Members in the News

Archive 2007

Nina Jablonski, department head and professor of anthropology at Penn State University and author of “SKIN: A Natural History,” was interviewed for a NPR Morning Edition piece on August 28, 2007. The arts & culture piece addressed a recent debate on the portrayal of King Tut’s race in the museum exhibit, “Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” currently stationed at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia.

Jan Timbrook of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was featured in an article by the Santa Barbara Inquirer on her recent book, “Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern Califronia.” The book which Timbrook has described as “my life’s work,” offers a comprehensive guide to the over 150 plant species utilized and mythologized by the Chumash People.

Richard Leakey of the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Zelalem Assefa of George Washington University were quoted in a Washington Post article on the controversial transportation of Lucy, the famous 3.2 million year old bone-set discovered in Ethiopia by paleontologists Donald Johanson of Arizona State University and Tom Gray in 1974. Leakey and Assefa spoke out against the transportation of Lucy to the US for an eight-month museum tour. In an Associated Press article, Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins program, also criticized the Houston Museum for risking the safety of the irreplaceable specimen.

David Lancy, an anthropologist at Utah State University, was recently hosted on “The Brian Lehmer Show” on WNYC radio. The topic of the show was inspired by a July 15 article in The Boston Globe which critiqued the notion that the “mom-on-all-fours” approach to parenting common among upper and middle class American families is the best and only way to raise a child. The Boston Globe piece cites Lancy’s cross-cultural research on mother-child play which was published in American Anthropologist in June 2007.

Edgardos Krebs, an anthropologist living in Washington, published an eloquent appreciation of Nazario Turpo in the Washington Post. Turpo was a Peruvian paqo and activist who also worked as a consultant with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. He recently died in a bus accident in the Andes.

Paul Draper, an anthropologist, actor and magician who was last seen on the History Channel special "Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery " appeared on August 21 and August 22 on the A&E series MINDFREAK with Chris Angel. In the episode titled, “Burning Man,” Draper discussed Southwestern Native American rites of passage.

Susan Anton, associate professor of anthropology at New York University, received widespread national media attention in August for her co-authorship of a study on two Kenyan fossils, a Homo erectus skull and Homo habilis jawbone. The recent discovery, led by Meave Leakey of the famous paleontologist family, provides evidence that the two species of early human ancestors may have co-existed for at least half a million years, casting serious doubt on the theory of linear evolution. Anton is quoted in several articles discussing the surprisingly small skull of the Homo erectus fossil which may indicate sexual dimorphism in the Homo erectus species and multiple mates for the Homo erectus male. 09fossil.html?ref=world,1,2706577.story story.php?storyId=12630660&ft=1&f=17

John Brett of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Carole Counihan of Millersville University, Miriam Chaiken of Indiana University, Crystal Patil of the University of South Florida and James Watson of Harvard University were cited in the article “How the World Eats” by Bryan Walsh in the June 11 issue of Time Magazine. The article discussed changes in eating patterns around the world resulting from industrialization, globalization and the women’s movement. The above-cited members were quoted discussing Coca-Cola availability in African villages, meat consumption in China, family-style dining in Italy and urbanization-related changes in Latin America. “How the World Eats” was featured as one article in a collection of articles relating to diet and health topics in the June 11 issue.

Jeffrey H. Cohen, professor of anthropology at Ohio State University, was featured in the article “Hopping Good” on the culture page in the June 2007 issue of National Geographic. The article, based on his research in Oaxaca Mexico, discusses the importance of chapuline (grasshoppers) in the rural Oaxacan diet. .

Helen Fisher, an evolutionary anthropologist and human behavior researcher at Rutgers University, was referenced as an expert on the science of love in two LA Times articles in July and August titled “This is your brain on love” and “Are anti-depressants taking the edge off love?” The latter article cites Fisher’s 2006 book, “Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience” in which she published fMRI brain scans of men and women in the early phases of falling in love. Fisher concluded that the brain chemistry of an infatuated lover is similar to the brain chemistry of someone addicted to drugs. Her 2006 research previously gained national attention in “Love—The Chemical Reaction” featured as the cover story in the February 2006 edition of National Geographic Magazine.

Yolanda T. Moses, vice provost for diversity and conflict resolution professor of anthropology at University of California–Riverside and the Understanding Race and Human Variation advisory board chair, was quoted in The Politico on August 13, 2007. The article titled “Calling Color Into Question” addressed the issue of race in the campaign of 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama. Moses was quoted stating, “Race is not about biology. Race is about the construction of social hierarchy.”

Shannon May, PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, was spotlighted in “China’s Green Revolution” by McKenzie Funk, an article featured in the July 2007 issue of Popular Science magazine. May’s dissertation research communicated via interviews from the field served as the basis for Funk’s analysis of the sustainable development project in Huangbaiyu, Liaoning, China, an experimental “green city” designed by Chinese architects and engineers to save the growing superpower from the environmental threats of rapid-paced urbanization.

Barbara King, a professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, has received widespread media coverage of her new book, “Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion,” which explores the prehistory of religion and was released in January 2007. Several news and literary organizations have given “Evolving God” favorable reviews, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, where King's book was noted in the April 20, 2007, essay “The DNA of religious faith.” “King's touchstone is 'belongingness,' the idea that 'hominids turned to the sacred realm because they evolved to relate in deeply emotional ways with their social partners, ... and because the human brain evolved to allow an extension of this belongingness beyond the hear and now,” wrote the CHE essayist. Other reviews and discussions of the book have included:
-“Matters of faith,”,” Boston Globe, April 8, 2007
-“A conversation with Barbara J. King,”, Critical Mass (National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors' blog), April 2, 2007
-“Did religion evolve?,” On Faith (a joint online religion feature of Newsweek and the Washington Post), March 30, 2007
-“We feel; therefore, we believe,” Dallas Morning News, Feb. 18, 2007
-“God and gorillas,”, Jan. 31, 2007

Monica Schoch-Spana, chairwoman of the Working Group on Community Engagement in Health Emergency Planning for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Biosecurity, appeared as a guest and a source in several news outlets' coverage of a recently released report that recommends that federal authorities make a sustained investment in local health emergency preparedness systems that collaborate with civic groups and private citizens. Schoch-Spana was interviewed on the public radio program  “Homeland Security: Inside and Out,” which aired April 17, 2007, on KAMU, Texas A&M University's campus radio station, and April 18, 2007, on WAMU radio in Washington, D.C. She was also quoted in an April 13, 2007, article in Congressional Quarterly's Homeland Security publication (“Citizen groups could be tapped as major force to mitigate death, destruction”). “Officials need to work with citizens and civic groups before disaster strikes to promote all the ways the public can contribute, including taking part in policy decisions, building volunteer networks, getting support for tax or bond measures that limit vulnerability and improve health and safety agencies, and yes, having family emergency plans, too,” Schoch-Spana was quoted as saying. Schoch-Spana was also quoted April 4, 1007, in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (“Allegheny County's emergency efforts national model of preparedness”). “Many years post-9/11, there's a call for enhanced citizen preparedness, and national polls continue to say Americans aren't prepared,” she was quoted as saying.

Eben Kirksey, an anthropologist investigating the 2002 shooting deaths of two Americans and one Indonesian in Papua Province, was named in an April 8, 2007, article in the International Herald Tribune. “New report sheds light on 2002 Papua shooting” noted Kirksey as a co-author of a new study that analyzed ballistics evidence in the shootings. The analysis found that 13 different guns were used and more than 200 shots were fired from different angles; this analysis was presented at the trial of a man who confessed to the shootings. “We are the first to publicly identify a smoking gun. In fact, we have unearthed evidence of 10 smoking guns. This means that there was another group of shooters, wielding enormous firepower,” Kirksey was quoted as saying.

A book by Richard Handler, professor and associate dean of anthropology at the University of Virginia, and Eric Gable, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Mary Washington, was cited in an April 6, 2007, article in the New York Times. “An upgrade for ye olde history park” reviewed the living history exhibition at Colonial Williamsburg. Handler and Gable's 1997 book, “The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg,” was discussed in relation to how changing perspectives on history during the 1970s have influenced the image and symbolic character the historical village seeks to project.

Susan Brownell, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and an expert on China sports, was quoted in an Associated Press story that ran March 24, 2007, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Despite fast start, problems plague Beijing” examined preparations for the 2008 Olympics, including questions about the Beijing Organizing Committee's shunning of foreign experts. Brownell provided cultural context for the committee's actions. “Letting Westerners organize their Olympic sports would have a bad resonance. The Olympic Games should be a stepping stone to an increasing Chinese presence in the Western-dominated institutions and cliques that underpin the world of international sports. If you give Westerners too much control, it just reinforces the Western-dominated status quo,” Brownell was quoted as saying.

An obituary remembering the life of William Sturtevant, curator emeritus of North American ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, ran March 20, 2007, in the Los Angeles Times. The obituary noted Sturtevant's half-century career at the Smithsonian, his encyclopedic knowledge of the material culture of Native Americans, and his pioneering work in ethnohistory and ethnoscience. The Times adapted the obituary from an earlier one that ran in the Washington Post.

Robert Hayden, a social anthropologist at the University of Pittsburgh, was named in a March 15, 2005, piece in The Economist. “Really loving your neighbor” focused on efforts to shift the conventional wisdom of conflict studies and race relationship from understanding xenophobia to promoting allophilia (the liking of other groups) as a policy goal. Hayden was noted for coining the terms “antagonistic tolerance” to describe how sacred sites were shared by Christians and Muslims in the Ottoman world and by Hindus and Muslims in British India. “His point? The fact that groups accept a regime or 'truce' imposed by an imperial power does not mean they will refrain from competing once they get a chance,” wrote the piece's author.

Laura McNamara, an anthropologist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, and Alan Goodman, a professor of anthropology at Hampshire College and president of AAA, were quoted in a March 13, 2007, story in the online Daily News section of the Chronicle of Higher Education. ““Anthropologists discuss where to draw ethical lines in dealing with national-security agencies” covered a panel at Brown University involving several AAA members discussing how and where anthropology should draw ethical lines in working with national security agencies. The members were from AAA's Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the U.S. Security and Intelligence Communities. The article noted a recent essay by McNamara, paraphrasing her points as arguing that “too many conversations about anthropologists and the military tend to 'recycle the same issues' about secrecy and informed consent. Anthropologists who work with military and security issues today...often face different, more subtle ethical challenges than did Vietnam-era social scientists.” Goodman explained the commission's work was part of a larger discussion about the rise of applied anthropology, in which anthropologists work for corporations and other agencies. He said the association needs to think about the degree to which anthropologists are working for corporations who want some control over the results of their research. “And that's related to what this committee will discuss. Is working with intelligence agencies really just a continuation of the same types of things that one might be doing for a corporation, or is there really something special about working in intelligence that makes it entirely different?,” Goodman was quoted as saying.

Nina Jablonski, a professor of anthropology and department head at Pennsylvania State University, was interviewed about her new book, “Skin: A Natural History,” on National Public Radio's March 3, 2007, Weekend Edition program. A clip of the interview is available on the NPR Web site. Additionally, Jablonski was a guest on the Feb. 28, 2007, Comedy Central program The Colbert Report, where she talked about her book and how skin color evolved as an adaptation to environment and different climates.

A column by Hugh Gusterson, a professor of cultural studies at George Mason University, was published Feb. 21, 2007, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a magazine focusing on global security and analysis. “A parent's quandary” relayed a first-person account of Gusterson's participation, with his son, in a protest against the Iraq war. “While the Pentagon gets $450 billion a year...parents at my son's school sell Christmas tress in the cold rain, organize auctions and fundraising dances after they come home from work, and beg local businesses to donate to the school, arduously raising money dollar by dollar for books and teachers' aides. This is why, far from being ashamed, I felt that I was honoring my son by taking him to the protest. And honoring Martin Luther King. He said, 'A society that spends more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death,' ” Gusterson wrote.

A commentary by Roberto Gonzalez, an associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University, was published Feb. 2, 2007, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “We must fight the militarization of anthropology” discussed the issues surrounding military and intelligence interest in and use of academic knowledge, particularly as an element in the “war on terror.” “Recent events have dramatically demonstrated that anthropological and other scholarly information is a potentially valuable intelligence tool. But history tells us that such information can easily be misused when put into the wrong hands. That is why we, as scholars, must make a continuing effort to speak out against the misappropriation of our work,” Gonzalez wrote.

Research by Glenn Davis Stone, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, was covered in a Jan. 31, 2007, column on “Ganesh and Brahma bow to a new god” discussed the use of hybrid cotton seed varieties by farmers in India and genetically modified crops. The column noted Stone's paper, “Agricultural deskilling and the spread of genetically modified cotton in Warangal,” which was published in the February issue of Current Anthropology. “Stone obliterates the biotechnology industry thesis that small farmers are switching because the new seeds are demonstrably superior to the old ones — in the specific case of the Warangal district...Stone's research has poked holes in what proponents of GM technology want us to believe[; however,] that does not mean Stone believes there is no place for GM technology in the developing world,” wrote the columnist.

Richard Wilk, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University, was quoted in a series of stories in the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2007. “Spin the (water) bottle” ran Jan. 17 and investigated the $11 billion-a-year U.S. bottled water market. “This is an industry that takes a free liquid that falls from the sky and sells it for as much as four times what we pay for gas. There's almost nowhere in America where the drinking water isn't adequate. Municipalities spend billions of dollars bringing clean, cheap water to people's homes. But many of us would still rather buy it in a store,” Wilk was quoted as saying. On Jan. 19, the story “How water bottlers tap into all sorts of sources” examined the sources of bottled waters, which in many cases is not mountain springs but the same pipes from which tap water originates. Meanwhile, the story compared the price per gallon of bottled water ($7.50 to $11) vs. the price per gallon of gas ($2 to $3). “It's ridiculous. Why do people spend so much to drink water from glaciers or from Iceland? What's the difference?,” Wilk was quoted as saying.

A commentary by William Peace, author of “Leslie A. White: Evolution and Revolution in Anthropology,” was published Jan. 18, 2007, online in CounterPunch, a biweekly newsletter created by journalists Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. “Protest from a bad cripple: The Ashley treatment and the making of a pillow angel” discusses 9-year-old Ashley, a mentally and physically disabled girl subjected to surgery and hormone treatments to prevent growth, and the lack of progress made in social perceptions of disability and disability rights. “I am less concerned with medicine as science but rather with the social decision that went into the application of the Ashley Treatment. The problem Ashley's parents encounter is not within the walls of the hospital where such extreme measures were taken but in the social construction of disability in the eyes of American society,” Peace wrote.

Jane Adams, an anthropology professor with Southern Illinois University, was mentioned in a column Jan. 14, 2007, in the Los Angeles Times. “Definitions of whiteness amid the Delta blues” contemplated the concept of “whiteness” and noted Adams' research on the topic in the Mississippi Delta. “ Adams and Gorton,” the columnist wrote, “the Delta is also a regional petri dish that can be analyzed to better understand the construction of white identity in the United States. What I learned is that even in the one place where you'd expect the issue of black and white to be, well, black and white, it's a whole lot more complicated, and that it's a mistake, as Angelenos well know, to think that racial identities always obliterate ethnic and class distinctions.”

The International Herald Tribune published a commentary by Diane King, a cultural anthropologist who studies Kurdistan, is a fellow at Brown University and a researcher at Washington State University. “A 16-year cycle of treachery” reviewed the history of U.S.-Kurd alliances from 1975 through current Kurdish-American cooperation in Iraq. “Iraqi society has as its sociopolitical bedrock a patron-client system. A rich patron provides for, protects and lends identity to clients, who pledge loyalty in exchange. By participating vigorously in the American project in Iraq, many Kurds may have initially thought they were hitching their wagon to a star patron,” King wrote. Meanwhile, their relationship with the United States has not gone unnoticed by other Iraq ethnic groups, and King warned retribution will follow. In the past, when the U.S. has withdrawn support or failed to follow through with assistance, Kurds have suffered. “...America must not repeat these mistakes. It must recognize the responsibility it has taken in depending so heavily on the people of Iraqi Kurdistan for its mission in Iraq, and consider what will happen to them when it significantly scales back its military presence,” King concluded.

A letter to the editor by Dan Segal, an anthropology professor at Pitzer College, was printed in the Jan. 8, 2007, issue of the New York Times. In “Climate change: No time to debate,” Segal commented on an article covering the global warming debate that claimed to identify an intermediate position between the Bush administration and Al Gore's documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” “The notion that the truth is midway between two poles of debate is a longstanding American myth, but it does not work in this case. While neither “An Inconvenient Truth” nor the so-called middle stance is the final word on climate change, both are responsible efforts to get at the truth,” Segal wrote.

An op-ed by David Vine, a public anthropologist in residence at American University, was published Jan. 2, 2007, in the Washington Post. “Island of injustice” discussed the forced expulsions of the native population of the Chagos Archipelago by the British and U.S. governments nearly 40 years ago to make way for a U.S. military base. That base, according to Vine, has recently been used as a key launching pad for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The commentary also reported on the status of recent lawsuits brought against the U.S. and British governments; the British High Court has ruled the islanders' expulsion illegal, opening the door to resettlement in the Chagos. Meanwhile, lawsuits in the United States have been dismissed. “Forty years almost to the day after the signing of the initial Diego Garcia agreement, there should be no difficulty in assessing the responsibility of the United States: The U.S. government developed the idea for a base on Diego Garcia, demanded the removal of the islanders, paid the British for the deportations and gave the orders to complete the removals,” Vine wrote.