new book explores ‘true’ Japan on the edge of a Brazilian forest

The cover of Nobuko Adachi’s new book that explores the Japanese Brazilian commune of Kubo

The nation of Brazil is home to 1.5 million people of Japanese descent, the largest such population outside of Japan, larger even than the number of Japanese Americans. For her new book, Associate Professor of Anthropology Nobuko Adachi studied one group that considers itself a direct legacy of the “real” Japan.

“They let me know that they are real Japanese, while I myself just happen to come from Japan,” said Adachi, who was born and raised in Japan. “For them, being Japanese means staying true to nature and the purity of Japan’s farming tradition.”

Adachi’s book, Ethnic Capital in a Japanese Brazilian Commune: Children of Nature, examines the inhabitants of the Japanese commune of Kubo, which lies more than 350 miles from the metropolis of São Paulo on the border of the Mato Grosso do Sul (“thick forest of the south”). Less than 100 people live in the commune, but they share many of the same values as the Japanese descendants who arrived in Kubo in the early 1900s, noted Adachi.

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Upton on HIV and public health in Botswana

Colgate students and faculty assembled in the Persson Hall Auditorium on Wednesday, March 29 to listen to a talk given by Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Co-Director of Global Health at Depauw University Dr. Rebecca L. Upton. A Colgate alumna with a degree in anthropology, Upton discussed the ways in which the complexities of masculinity and fertility fears might be taken into consideration as Botswana moves forward with different HIV/AIDS prevention programs and policies.

Upton began her lecture familiarizing the audience with male infertility, a topic that is vastly understudied around the world. After spending 20 years in northern Botswana, Upton gathered enough ethnographic data to uncover ways in which Botswanan men discussed voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), a practice that contributes greatly to insights on the potential success of HIV/AIDS prevention programs such as the “magic bullet” and new public health strategies of voluntary adult male circumcision.

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understanding conflict in Central African Republic: q&a with anthropologist louisa lombard


Beginning in 2012, fighting between various factions in the Central African Republic (CAR) caused widespread bloodshed and displaced hundreds of thousands in the Texas-sized nation of 4.7 million people.

Scholars, journalists, and politicians have struggled to make sense of the conflict in the rural, landlocked country — a former French colony.

Louisa Lombard, assistant professor of anthropology at Yale, has spent 13 years conducting ethnographic research in CAR. Her latest book, “State of Rebellion,” puts the recent uprising in social, cultural, and historical context. She examines the role that international organizations and nongovernmental organizations have played in sustaining conflict in the little-known country.

Lombard recently spoke with YaleNews about her book. An edited transcript follows.

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anthropology professors to teach trump 101 class this spring quarter


Two anthropology professors will lead a “Trump 101” class this spring quarter. Kaushik Sunder Rajan and William Mazzarella will use the 100-person lecture course to examine President Trump’s rise, using media, race, and gender as a lens for looking at the future of democracies.

Mazzarella sent e-mails to students in December to gauge interest in the class and later joined Rajan to create a curriculum as part of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), which allows fellows to sponsor lectures, teach classes, and sponsor workshops. The class will be composed of discussions led by graduate students and classes taught by guest lecturers providing perspectives from the fields of anthropology, history, political science, linguistics, English, and philosophy.

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anthropologist psychiatrist sees global health through a cultural prism

Dr. Ippolytos Kalofonos Source: Peggy McInerny/UCLA
Dr. Ippolytos Kalofonos Source: Peggy McInerny/UCLA

As a pre-med major at UC San Diego studying biochemistry, Ippolytos Kalofonos discovered his future career while listening to a guest lecturer at an undergraduate seminar.

Here was a field that wove together his interests in health, medicine and social context, he learned after listening to the medical anthropologist. Kalofonos was always interested in broader issues beyond the lab where he worked. He volunteered at a Red Cross emergency room in Tijuana, and was struck by the various forms of inequality “that were swirling around me” locally, nationally and globally.

“I was really excited by the idea of medicine as a social and cultural system, rather than as just a technical skill set,” he recalled of that moment.

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object lesson: dolls on an anthropologist’s shelf


You can learn about a culture by looking at iconic artwork or inspiring architecture — and also by examining seemingly mundane cultural products like dolls.

Dana Professor of Anthropology Loring Danforth makes that point when he teaches the course “Myth, Folklore, and Popular Culture.”

“The first book we read,” he says, “is Barbie’s Queer Accessories,” by Erica Rand, the college’s Whitehouse Professor of Art and Visual Culture.

Rand’s book, combined with Barbie’s powerful and familiar image, provides a “good vehicle to get people thinking about gender, class, sexuality, sexual orientation, and race in American culture,” he says.

But Barbie is only half the story.

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on cinematic anthropology, the use of sensation in ethnographic filmmaking

Professor Lisa Stevenson at the event. Source: Claire Avisar
Professor Lisa Stevenson at the event. Source: Claire Avisar

To most people, the image of a farm on the outskirts of Montreal, the routine of a professional bodybuilder, and Afghan lullabies have little to do with one another. To students of the Anthropology department’s ANTH 408: Sensory Ethnography course, however, they represent the subjects of a semester’s worth of work documenting, creating, and reflecting upon the process of ethnographic filmmaking.

On January 20, held within the historic limestone walls of Thompson House, McGill’s Anthropology Students’ Association hosted the students, their friends, and professors of a class whose central work focused on sensory ethnography (a practice that privileges audiovisual representations of living subjects and rejects the mediation of dialogue, narration, or subtitles). Prefaced by a cocktail hour, this event provided its attendees an evening of food, drinks, and the chance to engage with the students whose work was showcased. With a set of topics as diverse as their approaches, the films were united under their rich cinematography, experimental approach to the traditional narrative, and the attempt to decode human understandings of the world.



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