Anthro in the news 10/13/14

  • Ebola crisis is worse than statistics say
Aida Benton speaking at Brown University.

The Providence Journal (Rhode Island) reported on a teach-in on Ebola at Brown University.  Speakers included an anthropologist, an epidemiologist, a biostatistician, a community organizer and a representative from the Rhode Island Department of Health. Adia Benton, an assistant professor of anthropology at Brown who specializes in the medical anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa, said the crisis is worse than statistics indicate. According to Benton, health institutions in West Africa have been gutted by war and corruption. Medical services, where they exist, are devoted to diseases such as HIV-AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and basic supplies are lacking. The solution is to build a health system in those countries, and that takes time. Continue reading “Anthro in the news 10/13/14”

Call for contributions on faith-based organizations, displacement

Force Migration cover
May 2013 issue
Issue 46 of the journal Forced Migration Review will focus on “faith-based organisations and responses to displacement,” and more specifically:

Individuals and organisations inspired by their faith or religion to assist people in need, whether in their own community or further afield, have long played important roles in humanitarian assistance. They are, from the point of view of the recipients of assistance, in most ways no different from others who provide assistance, and yet they are sometimes seen, and sometimes want to be seen, as different.

Read more on the Forced Migration Review site (deadline Dec. 9, 2013).

GW event: Mobility, Precarity and Empowerment in African Migration

May 23, 2013, from 8:30am to 2pm
Location: Room 651 Duques Hall, GW (corner of G and 22nd St, NW Washington, DC)

Presentations and discussion will offer a creative re-thinking of African migration and displacement in which movement is typically cast as a process of “rupture” in which disconnections, losses, and dilemmas receive the most attention, thus neglecting how migrants and migration transform social, economic, and political processes.

Speakers include: Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff (The George Washington University), Stephen Lubkemann (The George Washington University), Loren Landau (Witwatersrand University), Martin Murray (University of Michigan), Jørgen Carling (Peace Research Institute Oslo), Lisa Cliggett (University of Kentucky), and Bruce Whitehouse (Lehigh University)

RSVP by May 19th to: and

Co-sponsored by: The Social Science Research Council and GW’s CIBER, IFER, CIGA, IGIS, Diaspora Program, and Africana Studies Program

The 64 best cultural anthropology dissertations, 2012

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

Again, this year, I did a key term search in Dissertation Abstracts International to find dissertations completed in 2012 that address topics related to the anthropologyworks mission and heart.

Trophies. Flickr/Snap®

I searched for anthropology dissertations related to human rights, justice, migration, gender, health, violence, conflict, environment, and energy. As someone commented last year, this post could be called “Best cultural anthropology dissertation abstracts” since I do not read every dissertation listed. It’s true — I choose my favorites on the basis of their abstracts, assuming that an abstract does have something to do with the body of the dissertation.

So, here are my 64 picks for 2012: cultural anthropology dissertations, mainly in the U.S., that address issues that I think are really important. I am sorry that I cannot provide a more global list, since so many excellent and important dissertations are written outside the U.S./Canada. Maybe others will address this gap?

All the best to my readers, and Happy New Year 2013!

  1. Living in Limbo with Hope: The Case of Sudanese refugees in Cairo, by Gamal Adam. York University. Advisor Daniel A. Yon. This dissertation, about Sudanese refugees in Cairo, highlights the resilience and hope that distinguish refugees’ lives. The research has resulted in three key findings. First, the refugees have adopted a resource pooling strategy, which includes living in larger households, exempting the newcomers from rent and purchase of food for some time, and ensuring that the individuals who have more resources contribute more. Second, the traditional gender roles have changed and in some cases reversed, many spouses have separated, and children have lost the rights of play and education. Third, refugees are hopeful in celebrating events and setting plans for a better future despite the turbulent experiences they have gone through; most of them are resilient people who encourage each other and are rejuvenated by speeches delivered during various events which they celebrate.
  2. Documenting and Contextualizing Pjiekakjoo (Tlahuica) Knowledges through a Collaborative Research Project, by Elda Miriam Aldasoro Maya. University of Washington. Advisors: Eugene Hunn and Stevan Harrell. People in Pjiekakjoo (Tlahuica), Mexico, have managed to adapt to the globalized world. They have developed a deep knowledge-practice-belief system, Contemporary Indigenous Knowledges (CIK), that is part of the biocultural diversity of the region in which they live. I describe the economic, social and political context of the Pjiekakjoo, to contextualize the Pjiekakjoo CIK, including information on their land tenure struggles, their fight against illegal logging and policies governing the Zempoala Lagoons National Park that is part of their territory. The collaborative research is influenced by the ideas of Paolo Freire and, as a translational work, it draws on the New Rationality proposed by Boaventura De Sousa Santos that appeals for cognitive justice.
  3. Career Women in Contemporary Japan: Pursuing Identities, Fashioning Lives, by Anne Stefanie Aronsson. Yale University. Advisor William Wright Kelly. This dissertation explores what motivates Japanese women to pursue professional careers in today’s neoliberal economy and how they reconfigure notions of selfhood while doing so. I ask why and how it is that one-fourth of women stay on a career track, often against considerable odds, while the other three-fourths drop out of the workforce. I draw from interviews gathered during fieldwork in Tokyo between 2007 and 2010 with 120 professional women ranging in age from early twenties to mid-nineties. I organize these interviews along two main axes: the generation when each woman entered the workforce, and the work sector she entered. I look at five work sectors – finance, industry, entrepreneurship, government, and academia – that attract women because of the new career prospects that emerge as the sectors’ institutional policies change.
  4. “If ih noh beat mi, ih noh lov mi” [If he doesn’t beat me, he doesn’t love me]: An ethnographic investigation of intimate partner violence in western Belize, by Melissa A. Beske. Tulane University, advisor Shansan Du. I examine the cultural underpinnings which normalize gender-based intimate partner violence (IPV) in western Belize and efforts of local activists to diminish the problem. I use multiple methods to investigate why women in heterosexual dyads have come to begrudgingly accept or even justify abuse by their male partners with discourses that conflate “love” and “violence.” Joining forces with former NGO colleagues, I initiated a sustainable survivor assistance program. Continuing to incorporate new members since my time in the field, the group now offers occupational and educational assistance to survivors leaving abusive relationships, and the shelter has expanded as well and thus remains a vital resource for women across Belize and surrounding countries.
  5. Infected Kin: AIDS, Orphan Care and the Family in Lesotho, by Mary Ellen Block. University of Michigan, Advisor: Elisha Renne. This interdisciplinary dissertation in anthropology and social work examines the intersections of HIV/AIDS and kinship and its impact on orphan care and the family in rural Lesotho. It is based on fieldwork in the rural district of Mokhotlong, Lesotho. I find that HIV is a fundamentally a kinship disease and therefore: interventions for AIDS orphans need to include caregiver support; the household should be considered as a salient unit of analysis, evaluation and intervention; and biomedical or biocultural interventions for HIV/AIDS that need to incorporate the underlying theoretical framework of HIV as a kinship disease in order to be effective.
  6. Continue reading “The 64 best cultural anthropology dissertations, 2012”

Will travel for health

sweat lodge
Miwok sweat lodge. Flickr/Jason Holmberg.
A special edition of the journal Body & Society is devoted to contemporary “medical migrations,” or travel in search of a medical cure for a health problem. Elizabeth Roberts and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, both medical anthropologists, are the guest editors.

In their introductory essay, they state that increasing numbers of people are now crossing national borders and travelling great distances for solutions to health problems. They construct a vast frame for “medical migrants,” which includes not just elites shopping globally for the best health care and newest drugs, but also victims of torture and human rights violations who seek to protect their health and prolong their life by gaining asylum outside their home country.

Also included are medical tourists who take risks to access illegal health services, such as organ transplants and the spiritually motivated travelers who make pilgrimages to American Indian sweat lodges in the desert. Medical trials that roam the globe in search of subjects are also in the frame.

The collection of essays promises to break new ground in thinking about “medicine on the move.”