One part news, one part blogs, a splash of internet flotsam, shake with ice and strain.
Game changer in Afghanistan: While wars are often sold to the public in ideological terms, underlying these professions of belief are material concerns, namely control over resources. You don’t even need Marx for that conclusion, just go straight to Malthus. But does this hold true if we consider the American-Afghanistan war, for what resources do they have? Opium? Goats? How about recently discovered mineral deposits worth one trillion dollars! What happens next will be very interesting.
- NYT broke the story about a team of U.S. geologists who followed maps generated by Soviet geologists in the 1980s that revealed huge stores of iron, copper, and lithium, as well as caches of gold and rare-earths used in high tech applications. Could economic growth driven by mining help end the war and ween Afghanistan off opium production? Or will large scale mining operations, as they have in many other places around the world, more closely resemble extractive colonialism leaving the people impoverished and the local environment devastated?
- Commentary — Foreign Policy is skeptical about the estimated value of the mineral resources, the timing of the story’s publication, and the ability of the Afghani government to develop those resources in any productive way.
- Could Afghanistan’s future resemble the mining operations in Papua New Guinea where entire villages are dispossessed of their land and corporations distribute compensation to individuals not collectives? (Just last week our own Rex was blogging about PNG, mining, and citizenship.)
- May I recommend Breaking the Iron Bonds on the subject of American Indian mineral rights. Many of the same exploitative mining practices were overseen by the U.S. federal government on Indian land in the twentieth century.
UC system libraries vs. Nature Publishing Group: The big news in academia this week was the University of California making a stand against journal price increases demanded by NPG, which publishes the uber-prestigious journal Nature as well as many noted scientific and medical journals. UC, like all of California, is under tremendous pressure to make budget cuts and claims that NPG is jacking up the price of its journals by 400%. Baring a return to the lower price, the entire UC system is threatening to drop the journal from their libraries and ask all faculty to boycott NPG by abstaining from submitting publications, resigning from editorial positions on NPG journals, and refusing to conduct peer review for NPG.
- UC throws down the gauntlet: Faculty do all the work for you for free and then you sell it back to us at ridiculous prices.
- Nature’s retort: You can’t mess with us, your faculty needs our prestige.
- Cal responds to Nature: No, our faculty totally got our backs on this one.
- “The bigger, if duller, story here is not that a university library has stood up to the big arrogant publishing house, but that the world’s leading public research university is imploding via budget cuts.”
- TheScientist.com finds that Nature has few friends among academic librarians and faculty.
- Even on Nature’s own blog readers are leaving unflattering comments directed at the publisher.
- Coverage from Science is also followed by posts wholly in sympathy with the UC libraries.
- Jason Baird Jackson shares links to insightful blogs and commentary here and here.
More on publishing:
- Introducing the Journal of Anthropology, a commercial open-access journal.
- Introducing the open-access journal Anthropology Reviews: Dissent and Cultural Politics
- Introducing the International Journal of Business Anthropology
- The remains of the day — Victoria University, New Zealand, attempts to reduce its library holdings by one-fifth.
- Have you ever read the Wikipedia entry on your area of expertise and thought about making some edits? Consider the possibility that professional anthropologists have a duty as public intellectuals to do so. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s why the British Museum is joining forces with Wikipedia.
Dean Dad, my new favorite blogger: I’m the newly minted fan of an anonymously authored blog, “Confessions of a Community College Dean”. Under the nom de blog of Dean Dad, the author writes about administrative issues such as budgeting, hiring, and trends in higher ed. Here are two excellent recent posts.
- Wal-Mart U.: The mega-retailer teams up with the for-profit American Public University to offer discounts to its employees.
- Is higher ed a bubble economy? The Dadster speculates that schools with high tuition and low prestige, such as for-profit universities, will be the hardest hit when the bubble pops.
- I wonder what Dean Dad would make of this article in the Washington Post on the interest Congress is taking in regulating for-profit universities, which serve nearly 2 million students.
Foreign Anthropologists in America: Remember being an undergrad and reading “Body Ritual of the Nacerima” for the first time? Or how much fun it is to teach that article when the class really wants to play along? That’s the power of making the familiar seem strange and the strange seem familiar. Strangeness is why I love anthropology and why I am drawn to these two new books.
- The Cracked Bell — a British anthropologist on American notions of “freedom”
- Journey Into America — a Pakistani anthropologist on Islam in American society
Timewaster: The satirical web video “BP Spills Coffee” went viral early last week. So if you haven’t already had it forwarded to you twice, here’s your chance to jump on the bandwagon. The website ifitwasmyhome.com will superimpose the distressingly large shadow of the Deepwater Horizon spill on your hometown.
Seen something around the web that you’d like to share with the Savage Minds community? Send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org