anthro in the news 10/9/17

Territories of the United States. Credit: Wikipedia

colonies of the U.S.

The Washington Post published a piece by David Vine, associate professor of anthropology at American University. He writes: “Why, in 2017, decades after the civil rights and decolonization eras, does the United States still have colonies and citizens who lack full democratic rights by law? The answer is largely simple, but troubling: Because the desires and power of the United States military have overwhelmed the desires and rights of colonized peoples.”

testing the social fabric in Puerto Rico

People lining up for water delivered by the Puerto Rico National Guard, September 24. Credit: U.S. Army National Guard/Sgt. Alexis Velez

The New York Times carried an article about a strengthened sense of community in Puerto Rico following the recent hurricanes with a cautionary note about limits to that solidarity given the challenges. The article quotes Diana Lopez Sotomayor, professor of anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras Campus, who is among those who fear that the social fabric may begin to fray if residents are forced to deal with months without reliable employment, food, and energy: “There is a new feeling in Puerto Rico, a new ‘nosotros’ [sense of we]. “More people in the street are saying, ‘Buenos Dias, Como estas?’ You’re in a queue for hours, and of course you become friends. In the same lines are rich and poor. It’s breaking the barriers of class.” However, she added, “When people are starving they will get violent. If things don’t get better the new ‘nosotros’ is going to break down.”

lessons from Haiti

Trump meeting service members during a visit to Puerto Rico, October 3. Credit: U.S. Department of Defense/ Sgt. Jose Diaz-Ramos

The Huffington Post published commentary by Mark Schuller, associate professor of anthropology and NGO leadership at Northern Illinois University, about the lessons from Haiti in advance of Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico. He writes: “…it is unfortunate that the mainstream media’s memory about the international response in Haiti skips over the painfully obvious: far from a success story, the 16-billion-dollar effort was patchy at best, leading to massive corruption, inequality, and radical ruptures of Haitian solidarity, destroying traditional families and even increasing violence against women.” He offers ten points for effective post-disaster aid, as “New Minimum Standards.”

intra-national relations

ABC News reported on the strong presence of Puerto Ricans in New York City and their political support of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans living on the island, though technically U.S. citizens, cannot vote in federal elections. “That’s what has galvanized the Puerto Rican community in the states — because we need to speak for citizens in Puerto Rico,” said Arlene Davila, a Puerto Rico-born professor of anthropology and American studies at New York University.

endangering the world

Commentary by William O. Beeman, professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, appeared on New American Media (San Francisco). He writes: “President Trump is about to take action that will withdraw the United States from the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’. On October 15, Trump will reportedly ‘decertify’ American participation in this historical agreement. This action is dangerous. This action will endanger the world. It will erode American credibility with both allies and enemies, and will destabilize the Middle East by worsening relations with Iran.”

exhibit review

Seven Days (Vermont) published a review of the exhibit, Spirited Things: Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic, at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum: “As one delves into the gallery and its abundance of contextualizing labels, however, it becomes clear that complex and exciting arguments about the fetish, race, slavery and reclamation are at the heart of the exhibition. The chief force behind those arguments is
J. Lorand Matory, a scholar of West African and African diasporic religions and a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University. His book The ‘Fetish’ Revisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make is forthcoming in 2018. The professor offered a talk of the same name at the University of Vermont last week.”

take that anthro degree and…

…become a chef. Andrew Wong, the son of Chinese immigrants to the U.K., never intended to get involved in the restaurant business. But when his father died suddenly, he decided to assume responsibility for managing the restaurant his father had started. Along the way, he attended culinary school and studied anthropology, having realized the connections between food and culture. His philosophy focuses on taking original Chinese recipes and giving them a unique spin without changing their ultimate flavor profiles. His restaurant in London, A. Wong, won a Michelin Star in 2017, and the Michelin Guide 2018 has just awarded him a second star for contemporary Cantonese cooking. Wong studied cooking at Westminster Kingsway College and has a B.A. in social anthropology from the London School of Economics

…become a professor of psychology. Alexandra Rosati is assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. Her research examines the evolutionary origins of the human mind, primate psychological abilities, and variation in cognition across species. She is working with other scientists and supporters to organize aid and relief to Cayo Santiago Biological Field Station — its staff, community, and monkeys –and to the town of Punta Santiago, both devastated when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Rosati has a B.A. in psychology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology and cognitive neuroscience from Duke University. 

the tomb of St. Nicholas

The Guardian and other media reported that archaeologists say they have found the burial grounds of Saint Nicholas in Turkey. Surveys have uncovered an intact temple and burial grounds below St. Nicholas church in the province of Antalya, where he is believed to have been born. “We have obtained very good results but the real work starts now,” said Cemil Karabayram, the director of surveying and monuments in Antalya. “We will reach the ground and maybe we will find the untouched body of Saint Nicholas.” Revered for his gift-giving and aid to the poor, the 4th-century saint gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus.

in memoriam

Sinoto discovered the mast of an ancient voyaging canoe during a dig in Huahine, French Polynesia, in 1979. Credit: Bishop Museum/Star Advertiser

Yosihiko H. Sinoto, an anthropologist at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, died at the age of 93 years. He is known for his anthropological expeditions throughout the Pacific, particularly Hawai’i and French Polynesia.  He was a giant in the field of Polynesian archaeology,” said Bishop Museum board member and archaeologist Patrick Kirch of the University of California Berkeley. His work was “fundamental in the understanding of the settlement of eastern Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands.”  Kirch noted that Sinoto did much of the important, early excavation in Polynesia, uncovering key sites in the Marquesas, the Society Islands, Tahiti, and at South Point on Hawai’i that showed the sequence and timing of the settlement in the region.


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