Posts by Month
- Gathering Divergent Forest Honeys: Collections and Commodity Flows in the Philippines
- Cloaking, not Bleaching: the Back Story from Inside Bureaucracy
- Genese Marie Sodikoff on forest conservation, Malagasy worker-peasants and biodiversity
- Settler Colonial Nature in the Everglades
- Campus Food Projects: Engines for a More Sustainable System?
- AAA 2012 - Anthropology and Environment Society Invited Sessions & Events
- Climate Change Task Force
- 2011 AAA Convention, Montreal
NEW & NOTABLE
- How Will New Models Shape Our Research?
- Bring heritage breeds to holiday table
- Forest and Labor in Madagascar: From Colonial Concession to Global Biosphere
- A Glimpse of Africa’s future?
- New findings on neoliberalism in Mexico
ANTHROPOLOGY NEWSOlder Posts...
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New & Notable
In a recent article, Genes, Culture, and Agriculture: An Example of Human Niche Construction, Michael J. O’Brien and Kevin A. Laland propose a model for understanding human relationships with created or built environments, particularly those associated with agriculture. O’Brien and Laland combine niche-construction theory (NCT) and gene-culture coevolutionary theory (GCT) to suggest that as people created and settled into agricultural environments, they themselves changed genetically to suit the environment. From the Current Anthropology article: “Anthropologists have long known the power that culture exerts in shaping the human condition, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the interactions of genes and culture—literally, their coevolution—offer a faster and stronger mode of human evolution than either by itself.” (See article here.) For anthropologists wanting to learn more about niche construction theory, the March edition of The Quarterly Review of Biology will feature a major article, Niche Construction Theory: A Practical Guide for Ecologists.
Peggy F. Barlett’s Op-Ed on genetic diversity in our food system on CNN:
Last week, I sat down with colleagues and students to an early Thanksgiving meal prepared by my university’s cafeteria. Along with our winter greens, butternut squash, brussels sprouts with apples and bacon, and pumpkin grits, we ate a roasted “heritage breed turkey.”
Accolades ensued: “To me, all turkeys taste the same—except for this one—I can tell the difference,” said William Payne who works in the medical school. The local greens from Georgia farms were “really, really tasty,” said a first-year student from the Atlanta area and her friend from Tianjin, China.
The meal was Emory University’s fourth Heritage Harvest Feast. The turkey that had everybody talking was a Narragansett, a heritage breed native to Rhode Island. Along with Bourbon Reds, Narragansetts have been saved from extinction by farms like the Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Kansas, where Emory’s turkey’s come from, and by the efforts of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving rare breeds of livestock.
Marie Sodikoff new book comes out October 17:
Protecting the unique plants and animals that live onMadagascar while fueling economic growth has been a priority for the Malagasy state, international donors, and conservation NGOs since the late 1980s. Forest and Labor in Madagascar shows how poor rural workers who must make a living from the forest balance their needs with the desire of the state to earn foreign revenue from ecotourism and forest-based enterprises. Genese Marie Sodikoff examines how the appreciation and protection of Madagascar’s biodiversity depend on manual labor. She exposes the moral dilemmas workers face as both conservation representatives and peasant farmers by pointing to the hidden costs of ecological conservation.
A recent article in the Sunday Standard, by William G. Moseley, discusses the food crisis in Africa:
You wouldn’t know there’s a food crisis in Botswana, one of Africa’s wealthiest and most stable countries, because it’s a silent one. This is not the doom and gloom Africa that we often hear sensationalised in the media as a place of coups, famines and corruption.
No, Botswana is a model African state which has lived carefully within its means, had democratically elected governments since independence, and is the world’s leading exporter of precious diamonds.
A new book reports on detailed ethnographic work showing how neoliberal policies are affecting commodity producers in Mexico.
New research in Nature by a large group of scholars, including anthropologists Paige West and Marina Cords, examines impacts of deforestation on tropical biodiversity hotspots.
Aaron Bobrow-Strain has written White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf. See his blog at the website for the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition.
Reporter Oliver Steeds travels the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organisations. Steeds finds that the movement, far from stemming the tide of extinction that’s engulfing the planet, has got some of its conservation priorities wrong.
A new website created by a group of environmental anthropologists provides background and resources for the important documentary Green which critically explores the “green” palm oil industry and primates.
From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive:The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (Duke University Press).
In From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive, Paige West tracks coffee as it moves from producers in Papua New Guinea to consumers around the world. She illuminates the social lives of the people who produce coffee, and those who process, distribute, market, and consume it.
Paige West writes against two kinds of flatness: the flatness of commodity chain studies and the flatness of ethical consumption's marketing spin. She offers, instead, a richly peopled ethnographic account of coffee's trajectory through time, space, lives, and imaginations, and takes us deep into the contradictory heart of our neoliberal times. Penetrating, provocative, and moving, this is an excellent read.—Tania Murray Li, University of Toronto.
Coffee is a global and of course a ubiquitous commodity. And here lies its analytical challenge: how to grasp the full complexity of a drug whose path from production to consumption entails a world of enormous semiotic, cultural, institutional, political, economic, and ecological complexity. Paige West takes us deep into the heart of coffee's image world, as a spectacle, as a brand, and as a carrier of forms of certified value. But she also pursues the bean into the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where the crop, paradoxically, has little cultural value, and through the global supply chains of corporate shippers and processors. Here is an ethnography which exposes our morning cappuccino to the bright light of modernity. From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive does for coffee what Sidney Mintz in Sweetness and Power did for sugar: here in short is a meditation on caffeine and power.—Michael Watts, Chancellor's Professor, University of California, Berkeley
For more information, and to order the book directly, visit Duke University Press.