Anthropology–genetics, bipedalism, ethnography, politics, race, grey literature, humanitarian abduction, surveillance, Olympian sex/gender
Ever since I liked all the anthropology on Facebook, my Facebook feed became a lot more intellectual. But that meant I got some early updates on the whole Jared Diamond-Mitt Romney dust-up, which has been taking a lot of energy to think through.
So, here’s an update since the last time I’ve been able to check the anthropology blog feed.
Ooops! The human genome does not exist! Part I. The notion of a type specimen, Ken Weiss
Despite many claims to the contrary, that The Human Genome project sequenced the human genome and thus set in motion the most exciting era of fundamental new scientific discovery since Galileo, it has turned out that the Human Genome doesn’t exist, after all. It no more exists than does ‘the chair’ or ‘the dog’ as Plato once asserted. He said we have dogs and chairs but they are only imperfect instances of the real true dog and chair. . . . Now, this means clearly that nobody actually has ‘the’ currently posted human genome sequence any more than your kitchen chair is ‘the’ chair.
Note: This is Part I of what will be a six part series (Weiss put out Part IV on 6 August 2012), all worth reading! Have to admire Ken Weiss here–an anthropology blogger who actually is putting out six parts of a series as he announced.
Becoming Human: The Evolution of Walking Upright, Erin Wayman
Walking upright on two legs is the trait that defines the hominid lineage: Bipedalism separated the first hominids from the rest of the four-legged apes. It took a while for anthropologists to realize this. At the turn of the 20th century, scientists thought that big brains made hominids unique. This was a reasonable conclusion since the only known hominid fossils were of brainy species–Neanderthals and Homo erectus.
Note: Used this to update a blog-section I’ve been working on, Bipedalism is Also Called Walking.
Quotations and “Unquotations” in Journalism and Ethnography, Daniel Lende
I bring attention to these posts because they raise a common issue that inevitably appears in ethnography, in writing about a specific place and time. When we use direct quotes from people in the field, are they really “direct quotes”? And how much does it matter if “direct quotes” aren’t actually a verbatim representation? Is “substantive content” enough, as the law suit discussed by Liberman indicates?
Latour on Anthropology, Jeremy Trombley
The following is part of this talk from Latour on his Modes of Existence project. I thought this was a very goo analysis of what anthropology has been, with Latour imagining what anthropology could be.
Platitude Storm: Race as a Social Construct, Henry Harpending
Fall term is almost upon us. I will be teaching a course on social consequences of biological diversity, and much of it is far from politically correct. I have been thinking that I should introduce some material from the “race is a social construct” point of view, but nothing I could find was serious in the sense of saying something about data.
Note: This blog-post was originally an e-mail response to my Teaching Race Anthropologically–Resources for Anthropology Courses. It’s a rather different comment stream from other anthropology blogs (for contrast, see Daniel Lende’s post below).
Neuroscience and Race, Daniel Lende
I’ve been having discussions – by email, on Twitter, over at Facebook – about race a lot in the past weeks. They’ve challenged me. This post is a first attempt at getting some thoughts together on a neuroanthropology of race. I hope it is treated that way, a first attempt, and that the good and the bad come out. Thanks to everyone, both from before and after, for the conversation.
What’s an Anthropological Grey Literature Portal?, Kerim Friedman
For a long time now many of us have been arguing that the AAA should have a “grey literature” archive.
Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography, Tricia Wang
I just returned from fieldwork in China. I’m excited to share a new way I’ve been writing ethnographic fieldnotes, called live fieldnoting. I spoke about live fieldnoting in a recent interview with Fast Company that also featured a slideshow of my live fieldnotes. I want to elaborate on the process in this post.
Thanks to James Mullooly for flagging this at Ethnography.com.
Mad Shouts Out To Cambridge Anthropology, Alex Golub
I was very excited to hear that the journal had been relaunched by Berghahn books. It’s the usual publisher with the usual suspects, and it looks like its slightly more ambitious–the old Cambridge Anthropology always had an air about it that they didn’t think anyone outside of Cambridge would ever get their hands on it. That looks to have changed, but the new up-to-date journal looks like it’ll still retain some of the spirit of the old one.
A Tear for Africa: Humanitarian Abduction and Reduction, Maximilian Forte
Helpless, pleading, wanting, needing, small, weak, staring at you, black–this is the anti-bogeyman invented by Western humanitarianism, what passes as morality in the ideology of empire (yet again). Past the time of a London Missionary Society, we now have the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the moral dogma of a white, western elite that projects its abusive notion of “protection” everywhere it is not wanted.
Eugene Debs and a Vision for the Future, Jeremy Trombley
I think it’s time to reconsider what Debs was offering us–not to mimic the Socialism of the past, but to create a new vision for the future based on the same moral principles of cooperation, sharing, democracy, and freedom.
Invisible Freedoms, Eliza Jane Darlin
It is the singular affliction of whiteness to suffer the slings and arrows of righteous indignation on the rare occasion its privileges are infringed by the power structures meant to secure them. High on the list of stuff white people don’t like is surveillance, at least when its traditional contours are involuted, the lidless eye of the state turned inward upon those comfortably accustomed to its selective imperception.
Sex, Gender, and the Olympics, Rosemary Joyce
I still wish we could figure out how, in the national media debate, to hammer home the point they make, that “there are at least six markers of sex…and none of these are binary”. For me, that is why the Olympics insistence on assessing women for their adherence to a presumed dichotomous norm is most distressing. There is no “third gender/third sex” division in the Olympics. Either you compete as a male or a female.