Early this week, Voice of America reported that supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi were defiantly remaining at their protest camps in Cairo, despite days of warnings that the government would soon move on the sites. The article quoted Saba Mahmood, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, who told VOA the interim government has not broken up the camps because the resulting bloodshed would be a “very serious political cost.”
But she says Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is facing bigger stakes than getting him back in office: “So there is that issue that if indeed they back down, they’re going to not just simply lose Morsi, but they’re going to lose even the basis — the political, social basis — they have built over the last 40 years.”
[Blogger’s note: since then, much blood has been shed and are yet to see what the political costs for the military government will be].
• A probable first in history of anthro: U.S. President fist-bumps anthropologist
While on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, according to the Boston Globe, U.S. President Obama played golf with World Bank President Jim Kim.
[Blogger’s note: Jim Kim, as most aw readers know, is not only the president of the World Bank but also a medical anthropologist, doctor, health advocate, and former university president].
David Vine, cultural anthropology professor at American University, published an article in The Huffington Post remarking on the painful 40th anniversary of the final deportations of Chagossians from their homeland in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago in order to build a secretive military base on Chagos’s largest island, Diego Garcia. He writes: “Over a weekend of memorials, I was remembering a friend who died of a broken heart. Her death certificate may not say so, but she did. Aurélie Lisette Talate died last year at 70 of what members of her community call, in their creole language, sagren–profound sorrow… Madame Talate died of sagren because the U.S. and British governments exiled her and the rest of her Chagossian people from their homeland…” And, further: “In those same forty years, the base on British-controlled Diego Garcia helped launch the Afghan and Iraq wars and was part of the CIA’s secret ‘rendition’ program for captured terrorist suspects.”
• Paul Farmer: it’s not innovative to help the poor
WGBH radio interviewed medical anthropologist and humanitarian advocate Paul Farmer of Harvard University. In speaking about Partners in Health, which has moved many, including former President Bill Clinton, to call Partners in Health’s methodology innovative, is quoted as saying: “The idea that it’s somehow innovative to serve the poor is kind of sad, right? Because it’s not a new idea.”
• Research Institute in India launches student fieldwork program
The Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute in southern India will recruit 50 to 100 anthropology students every year to conduct studies on the education, economics and health of tribals, besides their society and lifestyle, throughout the State. The Institute was set up in Mysore in 2011. It is undertaking research, evaluation and training activities, besides organizing seminars and producing documentaries. The students will receive training and monthly salary.
• Jewels from the sky
Fox News carried an article about an ancient Egyptian iron bead found inside a 5,000-year-old tomb that was crafted from a meteorite. In an article in Nature, researchers say the bead has a Widmansttten pattern, a distinctive crystal structure found only in meteorites that cooled at an extremely slow rate inside asteroids when the solar system was forming. Further investigation showed that the bead was not molded under heat, but rather hammered into shape by cold-working: “Today, we see iron first and foremost as a practical, rather dull metal,” study researcher Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester…”To the ancient Egyptians, however, it was a rare and beautiful material which, as it fell from the sky, surely had some magical/religious properties.” Continue reading “Anthro in the news 6/3/13”→
The Chagos Regagne conference at the Royal Geographical Society in London on May 19 focused on the possibility of establishing an eco-village and research station on one of the outer islands of the Chagos Archipelago, part of the disputed British Indian Ocean Territory. It turned out to be extremely interesting.
But this wasn’t just a “scientific” conference for marine and other scientists. Instead, there were conservationists, lawyers, development geographers, cultural anthropologists and a good number of former U.K. Foreign Office personnel, including David Snoxell, the former British high commissioner to Mauritius, as well as John MacManus, the newly appointed administrator of the British Indian Ocean Territory.
Mauritius High Commissioner Abhimanyu Kundasamy attended. Mauritius is host to the largest group of Chagossian exiles and their descendants, around 3,000 people, who live in the capital, Port Louis, and surrounding areas. Mauritius wants the return of the archipelago. In 1965, under international law, the archipelago was illegally excised from its territory by the U.K. in order to provide the U.S. with a military base on Diego Garcia.
Also in attendance were around 150 Chagossians. They had travelled from Crawley and Manchester where they have settled since leaving Mauritius and the Seychelles and becoming British passport holders in 2002.
I met David Vine, of American University in Washington, D.C., who gave an excellent and impassioned summary of his book, Island of Shame, as well as sharing his more recent thoughts on why the U.S. prefers isolated, unpopulated islands for its military bases. Put simply, it’s all a question of “no people, no problems.”
Cultural anthropology participants include David Vine of American University, who will present in the morning, and Sean Carey of Roehampton University, and Laura Jeffery of Edinburgh University, who will co-present a session on the size of the extended Chagos population (the original inhabitants of the archipelago and their descendants), its distribution (Mauritius, Seychelles, the U.K. and other European countries including France, Belgium and Switzerland) and how Chagossians see their future in Chagos.
Jeffery holds an ESRC research fellowship, titled “Sustainable Resettlement and Environmental Conservation: A Collaborative Approach to the Right of Return to the Chagos Archipelago.”