Anthro in the news 5/28/12

• “We” are not normal
According to a new study, hunter-gatherer and horticultural populations have significantly lower age-related increases in blood pressure and less risks of atherosclerosis than “modern” populations. Researchers followed 2,296 indigenous adults in 82 Tsimane (pron: see-mah-nay) villages in Bolivia’s Amazon lowlands. An article in the Wall Street Journal quotes Michael Gurven, study author and anthropology professor and chairman of the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Integrative Anthropological Sciences Unit, as saying: “Surprisingly, heart disease and stroke aren’t necessarily inevitable with age.”  The research indicates that lifestyle factors of the Tsimane include substantial physical activity and lots of fruits and vegetables in the diet, both of which protect them from what the article refers to as “normal aging phenomena, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.” [Blogger’s note: it’s disheartening and scary that so many people still take “us” moderns as the “norm”…let’s hope that being studied and otherwise connected to “us” doesn’t damage the Tsimane’s health.]

• Film series on global mental illness
Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia” is the first film series to look at mental illness in the developing world. It is an award-winning compilation of six films about the lives of men, women and children living with schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, anti-social personality disorder and Tourette’s syndrome in Bali and Java. Directed by anthropologist and documentary filmmaker Dr. Robert Lemelson, “Afflictions” is screening as an official selection at conferences and festivals worldwide and is available for purchase at Amazon. See article.

• Co-sleeping in question
The Huffington Post carried an essay by Rickey Bower, former fire fighter and current health care consultant, with a B.A. in Anthropology from Marquette University and pursuing graduate education. Bower was inspired by the recent cover of TIME showing a woman breast-feeding her 3-year-old son, President Obama’s recent statement that same-sex marriages do not weaken families, and Gia M. Hamilton’s blog about being a single parent. Bower takes the discussion forward by examining parent-child co-sleeping practices in America.

• Finding the disappeared of Argentina
The Argentinian Forensic Anthropology Team announced this week that forensic and DNA tests prove that human remains found in a Uruguayan cemetery are those of Roque Orlando Montenegro, known as “Toti,” who went missing in February 1976 when he was 20 years old. Montenegro has been seeking the truth about her father since 2000, when she learned that the military couple who raised her were not her biological parents. “I was appropriated,” she says, using the term given to children whose parents were killed or disappeared during the Dirty War and were given to other couples. The organization known as Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (May Square Grandmothers), helped her find the truth about her identity.

• Review of Dunbar’s latest number
Robin Dunbar, biological anthropologist at Oxford University has a knack for writing about hot-button popular topics. The Scotsman carried a review of his latest book, The Science of Love and Betrayal, in which he discusses the problem of “too many men,” or societies with unbalanced sex ratios in which men substantially outnumber women.

The Scotsman, May 26, 2012, Disturbing masses of men with little to do, BYLINE: Erikka Askeland

• Take that anthro degree…
and become a CEO. Emilie Hitch, CEO of consultancy Thinkers & Makers, draws on her anthropology training to gain the perspective of her clients and their customers, discovering the best outcome for a brand or the most ideal path to new business development. She honed her talents at creative agency Olson, where she acted as cultural anthropologist and developed a strategic process for account planning based on the scientific discipline.

and start your own company promoting cultural competency in the world of global business.  For the past twenty years as a business anthropologist Julia Gluesing has been studying and working in global networked organizations. President of Cultural Connections, Inc., Gluesing has more than 25 years of experience as a consultant, researcher and trainer in global business development focusing on global leadership development, managing global teams, and cross-cultural communication. From 2003-2011, she was a Research Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Wayne State University where she served as co-director of the Global Executive Track Ph.D. She has published professionally in journals and books.

…and become a health care professional. Susan Lang, senior executive, health care strategist, and entrepreneur, is now working on developing her own business. She has an M.B.A. and an M.A. in medical anthropology from the University of Memphis. Read more.

• Not in this backyard
According to an article in The Times (London), Italy’s culture minister is threatening to quit in protest after his Government approved a new rubbish dump next to Hadrian’s Villa. Critics charge that the tip would send the stench of rotting garbage over what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Andrea Carandini, a prominent archaeologist, registered his outrage by rejecting an invitation to head Italy’s prestigious Council on Cultural Heritage: “It’s as if in Paris they put a dump 750 metres from Versailles.”

Source: The Times (London), May 25, 2012, Edition 1; Ireland, Plan for dump angers the guardians of Ancient Rome, BYLINE: James Bone

• A seal of Bethlehem
According to The Daily Telegraph (London), Israeli, archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old seal that bears the inscription “Bethlehem.” Experts believe it to be the oldest artefact with the name of Jesus’s traditional birthplace, and they say that the seal provides evidence that Bethlehem was not just the name of a fabled biblical town but a trade site linked to the nearby city of Jerusalem. Eli Shukron, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s director of excavations, said the find was significant because it was the first time the name “Bethlehem” appears outside a biblical text from that period.

Source: The Daily Telegraph (London), May 24, 2012 Thursday, Ancient Bethlehem seal is unearthed, BYLINE: Our Foreign Staff, SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 20

• Very old gold earring
Science Daily carried an article about a recent discovery of a hoard of gold and silver jewelry dated from around 1100 B.C at the archaeological site of Tel Megiddo in northern Israel. One piece, a gold earring decorated with molded ibexes, is said to be “without parallel.” Israel Finkelstein, professor in TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures, is the co-director of the excavation of Tel Megiddo along with Professor Emeritus David Ussishkin of Tel Aviv University and Associate Director Professor Eric Cline of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

• Very old Peruvian tomb
A team of archaeologists from the Université libre de Bruxelles has discovered a spectacular tomb containing more than eighty individuals of different ages in Peru. This discovery, provisionally dated to around 1000 years ago, was made at the site of Pachacamac, which is currently under review for UNESCO World Heritage status. Situated on the Pacific coast about thirty kilometers from Lima, Pachacamac is one of the largest Prehispanic sites in South America. Professor Peter Eeckhout has been carrying out fieldwork at the site for the past 20 years.

• Very old Mexican altar
An altar and a stela estimated to date from as early as 800 B.C. were found at the Chalcatzingo archaeological site in the central state of Morelos, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. The altar is rectangular and covered with engravings representing rain.

• Neanderthal make-over continues
The Huffington Post carried an article about how the gap is closing between modern humans and Neanderthals: “No more can we say that old Neanderthal — prototype of shaggy man with absolutely zero smarts — didn’t know what he was doing. And no more can we deny it: They were not a little bit like us but a lot.” The article quotes David Frayer, professor and Neanderthal expert at the University of Kansas: “Seemingly with every new journal issue, the gap between Neanderthal and modern human behavior closes.”

• On the relevance of origin hunters
The New York Times covered a posh fundraiser in New York City where Richard Leakey rose to the occasion and offered a few words on the importance of fossil studies in relation to contemporary and future climate change:  “I was wondering,” he said from the podium, in a dining room built over the Hudson, “how many dinners you will be able to have at Pier 60 before it went underwater.” Leakey is professor at the State University at Stony Brook but spends most of the time in Africa, where he has been building the Turkana Basin Institute in eastern Kenya. He said the discoveries of “origin hunters,” or paleoanthropologists such as his wife, Meave and his parents Louis and Mary Leakey, offer profound lessons for modern human life.

• In memoriam
Akira Hirabayashi died in San Francisco at the age of 85 years. He was emeritus professor of anthropology, ethnic and Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and a leader of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.  His passing comes just months after that of his brother Gordon, a civil rights hero. He was also the father of UCLA Asian American studies professor Lane Hirabayashi. The author and editor of a range of publications in anthropology and Asian American studies, his last work is a book edited with his son Lane, which revolves around the wartime prison diaries of his brother Gordon. The work, entitled A Principled Stand: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. The United States, will be published by the University of Washington Press in 2013.

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