anthro in the news 1/15/18

Flag of the Republic of Haiti. Credit: Wikipedia

Haiti pride

The Haitian Revolution defeated the army of Napoleon Bonaparte and established the only country in the world based on a revolt of enslaved people — a lot to be proud of. Yet, some Americans see something other than a country that has overcome and continues to overcome extreme adversity. The Huffington Post published a piece by Mark Schuller, associate professor of anthropology and NGO studies professor at Northern Illinois University and a Haiti solidarity activist. He writes: “On Thursday, the day before the eighth anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti that killed at least 230,000 people, President Trump called Haiti – as well as a single, undifferentiated ‘Africa’ – ‘shithole countries.’ Of course, the president’s first impulse was to deny the statement, just as he had denied the statement made public through an anonymous source to the New York Times that ‘all Haitians have AIDS.’ Triggering the conversation is his administration’s denial of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 58,000 people from Haiti currently living in the U.S., some for as much as thirty years. His comments speak to the callous attitude of an individual that feels no accountability, who thinks he can rewrite history as is convenient.”

claiming indigeneity in India

Sispara peak and trail. Lithograph after Stephen Ponsonby Peacocke c. 1847. Credit: Wikipedia

The Times of India reported on the effort of the Badaga people of India’s Nilgiri Hills region to gain indigenous status. Their effort has received support from Paul Hockings, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hockings, who has done research among the Badaga. He is quoted as saying: “the tribe despite its sketchy history is as indigenous to the Nilgiris as the English are to Britain… The length of time in their abode has no particular bearing on their indigeneity. The Badagas today have no cultural roots outside the district, which is also true of the Kotas and Todas, and it is in this sense that all three communities are indeed indigenous.” This determination comes as a relief for the community because, in fact, it was Hockings’ statement in the 1960s about the possibility of the Badagas originating in another state that added fuel to the debate on the tribe’s ethnicity.

tribes gaining U.S. federal recognition 

The Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily (Virginia) reported that six American Indian tribes of eastern Virginia are one step away from federal recognition. The legislation will extend federal recognition to the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan, and Nansemond tribes. The tribes have received recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia. A seventh tribe, the Pamunkey, received federal recognition in 2016. The College of William and Mary held an event to celebrate the news.  “A number of us at William & Mary have worked closely with these groups,” said archaeologist Martin Gallivan, professor of anthropology at the College of William & Mary. “But the Chickahominy, Monacan, Rappahannock, Nansemond, Eastern Chickahominy and Upper Mattaponi deserve all the credit for persevering with recognition, long past the point when others would probably have given up.”

rethinking university admission in Japan

An article in The Atlantic described the highly competitive process of admission to elite universities in Japan. It quoted Gregory Poole, professor of social anthropology at the Institute for the Liberal Arts of Doshisha University in Kyoto: “Anybody can get into a university in Japan at the moment.” But only the country’s top-tier public and private universities can guarantee young adults promising prospects. For admission to such universities, much rests on an applicant’s score on the so-called Center Test. Center Test success can feel to those taking it like a marker of their worth in society and like the end-all of their academic and professional careers. The Ministry of Education is planning an ambitious reform that seeks to transform the test’s role in the university admission system, the way aptitude is measured, and how students are trained for their professional lives.

Clovis site in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) reported that the archaeological record of Ohio has been enriched by the discovery of Clovis artifacts at a site in the southeastern part of the state by  Metin Eren, assistant professor of anthropology at Kent State University, and several colleagues. While hundreds of Clovis points have been found across Ohio, most of the sites are in the major river valleys of central Ohio. Some archaeologists conclude from this that the Clovis people chose to avoid the hill country, favoring instead the flatlands, where it was easier to hunt mammoths and mastodons. But the new discovery suggests that the Clovis culture exist in the southeast, but it is harder to find. The team studied nine stone tools found at the site, including an unfinished Clovis point, four fragments of other points, a scraper and three other tools, as well as 118 pieces of chipped flint. They examined 33 of the artifacts under high-powered magnification to determine whether and how they had been used. Results are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Homo erectus site in Israel

The Guardian and other media covered the discovery of an abundance of artifacts from 500,000 years ago found at a site called Jaljulia in central Israel. Maayan Shemer, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “Coming to work in Jaljulia, nobody expected to find evidence of such an ancient site, let alone one so extensive and with such impressive finds…There are only two sites [in Israel] whose estimated age is close to Jaljulia in the Sharon, or central Israel: one in Kibbutz Eyal, approximately 5km to the north, and the other, dated to a slightly later cultural phase, at Qesem Cave located approximately 5km to the south. The findings are amazing, both in their preservation state and in their implications about our understanding of this ancient material culture.” Ran Barkai, of Tel Aviv University, added: “This extraordinary site will enable us to trace the behaviour of our direct prehistoric ancestors, and reconstruct their lifestyle and behaviour on the very long journey of human existence.“


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