Happy alternative to Columbus Day, readers! (I like Indigenous People’s Day personally). Send me any blog posts at email@example.com.
This article in New Republic critiques Anna Tsing’s new book using the matsusake mushroom as an entry point to discussion capitalist systems, pointing out that she seems to overstate the degree to which global capitalism tends to homogenize, systematize, and regularize interactions: The Mushroom That Explains the World
PopAnth suggests that the recent conversations about food waste fail to take into account the ways in which food production and disposal systems are shaped to benefit certain groups of people at the expense of others: What’s Wasted in Recent Buzz Around Food Waste? The Answer is People. From the title, I thought this was going in a more “Soylent Green” direction, but this is good too.
This week, a number of online magazines addressed some of the big questions of human history. As always, if you want me to feature anything on the blog, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aeon Magazine published this article summarizing how paleogenetics is rewriting and complicating our understanding of early human migrations: What Can Paleogenetics Tell-Us About Prehistory?
IFL Science reports that Scientists Have Reconstructed the Hearing Abilities of Our Ancestors… basically, they could hear like modern-day chimpanzees but with a slightly higher range of frequencies, like humans.
This post on Western Digs, a blog that includes paleontology as well as archaeology, covers the discovery of seven men who died by violence together some 1,150 years ago. Isotopic analysis of their teeth reveals that they were originally from another region: Mass Grave Found in California Reveals Prehistoric Violence Against Outsiders
A storm cut off my Internet yesterday, delaying your beloved weekly digest. The theme of this week is “how-to,” with several blogs featuring advice on how to get funded, get published, and get a job… all good things, in my book. Send any links to me at email@example.com
Anthropologizing provides some example cover letters for jobs in consumer research: Cover Letter Definites and Don’ts Plus 3 Examples That Have Landed Me Interviews
How To Anthropology presents 8 Tips for Writing a Winning NSF (GRFP) Proposal, which is pretty self-explanatory.
The Geek Anthropologist also shares some tips on how to get your work published that will likely be most helpful for first-time researchers but that may have some value for more experienced researchers as well: So You’re a Graduate Student and You Want to Get Published: Takeaways from the Anthropod Publishing Series
The theme of this blog roundup seems to be “our digital selves.” Send me anything you’ve written or found at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Global Social Media Impact Study blog asks What’s Special About Social Media in Small Places? The answer seems to be that, while people feel a certain freedom to explore alternative identities when they’re outside of their small communities, they make sure their online images are socially acceptable and in line with their self-presentation within their communities.
In The Geek Anthropologist, an anthropologist recounts her experience playing Elder Scrolls Online, a massive multi-player online role-playing game, and the unspoken rules that govern it: A Geek Anthropologists’ First Time: A MMORPG Experience
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 email@example.com!
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
Send along anything interesting to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The BBC reports that Chimpanzees and Monkeys Have Entered the Stone Age (by using relatively sophisticated stone tools). More interesting to me is the claim that they recognize the value of cooked food and seem to understand the process of cooking in experiments.
Science Daily writes that archaeologists have linked Mayan environmental alterations to the beginning of the Anthropocene. Clues from Ancient Maya Reveal Lasting Impact on the Environment
A blog called Stuff Mom Never Told You featured the profiles of 9 Women Who Changed Anthropology, including some I had never heard of myself. As with any list, we can immediately begin questioning who was included or excluded.
Better late than never, I always say, as the semester starts anew and we all either pack our lunchboxes to go back to school or feel that old pull in a job that runs on a different cycle. Help me stay on top of the links by sending me anything you write or discover at email@example.com
The Alice Goffman controversy continues to provoke critique and introspection about the nature of ethnographic fieldwork. A recent critique by Paul Campos goes beyond the typical claims that ethnographers are unconcerned with fact-checking to suggest that a small percentage are engaging in wholesale fabrication. Paul Stoller addresses this in his column for HuffPost: In Defense of Ethnography. His basic claim, that ethnography can allow us to delve into the messiness of human experience in a way that fact-checkers cannot, reminds me of the time that a researcher from another discipline came to my field site and was met with evasiveness and equivocation.
This post on Somatosphere links Stoller’s post to the practice of giving pseudonyms and changing identifying information: “Ethnography is not about ‘fact-checking,’ Stoller notes, but rather a weaving of personal and professional interactions into fruitful, if not fruitfully frustrating, entanglements. Acknowledging the precariousness of other people’s lives, a precariousness that the writer often does not share, may mean blending the ‘facts’ to protect people’s identities.” What’s in a Name?
Dear readers, either the blogs have been quiet this week or I’m missing some, which you can rectify by sending me links at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most shocking, terrible news in anthropology this week was the Islamic State’s murder of archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad for refusing to reveal the location of artifacts from Palmyra that had been moved for safekeeping. Archaeologist Kristina Killgrove posted a tribute to him on her Forbes blog: Archaeologists Respond to the Murder of Khalel al-Asaad at Ancient Palmyra
An exhibit at the National Geographic Museum uses Indiana Jones as an entry point to dispel myths about archaeology… it even uses the arguably non-canonical fourth installment (#notmyindy) to explore alien astronaut pseudoscience. The Geek Anthropologist’s review: “It Belongs in a Museum”: Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology Review
Apparently it’s National Tell a Joke Day… earlier this week I got to check out a satirical play about electoral politics here in Guatemala called Mi Candidato No Es Chafa (My Candidate’s Not Bootleg/Low Quality) that reminded me that humor is an incredibly complex cultural performance and true immersion is a moving target. Keep me up to date by sending me links to anything I should feature in this space at email@example.com.
In this post on Allegra Laboratory, a South Indian researcher reflects on her feelings of discomfort in doing fieldwork a little too close to home, which has forced her to a new level of introspection about her own relationship with traditional food practices and other overt signs of identity: Dis-orientalizing & Ethnographic Journeys Fieldnotes
As an interesting companion piece, this post featured on Anthsisters, Becoming a Responsible Maori Researcher, points to the fundamental paradigm shift that takes place when the researcher can claim or represent an internal perspective, invoking rich ties to the community.
Happy August! I hope you aren’t going into panic mode looking at your to-do list for summer. Send along any blog posts that need to be featured here at firstname.lastname@example.org!
NPR profiles two cases, an athlete whose levels of testosterone are considered too high for her to compete as a woman and a transgender teen who has caused controversy by seeking to use the men’s restroom at his school: Being A Woman: Who Gets To Decide?
Nautilus explores the Whorf/Kay and Berlin debate in more depth than most blogs: Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language
Happy August readers! Welcome to a month so great they stole a day from another month to make it longer. Let me know about anything cool I should feature here at email@example.com.
It’s a TED Talk! It argues that humans have been successful through our ability to create and believe in abstractions, which facilitate collective action.
A medical student reflects on how her background in anthropology helped her put a patient at ease: A Background in Anthropology Comes in Handy on the Wards
This post on Popular Archaeology introduces Aşıklı Höyük, one of the earliest Neolithic sites ever found: Archaeologists Uncover Human Settlement Dated to the Dawn of Civilization
My social media has been positively blowing up with versions of this story, on four bodies tentatively identified as four high-status members of the Jamestown community. I like NPR’s coverage, which is media-rich: Bones In Church Ruins Likely The Remains Of Early Jamestown’s Elite
Smithsonian Magazine answers the question, Who Were the First People to Eat Chickens? As far as we know: Israeli villagers as early as 400 BCE.
According to National Geographic, a recent find in Guatemala is provoking questions about the rivalry between Tikal and Calakmul: Maya Shrine Reveals Arrival of “New World Order.” An intriguing quote: “Venerating a vassal of Tikal in an area controlled by Calakmul [would be like] 20th-century Americans […] bringing offerings to a bust of Lenin.”
Live Science reports the discovery of an American Revolution-era shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina: Accidental Find: Scientists Stumble on Centuries-Old Shipwreck
As Savage Minds celebrates the official demise of the Human Terrain System, Foreign Policy decries it: The Army Needs Anthropologists
Finally, the Global Social Media Impact Study suggests that Italians attempt to make their Facebook appearances reflect their real lives (to the extent of “curating” their everyday lives by selecting attractive outfits for parties where they expect to be photographed). This doesn’t necessarily square with my intuitive sense of U.S. Facebook use, in which a disconnect between self-presentation and “real” life seems to be expected and accepted: Facebook as a Window: Managing Online Appearance. What do you think?
See you next week!
Happy Sunday, pansies! Please write in with links to include here at firstname.lastname@example.org… or just to say “¡Hola!”
An interesting debate is forming surrounding uncontacted groups. In an editorial in Science, Protecting Isolated Tribes, Robert Walker and Kim Hill argued that it is unfeasible and patronizing to maintain the current “hands-off” approach to uncontacted groups. Stephen Corry has responded in Truth Out – Uncontacted Tribes Don’t Need the “Protection” of Western Anthropologists – and Survival International – Defending Tribes’ Right to Remain Uncontacted, arguing that contact has been universally detrimental to groups and that their ways of life can be viable in today’s world.
Hakai Magazine on coastal science featured this post about the material remains of sea otter tool use, drawing from primatology and archaeology: The Quest for an Archaeology of Sea Otter Tool Use
It was my birthday weekend, so I’ll just say “Here are some blogs. Enjoy!” Send me anything you’ve written or read at email@example.com.
The blog Sex and Psychology breaks down this American Anthropologist article: Is Kissing a Universal Sexual and Romantic Behavior Among Humans? The answer? No. Of course.
Archaeodeath actually vindicates the TV show Vikings in showing grave robbings (although of course they got the details wrong): Vikings Season 2: Floki Digs Up Dad
This post on Phys.Org, Anthropologist Leads Global Effort to Improve Climate Change Models, features such a classic anthropologist quote: “The models are over-simplified,” [archaeologist] Morrison explained. “They are based on mathematical equations relating how many people were in a particular area and what they think that did to transform vegetation. But, they don’t integrate evidence […] about how people organized agriculture—differences such as dry versus wet crops, like rice paddies—that show the same number of people can have a very different impact on the land.”
I’m brimming with conference energy from the Guatemala Scholars Network meeting this last week in Antigua, Guatemala, so this post will be longer than usual. Thanks for reaching out with links and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Language Log featured this Open Letter to Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air, that I found useful as a reminder that just because privilege goes unmarked, it shouldn’t necessarily be seen as the norm or default. (In other words, it’s not “speech” and “gay speech,” it’s “straight speech” and “gay speech”).
Along similar lines, thank you, Society for Linguistic Anthropology, for pointing out that young women are blamed for creating “annoying” vocal aberrations like uptalk and vocal fry, just as women are blamed for not “leaning in” in the workplace: (Socio-)Phonetics in the News. (Also, as an aside, radio host Ira Glass exhibits more vocal fry than anyone I’ve ever heard).
Savage Minders, was your Sunday ruined by the absence of the Around the Web Digest? I’ll have to cast the blame on my intermittent Internet access here in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Thanks to those who’ve sent me links for the digest at email@example.com! (For those who haven’t, make this your resolution for next week).
This post on Cotton Belt Journal connects recent debates about the Confederate flag to the archaeology of African American history: This Place Matters: Remembering African American Heritage Sites
I’m becoming a big fan of Food Anthropology… their posts on “food pedagogy” always make me want to revisit my syllabi and push myself to engage more with the local environment: “You Can’t Talk About Food Without Talking”: Aimee Hosemann with a Professor’s Perspective on the Course “Food and Culture”