Savage Minds Around the Web

Arendt’s Politics and Personal Life: In the context of the resurging interest in Hanna Arendt’s theoretical work, Adam Kirsch writes a phenomenal piece in the The New Yorker on the connections between the political, theoretical and personal perspectives that Arendt tried so hard to separate in her work.

Another HTS casualty: Paula Loyd, 36, who was doused with gasoline and set on fire in Afganistan two months ago, died on account of those injuries. Lorenz at has the announcement and links to different news sources covering it.

Genes the new fashion for Sociologists? Á propos of Chris’s post on Stephen Pinker’s apologia for the fanatics of genetic determinism, Christopher Shea wrote an article on the Chronicle of Higher Ed asking whether sociologists will have to turn to discussing genetics (and genes’ influence on human behavior and health) to stay relevant. In the article, Shea goes just short of supposing that sociologists reticence to talk about genetics comes from their theoretical abuses:

The idea that social theorists must account for genes sounds commonsensical. But those doing the work, of course, labor under some dark shadows. Social science has a history of misguided, or worse, attempts to link genes to crime, or to deviance, or to IQ; racial differences have often been either a subtext of this work or the researchers’ main interest.

The article goes onto discuss some of the new sociological genetics studies. Just goes to show, right when you have someone of the public stature of Pinker cautioning against overvaluing genetic explanations, it sneaks in through the back door in one of the disciplines most opposed to it.

Just What are We Boycotting? Jim Johnson over at (Notes on) Politics, Theory and Photography questions the logic of the various calls for boycott on Israel in response to its incursion into Gaza. At the heart of his critique is not a disagreement with the political sentiments behind a boycott but a questioning of what boycott constitutes and accomplishes as political action. In addition to pointing out the obvious irony–boycotts punish both supporters and dissenters of the Israeli state’s actions–Johnson presents an interesting perspective on consumer politics. He asks, “[d]oes marshaling our purchasing power amplify our voices? Or does it depoliticize and moralize them?”

Tired of the Red Squiggles? MS Word keeps on attempting to correct the spelling of your latest theoretical intervention or in-group neologism? Read Chris Wilson’s Slate article critiquing the huge time lag on spell checking programs and cultural lexicons and join the ranks of the dissaffected.

CNN’s Saheed Ahmed recently contributed a short piece on the killing of witches in rural PNG, and spoke to Bruce Knauft for the story.

Love of Learning in a Time of Melancholia: There may be soon a whole new set of ethical questions for academics participation with the military. The Washington Post ran this article on the creation of schools for U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The school began in November as a joint venture between the U.S. armed forces and the University of Maryland, and has plan to expand to five sites in Iraq.

Something for the next cocktail party…One of the things I run through really quickly while finding things to post is an rss feed of anthropology in the news. About half of it are announcements by community newspapers of anthropology majors made good (and good for them!), and the other about half is one or two stories picked up and distributed by a major news service about some new ‘exciting finding’ (usually about ancient civilizations or human evolution). What is interesting about them is not necessarily their content but the frequency with which they appear, which means that someone out there might ask you about some random thing they’ve read (and that random thing might be this article). This week, word on the internets is about scientists at the Max Plank Institute saying that the possibility of ressurrecting long extinct animals exists. I hope that the link that you pull up still has the huge picture of Ringo Star on the side bar (as mine does now). Discuss.

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