Around the Web Digest: Week of November 29

Good grief, the anthroblogosphere was active this week! I usually don’t have to omit too many entries I find interesting but this week you might need to do some searching on your own to catch everything. Send me what you find at

This delightful post on uses Christopher Boehm’s cross-cultural survey of “Late Pleistocene Appropriate” foraging societies to argue that the figure of the self-serving individualist promulgated by Objectivist author Ayn Rand runs counter to human (pre)history. The author illustrates this argument with examples from Colin Turnbull’s classic, The Forest People.  Ayn Rand vs. Anthropology. “Who is John Galt? He refused to participate in society and no one has seen him since.”

Institut Pasteur reports on a study that compared populations in different Central African environments to examine the effects of moving to different environments on human epigenetics. Forest-dwelling and sedentary Bantu groups, who have lived in different environments for a relatively short time, exhibited epigenetic changes affecting immunity. By comparison, the genetic differences in immunity between Bantu groups and Pygmy groups, who have inhabited different environments for much longer, have become hereditary: Our Epigenome is Influenced by Our Habitat and Lifestyle

This HuffPost article makes the point that referring to terrorists as “animals” is a misnomer, because there are almost no parallels for violent behavior on that scale among other species: The Evolution and Ethology of Terrorism: We Are Unique, Violence is a Dead End, But There Is Hope

This piece on Literary Hub explores how multilingual people conceive of the characteristics of their languages differently depending on the times in their lives that they learned them, and how even “monolingual” people use different kinds of language contextually: Are We Different People in Different Languages?

Linguist Andrew Byrd speaks in Proto-Indo-European, a speculative reconstruction of the language that gave rise to the Indo-European languages, in this Earth, We Are One post: Listen to What Our Ancestors’ Language Sounded Like 6,000 Years Ago

An anthropologist working in a non-profit startup reflects on his career in this interview on Anthropologizing: Anthropologists in Practice: An Interview with Kevin Newton, User Research Lead at Tennessee Data Commons

A few blogs covered the conference “Why the World Needs Anthropologists – Burning Issues of Our Hot Planet” that just took place in Ljubljana. This post in Standplaats Wereld, Anthropologist? You’re Hired!, summarizes the main point of the conference: that addressing issues like global warming is a matter of convincing people to act collectively and that anthropologists are the most qualified people to do that.

Culture Matters also featured a post reflecting on the problem of selling (and determining) the value of anthropology as a discipline at institutional and transnational scales. The post argues that anthropology may need to recover its all-encompassing vision to make a difference, rather than just calling for attention to ethnographic detail: Why the World Needs Anthropology

The American Anthropological Association released a statement clarifying the vote on the resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions in Anthropology News, to address several misconceptions: mainly, that the boycott has actually been implemented, and that the organization is singling out Israel for such censure: AAA Statement on the Resolution Proposing a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

The Durham University Department of Anthropology hosts a set of resources and essays on anthropological writing on the page Writing on Writing

This post on Allegra Laboratory makes the case for investing real time and reflection in producing quality works, fighting against the pressures of audit culture in academia: Revisiting a Writing Process: Ode to Academic Freedom #humanrights

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).

2 thoughts on “Around the Web Digest: Week of November 29

  1. This is a nitpicky point, but referring to historical linguistic reconstruction as “speculative” isn’t really fair. “Hypothetical,” in the strict sense that a reconstruction is an evidence-based hypothesis subject to revision and refinement, does this rigorous discipline more justice.

  2. Thanks Luke, I wanted to emphasize that what they’re doing is conjecture, and the word “speculative” was the first that came to mind, but you’re right, it can be seen as having a negative connotation in this context.

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