Around the Web Digest: Week of May 24

Happy Sunday! Did you know the Spanish word for “pansy,” pensamiento, also means “thought,” just as in the French? I bet you did; you’re all so clever. If there’s anything you want me to share with our readers, send me the link at

In A Hobby Anthropologist Dissects the Tribes of the Upper East Side, the New York Times pans Wednesday Martin’s new quasi-ethnography on the elite women of the Upper East Side, Primates of Park Avenue. The Othering tone of the title calls to mind “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” but without the famous article’s self-conscious awareness of this tendency in anthropological writing. While she appears to have more of an anthropology background than the NY Times gives her credit for, the work sounds superficial and, according to the review, gender-biased in singling out women for criticism.

Yahoo! News featured this story, New Species of Human Ancestor Found in Ethiopia, with the claim that Australopithecus afarensis (represented by the famous “Lucy” skeleton) may not be humanity’s ancestor. also profiled this discovery, with a link to the original study, but focused only on the claim that a new species has been discovered with characteristics distinct from A. afarensis: Say Hello to Australopithecus deyiremeda, a Newly Discovered 3.4 Million-Year Old Hominid.

Anthropologizing featured this presentation on applying anthropology in business design, to continue answering the age-old question, what do anthropologists do besides work in universities? Practicing Anthropology in Design and Business – Portland State University Presentation 

In response to a popular article by Savage Mind Carole McGranahan, Allegra Laboratory explores the advantages and disadvantages of bringing children into the field in Redux: #Fieldwork with Children.

Similarly, a brief but intriguing chat on the Leiden Anthropology Blog traces some of the more distinctive aspects of “studying up.” The thought that studying elites is different from standard/classical anthropology because they talk back should be a bit troubling, right? From Beyoncé to Markets – Anthropologists Studying Elites 

The author of this fascinating article on Somatosphere carried a disability certificate to assert her right to occupy a place in one of the disabled compartments on Mumbai trains: Regulations versus Hierarchies: Commuters Creating Inhabitable Worlds in the Mumbai Suburban Trains

According to this post on Connected in Cairo, while US American entrepreneurs tend to imagine the business world as characterized by chaos, Egyptian entrepreneurs tend to think of the ebb and flow of business as more structured and entrepreneurs as the heroic innovators who stay ahead of these cycles: Corporate Mortality and the Culture of Failure 

Aidnography critiques TED talks for exporting one-size-fits-all models! New Research on International Development TED Talks & Their Role for Communication for Social Change 

Discard Studies examines the potlatch as a “degrowth” economy, along with emergent solidarity and gift economies: An Ethics of Surplus and the Right to Waste?: Discards and Degrowth 

In this post on the Center for Imaginative Ethnography, an anthropologist calls for greater transparency regarding Canadian government research through the Write2Know campaign, encouraging scholars to write in their questions for federally-sponsored scientists: Write2Know: Amplifying the Silences of Muzzled Scientists and Performing Participatory Democracy 

This post on Language Log, enigmatically entitled Water Control, contains the following manifesto: “If one doesn’t know Chinese language and writing, one should avoid pontificating about the esoteric meaning and complex construction of characters.  If one doesn’t know Chinese literature, one should refrain from quoting Chinese proverbs, unless one has proof that they really originated in China, and one should avoid attributing a quotation to such-and-such a Chinese sage unless one knows the source of that quotation in the actual works of that particular sage.  Otherwise, one is liable to make a fool of oneself and undercut one’s own argument.” I was particularly drawn to this post because a speech at my recent commencement ceremony made my fellow anthropology graduates and me grit our teeth by beginning, “There’s an ancient Chinese proverb…”

See you next week!

Rebecca Nelson

Rebecca Nelson is the executive director of América Solidaria U.S. She recently graduated with a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on volunteer tourism in Guatemala and how it is opening up new avenues for tourists and hosts to develop more cosmopolitan understandings of the world (as well as opening up new forms of friction over the circulation of knowledge).