Around the Web Digest: Week of November 15

Forgive the lateness, dear readers… AAA fatigue is real. Help me out by sending me links you want featured here at

This post by a linguist in The Conversation points out that Norwegians’ emergent use of “Texas” to refer to anything chaotic or epic follows known linguistic rules of semantic narrowing and cross-cultural inspiration: Norwegians Using “Texas” to Mean “Crazy” Actually Isn’t So Crazy

This New York Times article compares life over the past few million years to “Middle Earth”… it’s not just hobbits anymore: In a Tooth, DNA from Some Very Old Cousins, the Denisovans. Genetic analysis of a tooth found in Siberia suggests that the Denisovans were interbreeding with both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, among others, as IFL Science reports: Mysterious Denisovan Humans Were More Genetically Diverse Than Neanderthals

IFL Science also discussed a monument from 3,000 BCE, known as the “Stonehenge of the Levant,” whose purpose remains similarly unconfirmed: The Enigmatic “Wheel of Giants” Monument as Old as Stonehenge

This post on Anthropological Perspectives on Death explores the general distrust of the effects of extreme life-extending technologies (90% of recent poll respondents did not want to live to 100):  Immortality: Who Needs It?

This interesting post on the Scientific American blog “Anthropology in Practice” presents discourse analysis of anti- and pro-refugee sentiments expressed through social media. The author categorizes Othering remarks as validated by increasingly discriminatory language in the mass media; they tend to invoke concerns about safety as well as new images of immigrants and call for inward-focused aid. Comments supporting the acceptance of refugees tend to reference facts and call for compassion, at times using religious language: Our Language of Refusal Reveals a Shifting Stance on Prejudice

This Somatosphere post reviews Savage Minds’ own Zoë Wool’s book After War, suggesting that it offers a detailed, embodied account of the odd “ordinariness” of life for wounded veterans seeking normalcy at Walter Reed that eschews a more direct, radical critique of imperialist structures of power: Zoë Wool’s “After War: The Weight of Life at Walter Reed”

This guest post on Anthsisters uses visual anthropological techniques to look at performtivity in young Bhutanese refugee women’s selfies. By imitating celebrities’ hyper-feminine modes of self-presentation, they are making a place for themselves in their new homes and representing themselves as something beyond their “refugee” status:  Performing Identities on Facebook: Young Bhutanese Women and “Selfie” Photos

This post on Disability Fieldnotes, a AAA paper, explores how families handle having children who are generally recognized as disabled but who lack a definitive diagnosis in an era in which all conditions are increasingly labeled and classified: It’s All in the Name Undiagnosis in a Diagnostic Age

The Narcissistic Anthropologist takes a surprisingly positive stance on marketing when it arises from “deep human truths” that bring potential customers together rather than fictions. Coming from a constructivist background, I have to wonder whether the distinction between truths and fictions isn’t overdrawn here: Do Brands Have the Power to Change the World?

Allegra Laboratory profiles Philippe Descola, an admirer of Levi-Strauss and important figure in the ontological turn: Anthropology as the Study of Composite Worlds: An Interview with Philippe Descola

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).