Anthro in the news 12/24/2012

• Hopes dashed for Chagossians

Aw’s Sean Carey published two articles in The Independent about the recent consideration of the Chagossians‘ claim for a right to return to their homeland.

Chagos
Chagos. Source: refusingtokill.net
In his first piece, he reviews the marathon battle that began in 1998 in the British courts, led by electrician Olivier Bancoult, the newly appointed leader of the Chagos Refugees Group. Although all of the judges in the lower courts unanimously found in favor, in 2008 the Law Lords decided against the Chagosssians’ right of return by a narrow 3-2 majority. The islanders are supported by the former British High Commissioner to Mauritius, David Snoxell, novelist Philippa Gregory and conservationist Ben Fogle.

In his second article, Carey reports on the decision: “Yesterday, there was huge disappointment amongst Chagossian communities in Port Louis, Mahe, Crawley, Manchester, Geneva and Montréal. A seven-judge chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided by majority that the case regarding the right of return of the exiled islanders was inadmissible. Geographically and legally, it has been a long journey with many twists and turns for the islanders, the descendants of African slaves and Indian indentured labourers. The decision by the Strasbourg court means that they continue to be barred from returning to their homeland in the Chagos Archipelago, after their forced removal by the British authorities between 1968 and 1973, so that the US could acquire Diego Garcia, the largest and southernmost island, for its strategically important military base.” After eight years, a decision of inadmissable.

• Declining monkhood in Thailand

In Thailand, Buddhist temples grow lonely in villages as consumer culture rises and there is a shortage of monks. According to an article in The New York Times, monks in northern Thailand no longer perform one of the defining rituals of Buddhism, the early morning walk through the community to collect food. The meditative lifestyle of the monkhood offers little allure to the distracted iPhone generation. Although it is still relatively rare for temples to close down, many districts are so short on monks that abbots here in northern Thailand recruit across the border from impoverished Myanmar, where monasteries are overflowing with novices.

”Consumerism is now the Thai religion,” said Phra Paisan Visalo, one of the country’s most respected monks. He continues, ”In the past people went to temple on every holy day,” Mr. Paisan said. ”Now they go to shopping malls.” William Klausner, a law and anthropology professor who spent a year living in a village in northeastern Thailand in the 1950s, describes the declining influence of Buddhist monks as a ”dramatic transformation.” Monks once played a crucial role in the community where he lived, helping settle disputes between neighbors and counseling troubled children, he wrote in his book, Thai Culture in Transition. Klausner says that today most villages in northern Thailand ”have only two or three full-time monks in residence, and they are elderly and often sick.”
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Upcoming conference on art and aesthetics

Arts and aesthetics in a globalising world

When: April 3-6, 2012
Where: Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

This conference will investigate art and aesthetics in their widest senses and experiences, from a variety of perspectives and in numerous contexts: the material arts, crafts, performance, bodies, digital and new media, metaphysics, and other related themes. Moving beyond art as expressions of the inner mind and inventions of the individual self, the conference will bridge the gap between changing perceptions of contemporary art and aesthetics, and map the impact of globalisation on the creation and movement of artworks, people’s changing perceptions of the medium, the shifting skills of artists, the relationship between the arts and declining ecological factors, art and new religions, and so forth. For more information, click here.

If you are interested in submitting a panel proposal for the conference, please click here.

Anthro in the news 6/27/2011

• The trauma of war and rape
In the first of a two-part story, CNN highlights the work of cultural anthropologist Victoria Sanford, whose research has involved listening to victim narratives of Maya women in Guatemala since her doctoral studies at Stanford University in the early 1990s. A Spanish speaker who had worked with Central American refugees, she befriended the few Maya in the area. “I was moved by their stories, but even more so because they were intent on someone hearing them,” she said, “And no one was listening.” She joined the nonprofit Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology investigative team and went to Guatemala. Sanford talked to the women, who told other women about her, and soon she was recording their stories. Over time, and after hearing many stories, Sanford suffered from a kind of “secondary trauma” including paralysis.

• Conflict in Uganda and a possible love complication
The New York Times quoted Mahmood Mamdani, professor anthropology and government at Columbia university, in an article about an ongoing bitter personal rivalry in Uganda that involves President Musaveni and his rival and former friend, Kizza Besigye. Things may be complicated, the article suggests, by a woman, Winnie Byanyima, who is married to the president’s rival but who may have had a romantic involvement earlier with the president. Other matters are likely part of the story as well. Mamdani comments that the government is “clueless” about how to deal with Besigye’s opposition movement. He didn’t comment on the love factor.

• Culture and asthma
Cultural context and behavior shape the diagnosis and treatment of asthma according to David Van Sickle, medical anthropologist and asthma epidemiologist of Reciprocal Labs in Madison, Wisc. Van Sickle’s fieldwork in India revealed that physicians were hesitant to diagnose patients with asthma because of social stigma.

• Treating autism: two cases in Croatia
Drug Week covered findings from a study conducted in Osijek, Croatia, which discusses the treatment of autism in a boy and a girl with risperidone. K. Dodigcurkovic and colleagues published their study in Collegium Antropologicum.

• Profile of a forensic anthropologist
The Gainesville Sun carried a profile of Michael Warren, an associate professor of anthropology and director of the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He has conducted hundreds of forensic skeletal examinations for the state’s medical examiners and has participated in the identification of victims of mass disasters and ethnic cleansing, including the attacks on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina and the recovery and identification of the victims found within the mass graves of the Balkans. He recently testified in the Casey Anthony murder trial.

• Medieval persecution
The remains of 17 bodies found at the bottom of a medieval well in England could have been victims of persecution, new evidence suggests. DNA analysis indicates that the victims were Jewish. They were likely murdered or forced to commit suicide. The skeletons date to the 12th-13th centuries, a time of persecution of Jewish people in Europe. Professor Sue Black leads the research team. She is a forensic anthropologist in the University of Dundee’s Centre for Anthropology and Human Identification.
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