anthro in the news 3/12/18

Gowns made from recycled materials. Credit: James Wendlinger/The South China Morning Post

activist anthropology meets sustainable fashion

An article in The South China Morning Post reported on Sustainable Sunday Couture in Hong Kong which features Filipino domestic workers as models and dresses made from recycled materials. In addition to an exhibition of gowns at the Philippine consulate in Admiralty, the organizers of Sustainable Sunday Couture decided to use the city as a promotional catwalk. Julie Ham, the project coordinator and an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Hong Kong, and Chen Ju-chen, lecturer in anthropology at Chinese University who specializes in Filipino beauty pageants, are working with a group of volunteer models, make-up artists, dressers, and photographers for the project.

we have to try

Jane Goodall, 2015. Credit: Wikipedia

The Huffington Post published an article about Dame Jane Goodall, as she nears her 84th birthday. The primatologist is angry that humanity has killed thousands of orangutans and frustrated that we, in our quest to grow and conquer, have changed the planet forever: “Goodness, if we could spend the same money learning about the world that we spend on wars…. We’re so stupid aren’t we? We seem to have lost the connection between our clever brains and our hearts.” But she has hope: “We truly have harmed the world, but I still think there’s a window of time for us to try and turn things around. It can never get back to the way it was … but we have to try.” Goodall is one of the most recognized scientists of our time. She was one of several pioneering women in the 1960s who forged a pathway through lecture halls filled with men. Her research on chimpanzees changed the understanding of animal intelligence and human evolution.

anthropology works to solve murders

AllAfrica republished an article from The Conversation Africa by Jessica Leigh Thornton, a postgraduate anthropology researcher at Nelson Mandela University. She is conducting research in the Eastern Cape province which has the highest murder rate in South Africa. She writes: “My ongoing research explores whether insights and approaches drawn from anthropology could further assist law enforcers in solving murders. I’m focusing particularly on whether different traditional and cultural styles of hunting can be anthropologically applied as a classification grid for offenders. It uses the act of hunting, a well known concept, to describe a murder. This would describe the murderer as a particular type of hunter. Stalking, baiting, trapping and making use of camouflage are terms that may be used to describe the action. Investigators will get insight into the offender’s pre- and post-murder behaviour, their ‘hunting” grounds,’ and who they may choose as a victim. Using a grid of this kind improves the readability of the profile for police officers, as it describes the offender in ways that are familiar to them. The classification grid is easier for officers to relate to, since they too are ‘hunting’ – for the killers…An anthropological approach may possibly assist police officers by providing a more holistic narrative of the surrounding elements. This could in turn contribute to solving more cases in the various sectors and procedures of a criminal investigation.”

politics in Zimbabwe politics

CNBC Africa carried an audio piece about the current state of politics in Zimbabwe. Over 100 days ago long-time leader Robert Mugabe was ousted, and Emmerson Mnangagwa took office promising change and progressive steps to a more democratic future. David Moore, professor of anthropology and development studies at the University of Johannesburg, discusses Zimbabwe’s political evolution.

take that anthro degree and…

…become a writer. India Amos is a freelance writer and blogger. In her latest piece, published by The Washington Post, she writes about not being able to find professional work with her B.A. in her home state of West Virginia: “After attending college out of state (where I earned a scholarship for representing geographic and financial diversity — there were no other first-generation, West Virginia residents at my liberal arts school that year), I considered moving home to work. However, armed with my bachelor’s degree in modern languages and anthropology, I was met with bleak professional options. In 2017, WalletHub ranked West Virginia the worst state for job prospects. With my particular background, my options seemed to be limited to working in libraries or waitressing. My classmates who didn’t move out of state are mostly working as cashiers and servers, and there are a select few who work for the city or became bankers. Since the decline in manufacturing and coal mining employment opportunities, our industries have shifted to prioritize jobs that relate to health care and social work. My years reading Margaret Mead’s ethnographies and learning Spanish and Italian did little to prepare me for either of those fields. And since I’d never done clinicals or spent time studying child development, I felt like a noncompetitive applicant for most jobs that required college degrees in Wheeling, my home town. I felt as if there was no place for my skills and passions, so I moved out of state.”

….work in a family business. Shloka Mehta is the Mumbai-based director of Rosy Blue Diamonds, one of the world’s largest diamond manufacturers, headed by her father. She also co-founded ConnectFor, an NGO that matches volunteers in the Mumbai area with NGOs that need them. Mehta has a B.A. in anthropology from Princeton University and a Masters in Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

forensic re-study points to Amelia Earhart

USA Today and several other media reported on an analysis of a collection of bones discovered on a South Pacific Ocean island 80 years ago that “likely” belonged to famed aviator Amelia Earhart. Richard Jantz, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, determined the bones “have more similarity to Earhart than to 99% of individuals in a large reference sample.” Jantz said, “until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers.” Theories abound about what happened to Earhart and her navigator Frederick Noonan after they disappeared July 2, 1937, during an attempt to fly around the world. One speculation supported by Jantz is that Earhart was a castaway on Nikumaroro Island, east of Papua New Guinea. The study findings are published in the journal Forensic Anthropology.

subway construction reveals wonders

The New York Times reported on continually emerging archaeological discoveries as Rome expands its subway system. Two years after the remains of a second-century military barracks were found during the excavation of the Amba Aradam station, archaeologists presented the remains of a richly decorated domus, or house, that they believe belonged to the commander of the military post. The article quotes Simona Morretta, the state archaeologist responsible for the site: “we didn’t imagine that we’d find a house with a central courtyard,” a fountain and at least 14 rooms, one of which appears to have been heated.

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