Anthro in the news 11/11/13

Containers of Nourimanba organized for storage at newly opened Nourimanba Production Facility in Haiti. Photo: Jon Lascher/Partners In Health

• Peanuts! For health and prosperity

ABC News reported on the opening in Haiti of a new plant in Haiti’s Central Plateau that is making Nourimanba, a peanut-based food used to treat children for severe malnutrition. The peanuts are grown by Haitian farmers, and the project was launched by Paul Farmer’s non-profit, Partners In Health. The first shipments produced at the facility have been distributed to clinics run by Partners In Health. A pilot program will provide support for about 300 farmers to improve the quality and quantity of the peanut supply. The project will improve child health and increase farmers’ incomes.

• On Obamacare

Cultural anthropologist Paul Stoller writes in The Huffington Post about his experience with being diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and the risks of living in the U.S. without Obamacare (the Affordable Health Care Act):

“If I hadn’t had superior health insurance, I would have died many years ago — a life cut short by a lack of access to health care. It makes me angry that millions of Americans cannot not share my good fortune. For any number of reasons — a work-related accident, a sudden debilitating illness, an unexpected job loss — a hardworking person can be rapidly thrown into poverty, which usually means living without health insurance.”

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Washington, D.C. event: Our Walls bear Witness – The Plight of Burma's Rohingya

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Burma, have long considered among the world’s most persecuted peoples.Denied citizenship and rendered stateless by the Burmese government, the 800,000 Rohingya lack basic rights, including the right to work, marry, and travel freely, and routinely suffer severe abuse.

Following violent attacks in 2012 that destroyed numerous Rohingya communities, more than 100,000 are now confined to displacement camps and segregated areas, where they continue to be subjected to violence including crimes against humanity.

When: November 4th, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Rubinstein Auditorium
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC

Greg Constantine, Photographer

Holly Atkinson, MD, Director of the Human Rights Program
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Past President, Physicians for Human Rights

Maung Tun Khin, President, Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK)

The speakers will discuss the photographs and the stories of individuals whose lives have been affected by violence against the Rohingya and Muslims elsewhere in Burma.

Images of the Rohingya displaced in Burma and in exile taken by prize-winning photographer Greg Constantine will be projected each evening from November 4th to 8th on the Museum’s exterior walls on 15th Street SW (Raoul Wallenberg Place). This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Register and learn more here.

DC conference: Student proposals sought on diversity in conflict/divided societies

The Georgetown University Conflict Resolution Program is calling for student papers, art, and videography for their conference, “Managing Diversity in Divided Societies.” Submissions should address the following questions:

What tools and mechanisms best promote diversity? How is diversity best approached in conflict societies? How can the arts be used to engage diversity and enhance societal well being?

Cash prizes will be awared to the top three finalists in the categories of diversity, conflict, and peace-building. Submissions are open to third and fourth year undergraduate students and graduate students.

Abstracts will be accepted until October 15th. Submissions are due on December 1st. The conference will be held on January 30-31st.

Send questions and submissions to:

Anthro in the news 7/15/13

• A bold target for the World Bank

The Globe and Mail (Canada) carried an article based on a lunch conversation with Jim Yong Kim, medical doctor, medical anthropologist, and former university president, marking the end of his first year as president of the World Bank. The article discusses the pros and cons of targets. Targets, even wildly improbable ones, can inspire action and achieve change, even if the target is not achieved. Or they can create embarrassment when failure is seen as the outcome.

World Bank Washington DC
The World Bank in Washington, D.C. on April 16, 2013. Flickr: Simone D. McCourte/World Bank

Kim explains his dedication to a new World Bank target of eliminating extreme poverty worldwide by 2030. He is quoted as saying, “What would be really frightening to me is if people like me, people like the World Bank staff, were so concerned about their own lives that they would not grab the opportunity to set a bold target … It took a very long time to convince people that we should have this target, but now that we do, I just see it as a huge gift…”

[Blogger’s note: no one would argue that eliminating poverty, especially extreme poverty, is not a laudable goal. The question arises, though, of the chosen policy pathways toward the goal. Unfortunately for many small scale communities in developing countries, Kim plans to promote large dam construction and hydroelectric development which will destroy such people’s livelihoods].

• World Bank in Africa on the decline?

The New York Times published an op-ed on the declining importance of World Bank loans to Africa in spite of new World Bank efforts, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The authors argue that: “The World Bank has done important work in promoting good governance and evaluating reform efforts. But its latest pledge of aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo sends a very mixed message, coming at a time when the International Monetary Fund has been cutting its loan programs to the country because of concerns about poor governance.”

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon share stories while waiting for the state dinner in Kinshasa
World Bank Pres. Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laugh in Kinshasa. But the Bank's loan programs in Africa are declining. Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection

World Bank Director Jim Yong Kim is quoted as saying: “There are always going to be problems and downsides with the governance of places that are fragile [but he adds that through investment and aid]…we can both reduce the conflict and improve governance.” The authors point out that Kim’s argument assumes that more World Bank spending means better government. Despite the billions in aid the D.R.C. has already received, however, “Kinshasa has not felt compelled to improve. It’s not clear why the bank’s new effort will be different.”

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Engaged anthropology with and for Latino immigrants

The University of South Florida News carried an article about ongoing research into the consequences of new Latino immigrants, African Americans and working class Whites coming face to face at work in the U.S. South and how to better bridge differences. The project is led by cultural anthropologist Angela Stuesse, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida. Here are some excerpts, with some paraphrasing, from the article:

Angela Stuesse accompanied leaders from a Guatemalan Mam immigrant community on a political education tour in Mississippi. Photo by Angela Stuesse

Recent immigrants and people descended from earlier immigrants – whether voluntary or forced – often eye each other warily, sometimes finding themselves at odds. Making a connection can be as simple as knowing how to start a conversation – one that can become the basis for working together – rather than a fight. But as Stuesse has found, such conversations often don’t just happen. And if they do, they can be touchy. “Across cultures, knowing what not to say can be as important as knowing what to say and how to say it,” points out, and “Immigrants, too, may hold racial and other biases toward those they come into contact with. There’s a need to help groups understand each other. Ideally, they can work together and develop mutual respect.”

Stuesse’s research has produced her forthcoming book, Globalization ‘Southern Style, which describes the transformation of small-town Mississippi when Latino immigrants begin working and organizing alongside African Americans in the area’s chicken processing plants.

While working in Mississippi, Stuesse was a founding collaborator of the poultry worker center, MPOWER, where she drew upon her research to help facilitate structured dialogue and spaces for political education and cultural sharing among immigrant and U.S.-born poultry worker leaders.

She has also developed Intergroup Resources, a comprehensive new online resource center that is becoming a national network. The user-friendly Intergroup Resources website built and designed by Stuesse’s research team offers curricula, dialogue guides, educational materials and descriptions of the efforts of various groups.

BBC says "mixed race" is mainstream in the U.K.

By contributor Sean Carey

Around 2 million people in the U.K. — roughly 3 percent of the total population — come from “mixed race” backgrounds. The big surprise is that the estimate is twice the number recorded in official statistics. This finding comes from a study by Dr. Alita Nandi at the University of Essex’s Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) using data from the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study for BBC 2’s Newsnight program.

If this figure is accurate then there are more people of “mixed race” than any single, traditional ethnic minority – for example, “Black Caribbean”, “Black African”, “Indian”, “Pakistani”, “Bangladeshi” or “Chinese.” The “mixed race” group has its fair share of celebrities: Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, Surrey cricketer and 2006 Strictly Come Dancing winner Mark Ramprakash, Manchester United soccer players Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, pop singer Leona Lewis, and double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes. But now, according to BBC News home editor Mark Easton, “in multiracial Britain, ethnicity is increasingly not the point. Mixed race is mainstream.”

Mark Ramprakash & Kristina Rihanoff. Flickr/The Tarletons

The mixed race news story hasn’t come out of nowhere. In fact, BBC 2 television is currently running a Mixed Race Season so Dr. Nandi’s statistics produced for Newsnight were part of a high profile PR campaign. The first offering on 27 September, Shirley, was a critically acclaimed biopic of Welsh singer, Shirley Bassey, who is of Nigerian and English descent and born in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay. Bassey, famous for singing the theme to three James Bond movies, was brilliantly played by the young, upcoming actor, Ruth Negga, who is of Ethiopian and white Irish heritage.


Last week’s program was the first of a new three-part series, Mixed Britannica, presented by George Alagiah, Sri Lankan–born BBC 1 television news anchor who is of Tamil descent and married to Frances, a white British woman. The couple have two “mixed race” sons. So Alagiah declared a personal interest in the subject.

The Mixed Britannica series explores the history of relationships of people from different ethnic backgrounds in the U.K. Not surprisingly, the first program broadcast covered the port areas which have  been home to seafarers from around the world since the mid- and late-19th century – Yemenis in South Shields, Chinese in Liverpool and the Limehouse area of London’s East End, and Black Caribbeans and West Africans, Somalis, and Yemenis in Tiger Bay.

Dame Kelly Holmes. Flickr/conservativeparty

One of those interviewed was Connie Ho, who was born in Limehouse in 1921 to a Chinese father and a white, English mother. Ho told Alagiah how she and other children of mixed ethnicities were taken to a room above a local restaurant to have their facial characteristics measured and eye colour recorded by eugenicists. This was at the same time that scientists in Germany were about to embark on a series of gruesome experiments with people from Jewish and other despised minority groups. It was only after the Second World War when the full horror of the Holocaust was revealed that British scientists realised the possible impact of their pseudo-scientific studies and pulled back from any further research that might stigmatise and threaten the lives of particular groups of people.


The documentary used archival film footage and still photographs to good effect. The Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey, which was opened in 1869 by orientalist Dr Gottleib Wilhelm Leitner, to provide visiting Muslim students with a place of worship was featured. It is the oldest purpose-built mosque in the UK (mentioned in an earlier post) and is an immense source of pride for the 10,000-strong Muslim (predominantly Pakistani) community that now lives in the Woking area. It was highlighted because it was the place where 22nd Sultan of Johor, reputed to be one of the world’s richest men, married a Glasgow-born white woman, Helen Bartholomew Wilson, the former wife of his physician, in 1930.

Continue reading “BBC says "mixed race" is mainstream in the U.K.”

Mapping hate

It’s August and a time when professors try to clear out accumulated reprints, notes and other collected items. Tonight, I spent a while attacking some stacks in my home office. In a cluster of materials relating to social conflict and violence, I found a clipping that I had saved from the Washington Post, dated March 8, 2008.

The title is “Hate Rises.”

It’s not really an article, so much as a series of graphic displays that caught my attention three years ago and now, again. A bar graph shows the rise in number of hate groups in the U.S. since the year 2000. A series of maps show the numbers of particular hate groups by states.

Good news: membership in the Ku Klux Klan declined dramatically since its founding in 1865. Bad news: the size of other hate groups has surged “especially along the border in Arizona, California and Texas.”

These figures are the result of dedicated work by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. I urge you to visit the website. Explore a map of the United States and the links to currently active hate groups by state. Beware: you may not be able to sleep well after this excursion into the darkness of hate.

On a brighter note, another page offers you an opportunity to take a stand against hate and create a non-hate space on the U.S. map.