anthro in the news 10/2/17

Don and Kim: Things in Common. Credit: Frank Fenemma, 2017. Commons Wikipedia/Flickr

nuclear orientalism

The Ramapo News (Suffern, New York) published an op-ed about U.S.-North Korea relations which points to the relevance of what Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology at George Washington University, wrote about in his 1999 article Nuclear Weapons and the Other in the Western Imagination: … “‘nuclear orientalism’ — the perception that western leaders of nuclear powers are calm and rational while their counterparts in the east are impulsive and dangerous. And while Donald Trump may yet prove to blow the lid off this charade for all time, it is still the predominant assumption.”

debt justice for Puerto Rico

Wiping Out Debt. Credit:

Forbes published commentary by Adriana Garriga-López, associate professor of anthropology at Kalamazoo College:  “The U.S. owes Puerto Rico more than just aid and support after a disaster like this. Hurricane Maria’s destruction has laid bare the political subjugation Puerto Rico has experienced since 1898. This imbalance of power has led to a flawed relationship in which the U.S. prioritizes Puerto Rico’s credit obligations—held primarily by vulture funds from the U.S.—over its inhabitants’ quality of life. The U.S. owes Puerto Rico a serious attempt at restructuring this relationship to ensure justice for Puerto Ricans…It is time for the U.S. to not only forgive Puerto Rico’s fiscal debt, but pay off its moral debt to its southern neighbor.

NFL protests part of a long tradition

An article on Yahoo Sports News included comments from Orin Starn, professor of cultural anthropology and history at Duke University. He sees the NFL protests as continuing a tradition of activism started by black athletes in the 1960s: “There’s a thread connecting Tommy Smith and John Carlos in 1968…black athletes using sport to protest racial injustice, to say to America that it doesn’t have its racial house in order.” As to whether or not, the protests will have an effect: “This is a divided country. One part of it thinks that African-Americans have been given too many breaks; the other, a big segment of America, thinks we have real problems with racism and police brutality and wants to do something about it. But it is not clear to me that the status quo is changing.”

Mao and women’s liberation

The New York Times carried a piece about women’s lives in China during the time of Mao, and how difficult it is to assess the reality behind the rhetoric. It mentioned the research of two cultural anthropologists. During field study in China in 1970s, Margery Wolf noted how effusive Chinese women were about the miracle of female emancipation under Mao. Elisabeth Croll observed that all published accounts of Chinese women’s lives during the early decades of the People’s Republic followed the standard narrative of their rise from mistreated wives and daughters to independent, socialist workers. 

engagement not marginalization

Street market, Johannesburg. Credit: Joonas Lyytinen, Käyttäjä:Joonasl/Creative Commons

The Daily Maverick (South Africa) published an op-ed by Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand and an associate researcher with the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa: “The city of Johannesburg needs to improve public security and policing, along with environmental health conditions. But this relies on trust, intelligence, and effective reporting. It relies on greater inclusion and engagement. The blanket targeting and criminalisation of the occupants of ‘bad buildings’, alienating large numbers of inner-city residents, be they South African or foreign, will not serve these ends…a solution based on the continued marginalisation and ‘ghettoisation’ of the poor in the post-apartheid city, be they South African or foreign national, could well foster violence, further social divides and perpetuate historical cycles of displacement.”

textbook case

Kerala News (India) reported on the inclusion in a major American textbook of a cultural anthropology study of a tribal school program in eastern India. The author, Christine Finnan, professor of anthropology at Charleston College, did fieldwork and wrote about the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) which, according to its website, is a free, residential home for over 25,000 indigenous children who are provided education from kindergarten to post graduation as well as vocational and life skill empowerment to overcome poverty and injustice. Finnan conducted interviews with students between the ages of 9 and 15 at KISS and at government day schools in the state of Odisha. The Kerala Times article comments: “This is a matter of pride for India, Odisha and KISS as well as entire Indian tribal community.” Finnans’ (and co-authors’) findings are published in the journal Global Studies of Childhood. 

deportation fear in graduate students

An article on AlterNet described the growing fear of deportation among international graduate students at Washington University in St. Louis related to the movement to unionize graduate student workers. The article quotes Bret Gustafson, associate professor of anthropology at Washington University, who says that the university’s stance on unionization is an effect of its  corporatization in recent years: “This university like most universities has turned into a corporation…they have some really high-paid lawyers that fight unions…When I read [the provost’s statement], and it said they were threatening foreign students with deportation, I couldn’t believe it, but in fact, if you look at the document, that is what they are doing.” Gustafson has received emails from his department forbidding faculty from inquiring into students’ “union sympathies.”

take that anthro degree and…

…work in office administration. Maria Therese Antonetti is an office administrator with Universal Underground Utility Contractors in Auburn, Georgia. She develops upcoming project estimates and bids, prepares project invoices and accounts payable ledgers, manages internal databases for project evaluation and inventory; and controls payroll, 401(k) contribution reports, and employee benefits enrollment. In this position, she builds relationships with local governments through business management and civic engineering.  Antonetti has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Georgia and is working toward a Certificate in nonprofit management and leadership at the University of Georgia. 

wide-ranging Dene people

CBC News (Canada) carried an article about the second Dene Migration Symposium hosted by the Tsuut’ina Nation, a Dene community near Calgary, Canada, in September. One subject discussed at the conference was the history of the Dene people. The article mentions the work of John Ives, professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and executive director of its Institute of Prairie Archaeology, as central to the understanding of Dene history. He is quoted as saying: “Dene speakers go from the North slope of Alaska all the way to northern Mexico,” Ives said. “It’s one of the most remarkable language family distributions in the New World — it’s probably the largest.” Also noted is the research of Todd Kristensen, a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology at the University of Alberta and a regional archaeologist for Alberta’s Archeological Survey. He is tracking the spread of raw materials and stone tools made from them across North America to learn about the origins and movement of Northern Dene. His findings confirm that the pre-contact Dene travelled and traded widely.


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