anthro in the news 1/8/18

#ICantBreathe Rally & Protest – Washington, DC (via NBUF & #DCFerguson), 2014. Credit: fuseboxradio

police violence also kills with trauma and loss

AlterNet published commentary by Christen A. Smith, associate professor of African and African diaspora studies and anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. She writes: “The sting of the premature death of 27-year-old Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, is still fresh. On Christmas Eve, Erica Garner suffered a massive heart attack which caused extensive brain damage. She died on Dec. 30. This latest loss emphasizes something we have known: Black women are dying from the trauma of police violence and this issue must be grappled with before more die. When I heard the news of Erica Garner’s heart attack, a wave of familiar shock and pain ran through me. I immediately recognized the correlation between her heart attack and her father’s death because I had seen it before. As an anthropologist who studies the impact of police violence on black communities in Brazil and the United States, I was familiar with many stories like Erica’s. My research examines the ways that police violence kills black women slowly through trauma, pain and loss.”

recommended reading re Iran protests

The Napa Valley Register (California) carried an article about how people can better understand the protests in Iran: “If you want to understand what has provoked days of protests in Iran and where they might be heading….To understand the frustrations driving the young, working-class Iranians who began the protests, I recommend reading [anthropologist] Shahram Khosravi‘s “Precarious Lives: Waiting and Hope in Iran,” published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.”  Khosravi is professor of social anthropology at Stockholm University.

industrial heritage in Mumbai

First Post (India) reported on the preservation of some of Mumbai’s industrial heritage in the form of factory chimneys found throughout the city. The article quotes Shekhar Krishnan, an anthropologist, historian, and archivist based in Mumbai: “The reason why chimneys are preserved in some mills, particularly those which underwent commercialisation prior to 2006, is because these mills and their owners undertook redevelopment under the guise of industrial sickness and the modernisation of their textile production units. The mill owners had to therefore preserve and build inside old structures to comply with revival schemes sanctioned by the government and obtain bank loans to finance the conversion of their industrial concerns into commercial spaces. The commercial spaces were shown on paper as textile units, and so were the buildings and chimneys.”

politics and heritage in Kathmandu

The Kathmandu Post published commentary by David Gellner, professor of anthropology at the University of Oxford, about the ongoing controversy over the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari, a historic site in Kathmandu that was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. Gellner describes the conflict between the newly elected mayor of Kathmandu with his deputy mayor, both of whom are from different parties.  Other disagreements involves the young against the old, competing definitions of heritage conservation, purists against pragmatists, Newar against Khas, and Newar against each other.

sex parties in CA nothing new

An article in The Washington Post about how some Silicon Valley techies perceive themselves as edge-cutting not only in technological innovation but also socially because they have sex parties. They see themselves as “setting a new paradigm of behavior by pushing the boundaries of social mores and values.” But sex parties and open relationships are not new, the author argues, citing anthropologist Gilbert Bartell who studied “the sexually curious” for his 1971 book Group Sex, Bartell found that, other than participating in group sex, swingers’ lives were conventional. [Blogger’s note: point one: sex parties and open relationships are not new, though they may seem to be to Silicon Valley techies, and point two: edgy sex behavior may not correlate with other aspects of people’s behavior].

anthropologist takes on a political role

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on the election of Debra Rodman to the Virginia House of Delegates, part of the wave of “Trump bump” of Democratic candidates, most of whom are women. Rodman, associate professor of anthropology and women’s studies at Randolph-Macon College, is quoted as saying:  “The experience of running for office alongside other women was exhilarating but showed her how difficult it is for someone to hold office — especially women, people of color and families with day care bills.” In addition to her teaching and research, she is often an expert witness in federal court for refugees, mostly women, children and LGBT individuals, who are fleeing violence in Central America.

remembering Stanley Ann Dunham

The Mercer Island Reporter (Washington) carried a piece describing a new scholarship of $5,000 that Mercer Island High School has established in the name of one of its graduates, Stanley Ann Dunham, who went on to become a cultural anthropologist and mother of president Barack Obama. The Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship competition is open to all college-bound senior women at Mercer Island High School. Dunham became a pioneering anthropologist in the area of microfinance, helping to create sustainable businesses for people in marginalized communities around the world, especially women. The Dunham Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of demonstrated leadership, independent initiative in community service, extracurricular activities, academic achievement, and college plans.

take that anthro degree and…

…work in health education. Maggie Woo Kinshella is a health education and communications technical advisor for Cuso International in Ethiopia. She and her colleagues work in partnership with the Benishangul-Gumuz Regional Health Bureau to strengthen health education programming including establishing a systematic reporting format and schedule. Kinshella has a B.A. in anthropology and psychology and an M.A. in anthropology from the University of British Columbia.

…become an online community architect and social activist. Bruce Caton is an online community architect who helps virtual organizations build community and achieve their promise. His most recent project is the NASA Science on Drupal Central effort, which is building collaboration and collective intelligence capabilities for NASA earth science Drupal developers and site maintainers. He is the founder and executive director of the New Media Studio and the New Media Research Institute in Santa Barbara, California. One of his latest involvements is working with a group organizing flash mobs of people to spend $20 at local businesses in Santa Barbara. Trained as a social anthropologist and an urban cultural geographer, he is skilled in a variety of multimedia authoring tools, and completed the first multimedia dissertation at UC Santa Barbara. Caron has an M.A. in South Asia Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in linguistics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

ancient underwater model of the universe

The Independent reported on the discovery by Mexican archaeologists of a stone tetzacualco, or shrine, that they think could have been constructed as a miniature model of the universe. The structure is located in a pond on the side of the Iztaccihuatl volcano near Mexico City, on a site called Nahualac. According to archaeologist Iris Hernández of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, who led the research, architectural elements placed in water sources in this manner appear to have been an important part of Mesoamerican thought. The site in its entirety may represent a ritual space in which a cult of Tlaloc was based, along with worship of other land and water deities.

extinct horse fossil in Nevada

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on how the analysis of a fossil horse skull found several decades ago in a cave near Las Vegas is helping scientists identify a new type of extinct horse that died out during the last ice age. A team of researchers led by famed archaeologist Mark Harrington discovered the bone in the 1930s inside the Gypsum Cave.

oldest North American DNA so far

Several media reported about DNA results from a burial in Alaska dating back more than 11,000 years. According to The Independent, findings suggest that Alaska was likely populated 25,000 years ago, 10,000 years earlier than the time accepted by many archaeologists. National Public Radio (U.S.) quoted Ben Potter, an archaeologist at the University of Alaska who discovered the site in 2006 and is among the researchers on the project: “It’s incredibly rare…We only have a handful of human remains that are this old in the entire Western Hemisphere.” The New York Times quoted Eske Willerslev, director of the Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, and co-author of the study: “It’s the earliest branch in the Americas that we know of so far.” As far as the scientists can tell, these early settlers endured for thousands of years before disappearing. Findings are published in the journal Nature.

in memoriam

Rachel Dominique Beauvoir, professor of anthropology at the State University of Haiti and manbo (voodoo priestess), has died. After studying cultural anthropology at Tufts University in the United States of America, and social anthropology at the University of Oxford, Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique taught anthropology and Haitian culture in two entities of the State University of Haiti: the Faculty of Human Sciences (FASCH) and the Faculty of Ethnology (FE). She participated in various research projects, including research on the history of ethnology in Haiti. Engaged politically in the battle against the dictatorship in the 1980s, Beauvoir-Dominique was part of the contingent of young graduates who returned to the country to help rebuild. A voodoo priestess, she was a vigilant defender of this popular religion, and she was founder and active member of two Foundations dedicated to the preservation of Haitian cultural traditions.


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