I woke up this morning feeling heavy with sadness. Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A day after Philando Castile was murdered in Falcon Heights, Minnesota by the police. Social media has become a never ending stream of images and text that position black bodies as a moral panic, an echo chamber of violence. The debates over the structures of racism and the police have reached a national arena; we as anthropologists can no longer stand silent.
Instead of a normal Around the Web Digest, I offer readings by anthropologists and critics about the role of the field in dismantling structures of oppression.
Cultural Anthropology offers many readings from a variety of scholars on the intersectionality of Black life in America. Pieces on the experiences of living in constant violence from the state, survival strategies, gendered aspects of policing, international perspectives, and the role of systemic economic disenfranchisement.
Anthropod interviews Yarimar Bonilla, Laurence Ralph, and Mark Auslander on their views of recent #Blacklivesmatter protests.
Shay Akil on Decolonize All The Things criticizes anthropology on it complacency on anti-blackness in academia. Our research and theory will do nothing if it is not translated into practice.
In 2014, we witnessed anthropology face new crossroads in how we contribute to everyday life with coalitions being built across Gaza and Ferguson. I wonder where our discipline stands today with state violence still encroaching in marginalized communities and counter-movements against Black Lives Matter movements.
Here are some earlier resources for teaching from American Ethnologist about Black Lives Matter protests. (Here) (Here)
Savage Minds has written extensively on the role of racism and anthropology. I compile a list here to better read through.
Not only do anthropologists research these communities, I believe we have the moral responsibility to practice informed activism for these communities in order to heal.
I will return next week with a regularly scheduled digest.
Peace and Love,
I hope your Día del Cariño was full of love of some form – the version of the holiday I experienced in Guatemala pertains to a much wider definition of familial and platonic love than the typical US Valentine’s Day, which makes it easier to get behind. If you want me to feature anything in the digest, send me the link at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This HuffPost piece on Valentine’s Day looks at how the celebration is increasingly popular among younger people in Indonesia, and how the globalization of consumer culture overlays a deeper globalization of notions of romantic love: Valentine’s Day: A Global Perspective
Anthropology News also responded to the holiday by looking at how breaking up with someone on Valentine’s Day remains more of an unshakeable taboo than breaking up over social media: Achy Breaky Heart
Human life stages are the theme for this roundup, with posts ranging from early childhood to senescence. Send me links to anything you want to see included here at email@example.com.
To frame the discussion, this post on the blog of the Association for Anthropology, Gerontology, and the Life Course discusses how age is an under-discussed facet of human experience and how childhood is rarely treated like the special category it is: Aged Culture
We begin with birth in this post on Anthropology News, Childhood in the Americas: Part One, which discusses how circulating rumors about Western biomedicine practitioners and their hastiness to proceed to C-sections make Yucatec Mayan women reluctant to use their services.
According to this post from the British Psychological Society’s research digest, when the “mirror test” of self-awareness is replaced by one more rooted in a toddler’s awareness of herself as a physical object, Zambian children outscore Scottish children: Cross-Cultural Studies of Toddler Self-Awareness Have Been Using an Unfair Test
Happy Monday, dear readers! Don’t forget to send me any links to feature here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incredibly (or not so incredibly, given the power of his name as clickbait), there’s another post this week on the anthropology of Trump (“antrumpology”?), this time from a biological anthropology perspective: Evonomics Renowned Anthropologist Says Donald Trump and Alpha Male Chimpanzees Play the Same Political Game
This Leiden Anthropology Blog also uses Trump as an example, using a Daily Show clip to highlight how humor can demarcate social boundaries or comment on them: Humour: A Threat to Society?
Thematically related is this Anthropology Now post that I can’t clam to understand very well (poetry was never my forte): Laughter is Social Glue
Greetings from the heart of a city ravaged by Snowzilla! Send me anything that should be included here at email@example.com.
This Decasia post argues that half-formed, abandoned and unpublished projects represent intellectual work and should be acknowledged more openly in professional circles as part of the process of creating knowledge: Failed Research Ought to Count
The Anxious Anthropologist reflects on the power of dress (in this case, a suit jacket) to claim membership in a community and assert authority, particularly in gendered contexts: The Jacket
Allegra looks back at its most popular posts from the last year: Top 10 (or Thereabout) of 2015
Teaching Culture looks forward to the topics and trends that will preoccupy us in the coming year: 2016: Trends in Teaching, Publishing, and Anthropology
It’s been a big year for Savage Minds, so big that the annual blog review didn’t fit in 2015! (Yes, that’s why it was delayed). This year we celebrated our 10th blogiversary with a panel at the AAAs, an executive director’s award, and a rare in-person gathering, which gave us the chance to reflect on our work and how this project has evolved over time.
In this yearly post, we look back on the year in blogging, both for us at Savage Minds and in the anthroblogosphere in general. First, the Minds will share their favorite posts from the year, and then I’ll highlight a few of the posts on other blogs and news sources that struck me as the most important, memorable, or otherwise worth revisiting if you missed them.
Dear readers, this post is late and I apologize for nothing. Send me any links for inclusion here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the glow of lights and the stir of familiar songs that seem to be everywhere these days… with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens! The AAA blog featured this post using the movie to explore why movies about humans’ relationships with technology are so popular: Our Movies, Ourselves: Reel Life Vis-á-vis “Real Life”
This time of year seems to bring out a reflective streak in blogs. For example, Struggle Forever listed some of the fiction and non-fiction books worth reading from this year: My Favorite Books of 2015
Allegra also produced a list of books based on a reader survey of the most important and influential books for the discipline and beyond. Unsurprisingly, there’s a bias towards the mid-twentieth century classics, but some newer books were also recognized: The 30 Essential Books in Anthropology
The blog harvest was rich again this week at the Savage Minds ranch. Help me find more blogs by sending me links at email@example.com.
HuffPost featured this article in which an anthropologist argues that isolating babies in cribs and sleeping 8 continuous hours a night are Western constructions: My Conversation with Co-Sleeping Expert James McKenna
In this National Geographic post, Jason De León discusses some of the findings in his book, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. He argues that migrant deaths at the border have been deliberately caused and normalized in national media: An Anthropologist Unravels the Mysteries of Mexican Migration
In this episode of the Craft podcast, anthropologist Jeffrey Cohen describes some moments of adaptation in his fieldwork in Mexico: Eating Soup (and Grasshoppers) Without a Spoon with Jeffrey Cohen. The interviewer actually asks how to avoid “changing their civilization.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This delightful post on Evonomics.com 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
Happy Sunday, readers. Don’t forget to send me links to content I should mention here, at email@example.com.
It’s a linguistic link! HuffPost Women characterizes a controversial Jeopardy contestant’s verbal tic as “upspeak” and sketches out the gendered dimensions of how women are penalized for their forms of speech: This ‘Jeopardy’ Contestant’s Voice Has The Internet Freaking Out (I’m hedging because it doesn’t strike me as classic upspeak).
It’s a physical anthropology link! This Nautilus post describes how the low-fiber Western diet seems to be limiting the diversity of microbiomes women pass on to their children at birth: How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution. The microbes that flourish in the guts of people on a Western diet, specializing in breaking down fats, sugars and protein, are also those that attack the mucus lining of human guts, which can cause chronic inflammation.
Forgive the lateness, dear readers… AAA fatigue is real. Help me out by sending me links you want featured here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Are you going to the AAAs? If so, I hope to meet you! Let me take the opportunity to rep a few sessions, the Savage Minds panel at 8 am Saturday, my panel at 10:15 am Thursday, and the panel I co-organized at 4 pm on Thursday. Savage Minds is also hosting a gathering with HAU on Saturday evening. As always, send me any links at email@example.com.
The mass resignation of the editors of Lingua over a disagreement with Elsevier reignited the conversation about Open Access, and many anthro blogs picked up the topic. The Chronicle of Higher Education breaks down the costs of Open Access publishing with publisher the Open Library of the Humanities, as well as some of their funding models (ranging from the use of volunteer labor to grants): What Open-Access Publishing Actually Costs
Allegra Laboratory examines different models attempting to make Open Access economically viable: Are There Alternatives to Traditional Academic Publishing? #OA
This post on Aidnography suggests that Open Access may not automatically lead to meaningful engagement with scholars’ work: The Answer to Academic Publishing Challenges is Not Always Open Access
Ben Carson made our week by opining about Egyptology, a topic he has clearly researched extensively. Help us all stay equally informed by sending me links at firstname.lastname@example.org to include in the digest.
Material World reviews the new 9/11 memorial and museum, suggesting that while it may have suffered from a certain degree of curation by committee, it’s more nuanced than other reviews have suggested in its treatment of radical Islam and the bombers: Some Thoughts About the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Don’t read this post on Harris-Jones Anthropology while eating breakfast… How Do Beliefs About Pollution and Dirt Relate to Systems of Classification? Apparently the Hua are so far from viewing vomit as dirty (as long as it comes from a real or classificatory father) that they rub it into their skin.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, Halloween. Send me any links to include here at email@example.com.
The Economist traces the growing popularity of the holiday from the Celtic Samhain through the growth of suburbia: The Meaning of Halloween
This post on the Geek Anthropologist explores the supernatural in American life and its connection with the experience of sleep paralysis: Why Halloween is for Anthropologists
It’s unfortunate that this IFL Science post uses such ethnocentric and exoticizing language in its title, because it’s an interesting survey of death-related practices in the past and present: Preserving the Dead: Weird and Grisly Practices from Around the World
This New Yorker article asks the question Are Cats Domesticated? Based on archaeological and genomic evidence, it concludes… yes and no.
Happy Sunday (technically)! If you come across any links to include here, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not explicitly anthropological, but City Lab started an interesting conversation about the problematic stereotypes embedded in dining out in the U.S. (such as referring to certain foods from the global South as “ethnic”) in How Not to Be a Restaurant Racist, which provoked the response What’s Very Wrong with “How Not to Be a Restaurant Racist” on The Stranger.
I also love this Material World post about how observers from the global North find the sight of luxury goods and wealth gaps “bizarre” in places like Accra: Ain’t No Jaguars in Ghana’s Urban Jungle Luxury and the Postcolonial Bizarre