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Anthropology Links and Featured Book – Teaching Africa

Teaching AfricaLots of interesting stuff on the anthropology blogs and anthropology newswire. Here’s a selection. Featured book is Teaching Africa: A Guide for the 21st-Century Classroom.

  1. Microbiomes R Us — another form of science marketing. Anne Buchanan at The Mermaid’s Tale does a nice review of the hype on microbiomes. Although such research could lead us away from ideas of genetic determinism, Buchanan shows how the research is already incorporated into deterministic readings. Reminds me of how attention to maternal environment then became “fetal programming.” Must every science story end with blueprints, programs, and another way to resuscitate determinism?
    [I should clarify this last line as “resuscitate overly-simplistic determinism.” See Al West’s comment below]
  2. Anthropology 207x – Introduction to Human Evolution – My Goals. Adam Van Arsdale does a liberal arts MOOC. Always interesting to hear about pedagogy and goals as anthropology and MOOCs evolve.
  3. Speaking of Adam Van Arsdale, see his just-published year-in-review article A Shifting Theoretical Framework for Biological Anthropology in 2012. And even mentions Anthropology Report! Thanks!
  4. New issue of anthropologies, Confronting Race & Racism. Check for articles by editor Ryan Anderson as well as Agustin Fuentes, Nicole Truesdell, Francine Barone, Douglas La Rose, Candace Moore, Steven Bunce, Jonathan Marks.
  5. Alex Golub’s Gillison, Sahlins, and NAS is a perceptive commentary, updated to the page on Marshall Sahlins, National Academy of Sciences, Napoleon Chagnon. It’s also interesting to note that it’s now two commentaries from Sahlins to appear in U.K. journals.
  6. The Social Life of Music–in Mali by Paul Stoller. “As an anthropologist who has spent more than 30 years living among and thinking about the peoples and cultures of Sahelian West Africa, the death of music in Mali is a terrible cultural loss.”
  7. Teaching Africa: A Guide for the 21st-Century Classroom. “Teaching Africa introduces innovative strategies for teaching about Africa. The contributors address misperceptions about Africa and Africans, incorporate the latest technologies of teaching and learning, and give practical advice for creating successful lesson plans, classroom activities, and study abroad programs. Teachers in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences will find helpful hints and tips on how to bridge the knowledge gap and motivate understanding of Africa in a globalizing world.”


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  • Al West

    “Must every science story end with blueprints, programs, and another way to resuscitate determinism?”

    Yes, because the universe is deterministic. It is deterministic at a small scale and the large scale is nothing but the sum of the small scale. It is impossible for it not to be deterministic without breaking the laws of physics, which is why the vast majority of philosophers attempt to make human decision-making compatible with determinism instead of separate from it (i.e, free will, which is unnaturalistic and an impossibility). The thing we need to avoid is simplistic determinism – i.e, a view that ignores other variables involved in determining the course of events. It seems unlikely that humans are governed by one single variable in any given situation.

    •!/JasonAntrosio Jason Antrosio

      Hi Al, thank you for the comment and clarification. I definitely was not trying to separate science from the natural world or breaking the laws of physics. Rather, was a comment on the “science story” or how it gets used in the popular press to exactly trumpet the idea of “governed by one single variable” which is where we would completely agree. For additional thoughts on single-variable governance, Ken Weiss at the Mermaid’s Tale has been running a series Who, me? I don’t believe in single-gene causation! (or do I?) which is currently in four parts.

      • Al West

        Fascinating posts. To be clear, I was only taking on the idea that determinism per se is bad, which is an all-too-common notion.

        •!/JasonAntrosio Jason Antrosio

          Thanks! I’ve put in a clarifying line with a link to your comment. It is indeed the problem, as you say, of simplistic determinism, not determinism per se.

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