Around the Web Digest: Week of March 9

There have been very many language/linguistics-related items this week, so the first several links will be related. Also, this week I’ve decided that I’m going to start drawing your attention to one particular article in the Digest. This is to say, if you read just one article here, I highly recommend “this one.” As always, if you have any blog articles or suggestions, send them my way at and be sure to follow me on Twitter @dtpowis.

This One: Something that I’ve always found fascinating in evolutionary anthropology is the transition in dominance from olfaction to vision – the increased reliance on stereoscopic vision (and groups); the relationship between trichromatic vision and angiosperms evolution; the dwindling space for olfaction as a result of a shifting braincase and shrinking mandible – but is it possible that we also sacrificed olfaction for language? This week, Greg Downey explores the relationship between language and olfaction, or more specifically, linguistic relativity and aroma terminology. (Neuroanthropology)

Did Neanderthals and humans speak to each other? (YouTube: Discovery News)

Supported by linguistic phylogenies, it has been published this week that Beringian populations back-migrated into Asia. (PLOSone)

While we’re on the topic of the mind and language origins, here’s a basic introduction of Robert K. Logan’s The Extended Mind Model. (Urban Times)

Take a look at this breakdown of the origins of the English language in any given half century. (Slate)

Or take a look at eight pronunciation errors that made English what it is today. (The Guardian)

In case, like me, you haven’t heard of the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial, guest blogger Thomas Cousins catches us up to speed and considers the consequences of broadcasting some parts of the trial and not the others in the midst of a media frenzy and viral social media. (Anthropoliteia)

Paul Stoller is back this week to point out that the corporatization of universities is quite Kafkaesque. (HuffPo)

Bill White provides his perspective as an Idahoan, archaeologist, and academic on the new law (signed this week) that will allow students to carry weapons on campus. (Succinct Research)

I’ve always contended that resistance to scientific concepts like evolution by natural selection, vaccination, and genetically-modified organisms was at the fault of scientists, more than it is the fault of those that decry them. David J. Skorton discusses the ways in which scientists can be better communicators (and now I understand why Alan Alda was the keynote speaker at this year’s AAAS). (Scientific American)

Some see novelist Benjamin Kunkel as a Marxist public intellectual. (New York Magazine)

Some think Kunkel’s a total poser, maaaan. (Gawker)

Some hope that Kunkel’s success  hails a whole herd of unicorns. Wait, what? (Public Seminar)

The story of Mahdi Amel, a well-known Arab intellectual, and how he sought to use Marxism to transcend sectarian conflict in Lebanon. (Frontline)

Aimee Villarreal discusses the rewards and challenges associated with the production of Frontera!: Revolt and Rebellion on the Rio Grande. If you’ll be at SfAA this week, go check it out. If not, you can watch it online! (Savage Minds)

Eric Plemons inventories the latest item in Commonplaces as he discusses the artifacts that precede surgery, accompany surgery, and those that remain long after. (Somatosphere)

Guest blogger Nick Seaver discusses his ethnographic research on the developers of music recommendation systems (e.g. Pandora, Spotify) and talks about the importance of “studying up,” in the sense that Laura Nader meant it. (Ethnography Matters)

Finally: Digital anthropologist dana boyd is on a roll, following the release of her book on social media. Check out her latest interview from SXSW. (The Verge)

Dick Powis

Dick Powis is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, and is also pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His research interests include men and childbirth, prenatal screening technologies, and reproductive health in urban settings in Senegal. Read more at