The Tehran Times carried an interview with cultural and linguistic anthropologist, William Beeman, head of the anthropology department at the University of Minnesota. He says that the rivalries between the United States and Russia have made the United Nations unable to be an influential player in building peace in the Middle East: “For example, Russia and the United States both have different interests in Syria, and so a UN Peacekeeping force would have to have the agreement of both Russia and the United States, since both have veto power in the Security Council.” Further, he notes that “There are no new active peace missions in the Middle East, and have not been since 2012.”
Cargo shorts: You don’t care or you are cool?
An article in New York Magazine about the cargo-short boom quotes Brent Luvaas, associate professor of anthropology at Drexel University, who says that the shorts’ “thoughtless” convenience appeals to American males with a particular set of priorities: “What’s offensive about cargo shorts…is that it’s the kind of thing you wear if you want to be comfortable and truly do not care what people think of how you look — which itself is a kind of privilege. It does not signal striving. Maybe this is why people wear it on weekends or days off; it’s not associated with work, even though it’s supposedly utilitarian.” On the other hand, Kim Jenkins, a visiting assistant professor of fashion design at the Pratt Institute who studied anthropology, points to the coolness factor. Cargo shorts are evolved from cargo pants which were worn by servicemen during World War II. American fighter planes had narrow cockpits, so your pants needed front-facing pockets to get at your cigarettes, pens, and whatever. Like bomber jackets, peacoats, and desert boots, cargo pants and cargo shorts have ended up on the street.
Wade Davis, as reported in an article in The Province says, “Each culture is a unique answer to a fundamental challenge: What does it mean to be human and alive?” So, while he recognizes problems with population growth, eco-degradation, and the rapid loss of the world’s languages, he offers a New Year message of hope, “The world is not dying. It’s not falling apart. It’s changing…What young generation has ever come into its own in a world free of peril? I personally believe that pessimism is an indulgence, despair an insult to the imagination. There are wonderfully positive things out there.”
Davis will take up his position as professor of cultural anthropology at the University of British Columbia this fall.
What’s important in Ireland in 2014? Ask a cultural anthropologist
Ireland has transformed over the past six years. Attitudes towards money, work, marriage, masculinity and femininity, care of the elderly and the very idea of society are changing. New technologies are transforming the way we live, work and play. The impact of social media on youth culture is obvious, but technological innovations are also revolutionizing healthcare and work. Continue reading “Anthro in the news 1/6/14”→
1. Now in its tenth year, the SCRM (Short Courses on Research Methods) program is for cultural anthropologists who already have the Ph.D. Two, five-day courses are offered during summer 2014 at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina.
2. Now in its 19th year, the SIRD (Summer Institute on Research Design) is an intensive, three-week course for graduate students in cultural anthropology who are preparing their doctoral research proposals. The 2014 course runs from July 14-August 1, 2014 at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. Instructors: Jeffrey Johnson, Susan Weller, Amber Wutich, and H. Russell Bernard.
3. Now in its sixth year, the SIMA (Smithsonian Institution Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology) is open to graduate students in cultural anthropology and related, interdisciplinary programs (Indigenous Studies, Folklore, etc.) who are interested in using museum collections as a data source and who are preparing for research careers. The course runs from June 2-July 18, 2014. Instructors: Candace Greene, Mary Jo Arnoldi, Joshua Bell, and Gwyneira Isaac, plus visiting lecturers Jason Jackson and Marit Munson.
6. Now in its third year, the DCRM (Distance Courses in Research Methods in Anthropology) is open to upper division undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals. Five courses are offered in summer 2014: Text Analysis, Geospatial Analysis, Network Analysis, Video Analysis, and Methods of Behavioral Observation. The development of these fee-based courses is supported by the National Science Foundation. Enrollment is limited to 20 participants.
An article in The Guardian describes changing patterns of sex, love, and marriage, or none of the above in urban Japan. The article quotes cultural anthropologist Tomomi Yamaguchi, a Japanese-born assistant professor of anthropology at Montana State University as saying: “Remaining single was once the ultimate personal failure…But more people are finding they prefer it.” Being single by choice is becoming, she believes, “a new reality” in urban Japan. The current flight from marriage may signal a longer term rejection of earlier Japanese norms and gender roles.
• Alan Greenspan may take Social Anthropology 101
In an interview with Alan Greenspan, Financial Times writer Gillian Tett was surprised when Greenspan expressed interest in social anthropology and asked Tett for suggested readings. In shock, Tett comments that Greenspan no longer thinks that classic orthodox economics and mathematical models can explain everything. [Blogger’s note: I am dying to know which readings Tett suggested to Greenspan! David Graeber’s book Debt would be at the top of my list for Greenspan].
• It’s a big job
The Boston Globe carried an article about Jim Yong Kim’s attempts to overhaul the World Bank. Kim was in Boston Thursday to accept an award from the Harvard School of Public Health. A physician by profession and cofounder of Partners in Health with Paul Farmer and others, Kim is also a medical anthropologist. Although a proponent of the World Bank’s renewed commitment to supporting large hydroelectric dam projects, Kim at the same time expresses concern for the poor: “What we’ve seen all over the world is that if you don’t pay attention to that bottom 40 percent, you can have fundamental instability in your society…Even in countries that have made so many gains in lifting people out of poverty, the bottom 40 percent were still saying, ‘But wait a minute, we want more.’ ” [Blogger’s note: Studies of large dam construction projects consistently show that they displace thousands, even millions, of people and thus increase the number of people in the “bottom 40 percent.”]
• Tanya Luhrmann dumbing down religion?
In an article in The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier its literary editor, argues that, in her recent series of op-eds in The New York Times, Tanya Luhrmann expresses positive views of evangelicism (which he says she “adores”) and is “peddling another intellectual argument for anti-intellectualism, another glorification of emotion in a culture enslaved to emotion.”
• What’s in a name: Asylum seeker is preferable
Australia’s The Age published a critique of recent official Australian statements about categories of immigrants, particularly a new delineation between asylum seekers and illegal maritime arrivals: “The conjoining of ‘asylum’ and ‘seeker’ is evocative. Who seeks asylum? A human in danger, distress and despair; someone who is hoping to survive on the lee shore of kindness.”
In contrast, the phrase “illegal maritime arrivals” contains no sense of humanity. Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor of linguistic anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, says such phrasing “is more about signalling one’s political affiliation than about trying to describe immigration.”
• Post-multicultural ethnic branding in Canada
An article in The Vancouver Sun notes that one in five Canadians are immigrants and nearly as many are second-generation citizens. So, it would seem that ethnic marketing would be on the rise. Instead, there seems to be growing emphasis on a “post-multicultural” nation.
Design anthropologist Ujwal Arkalgud says brands would do well to leverage Canadiana with high profile examples including Molson Canadian beer, Tim Hortons coffee, Hudson’s Bay department stores, and Roots apparel, all of which have effectively used national identity to sell products.
“Looking at audiences based on their ethnicity is a brutal, brutal practice,” said Arkalgud, director of strategy at Sonic Boom, a strategic marketing communications firm in Toronto. “It makes the assumption that just because somebody has immigrated, or has a certain background, they think a certain way; the reality is that our behaviours are guided by who we are and our own beliefs and values.”
The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) announces an annual student research competition in the applied social and behavioral sciences. The winner of the competition will receive a cash prize of $2000 and travel funds to attend the annual meetings of the SfAA.
The award honors the late Peter Kong-ming New, a distinguished medical sociologist-anthropologist and former president of the SfAA. The award will be given to the best paper which reports on an applied research project in the social/behavioral sciences. The research question should be in the domain of health care or human services (broadly construed). Please see the guidelines by clicking on the link below for additional information. The paper must be submitted to the SfAA Business Office no later than December 31 by emailing to: email@example.com.
David Vine, cultural anthropology professor at American University, published an article in The Huffington Post remarking on the painful 40th anniversary of the final deportations of Chagossians from their homeland in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago in order to build a secretive military base on Chagos’s largest island, Diego Garcia. He writes: “Over a weekend of memorials, I was remembering a friend who died of a broken heart. Her death certificate may not say so, but she did. Aurélie Lisette Talate died last year at 70 of what members of her community call, in their creole language, sagren–profound sorrow… Madame Talate died of sagren because the U.S. and British governments exiled her and the rest of her Chagossian people from their homeland…” And, further: “In those same forty years, the base on British-controlled Diego Garcia helped launch the Afghan and Iraq wars and was part of the CIA’s secret ‘rendition’ program for captured terrorist suspects.”
• Paul Farmer: it’s not innovative to help the poor
WGBH radio interviewed medical anthropologist and humanitarian advocate Paul Farmer of Harvard University. In speaking about Partners in Health, which has moved many, including former President Bill Clinton, to call Partners in Health’s methodology innovative, is quoted as saying: “The idea that it’s somehow innovative to serve the poor is kind of sad, right? Because it’s not a new idea.”
• Research Institute in India launches student fieldwork program
The Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute in southern India will recruit 50 to 100 anthropology students every year to conduct studies on the education, economics and health of tribals, besides their society and lifestyle, throughout the State. The Institute was set up in Mysore in 2011. It is undertaking research, evaluation and training activities, besides organizing seminars and producing documentaries. The students will receive training and monthly salary.
• Jewels from the sky
Fox News carried an article about an ancient Egyptian iron bead found inside a 5,000-year-old tomb that was crafted from a meteorite. In an article in Nature, researchers say the bead has a Widmansttten pattern, a distinctive crystal structure found only in meteorites that cooled at an extremely slow rate inside asteroids when the solar system was forming. Further investigation showed that the bead was not molded under heat, but rather hammered into shape by cold-working: “Today, we see iron first and foremost as a practical, rather dull metal,” study researcher Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester…”To the ancient Egyptians, however, it was a rare and beautiful material which, as it fell from the sky, surely had some magical/religious properties.” Continue reading “Anthro in the news 6/3/13”→
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:
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.
The special double issue of the Economist has an article on barbecue and American culture. One quote: “Barbecue in America, particularly in the American South is like red wine in Bordeaux or maize in Mexico. More than just something to consume, it is an expression of regional and perhaps even national identity.”
To repeat: barbecue is not a verb, it’s a noun. Beyond that: it’s not just good to eat. As Mary Douglas would remind us, barbecue is good to think.