Syrian refugee family thrives in American south


Courtesy of Square, Inc.

by Lesli Davis

A short film produced by Square, Inc. tells the story of a refugee family living in Knoxville, TN.

Yassin Falafel, as some people call him, runs a popular restaurant in downtown Knoxville. After fleeing the war in Syria, he and his family settled in East Tennessee. Initially without a work permit, Yassin began selling his sandwiches at the local mosque. With a little help from an imam at the mosque, Yassin opened his downtown store.

Yassin says that anyone who comes in his restaurant is family – from the fellow refugees he employs to those who have never tried falafel before.

His message is simple: all are welcome.

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Courtesy of Square, Inc.

 

anthro in the news 11/7/16

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-49-39-amnot all hair is equal   

BBC News reported on the research of social anthropologist Emma Tarlo tracing the global industry in human hair, especially wigs, weaves, and extensions. Tarlo, professor of anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, is the author of Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair. While China is the biggest exporter and importer of human hair and harvests huge amounts from its own population, European hair is the most valuable because of its fine texture, variety of its colors, and relative scarcity. Tarlo is quoted as saying: “People who work in the industry are conscious of the fact Made in China is viewed as a negative label and market it in more glamorous ways instead.” [with audio]

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Foreign Affairs published a review of five books on drone warfare including one by Hugh Gusterson,  professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University. The reviewer refers to Drone as “gently critical” and a “thoughtful examination of the dilemmas this new weapon poses.”


Continue reading “anthro in the news 11/7/16”

anthro in the news 10/31/16

Source: Creative Commons
Source: Creative Commons

Tweeting hate   

USA Today reported on the surge in hate speech on Twitter during the U.S. presidential campaign especially via social media. The article quotes Sophie Bjork-James, post-doctoral fellow in the anthropology department at Vanderbilt University:  “While various groups have been targeted with hate speech on Twitter during this election, I don’t think anything compares to what Jewish journalists are going through…Many white nationalists have been inspired by the Trump campaign to increase their involvement, and a central part of this ideology is anti-Semitism.” 

Behind the presidential masks

An article in Smithsonian magazine asks, what’s behind America’s obsession with presidential masks? Among several interpretations reviewed is that of Nancikeriyo_emoticons_by_delekete Loudon Gonzalez, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Maryland. College Park. She links the role of performance during political campaigns to the theory of carnivalesque in which people use humor to come together and seek social change through expressing both hope and fear. 


Continue reading “anthro in the news 10/31/16”

50 Best Cultural Anthropology Dissertations of 2014

See also the best cultural anthropology dissertations of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

As in previous years, I did a key word search in Dissertation Abstracts International to find dissertations defended in 2014 that address topics related to the anthropologyworks mission. I continue to regret that this source provides information almost exclusively on U.S. dissertations, in other words, it is not “international.”

“Best” means my “best” picks: dissertations that connect to major global issues. My search terms were human rights, justice, migration, gender/women, health, violence, conflict, environment, food, and energy.

As you may imagine, I do not read the entire dissertations, only the abstracts. My selection is based on the abstracts – and the topics as described therein. So maybe I should retitle this post as the 50 Most Important Cultural Anthropology Dissertations.

The dissertations are ordered alphabetically by the author’s last name. Dissertations are not generally available through open access. Here are my 50 picks for 2014. I was excited to read about them, and I hope you will be, too.

  • Can Anyone with Low Income Be Food Secure?: Mitigating Food Insecurity among Low Income Households with Children in the Tampa Bay Area, by Edgar Allan Amador. University of South Florida. Advisor: David Himmelgreen.

This study compares households with children at different levels of food security and insecurity using the USDA Core Food Security Module (CFSM) and an ethnographically informed analysis of coping. I seek to understand the differences between at-risk households in order to determine why some fall into more severe food insecurity while other manage to avoid it. Data on food security, demographics, use of food assistance programs, shared cultural models for food, food shopping behavior, food consumption, and measures of depression and anxiety were collected from 207 households. Future studies should explore how food insecurity and stress affect household relationships.

  • Logics of Sacrifice: An Ethnography of the Makah Whaling Conflict, by Leslie E. Beldo, Jr. The University of Chicago. Advisor: Richard A. Shweder.

This dissertation examines the ethics of human-animal interaction at work in the continued conflict over Makah indigenous whaling in the state of Washington. I argue that contemporary Makah whaling is driven as much by tribal members’ refusal to back down in the face of outside resistance as it is an affirmation of tribal identity and sovereignty. In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Native American tribal identities were formed in the course of legal battles for fishing rights throughout the twentieth century. The dissertation takes anti-whaling activists seriously in their suggestion that Makah whaling is an environmental issue and an animal issue as much as it is a Native American sovereignty issue. Continue reading “50 Best Cultural Anthropology Dissertations of 2014”

Summer methods courses in cultural anthropology

PH.D. COURSES

Now in its eleventh year, the SCRM (Short Courses on Research Methods) program is for cultural anthropologists who already have the Ph.D. Three, five-day courses are offered during summer 2015 at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Apply here. Deadline: March 1, 2015. Continue reading “Summer methods courses in cultural anthropology”

Good news: Chixoy dam reparations

Cultural anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnston offers an inside view on Counter Punch of a commitment from the Government of Guatemala to make reparations related to the Chixoy dam.

She has worked long and hard to push for this:

“The Government of Guatemala has finalized a legally-binding commitment to repair the human rights damages associated with forced displacement, violence, and related abuses accompanying the construction and operation of the internationally-financed Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam. This historic action provides the legal means and financial commitment to launch the first-ever formal reparation mechanism that explicitly addresses the varied injuries and immense impoverishment resulting from internationally financed hydroelectric dam development.”

Johnston is an environmental anthropologist and Senior Fellow at the Center for Political Ecology, an independent environment, health and human rights research institute based in Santa Cruz, California.

Tattoos as Transformational Pilgrimage: Women’s Tattoo Narratives in Houston, Texas

Guest contributor: Laura Newman

Skin communicates many messages to others — a person’s race, gender, age, and even socioeconomic status. A tattoo is a chance for individuals to mark themselves outside of conventional boundaries. As DeMello explains: “If the physical body serves as a site in which gender, ethnicity, and class are symbolically marked, tattoos and the process of inscription itself create the cultural body themselves, thereby creating and maintaining specific social boundaries. Tattoos articulate not only the body, but the psyche as well” (1993:10).

Tattoos also have meaning to the individual. For my M.A. thesis at the University of Houston, my research goal was to analyze and understand how tattoo narratives help the story teller explain to themselves and to others how their tattoo has symbolized a change in their lives. Getting a tattoo can be a significant event for women in itself.  Tattoos are often planned out with the artist to ensure that it is exactly what the wearer wants.

A tattoo narrative is rich with details and meaning. “As individuals reflect on the major events that have shaped their lives, they maintain and get others to acknowledge important features of their self-understanding. More than a social obligation, this sharing of personal experience serves the psychological purpose of bolstering one’s subjective sense of being properly motivated and well directed in life” (McCollum 2002:113). Being visually accessible to others the tattoo story is told over time and repeatedly. My goal was to record these stories and identify important changes in a woman’s life related to their tattoos. Continue reading “Tattoos as Transformational Pilgrimage: Women’s Tattoo Narratives in Houston, Texas”