Anthro in the news 2/18/13

• Gas company targets a protected park in the Peruvian Amazon

An article in The Guardian reported on how an energy company is eyeing the gas reserves of a Peruvian Amazon park where biodiversity exceeds any other place on earth and which is home to indigenous people who have little contact with the outside world.

Pluspetrol's Pagoreni-B gas well, part of the Camisea project in the Amazon jungle near Cuzco, Peru. Photograph: Cris Bouroncle/AFP
Pluspetrol's Pagoreni-B gas well near Cuzco, Peru. Photograph: Cris Bouroncle/AFP
The report is based on a leaked document. The revelation about Manu national park follows rumors and reports in Peru that the government is to create a gas concession bordering or including parts of the park, but which have not been publicly confirmed.

The Guardian quotes anthropologist Daniel Rodriguez, who has worked with indigenous federation Fenamad: “This is the first time we’ve seen evidence for plans to expand hydrocarbon activities into Manu.” Manu is home to 10 percent of the world’s bird species, 5 percent of all mammals, and 15 percent of all butterflies. Unesco has declared the park a World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve.

• Becoming a mother without a husband in Vietnam

The New York Times reported on northern Vietnamese war widows becoming mothers without husbands in order to avoid living without a child and dying a lonely death.

The article focuses on women in one village who “upended centuries-old gender rules and may have helped open the door for a nation to redefine parenthood.” Having endured the war, they developed a new strength and were determined not to die alone. They asked men, whom they did not interact with afterward, to help them conceive a child. The practice was known as “xin con,” or “asking for a child,” and it meant breaking with tradition, facing discrimination and enduring the hardships of raising a child alone.

“It was unusual, and quite remarkable,” said Harriet Phinney, an assistant professor of anthropology at Seattle University who is writing a book on the practice of xin con in Vietnam. Purposely conceiving a child out of wedlock, she said, “was unheard-of.” It was a product of the mothers’ bravery and a postwar society that acknowledged the unique situation of women across Vietnam, including thousands of widows who were raising children alone.
Continue reading “Anthro in the news 2/18/13”

Anthro in the news 1/28/13

• “Invisible cultural anthropologist” Jim Kim in the news

Anthro in the news picked up on two mentions of Jim Kim, medical anthropologist, physician, humanitarian development expert, and current president of the World Bank.

Jim Yong Kim, president of The World Bank
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim/Moritz Hager, Wikipedia

First, his op-ed, “Make Climate Change a Priority,” appeared in the Washington Post opinion section in which he wrote: “As economic leaders gathered in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, much of the conversation was about finances. But climate change should also be at the top of our agendas, because global warming imperils all of the development gains we have made. If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a report in November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.”

Second, an article in an economic/trade-focused forum discussed Kim’s visit to Tunisia to promote private sector development: “World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today concluded a two-day visit to Tunisia during which the Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, announced a $48 million investment to support the growth of private entrepreneurs. Kim met the country’s leadership and civil society to discuss the reform agenda and Tunisia’s progress two years after its popular uprising. ‘We are here as strong supporters of the Tunisian revolution,’ said Kim. ‘[The people of Tunisia] went through some very difficult times, but in doing what you’ve done, you’ve inspired the entire world. [Now] we’ve got to make sure that Tunisia is successful in showing that Islam and democracy go together, that you can have economic development that includes everyone.'”

Kim emphasized ongoing World Bank Group support for Tunisia’s aspirations through programs that address improved governance and accountability, opportunities for women and youth, private sector job-creation and investments in interior regions.
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Anthro in the news 1/21/13

• Revenge against French fueling conflict in Mali and Algeria

Mali. Source: CIA Factbook
Mali. Source: CIA Factbook. The contested region is in the north.

An article in The Star (Toronto) about how Mali’s conflict spilled across its borders into Algeria this past week quoted Bruce Whitehouse, a cultural anthropology professor at Lehigh University, and a Fulbright scholar who has lived in Mali.

He says: “They want to get back at the French desperately and they have a history of carrying out a tit-for-tat response when it comes to French intervention …They clearly want to portray what they’re doing as a direct and balanced response to what’s being directed against them … It will bring a lot more pressure from the United States and European governments to get involved … (It) might be a good thing from Mali’s point of view. Algeria has what’s reckoned to be the most capable military there and they have experience and they know the terrain.”

• Mali: Where music is dangerous

An opinion piece in the Cyprus Mail says that Islamic extremism is stopping the music in Mali:

Talking Timbuktu
Talking Timbuktu/

“We all have a favourite album. Mine is Talking Timbuktu, the collaboration between the great Malian musician Ali Farka Tourι and Ry Cooder. Arguably it’s some of the best guitar playing you’ll ever hear. Ali died in 2006, but his son Vieux carries the sound onward, that curious mix of African soul and heart with a blues base.

“So it was with utter horror that I heard Lucy Durán, who hosts the BBC programme World Routes and teaches the anthropology of world music at SOAS (University of London), say in an emotional comment this week that one of the terrible side effects of the extreme Islamic fundamentalism now invading northern Mali is the silencing of music. Outlawed under Sharia law, all instruments, radio, CD players have been destroyed, and as Lucy chillingly said, those seen playing guitars were threatened with having their fingers cut off.”

Continue reading “Anthro in the news 1/21/13”