Category Archives: Around the Web

Around the Web Digest: Week of December 6

The blog harvest was rich again this week at the Savage Minds ranch. Help me find more blogs by sending me links at

HuffPost featured this article in which an anthropologist argues that isolating babies in cribs and sleeping 8 continuous hours a night are Western constructions: My Conversation with Co-Sleeping Expert James McKenna

In this National Geographic post, Jason De León discusses some of the findings in his book, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. He argues that migrant deaths at the border have been deliberately caused and normalized in national media: An Anthropologist Unravels the Mysteries of Mexican Migration

In this episode of the Craft podcast, anthropologist Jeffrey Cohen describes some moments of adaptation in his fieldwork in Mexico: Eating Soup (and Grasshoppers) Without a Spoon with Jeffrey Cohen. The interviewer actually asks how to avoid “changing their civilization.”

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Around the Web Digest: Week of November 29

Good grief, the anthroblogosphere was active this week! I usually don’t have to omit too many entries I find interesting but this week you might need to do some searching on your own to catch everything. Send me what you find at

This delightful post on uses Christopher Boehm’s cross-cultural survey of “Late Pleistocene Appropriate” foraging societies to argue that the figure of the self-serving individualist promulgated by Objectivist author Ayn Rand runs counter to human (pre)history. The author illustrates this argument with examples from Colin Turnbull’s classic, The Forest People.  Ayn Rand vs. Anthropology. “Who is John Galt? He refused to participate in society and no one has seen him since.”

Institut Pasteur reports on a study that compared populations in different Central African environments to examine the effects of moving to different environments on human epigenetics. Forest-dwelling and sedentary Bantu groups, who have lived in different environments for a relatively short time, exhibited epigenetic changes affecting immunity. By comparison, the genetic differences in immunity between Bantu groups and Pygmy groups, who have inhabited different environments for much longer, have become hereditary: Our Epigenome is Influenced by Our Habitat and Lifestyle

This HuffPost article makes the point that referring to terrorists as “animals” is a misnomer, because there are almost no parallels for violent behavior on that scale among other species: The Evolution and Ethology of Terrorism: We Are Unique, Violence is a Dead End, But There Is Hope

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Around the Web Digest: Week of November 22

Happy Sunday, readers. Don’t forget to send me links to content I should mention here, at

It’s a linguistic link! HuffPost Women characterizes a controversial Jeopardy contestant’s verbal tic as “upspeak” and sketches out the gendered dimensions of how women are penalized for their forms of speech: This ‘Jeopardy’ Contestant’s Voice Has The Internet Freaking Out (I’m hedging because it doesn’t strike me as classic upspeak).

It’s a physical anthropology link! This Nautilus post describes how the low-fiber Western diet seems to be limiting the diversity of microbiomes women pass on to their children at birth: How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution. The microbes that flourish in the guts of people on a Western diet, specializing in breaking down fats, sugars and protein, are also those that attack the mucus lining of human guts, which can cause chronic inflammation.

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Around the Web Digest: Week of November 15

Forgive the lateness, dear readers… AAA fatigue is real. Help me out by sending me links you want featured here at

This post by a linguist in The Conversation points out that Norwegians’ emergent use of “Texas” to refer to anything chaotic or epic follows known linguistic rules of semantic narrowing and cross-cultural inspiration: Norwegians Using “Texas” to Mean “Crazy” Actually Isn’t So Crazy

This New York Times article compares life over the past few million years to “Middle Earth”… it’s not just hobbits anymore: In a Tooth, DNA from Some Very Old Cousins, the Denisovans. Genetic analysis of a tooth found in Siberia suggests that the Denisovans were interbreeding with both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, among others, as IFL Science reports: Mysterious Denisovan Humans Were More Genetically Diverse Than Neanderthals

IFL Science also discussed a monument from 3,000 BCE, known as the “Stonehenge of the Levant,” whose purpose remains similarly unconfirmed: The Enigmatic “Wheel of Giants” Monument as Old as Stonehenge

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Around the Web Digest: Week of November 8

Are you going to the AAAs? If so, I hope to meet you! Let me take the opportunity to rep a few sessions, the Savage Minds panel at 8 am Saturday, my panel at 10:15 am Thursday, and the panel I co-organized at 4 pm on Thursday. Savage Minds is also hosting a gathering with HAU on Saturday evening. As always, send me any links at

The mass resignation of the editors of Lingua over a disagreement with Elsevier reignited the conversation about Open Access, and many anthro blogs picked up the topic. The Chronicle of Higher Education breaks down the costs of Open Access publishing with publisher the Open Library of the Humanities, as well as some of their funding models (ranging from the use of volunteer labor to grants): What Open-Access Publishing Actually Costs

Allegra Laboratory examines different models attempting to make Open Access economically viable: Are There Alternatives to Traditional Academic Publishing? #OA

This post on Aidnography suggests that Open Access may not automatically lead to meaningful engagement with scholars’ work: The Answer to Academic Publishing Challenges is Not Always Open Access

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Around the Web Digest: Week of November 1

Ben Carson made our week by opining about Egyptology, a topic he has clearly researched extensively. Help us all stay equally informed by sending me links at to include in the digest.

Material World reviews the new 9/11 memorial and museum, suggesting that while it may have suffered from a certain degree of curation by committee, it’s more nuanced than other reviews have suggested in its treatment of radical Islam and the bombers: Some Thoughts About the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Don’t read this post on Harris-Jones Anthropology while eating breakfast… How Do Beliefs About Pollution and Dirt Relate to Systems of Classification? Apparently the Hua are so far from viewing vomit as dirty (as long as it comes from a real or classificatory father) that they rub it into their skin.

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Around the Web Digest: Week of October 25

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, Halloween. Send me any links to include here at

The Economist traces the growing popularity of the holiday from the Celtic Samhain through the growth of suburbia: The Meaning of Halloween

This post on the Geek Anthropologist explores the supernatural in American life and its connection with the experience of sleep paralysis: Why Halloween is for Anthropologists

It’s unfortunate that this IFL Science post uses such ethnocentric and exoticizing language in its title, because it’s an interesting survey of death-related practices in the past and present: Preserving the Dead: Weird and Grisly Practices from Around the World

This New Yorker article asks the question Are Cats Domesticated? Based on archaeological and genomic evidence, it concludes… yes and no.

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Around the Web Digest: Week of October 18

Happy Sunday (technically)! If you come across any links to include here, email me at

It’s not explicitly anthropological, but City Lab started an interesting conversation about the problematic stereotypes embedded in dining out in the U.S. (such as referring to certain foods from the global South as “ethnic”) in How Not to Be a Restaurant Racist, which provoked the response What’s Very Wrong with “How Not to Be a Restaurant Racist” on The Stranger.

I also love this Material World post about how observers from the global North find the sight of luxury goods and wealth gaps “bizarre” in places like Accra: Ain’t No Jaguars in Ghana’s Urban Jungle Luxury and the Postcolonial Bizarre

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Around the Web Digest: Week of August 30

Send along anything interesting to!

The BBC reports that Chimpanzees and Monkeys Have Entered the Stone Age (by using relatively sophisticated stone tools). More interesting to me is the claim that they recognize the value of cooked food and seem to understand the process of cooking in experiments.

Science Daily writes that archaeologists have linked Mayan environmental alterations to the beginning of the Anthropocene. Clues from Ancient Maya Reveal Lasting Impact on the Environment 

A blog called Stuff Mom Never Told You featured the profiles of 9 Women Who Changed Anthropology, including some I had never heard of myself. As with any list, we can immediately begin questioning who was included or excluded.

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Around the Web Digest: Week of August 23

Better late than never, I always say, as the semester starts anew and we all either pack our lunchboxes to go back to school or feel that old pull in a job that runs on a different cycle. Help me stay on top of the links by sending me anything you write or discover at

The Alice Goffman controversy continues to provoke critique and introspection about the nature of ethnographic fieldwork. A recent critique by Paul Campos goes beyond the typical claims that ethnographers are unconcerned with fact-checking to suggest that a small percentage are engaging in wholesale fabrication. Paul Stoller addresses this in his column for HuffPost: In Defense of Ethnography. His basic claim, that ethnography can allow us to delve into the messiness of human experience in a way that fact-checkers cannot, reminds me of the time that a researcher from another discipline came to my field site and was met with evasiveness and equivocation.

This post on Somatosphere links Stoller’s post to the practice of giving pseudonyms and changing identifying information: “Ethnography is not about ‘fact-checking,’ Stoller notes, but rather a weaving of personal and professional interactions into fruitful, if not fruitfully frustrating, entanglements. Acknowledging the precariousness of other people’s lives, a precariousness that the writer often does not share, may mean blending the ‘facts’ to protect people’s identities.” What’s in a Name?

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Around the Web Digest: Week of August 16

Dear readers, either the blogs have been quiet this week or I’m missing some, which you can rectify by sending me links at

The most shocking, terrible news in anthropology this week was the Islamic State’s murder of archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad for refusing to reveal the location of artifacts from Palmyra that had been moved for safekeeping. Archaeologist Kristina Killgrove posted a tribute to him on her Forbes blog: Archaeologists Respond to the Murder of Khalel al-Asaad at Ancient Palmyra

An exhibit at the National Geographic Museum uses Indiana Jones as an entry point to dispel myths about archaeology… it even uses the arguably non-canonical fourth installment (#notmyindy) to explore alien astronaut pseudoscience. The Geek Anthropologist’s review: “It Belongs in a Museum”: Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology Review 

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Around the Web Digest: Week of August 9


Apparently it’s National Tell a Joke Day… earlier this week I got to check out a satirical play about electoral politics here in Guatemala called Mi Candidato No Es Chafa (My Candidate’s Not Bootleg/Low Quality) that reminded me that humor is an incredibly complex cultural performance and true immersion is a moving target. Keep me up to date by sending me links to anything I should feature in this space at

In this post on Allegra Laboratory, a South Indian researcher reflects on her feelings of discomfort in doing fieldwork a little too close to home, which has forced her to a new level of introspection about her own relationship with traditional food practices and other overt signs of identity: Dis-orientalizing & Ethnographic Journeys Fieldnotes

As an interesting companion piece, this post featured on Anthsisters, Becoming a Responsible Maori Researcher, points to the fundamental paradigm shift that takes place when the researcher can claim or represent an internal perspective, invoking rich ties to the community.

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Around the Web Digest: Week of August 2

Happy August! I hope you aren’t going into panic mode looking at your to-do list for summer. Send along any blog posts that need to be featured here at!

NPR profiles two cases, an athlete whose levels of testosterone are considered too high for her to compete as a woman and a transgender teen who has caused controversy by seeking to use the men’s restroom at his school:  Being A Woman: Who Gets To Decide?

Nautilus explores the Whorf/Kay and Berlin debate in more depth than most blogs: Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language

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Around the Web Digest: Week of July 26

Happy August readers! Welcome to a month so great they stole a day from another month to make it longer. Let me know about anything cool I should feature here at

It’s a TED Talk! It argues that humans have been successful through our ability to create and believe in abstractions, which facilitate collective action.

A medical student reflects on how her background in anthropology helped her put a patient at ease: A Background in Anthropology Comes in Handy on the Wards 

This post on Popular Archaeology introduces Aşıklı Höyük, one of the earliest Neolithic sites ever found: Archaeologists Uncover Human Settlement Dated to the Dawn of Civilization

My social media has been positively blowing up with versions of this story, on four bodies tentatively identified as four high-status members of the Jamestown community. I like NPR’s coverage, which is media-rich: Bones In Church Ruins Likely The Remains Of Early Jamestown’s Elite 

Smithsonian Magazine answers the question, Who Were the First People to Eat Chickens? As far as we know: Israeli villagers as early as 400 BCE.

According to National Geographic, a recent find in Guatemala is provoking questions about the rivalry between Tikal and Calakmul: Maya Shrine Reveals Arrival of “New World Order.” An intriguing quote: “Venerating a vassal of Tikal in an area controlled by Calakmul [would be like] 20th-century Americans […] bringing offerings to a bust of Lenin.”

Live Science reports the discovery of an American Revolution-era shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina: Accidental Find: Scientists Stumble on Centuries-Old Shipwreck 

As Savage Minds celebrates the official demise of the Human Terrain System, Foreign Policy decries it: The Army Needs Anthropologists

Finally, the Global Social Media Impact Study suggests that Italians attempt to make their Facebook appearances reflect their real lives (to the extent of “curating” their everyday lives by selecting attractive outfits for parties where they expect to be photographed). This doesn’t necessarily square with my intuitive sense of U.S. Facebook use, in which a disconnect between self-presentation and “real” life seems to be expected and accepted:  Facebook as a Window: Managing Online Appearance. What do you think?

See you next week!

Around the Web Digest: Week of July 19

Happy Sunday, pansies! Please write in with links to include here at… or just to say “¡Hola!”

An interesting debate is forming surrounding uncontacted groups. In an editorial in Science, Protecting Isolated Tribes, Robert Walker and Kim Hill argued that it is unfeasible and patronizing to maintain the current “hands-off” approach to uncontacted groups. Stephen Corry has responded in Truth Out – Uncontacted Tribes Don’t Need the “Protection” of Western Anthropologists – and Survival International – Defending Tribes’ Right to Remain Uncontacted, arguing that contact has been universally detrimental to groups and that their ways of life can be viable in today’s world.

Hakai Magazine on coastal science featured this post about the material remains of sea otter tool use, drawing from primatology and archaeology: The Quest for an Archaeology of Sea Otter Tool Use

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