Four Stone Hearth #74
Hey, it’s a carnival! Today I’m honored to host the latest edition of Four-Stone Hearth,number seventy-four in a regular series of installments rounding up the hottest (and thenottest) of the anthropological blogosphere. Or to be precise:
The Four Stone Hearth is a blog carnival that specializes in anthropology in the widest (American) sense of that word. Here, anthropology is the study of humankind, throughout all times and places, focussing primarily on four lines of research:
- socio-cultural anthropology
- bio-physical anthropology
- linguistic anthropology
Each one of these subfields is a stone in our hearth.
So, check out the home site, and if you’re interested in joining up, please write to Martin Rundkvist.
So down to business. This will be a somewhat non-linear review of the latest from the anthropology blogosphere thematically; we’ll see how that goes. To begin with, let’s talk about anthropology and a couple of high profile busts. In particular, the big corruption roundup in New Jersey this summer that netted mayors and wealthy developers and all kinds of good things, was driven in part by anthropological research. Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ ongoing study of the global trade in human organs picked up on the tangled web of laundered money from the other end. Her detailed records on kidney ‘matchmaker’ Levy Rosenbaum helped the FBI catch and prosecute not just organ traders, but money-launderers throughout the network. I found this first via Lorenz, but there’s also a great interview on WNYC and a story on none other than FOX News. You can find some other links about it at the AAA Blog as well.
The other big bust news involves the trade in Native American artifacts. Starting back in June, the FBI began indicting residents of Blanding UT for looting on public lands. The same investigations have since spread well beyond Utah, and folks are starting to express concern about the way this bust was conducted and what it will mean for the legitimate trade, for Native American craftspeople and tourism and etc. This one’s anthropologically fascinating, not just because it involves archaeological materials, but because it plays on some important tensions between public and private goods, the ownership of cultural heritage, and so on. Taking artifacts from private property, with permission, is legit; taking them from public lands is looting. Identifying the provenance of any particular item is exceedingly difficult, of course, and documenting and tracking permission is almost as bad. Teofilo, late of Chaco Canyon, has been following this story – maybe start with the latest and work back?
So another theme worth tracking is what I’m vaguely thinking of as the meta-story of anthropology online. Decasia offers a nice empirical map of anthropology’s place in the academic landscape. Material World has posts on digital archiving and on virtual heritage, a particularly interesting way to think about the visualizing of archaeological data. John Hawks comments on a Scientific American editorial about access to archaeological raw data; Neolithic Revolutions has a link to some initiatives on making ones data openly available. Open Access Anthropology, as usual, is all over the idea; particularly interesting is a post on scholarly societies in the wake of Web 2.0. LL Wynn at Culture Matters is undertaking a new project about how we all experience ethics oversight (IRBs and whatnot) – do ethnographic research and human subjects issues look different to those of us who’ve always had IRB in the picture? There’s a survey, so click through and chip in. And Savage Minds, the meta-daddy of us all is covering reference-management software, what it means to browse as opposed to surf, and of course How Professors Think. Now, why are we giving that information away?
While I’m speaking at this meta level, let me tell you that signing up for this blog carnival led to look at the new official AAA blog for the first time. And you know what? That thing is alright. After various website failures and the AnthroSource debacle, I certainly didn’t expect much, but it’s an attractive and useful feature with real content and I hereby endorse it! Particularly noteworthy is an announcement about new online annual meeting resources – little by little we’re catching up with the AAG. They’ve also announced that Walter Goldschmidt, AAA President (1975-6) and American Anthropologist editor (1956-59 yes you read that right) now has a blog. Now that’s eminent – go check it out, folks.
It’s a little bit inspiring that these meta-considerations about how we learn and research and surf are accompanied by original anthropological research developing on the ol’ blogs. Afarensis has some new thoughts on brucellosis in early hominins – better not tell the ranchers here in Wyoming. Greg at Neuroanthropology has an exploration on feet and compensatory adaptation, inspired by this awesome climber in India – he also wants some help tracking down sources, so click through and lend a hand, or foot. Naturally I’m led to think about this and this, but I don’t know from compensatory adaptation. Martin at Aardvarchaeology reports on a new PhD thesis “Breaking and Making Bodies and Pots,” which is a great title and looks like the document I may need to explain post-processual archaeology to my theory students. There’s a thorough consideration of settlement patterns and interglacial mobility in Upper Paleolithic Italy at Ad Hominin. Neolithic Revolutions has a report on Matt’s SAA paper, a nice examination of the diffusion of farm technologies in relation to language diversity. I might be missing the real point here, but it brings to mind the whole ‘biocultural diversity’ analogy between hotspots of linguistic and biological diversity. I guess I find that interesting because I like Matt’s mechanics of micro-diffusion better than the argument by co-incidence used in the Terralingua projects et. al.
A few odds and ends for the end:
- They’re digging it up at my old school – of course, we were told that the anthro dep’t was built above a slave cemetary and the haunting possibilities are still ripe.
- The anthropology of lucha libre.
- Dr. Dove on Dr. Dunham Soetoro.
- Wal-Mart tried to co-opt the Girl Scout cookie. Could an anthropologist have stopped their evil plan?
- No shame in my game – LL Wynn [oops!] Jovan Maud considers the bejewelled penis enlarger. But no pictures?! I’ve had to hunt down one of my own.
Now that that’s been settled, I’d like to close (via AHCoJ) with the words of a close personal friend of mine: