Around the Web Digest: Week of September 6

Aside from a flurry of archaeological excitement, the blogs seem a little less active this week… perhaps it’s early-semester stress. Please send me anything interesting at!

This September 11th anniversary week makes me think about the significance of markers of Islamic faith in the U.S., which resonates with this post on the Leiden Anthropology Blog about the contestations over such markers in another context: Beards and Holy Sites: Competing Over True Islam in Kyrgyzstan 

AnthSisters features this post from a thin researcher reflecting on her body privilege in her work on the lived experience of fatness (the reclaimed term). I think it could have gone even further in reflecting on why we’re completely comfortable with researchers working across certain gulfs of unknowability (for example, me working in Guatemala as a white researcher from the U.S.) while we are skeptical of other similar leaps, such as a male researcher investigating women’s experiences or an able-bodied researcher investigating disability: Theory Thursday: Reflexivity

The CASTAC Blog points out that self-reporting is unreliable when it comes to technology use, as with anything else: Understanding Users Through Data: UX, Ratings, and Audiences

How to Anthropology has another instructional, aimed at students but potentially useful for others as well: Starting a Grant Proposal from Scratch

This interview on Somatosphere suggests that biomarkers could inform anthropological research in topics beyond health: Bioculturalism: An Interview with Greg Downey

The biggest anthropology story this week was the official announcement of the discovery of Homo naledi. Some of the articles focus on the interesting circumstances of the excavation of the skeletons (six small, female cave archaeologists referred to as “underground astronauts” were recruited to recover them), while others focus on the scientific potential of the discovery. It’s an exciting find because it’s a rare site with multiple individuals, which allows researchers to examine the range of variation at one time: there are at least 15 individuals represented, with a mosaic of features associated with modern humans and Australopithecines. The fact that the remains were in the cave in the first place is also intriguing: it seems to have been a deliberate and difficult choice to place them there. You can choose the particular flavor of reporting that suits you from this sample: The Atlantic, IFL Science, DigVentures, the NY Times, Past Horizons, and National Geographic (recently sold to Rupert Murdoch).

And finally, from satirical newspaper The Onion: Tearful Anthropologists Discover Dead Ancestor Of Humans 100,000 Years Too Late. If only we’d gotten there in time we could have done something!

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).