Members in the News


Members in the News, 2007

Paul Rabinow, a professor of anthropology at the University of California—Berkeley, was quoted in a Washington Post article on Dec. 17 titled, “Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms.” Rabinow comments on the world’s first artificially-constructed chromosome, built by scientists at the University of Maryland.

Richard Wrangham, a biological anthropologist at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, was interviewed by Scientific America in the Dec. 19 article, “Evolving Bigger Brains through Cooking.” In the interview, Wrangham discusses his theory that cooking spurred the development of Homo erectus.

John Hawks, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, made it to the pages of the LA Times for his recent study on the relationship between agricultural growth and human evolution. Hawk's team of researchers from the Universities of California-Irvine, University of Utah, and a Santa-Clara-based chip maker Affymetrix Inc. found that in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years human genes have evolved at 100 times historic levels, with the fastest-evolving genes related to brain development, the article said.

Floyd Reed, a post doctorate student at the University of Maryland in College Park, was featured in Nature News.  The Dec. 10 article, "Music Is In Our Genes," discusses Floyd's study which found that cultures in Sub-Saharan African that are musically related also tend to share genetic similarities. Floyd presented his research at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting in late November.

For more information about media coverage of the AAA annual meeting, click here

Stuart Kirsch, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, was featured in a Chronicle of Higher Education article on BHP Billton, an international mining company with a track record of environmental abuse. Kirsch, who has spent years researching BHP Billton's copper and gold mine in Papau New Guinea, participated in a class-action lawsuit against the company in 1996 and now opposes BHP Billton's corporate membership in Michigan University's new Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute.

Fernando Coronil, professor of anthropology and history at the University of Michigan, was referenced in a Washington Post article on the growth of a student opposition movement against President Hugo Chavez. Coronil, an expert on Venezuelan history, discusses the significance of the student movement stating, "They're a new actor in Venezuelan politics, with a new discourse that, I think, is very interesting historically."

Seth Messinger, associate professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was interviewed on, "Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast" WYPR 88.1 FM for his research on time and its significance in memories of trauma for wounded combat veterans. For the study, Messinger conducted ethnographic fieldwork at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He recently presented his research at the AAA's Annual Meeting in late November. To read a summary of the piece, click here.

Thomas Headland, an anthropologist at the Summer Institute of Linguistics and adjunct professor at University of North Dakota, had his and Janet Headlands' new electronic book titled, "Agta Demographic Database: Chronicle of a Hunter-Gatherer Community in Transition" featured in a Nov. 30 issue of Science Magazine. The Headland's 4,000-page database is based on 46 years of research on the demography of the Agta people of the Philippines. It provides a keyhold into how humans may have lived and died in prehistory. The Headlands presented their database at a poster session at the AAA's 2007 Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

The debate over “human terrain teams,” or social scientists, including anthropologists, working with U.S. military/intelligence agencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, has captivated the anthropology community and news media alike in recent months. Members in the News regarding this issue include Andrew Bickford, Kerry Fosher, David Price, Roberto Gonzalez, Marcus Griffin, Hugh Gusterson, Montgomery McFate, Felix Moos, James Peacock, Brian Selmeski, and Gerald Sider.

News coverage includes articles and interviews by the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, the San Francisco Chronicle, and “The Diane Rehm Show” on WAMU 88.5 FM.

Nadia Abu El-Haj, assistant professor of anthropology at Barnard College, was awarded tenure on November 2 after months of debate sparked by an online petition opposing her promotion. On October 2, 2007 the AAA Executive Board issue a resolution in opposition to the use of petitions to influence Ms. Abu El-Haj's bid for tenure. Click here for the New York Times article. Click her for a draft of the AAA resolution.

William Beeman, chair of the anthropology department at the University of Minnesota, published an op-ed in the Tehrain Times-Iran. Beeman counters the notion that Iran's domestic energy program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. He argues that US sanctions on Iran will be ineffective and will not be supported by the international community.

Keisha-Khan Perry, assistant professor of anthropology and African studies at Brown University, was interviewed on NPR for a piece on the fight for social change across the African Diaspora. The piece explores parallels between African activism movements and the US Civil Rights Movement.

Tom Turrentine, research anthropologist at UC Davis Institute of Transportation, is getting media attention for his research on new plug-in hybrid sedans. The new hybrids under testing can run on both oil and gas fuel and are less expensive to run than the conventional hybrid. Read the AScribe news article.

Penny Verin-Shapiro of Fresno State University was profiled in a news story by the Fresno Bee for her research on the Wiccans of Central Valley, California. Sabina Maglioco of California State University, Northridge, also offered insight on the worldwide growth of paganism in the article.

Cathleen Willging and Elizabeth Lilliott of the PIRE Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest and Gilbert Quintero of the University of Montana were cited in a PR Newswire release for their research on cultural stereotypes and Latino youth substance abuse. The PIRE study shows that four cultural stereotypes-family, religion and spirituality, gender roles and socioeconomic factors impede Latino youths from seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addictions.

David Harrison, professor at Swarthmore College and Director of Research at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, appeared on talk shows and newspaper headlines all over the world—including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, the Australian, “Good Morning America” and “The Colbert Report.” Harrison answered questions about his recent book, “When Languages Die,” which points to five “hotspots,” or geographic regions, where native languages are gravely endangered. The book grew out of Harrison’s work for the National Geographic Society’s Enduring Voices Project.
Washington Post
The Colbert Report
The Australian
Good Morning America

Eugenie S. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, was quoted in a New York Times article about a controversy over a creationist T.V. documentary hosted by Ben Stein, called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” According to the article, Scott, Richard Dawkins, and others were interviewed for the film, but not warned about the creationist bias of its content, or even the real title of the film.

Meredith F. Small, an anthropologist at Cornell University, wrote an article for discussing a recent medical study on sleep. Small quotes James McKenna, an anthropologist at Notre Dame, on his cross-cultural research on sleep, as a challenge to research that suggests seven hours of uninterrupted sleep per night is the healthiest sleep pattern.

Janine R. Wedel, professor of public policy at George Mason University and a fellow at New American Foundation, called attention to the U.S. government’s growing use of private military contractors in a recent Op-Ed published in the Boston Globe. Wedel argues that the Blackwater scandal is just one part of a larger systemic problem that troubles U.S. military, intelligence and homeland security efforts.

Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University who studies the impact of new media on human interaction, was quoted in a New York Times article on guerilla-style photographers hired to capture the surprise moment of marriage proposals. Wesch commented on the tensions of seeking fame and remaining authentic as it relates to archiving our lives on the Internet.

Alex W. Barker, Director of the Museum of Art & Archaeology of the University of Missouri, was quoted on the significance of the settlement reached between Yale University and the government of Peru regarding collections excavated by Hiram Bingham from Machu Picchu in “Yale and Peru Reach Pact on Artifacts,” published in the September 17, 2007 issue of Inside Higher Ed.

Kate Browne of Colorado State University, aired the Post-Katrina documentary, “Still Waiting,” on PBS stations in late August to coincide with the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The one-hour documentary, which Browne produced in collaboration with two-time Emmy award winning filmmaker Ginny Martin, follows three women in a family of 150 over the course of 18 months—from their evacuation to Dallas, TX to their heartbreaking return to the New Orleans area. Many markets are broadcasting the film in September or October 2007. For a list of when and where the film is being broadcast, to view a low-resolution streaming video, or to purchase the film for home or educational use, please visit:

Elizabeth Greenspan, an anthropologist at Harvard University, and Silvia Grider, a retired professor of anthropology at Texas A&M, were quoted in a Denver Post article titled, “A Tribute Etched in Stone.” The article addressed the trend of fast-paced construction of memorial and shrines in face of tragic events. Greenspan is quoted stating, “The challenge is often bringing individual memories into some institutionalized story that every one agrees upon. That's where conflict arises."

Thomas Headland, an anthropologist at the Summer Institute of Linguistics and adjunct professor at University of North Dakota, was featured in a front page article in the Sunday Manila Times on September 2 (pp. A1 and A2) on his research among Philippine post-foraging societies. That article is titled "Negrito (Agta) languages' descent into extinction." Headland has identified over 30 endangered Philippine languages—mostly those of the Agta (or Aeta or Negrito). Today, the Negrito peoples number a mere 0.05% of the nation’s peoples.

John Tofik Karam, assistant professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, was interviewed by the Instituto de Cultura Árabe (Icárabe)—a grassroots organization promoting Arab culture and history, based out of São Paulo, Brazil. Karam’s interview and two other reports about him were posted on the Institute’s website, Karam spoke of his recent book, Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil, his own family history in Lebanon, the U.S., and Brazil, as well as post-9/11 racial politics in the Americas.

Heather Walsh-Haney of Florida Gulf Coast University was spotlighted for working to establish an outdoor research facility or “body farm” in Southwest Florida where anthropologists and criminologists could practice forensic science on donated cadavers. The article indicates that the proposed body farm would be closely modeled after the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center.

Richard Wilk, professor of gender studies and anthropology at Indian University was featured as an expert on consumption for a Sept. 16 article in titled, “In an iPod world, the future is always now.” Wilk is currently working on a book on the history of men and consumption.