Anthro in the news 4/25/11

• Stanley Ann Dunham: her story
The New York Times magazine‘s cover story this week is about President Obama’s mother who was a cultural anthropologist. The article is adapted from a forthcoming book on Dr. Dunham called A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother. Last year, Duke University Press published her study of artisans in rural Indonesia. There is much to ponder in the fact that instead of having a white, Texas oil family son in the White House, we are fortunate to have the mixed-race son of a cultural anthropologist who lived in different cultures and experienced discrimination as a dark-skinned child in Bali.

• Presidential support for anthro
Last year, President Obama gave $2,000 to the University of Hawaii Foundation as part of an endowment fund to honor his mother, cultural anthropologist Stanley Ann Durham.

• Vive la différence: mixed marriages and cultural tolerance in Quebec
An editorial in the Montreal Gazette describes findings from a study of 80 married couples in Quebec. In couples involving an immigrant partner, both partners were found to embrace cultural differences. Cultural anthropologist Deirdre Meintel was involved in the research and is co-author of the editorial.

• Anthro not so bourgeois after all
An article in the Guardian describes how young activists in Havana, associated with the Cuban Institute of Anthropology, draw on anthropology to bring new life to politics in Cuba through connecting to the global justice movement.

• Campus politics and the F word
University of Iowa professor of anthropology Ellen Lewin’s email to the College Republicans at her university has created a stir. The campus Republicans sent an email blast announcing “Conservatives Coming Out Week.” Lewin replied: “F*** YOU, REPUBLICANS.” The university president has asked everyone to be respectful of others.

• She walked in beauty
The face of a princess of China’s Tang Dynasty has been restored by digital archaeology. She died in 736, perhaps of an illness and was buried in a royal tomb in Xi’an. According to the reconstruction, she has a high forehead, round face and almond-shaped eyes. Her tiara, which requires no digitization to attest to its beauty, was decorated with gold, silver, copper, agates, pearls, amber, turquoise and other semi-precious stones.

SOURCE: Korea Times, April 20 “Face of Tang Dynasty Princess Restored” – website unavailable at time of posting

• Archaeo fashion line perhaps going too far?

Among the many controversies surrounding Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass is the latest: his association with a line of men’s fashions. He says all profits will go to a good cause.

• Ethics controversy at the Smithsonian
Several archaeologists in the U.S., including members of the National Academy of Sciences, are calling for cancellation of an exhibition of artifacts from a Tang Dynasty shipwreck. The main issue is that a commercial treasure hunter mined the artifacts and did not follow academic standards.

• In memoriam
Esther Pressel, retired professor of anthropology at Colorado State University, died at the age of 74 years. She taught at CSU from 1968 until her retirement in 2003. A medical anthropologist with interests in healing, ritual and spirit possession, she conducted fieldwork in India, Russia, Nigeria, and Brazil.

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