enduring legacy among indigenous people in Canada from boarding school nutritional deprivation. One of the researchers, Tracey Galloway, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, reviewed studies of food deprivation in a variety of settings worldwide: “We found that those studies actually described the types of conditions that many survivors were themselves describing about the hunger that they were experiencing.” The research suggests that the effects of childhood malnutrition may be felt by children and grandchildren of survivors. Children of female survivors with obesity and diabetes are more likely to experience low or high birth weight, growth faltering, and develop insulin resistance and diabetes.

local culture matters

An article in The Washington Post highlighted findings in a new book on female getting cutting called Making the Mark: Gender, Identity, and Genital Cutting. The author, Miroslava Prazak, professor of anthropology at Bennington College, argues that national bans and negative political rhetoric often have little immediate impact on local communities and that the practice must be viewed through the perspectives of girls, their families and leaders in their communities.

take that anthro degree and…

…become a farmer and community organizer. Sunil Patel of Asheville, North Carolina, practices ecological agriculture and is founder of Patchwork Farms that is creating networks of sharing relationships to a village scale food production system. Patel has a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh.

…become an acculturation specialist. Sunita Mann is an acculturation specialist and community partnership officer for the Melton City Council, Melbourne, Australia.  She works with migrants, refugees, and LGBTIQA+ people. Mann has an M.A. in anthropology from Panjab University, India, and an M.A. in educational management and leadership, La Trobe University in Melbourne.

collaborative archaeology project

Southern Maryland News reported on a $240,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to support research tracing the history of the Rappahannock Indians. The funding was awarded to Julia King, professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Chesapeake Conservancy, and the state-recognized Rappahannock Tribe of Virginia. The research team, led by King, includes anthropology instructor Scott Strickland, an assistant archaeologist, and two archaeology technicians (St. Mary’s College undergraduate students). They are joined by Chief G. Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe, who, along with tribal members, will assist with the field and laboratory work. King said: “We hope to assemble a detailed culture history for the Rappahannock Indians in the river valley over the last 2000 years, including archaeological collections-based analysis and a regional survey.”

explorer was an amateur “archaeologist” 

An article in The Washington Post about the legacy of a 19th century Arctic explorer, Charles Francis Hall, includes commentary by William Fitzhugh, director of the Arctic Studies Center at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Fitzhugh praises Hall’s collecting, his detailed notes about his observations, and his appreciation for Inuit lifeways.

perils of the pill

Michigan Radio interviewed Beverly Strassmann, professor of biological anthropology and a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research about the effects of birth control pills on women’s health. Her research indicates it might be past time for pharmaceutical companies to tweak the formulation of the pill. She said because there is a “direct link” between level of hormonal exposure and breast cancer, “the safety of hormonal contraceptives has not been sufficiently well established.”

the social life of scientific racism   

NBC news interviewed Jonathan Marks, professor of biological anthropology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte:  “I think it is important to know what science says, because science is a voice of authority in the modern world…Once we acknowledge that race is not a fact of nature or biology, but a fact of nature/culture — real as lived experience in a society of inequality, but unreal as genetics — then the conversation can turn towards equality (a political status) rather than being focused on difference (a biological status).”


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