Around the Web

Something Else to Say About the Olympics:  Slate published a very good piece on a dark chapter of Olympic and anthropological history.  The 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, which ran concurrently with the World’s Fair, also hosted a “Special Olympics,” which featured ‘savages’ from the anthropology exhibit competing in parallel sporting events.  Nevertheless,

“The Special Olympics were harder to pull together than they expected. Despite the fact that the folks in the human zoo were in quasi-captivity, they were paid professionals. With agents and everything. Very few of the “primitives” had any interest in participating in an amateur competition.” 

In an interesting combination of queer rights and indigenous sovereignty, the Coquille Nation in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. has legalized same-sex marriage (and presumably the marriage of two-spirit identified individuals?).  The right to marry will extend to anyone who marries a member of the Coquille.  Lorenz at has the story

Opening Amazonia: carried this piece on Amazonian indigineous activists struggling to prevent Brazilian mining companies from speculating on their land.  But some legislators in Brasilia are considering inviting companies to prevent even more damage from illegal diggers who are not regulated by the state.  (Thanks to Joanna Kirkpatrick for sending this in.)

Water, Water Everywhere:  Material World posted the work of Tony Whincup.  It’s a visually appealing photoessay on rising sea levels on the Kiribati Islands, north of New Zealand.

Anthropologists, Visit Taiwan!  This article in the Taiwan Journal interviewed a couple generations of American scholars of Taiwan.  It has some interesting insights about changing politics and practices of fieldwork over time in one place.

Nationalizing Patrimony:  The U.S. Federal Government is thinking about stepping in and taking over day to day operations of the Cahokia Mounds, the archaeological site for the indigenous community north of Mexico.  The site is currently operated by the state of Illinois, but floundering state budgets have made it hard for the local government to upkeep the site. 

The Daily Telegraph (UK) engaged in a little “business anthropology” to find out more about the exploding Indian middle class.  Their findings?

The Vas’s flat is tiny compared to the house of a British middle class family of four. There is a modestly sized living room, kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom. As is common in India the Vas’s children, six-year-old Anaita and four-year-old Alden, share their parents’ bed – an arrangement which usually lasts until the children are at least ten…

In the corner of the room sits a flashy Samsung high definition television. I am given cola to drink. Embracing non-Indian goods is not a problem for this middle class family.

And who says journalists don’t make good ethnographers?

Perils of Racial Paranoia: The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed John L. Jackson about comedy, Barack Obama, and the racial state of the (U.S.) nation. 

Boas, Exposed!  It’s always fun display anthropologists looking ridiculous and going native.  So, here you go.










5 thoughts on “Around the Web

  1. The Slate article is perhaps a textbook definition of presentism. For some reason a good number of anthropologists who otherwise espouse relativism—”I know it seems distasteful, but…”—have no trouble whatsoever totally divorcing certain persons and events from their social and historical context—”This is distasteful because…” and then beating up on a straw man way too dead to defend himself, thereby implying that anthropology today does not suffer from such unenlightened sensibilities. But as was pointed out on the Olympic thread, it took eighteen posts before anyone mentioned that there are some serious issues with the Olympics TODAY. But who needs to talk about the contemporary socially sanctioned display of Aryan brotherhood that is the Winter Olympics when we can talk about the 1904 Olympics instead?

    Ditto for the comment that Boas is looking ridiculous in the posted image. To paraphrase my adviser in the course of his lecture about Morgan in my History of Anthropology seminar, “It’s easy to laugh at all of this today, but we’re all people interested in watching other people, and that is always easy to make fun of.”

    I have the good sense to defer to anything Tim Pauketat has to say about Cahokia, but I visited the park there a couple of years ago and was more than pleasantly surprised by the museum. (And you can’t help but be blown away by the grounds. But beware the ticks! I kept finding them for hours after I left.) I grew up on the border of the NPS’s most visited park and Cahokia was considerably more inspired and less rundown than I am accustomed to from the federal government.

  2. MTBradley,

    I couldn’t agree more. I think it was Baudelaire (or was it Britney Spears?) who said that laughter expresses both the arrogance that another person’s tragedy is not your own and the anxiety that it could be soon. Maybe it’s part of the social order to laugh at those who precede you and be the target of laughter by those who follow you. If I became famous enough to be the subject of jokes 100 years from now, however, I’d be very satisfied.

  3. Boas looks silly because he’s not a good performer. He’s an academic trying to be an an actor.
    “anthropologists looking ridiculous and going native.”
    That’s a misunderstanding, but it’s also just offensive.

  4. Hmmmmm, I was just reading about Boas and Political Correctness in Anthropology, well, he was mentioned as a champion of PC anyway. I can’t believe that the science of anthropology has become so indoctrinated by ‘PC” that there is no discussion of race, when there is obviously a ton of scientists who study culture and race. Darwin’s Natural selection book was about race, and he mentioned he thought the ‘British’ were “superior” (because of self-control etc.), a claim echoed by Steven J Gould in one of his books.
    Anthropology and Race

    In the past, anthropologists talked and wrote about the various differences between the human races. But after World War II that became much harder to do, since after that war descriptions of racial differences came to be viewed as “Nazi-like” in much of Western society.

    Sadly, in the Western countries today, the field of anthropology is filled with professors who either deny or downplay the significance of racial differences in humans. Those professors insist that race is either meaningless or nearly so, and that race is merely a social construct instead of a key physical feature. They insist that a person’s environmental surroundings, not his race, is the central factor in whether or not he is successful in life [note: there is a lot of evidence suggesting that genetics play a vital role in human intelligence and therefore human success] [1].

    In other words, modern anthropology has become “politically correct,” and is therefore frequently driven by leftist political ideas and not by scientific facts.[2] Additionally, it has been noticed by more than a few experts in the field that the transformation of anthropology from science-based to politically-

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