"There’s a wonderful term used by anthropologists: “osteobiography,” the “biography of the bones.”
Kennewick Man’s osteobiography tells a tale of an eventful life, which a newer radiocarbon analysis puts at having taken place 8,900 to 9,000 years ago. He was a stocky, muscular man about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds. He was right-handed. His age at death was around 40."
After years of legal wrangling and scientific arguments, Smithsonian Magazine takes on the history of the Kennewick Man and the long-awaited publication of studies co-edited by physical anthropologist Douglas Owsley (of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's Anthropology department.) [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict
on Aug 26, 2014 -
Featured in the Australian literary journal Meanjin
, Restless Indigenous Remains
is a Paul Daley essay on how the Australian government's National Museum handles the remains of Indigenous people accumulated during Australia's colonial period. An engaging, thoughtful and sobering piece, it covers the history of 'remains collection' in Australia, as well as the current debate concerning whether the Indigenous defenders against colonial expansion should be recognized by the Australian War Memorial.
posted by paleyellowwithorange
on Aug 6, 2014 -
A new study
by Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann and others found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.
posted by Rumple
on Jul 19, 2014 -
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication
is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
posted by Rumple
on May 23, 2014 -
In honor of May the Fourth, I present to you more information about Ewoks than you ever cared to know: The Return of the Subaltern (Part One
and Part Two
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on May 4, 2014 -
The American Museum of Natural History will unlock thousands of old photos from their vault, they announced this week. The new online image database (officially launching on Monday the 28th) will take you behind the curtain, delivering images that span the 145-year history of the Museum. The collection features over 7,000 images—many never before seen by the public—and includes photos, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, art, and Museum memorabilia. They say "it’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing a long ago NYC or just catching glimpses of ghosts from a forgotten world now seen only by researchers and Museum staff." Previously
. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye
on Apr 24, 2014 -
Zombies occupy a variety of liminal spaces wherein contemporary social tensions are reflected and refracted. These tensions, however, have historical and ongoing parallels with images of "Indians." Zombies reveal societal ambivalence about race, class, gender, ethnicity, political power, agency, and other aspects of social reproduction. In other words, zombies touch upon all the anxieties commonly associated with colonialism.
If you only watch one hour-long lecture on the Anthropology of Zombies today, then make it this one
by Native American scholar Chad Uran
posted by Rumple
on Mar 4, 2014 -
Human Terrain Systems is a U. S. military program to use modern anthropological ideas, research results, and professionals to assist counterinsurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Human Terrain Systems Dissenter Resigns, Tells Inside Story of Training’s Heart of Darkness
on counterpunch.org by Saint Martin's University professor David H. Price
is about anthropologist John Allison, who joined, participated, and ultimately resigned. Allison tells his own story here
. The counterpunch article is a central part of Price's book, Weaponizing Anthropology. [more inside]
posted by bukvich
on Mar 2, 2014 -
There is much talk today of a financial and economic crisis comparable to the 1930s. With the threat of a currency war and the euro’s collapse looming, the specter of the Great Depression’s bloody aftermath has returned with a vengeance. Several versions of how to make human beings and build society co-existed during the Cold War, when much of the world won independence from colonial empire. Yet, discussion of humanity’s growing interdependence is today limited to a one-world capitalism driven by finance. What have anthropologists to say about that? It would seem very little. But a positive case can be made for the discipline’s contribution to public debate. We make such a case here. We review recent developments in the anthropology of money and finance, listing its achievements, shortcomings and prospects, while referring back to the discipline’s founders a century ago. Economic anthropologists have tended to restrict themselves to niche fields and marginal debates since the 1960s. We hope to reverse this trend by focusing on money’s role in shaping global society and bringing world history into a more active dialogue with ethnography. Money and finance: For an anthropology of globalization by Keith Hart and Horacio Ortiz
posted by infini
on Feb 12, 2014 -
This documentary pokes fun at the ways in which Inuit people have been treated as “exotic” documentary subjects by turning the lens onto the strange behaviours of Qallunaat (the Inuit word for white people). The term refers less to skin colour than to a certain state of mind: Qallunaat greet each other with inane salutations, repress natural bodily functions, complain about being cold, and want to dominate the world. Their odd dating habits, unsuccessful attempts at Arctic exploration, overbearing bureaucrats and police, and obsession with owning property are curious indeed.
A collaboration between filmmaker Mark Sandiford and Inuit writer and satirist Zebedee Nungak, Qallunaat! brings the documentary form to an unexpected place in which oppression, history, and comedy collide.
Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny
posted by Rumple
on Jan 30, 2014 -
' "Discovery" is such a loaded term nowadays in American cultural studies that one dare not use it without immediately qualifying it as problematic and politically charged. We tend to prefer "invasion" or "dispossession" or "conquest" because those words, and their attendant categories, suggest a more accurate way to characterize early American exploration.... Homi Bhabha's theory of the "hybrid" colonial subject, and his focus on the production and maintenance of colonial power, has compelling implications for the relationship between European explorers and Native Americans in Cabeza de Vaca's 1542 discovery narrative La Relación
. Several scholars have commented on Cabeza de Vaca's hybridity—the collision between his Spanish heritage and his acquisition of Native American culture—but none has discussed it in terms of the exercise of colonial power and its resultant ambiguities.
' This is a verbose introduction to the interesting and complex life of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
, one of the four survivors of the 600-strong Narváez expedition
, in the period of inland Spanish conquistadores
. You could read more
, or watch Cabeza de Vaca
, the 1991 film that is "sometimes straightforward, sometimes pagaentlike and sometimes hallucinatory ... a road trip movie set in a time before there were roads.
posted by filthy light thief
on Oct 13, 2013 -
"From photography’s earliest days, enterprising practitioners realized they could take their services directly to the people. This lead to the horse-drawn wagons called “Daguerreotype Salons” and then to portable, darkroom tents that allowed wet-plate photographers to make pictures outside. As technology advanced, the tents morphed into a single apparatus that combined both camera and darkroom, which allowed photographers to work anywhere. Afghanistan is one of the last places where street vendor photographers still use such a hand-made, wooden camera called kamra-e-faoree or “instant camera.” Observing this practice lead photographer Lukas Birk & anthropologist Sean Foley to undertake the Afghan Box Camera Project.
" - Photo Technique Magazine
introduction to an interview with Lukas Birk [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on May 9, 2012 -
The New Priesthood
- "The hapless economist uses the same tools as acclaimed physicists and astronomers. She has trained for years to speak precisely the same language as them, to understand the same advanced mathematics, to deploy most complex statistical methods
which are an essential part of the scientific toolbox. It is, understandably, incredibly difficult to accept that her work is a form of higher order superstition
; a religion couched
in the language of mathematics and statistics. Tragically, this is precisely what it is." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Apr 2, 2012 -
tells the stories of 36 Sri Lankan elders, about their lives and work, and their connections to their hometown. ... With the movement of people away from their hometowns, particularly from Jaffna and Galle, I also spoke to the so called 'internal diaspora', about their longing for their hometowns and their sense of belonging to their adoptive homes."
posted by chunking express
on Jan 6, 2012 -
The ruins of Gede
are the remains of a mysterious
lost city on the Swahili Coast
of Kenya, located deep within the Arabuko Sokoke forest
. The mystery of Gede (Gedi) is that it does not appear in
any Swahili, Portuguese, or Arab written record
s and present day research
has not yet been able to fully account for what actually happened to the city. The inhabitants were of the Swahili, an ancient trading civilization
that emerged along the eastern coasts
of Africa ranging from
Somalia to Mozambique. Archaeological
excavations carried out
between 1948 and 1958 have uncovered
porcelain from China, an Indian lamp, Venetian beads, Spanish scissors, and other artefacts from all over the world
, demonstrating the occupants were engaged in extensive
international trade. Questions still remain as to what caused the downfall of Gede, but by the 17th century, the city was completely abandoned
to the forest and forgotten until
the 1920s. Today, a National Museum, Gede
's sister cities from the period are part of
the ethnography based archeological work of Dr Chapurukha M. Kusimba
of Chicago's Field Museum, whose lifework
has thrown light on the
precolonial heritage of the Swahili
posted by infini
on Nov 30, 2011 -
Man: A Course of Study
(MACOS) was a social sciences educational curriculum designed in the late 1960s. The course examined the commonalities between human behavior and that of several animal species, and culminated with a series of short films documenting the lives of the Netsilik Eskimo people. Although many school systems initially adopted MACOS
, it was largely abandoned
after a campaign of opposition from conservative Christians, who saw it as a Trojan horse for the indoctrination of secular humanism and cultural relativism in the public schools. The 2004 documentary Though These Eyes
looks at creation of MACOS and the controversy surrounding it.
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Sep 25, 2011 -
How did hookworm infections
slow the economy of the postbellum South? Do body mites
play a role in diseases such as rosacea? Did fermenting
seal flippers in Tupperware instead of traditional containers increase Native Alaskan botulism rates?
is the blog of microbiologist Rebecca Kreston, who aims to explore the intersection of infectious diseases, the human body, public health and anthropology.
posted by emjaybee
on Sep 24, 2011 -