Around the Web Digest: Week of June 7

I love when good online content finds me! Keep submitting links to me at and I’m happy to feature them on here.

The title of this Washington Post article is pretty self-explanatory: Why Congress Should Not Cut Funding to the Social Sciences. Takeaway? Aside from having any intrinsic value, understanding social phenomena is important for shaping public policy.

My friends and I were just comparing notes on Ph.D. research with some people we know from the biology department, and they couldn’t understand our view of research as a basically solitary activity in anthropology. This post on the Global Social Media Impact Study Project Blog addresses that very perception: A Methodological Case of Comparative Anthropology 

This post on EPIC brings together a few elements that really interest me: pedagogy and commercial applications of anthropology. A design anthropology got involved with consumer research for Nissan (turns out drivers’ knowledge of the particular configurations of their cars is encoded as muscle memory): Ethnographic Study Lifts the Hood on what REALLY Goes On inside that Car

This post in Medium makes an important point in the controversy over On the Run that I referenced last week: that other ethnographers are weighing in with their judgements of how “plausible” Goffman’s claims sound in a way that denies the variability of human experience: Shallow Cover: On the decisive criticism of Alice Goffman’s On the Run. The Chronicle of Higher Education also weighed in, using this case to revisit accepted practices in ethnographic research, such as altering minor details to disguise the identity of a place or person, or destroying field notes: Conflict Over Sociologist’s Narrative Puts Spotlight on Ethnography

Past Horizons chronicles the efforts to investigate material culture beyond the elite remains at Great Zimbabwe: Mapela: archaeologists re-visit a forgotten urban site in Zimbabwe 

One major study of ancient DNA in Bronze Age Europeans, three articles. You can compare the coverage by Science News (Nomadic Herders Left a Strong Genetic Mark on Europeans and Asians), the NY Times (DNA Deciphers Roots of Modern Europeans), and The Conversation (Ancient DNA Reveals How Europeans Developed Light Skin and Lactose Tolerance). These results may help settle a longstanding linguistic debate about Indo-European languages.

Social anthropologist Sindre Bangstad provides background on anti-Islamic sentiment in Norway and examines how Islamic women’s voices are silenced in the public sphere: On the Public Voices of Muslim Women 

I was excited to find the Biocultural Evolution Blog, which seems to be active. I take my four-field responsibilities seriously, people! Here, they announce that they have dated artifacts that suggest a starting point for the Upper Paleolithic: Measuring the Beginning of the Upper Paleolithic

A colleague who works in Bamiyan was excited to see this event, in which the Buddhas that were destroyed were briefly replaced by 3D images. This International Business Times article covers the basics: Afghanistan: Buddhas of Bamiyan Resurrected as Laser Projections

This intriguing post from the International Cognition & Culture Institute critiques the tendency to project mind-body dualism into our theorizations of how people understand the spirits of the dead as embodied or disembodied:  Mind-Body Dualism as Applied to Supernatural Agents: The (Dead) Emperor’s New Mind or Chicken Little?

This post on considers the story of Oskar Groening, who has been insistently fighting against Holocaust deniers through his personal testimony and is facing a criminal trial as a result: The Last Auschwitz Trial, Moral Guilt, and Criminal Guilt 

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).