Again saving a more general update for the next post, as this one celebrates both veteran anthropology bloggers and new faces. Soon after Daniel Lende’s intriguing analysis of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Greg Downey puts out a wonderful piece on inter-species sociality, proving the power of dynamic duo anthropology bloggers. Savage Minds welcomes Carole McGranahan as a full-time anthropology blogger following some very insightful guest posts. Also at Savage Minds, veteran anthropology blogger Alex Golub reminds us about good anthropology and ethnography with Seagulls Don’t Fly Into the Bush. Extraordinary anthropology blogger John Hawks gives us a genetic analysis that should bury the idea that Neandertal admixture is only with “non-African” populations. Holly Dunsworth wins one of the 3 Quarks Daily blogger prizes for Forget bipedalism. What about babyism? Biological anthropology blogger Patrick Clarkin is interviewed by writer Soo Na Pak. Finally, if you are wondering how to keep up with the anthropology bloggers, read about “consumatory scholarship” from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
‘Man-sheep-dog’: inter-species social skills, Greg Downey
The overlap in the neural mechanisms employed to interpret human and nonhuman actions points to the complexity of biological behaviour in general and the insight that our relationships with animals are, as anthropologist Tim Ingold (2000: 72) has pointed out, fundamentally social. Even the subjects in the expertise experiments who had little first-hand experience with dogs had the same areas activated by watching humans interacting become more engaged by the sight of dogs engaging. Yet our brains are not hard-wired to immediately perceive the variation of nonhuman communicative gestures or to interpret their signals accurately. The ability to ‘read’ the behaviour of nonhuman animals requires repeated interaction and focused attention on behaviours and parts of the dogs’ bodies that reveal intent and response within social interaction. And it helps to have an experienced coach.
Welcome Carole McGranahan, Kerim Friedman
Savage Minds is happy to announce that guest blogger Carole McGranahan (Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado) will be joining us as a full time blogger. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome.
From McGranahan’s Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War:
In the 1950s, thousands of ordinary Tibetans rose up to defend their country and religion against Chinese troops. Their citizen army fought through 1974 with covert support from the Tibetan exile government and the governments of India, Nepal, and the United States. Decades later, the story of this resistance is only beginning to be told and has not yet entered the annals of Tibetan national history. In Arrested Histories, the anthropologist and historian Carole McGranahan shows how and why histories of this resistance army are “arrested” and explains the ensuing repercussions for the Tibetan refugee community.
Seagulls Don’t Fly Into the Bush, Alex Golub
I don’t know why Seagulls Don’t Fly Into the Bush didn’t become one of the classic ethnographies of the early nineties. Maybe because it was marketed as a teaching ethnography? I mean sure, it has problems: there could be more sign-posting and it has a “you only get it if you already got it” title. But overall the book is superb: it’s clearly and engagingly written, and deals with classic early-nineties concerns with the continuity of tradition as it changes and how modernization/globalization impacts peripheral people. But it also sinks its teeth deep into myth–you can’t get more anthropological then that. And of course the setting, a small island off the coast of New Guinea, is real wind in the palm trees stuff. The book really has it all: tradition and modernity, well-written and not too long. People on this blog often complain that there are no accessible ethnographies, or ask people to list their favorite ones. Well, this one should definitely be on anyone’s list.
Neandertal similarity in the HapMap samples
We speculate that there may have been a substantial amount of interaction in northeast Africa. Obviously this has been true in historic times, but the Maasai suggest that it may go back long before the origins of the present ethnic groups and their movements into this area. The present heterogeneity of Neandertal similarity in these populations suggests a really complex population history. Some of the present Neandertal similarity may derive from incomplete lineage sorting within the ancient African population.
Hats off, Holly!, Anne Buchanan
Holly’s winning post, Forget bipedalism. What about babyism? was just one of many she’s done here, and indeed deserving. Hats off, Holly! We are so very glad you have been so vital to making Mermaid’s Tale a successful, thoughtful place for thoughts to be expressed about life and its evolution, and the scientific challenge to understand it. You did yet another great job and we hope this won’t spoil you so that you don’t leave us for greener pastures!
“We’re all cousins”: A Conversation with Patrick Clarkin, Soo Na Pak
Last month, I very fortunately stumbled upon the blog of Patrick F. Clarkin, PhD, a biological anthropologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. With a blog URL name that includes “Kevishere” in honor of his brother, Kevin Clarkin, he wrote a deeply moving post entitled, “Life is Beautiful.” Reader, I cried when I read it. The essay’s strength is owed in equal parts to both excellent writing and the fact that its content roots itself in evolution and the origins of life itself. The breadth of this fine and sweeping lens is palpable beneath the text. Feeling intrepid, I decided to email Patrick Clarkin and was delighted when he wrote back. A few weeks later, I asked if he wanted to be interviewed. He agreed, and you’ll find the resulting conversation below.
Just Because We’re Not Publishing Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Working, Bruce B. Henderson
We have no concise term to describe what we spend much of our time doing. Our colleges are focused on scholarly products that can be peer-reviewed and published, but the reality is that many of us spend much of our time on being scholarly, not on producing scholarship. We are, and should be, consuming the scholarship of others. Consuming scholarship includes preparatory time for teaching but is much broader. We need a name for this ubiquitous activity. I offer “consumatory scholarship.”