Cultural anthropology is essential for addressing Ebola
Discover Magazinereported on a conference on anthropology and Ebola held at the George Washington University in November that convened nearly twenty anthropologists to brainstorm about how to better address Ebola through the inclusion of cultural knowledge. The article mentions several anthropologists, academics and professionals working in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including Sharon Abramowitz of the University of Florida, one of the effort’s organizers. The article quotes Edward Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, one of the co-sponsors of the conference: “Epidemiologists are making oversimplified assumptions about transmission, setting these wild upper limit bounds…We’re in a position to actually breathe life into the numbers, to put people into those positions, to make much more realistic assessments of near-term and longer-term predictions.” Continue reading “Anthro in the news 12/15/14”→
The dynamic duo of medical anthropologist/physicians, Jim Young Kim and Paul Farmer, published an op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that Ebola can be stopped if an effective response system is put in place:
“Ebola is spread by direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids, making it less transmissible than an airborne disease such as tuberculosis. A functioning health system can stop Ebola transmission and, we believe, save the lives of a majority of those who are afflicted…To halt this epidemic, we need an emergency response that is equal to the challenge. We need international organizations and wealthy countries that possess the required resources and knowledge to step forward and partner with West African governments to mount a serious, coordinated response as laid out in the World Health Organization’s Ebola response roadmap.” Continue reading “Anthro in the news 9/8/14”→
Victoria Sanford, professor of cultural anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center, published an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that it is too soon to declare victory in Guatemala given the evidence that the current president, the former military commander Otto Pérez Molina, may have been involved in the same mass killings for which General Ríos Montt has now been convicted.
Nonetheless, she states that the conviction of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity is of monumental significance:
“It was the first time in history that a former head of state was indicted by a national tribunal on charges of genocide. It offers hopes to those similarly seeking justice in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.”
• Culture and technology
CBS published a video interview with Intel’s cultural anthropologist, Genevieve Bell. Bell discusses the role of cultural anthropology in understanding people’s needs and preferences related to technology, people’s time patterns, social relationships, and more.
The prehistory tends to favor elites. Ancient Maya iconography, writing, and artifacts reveal much about the ruling class, warfare, and elite rituals in Mesoamerica. A recent discovery of extensive mural paintings at Calakmul, located in southern Mexico near the Guatemalan border, sheds light on the majority of the population, those of lower social classes around AD 620-700. Scenes show people eating, cooking, and carrying goods. The murals have hieroglyphic captions naming the actors such as “maize-gruel person,” “maize-grain person,””salt person,” “tobacco person,” and “clay vessel person.” It’s almost as if the murals were painted by an ethnographer who set out to document everyday life of ordinary people.