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03.08.05: The blog has moved to www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/, and several broken links have been corrected

Here are the most recent posts on the new blog location:


Sunday, March 13, 2005, 14:41

Socially conscious hip-hop is worldwide phenomenon

Canadian Press

Somali-born rapper K'naan says hip-hop records helped him cope with his country's civil war, his adolescence as a refugee and his life as an immigrant in North America. "It's a whole new thing that is happening, even in villages in Africa," said K'naan, whose music touches on everything from personal empowerment to life in Somalia.

Marc Perry, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois, says despite rap's commercialization, socially conscious hip-hop is common among immigrants in the West and black populations in such countries as Brazil and South Africa. That's not surprising given hip-hop's history, Perry said at a recent symposium at Concordia University called Hip-Hop: Culture of Resistance. >> continue (updated 21.3.05 with COPY! Story removed from canada.com)

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Friday, March 11, 2005, 11:05

In Egypt: Economy and perceptions of modernity change religious festival

Cairo Magazine

Moulids are multi-faceted festivals held in honor of holy people. The surrounding area is transformed into a festive space that, in the case of large moulids, may engulf an entire neighborhood. Anthropologist Farouk Ahmed Mostafa says, “Moulids have played a large role in invigorating the economic life of the society in which the saint is located.” Moulids also provide an opportunity for reestablishing social contacts with out-of-town friends, he explains.

Times are changing for Egypt’s moulids. Yet the reasons for change are more subtle and complex than the government’s dislike of street merchants or anxiety about crowds. While state policies certainly shape these temporary transformations of public space, shifting shades of religiosity, the economy and perceptions of modernity also contribute to the changing form and character of Egypt’s moulids. >> continue

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Thursday, March 10, 2005, 12:58

Anthropology and Race - Discussions in the Classroom

Interesting thoughts by Alex Golub incl. links to articles.

"I spend a lot of the class slowly unprying my student’s idea of race. “Why are so many african americans professional athletes?” becomes “Why are so many professional athletes african american?” (because there are millions of african americans and very very few professional athletes).

Then I try a thought experiment: if excellence in athletics is explained by genetic endowment, perhaps Australia’s dominance in Rugby League is due to the Australian Rugby gene? Obviously not, say my students, since Australians are white, and our weirdo American intuitions only like genetic explanations for non-white people." >> continue

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005, 23:02

AAAs Anthropology News March: Tsunami, Unemployment, Muslims in Thailand

Here are three more articles from the Anthropology News March 2005 by the American Anthropological Association:

Vishvajit Pandya: "When Land Became Water". Tsunami and the Ongees of Little Andaman Island
I had a chance to visit the Ongees in the last weeks of January to find out how my old friends explained the tsunami and what they planned for their future. >> continue

Carrie Lane Chet: Work and Unemployment in the Global Labor Market
Since the fall of 2001, I had been conducting ethnographic fieldwork among unemployed high-technology workers in and around Dallas, Texas. >> continue

Raymond Scupin: Polarized Cultural Stereotypes Contribute to New Violence
The Thai government’s insensitivity toward the people and cultures of South Thailand is undoubtedly one factor contributing to the new violence in this region. >> continue

India is not USA : The Scientific Gender Gap Should Be Understood Comparatively

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005, 11:15

First Swahili PC office suite released in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


The office suite was translated from the English version of OpenOffice.org, an open source suite based on Sun Microsystems' StarOffice. This is the first ever release of a word processor in Swahili. The translation effort required translating 18,000 English strings, made up of one or more words, many of which have previously had no direct Swahili equivalent. As part of the translation, the team developed a glossary of 1500 technical words in Swahili. >> continue

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Sunday, March 06, 2005, 18:42

India is not USA : The Scientific Gender Gap Should Be Understood Comparatively

Carol Mukhopadhyayis, professor of anthropology at San Jose State, Anthropology News March 2005(AAA)

Drawing upon ethnographic and questionnaire data from four urban areas in India, I took a comparative look at the scientific gender gap. My Indian expert consultants reject American notions of gendered brains, of mathematics as inherently “masculine” and cannot understand why American girls fear academic success or experience gender identity conflicts from excelling in mathematics.

Comparative research raises questions about the applicability of American theories to the scientific gender gap in the US. It suggests that these applications are mired in taken-for-granted American cultural models of gender and causality that prevent us from seeing alternative theories.

American expert models are virtually devoid of social context. Individuals appear to select activities, academic subjects, and occupations in a social void, in a world of infinite choices. >> continue (pdf) or as html-document

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Sunday, March 06, 2005, 18:08

Knowledge Fades As Africa Languages Die

Sun-Sentinel / AP

A U.N. Conference on Trade and Development report on protecting traditional knowledge argues that beyond a devastating impact on culture, the death of a language wipes out centuries of know-how in preserving ecosystems -- leading to grave consequences for biodiversity. >> continue (updated with COPY)


Modern technology revives traditional languages

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Saturday, March 05, 2005, 10:01

Volume 1 / 2005 of Durham Anthropology Journal is online

In the new issue you'll find among others following articles in fulltext:

Vasco S.C. Fernandes: Indifference and Political Parties
The way people create and justify indifference to other humans could be seen as cultural phenomenon resulting from social processes. In this paper I will argue the study of political parties could shed some light not only on the social production of difference that leads to indifference, but also on how this indifference is lived and experienced. To do so, I will focus my reflection on an Italian party, the Northern League which is stereotypically known for its aggressive political rhetoric.

Indifference is an interesting challenge for both anthropology as a science, which is concerned both with social change and human cross-cultural understanding, and ethnography as science which is interested in the description of the `real'. >> continue

Robert Layton: Anthropology as a discipline
Historically, the main impediments to co-operative research between biological and social anthropologists have been: (a) the debate over genetic versus cultural determination of behaviour, and (b) the emphasis on the individual as the unit of selection, versus the emphasis on the emergent properties of social systems. Point (a) has largely been resolved through recognition that genetic potentialities are moulded by culture. This paper shall concentrate on some of the ways in which point (b) can be overcome to develop the idea of anthropology as a discipline. >> continue

>> to Durham Anthropology Journal's frontpage

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Saturday, March 05, 2005, 09:40

Research: How migration fights poverty

A new special by ID 21 , hosted by Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK, deals with how migration fights poverty and asks: Migration and asylum policies in crisis: time for a rethink?

They provide short summaries and links to the original sources, mostly working papers that are avaiable online in full length.

Exploiting remittances: good for Mexico’s development?
More and more money is being sent back home by economic migrants and so the interest in how remittances can help fight poverty is growing. The total value of remittances world wide is estimated at over 100 billion US dollars per year. In 2001 Mexico became the nation with the largest share of remittances as its workers sent home 9,920 million US dollars.
Research from York University in Canada proposes a broader understanding of migrant remittances. Using data from Mexico the author argues the importance of non-economic dimensions of remittances particularly its social and political implications, the differences between family and community-based (or collective remittances) and the difficulties in channelling them towards savings and investment. >> continue

Migration and asylum policies in crisis: time for a rethink?
A policy briefing from the World Institute for Development Economic Research argues that more needs to be done to understand the relationship between globalisation, migration pressures and the potential role of development assistance in reducing migration. >> continue


Migration and development - a report from Tonga

antropologi.info links on migration (in English and Norwegian)

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Friday, March 04, 2005, 10:45

Malaysian indigenous people seek land, cultural rights

Yahoo Asia News / AP

Malaysia's indigenous tribes are hoping that a planned revision of a colonial-era law will grant them ownership of forests that their ancestors inhabited for more than 10,000 years, activists said.

They say the centuries-old culture and lifestyle of peninsular Malaysia's Orang Asli, or "Original People," have been threatened by developments such as airports, dams and highways that force tribes to move out of their homes _ located in forests owned by the state _ into semi-urban settings.

"Our main concern is land," said Juli Edo, an anthropology professor at Kuala Lumpur's University Malaya who belongs to an Orang Asli tribe. "We want a legal backup for the right to own land," he said Wednesday. >> continue (COPY! link updated: 18.3.05)

Documents, films, tapes and other recordings relevant to Orang Asli peoples and cultures (link via AAA)

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005, 18:11

Field Museum to Study Resources & Achievements of Chicago's Mexican Immigrants

ArriveNet, Press Release

How do art, music and culture contribute to the lives and communities of recent Mexican immigrants, both in Chicago and in their communities of origin? "This work will help identify ways Chicago's Mexican immigrants draw on their distinctive cultural and artistic practices while they begin to live and work in the U.S", says Rebecca Severson, Manager of Urban Research Programs at The Field Museum, and Co-Investigator of this study. >> continue

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005, 17:51

Disney-Film depicts indigenous people as involved in cannibalism


The producers of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" are eagerly gearing up to film the sequels. But the project, due to be released on Jul. 7, 2006, is already proving to be a problem, as the descendants of the Caribs, historians and others are objecting to scenes depicting these indigenous people as involved in cannibalism.

Brinsley Samaroo, head of the history department of the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), dismisses the claim of cannibalism as a "European myth". He told IPS that it was nothing but "manufactured history" by the Europeans who came across the Caniba, a tribe found in North and South America. "The Caniba tribe was very hostile and resisting the Europeans very stoutly and in order to warn other Europeans about this, the early explorers spread the myth that the Caniba tribe eat people," he said.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Historical and Archaeological Society has called on movie-goers to boycott the sequel unless the "grossly offensive" scenes depicting the Caribs as cannibals are removed from the script. >> continue

In the IPS-article, there's also an link to a Brief history of cannibal controversies

We do not eat people (Trinidad News)

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Monday, February 28, 2005, 23:27

CORRECTED: Muslims in Calcutta: Towards a middle-class & moderation

The Statesman, Calcutta

Slowly, a little warily maybe, Muslims of the city are making efforts to break out of the stereotypes and move out of ghettos. For a community mired in financial quicksand and plagued by poverty and lack of education, among other things, this is a tough task. And, systematic propaganda painting Indian Muslims as the Other in the psyche of the majority community makes the task even more difficult, felt Dr Mohammed Khalil Abbas Siddiqui, noted scholar and anthropologist.

“A push is required. Muslims are exploited as vote banks and then left high and dry. Also, the majority community has not made a serious effort to find out about Muslims or what their religion is all about,” said Mr Shafi, management and training consultant. Anybody listening? If not, start now. For, every seventh man in the city is a Muslim. >> continue (link corrected)/ copy of article

Slowly But Surely, Calcutta’s Muslims Shine (IslamOnline, 2.3.05)

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Sunday, February 27, 2005, 23:38

UPDATED - The future lies behind: How languages reflect our conception of time

Laura Spinney, The Guardian

For the Aymara people living in the Andes, the past lies ahead and the future lies behind. The Aymara word for past is transcribed as nayra , which literally means eye, sight or front. The word for future is q"ipa , which translates as behind or the back. Over the years, rumours have surfaced of similar strangeness in other languages.

The researcher is Rafael Núñez, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, San Diego. With his collaborator, linguist Eve Sweetser, he will publish his findings later this year.

"This Aymara finding is big news," says Vyvyan Evans, a theoretical cognitive linguist at the University of Sussex. "It is the first really well-documented example of the future and past being structured in a totally different way from lots of other languages, including English." >> continue

An introduction to the language, history, religion and culture of the Aymara people by Jorge Pedraza Arpasi

UPDATE (28.2.05):
Anthropologist Kerim Friedman writes "I can't understand the fuss being made over the Aymara people living in the Andes who supposedly have a unique spacial conception of time. My guess is that this is simply another example of reporters mangling academic research in order to make the story more exciting." >> continue

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Friday, February 25, 2005, 18:07

Future Fields - New Issue of Anthropology Matters is out!

Anthropology Matters in one of the few anthropological online journals - and an excellent one! Finally, their issue 2 / 2004 (!) is put online. In this issue, they bring together eleven papers that were first presented and discussed at the Future Fields conference held in Oxford in December 2003.

From the Introduction by Tom Rice and Mette Louise Berg:
"As research interests of anthropologists have changed, so have the types of fieldworks that we undertake. Yet the ideal of long-term fieldwork in a rural location among non-Western peoples still exerts a powerful influence on the discipline. While traditional methods such as long-term site work and participant observation are still valid, they now must be complemented by innovative methods that respond to contemporary epistemological challenges. The very notion of 'the field' itself may need critical questioning."

Among the articles we find:

The making of the fieldworker: debating agency in elites research.
Mattia Fumanti (University of Manchester)

Cyberethnography as home-work.
Adi Kuntsman (Lancaster University).

Finding a middle ground between extremes: notes on researching transnational crime and violence.
Hannah E. Gill (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford).

Devising a new approach to capitalism at home.
Kaori O'Connor (University College London).

Fieldnotes on some cockroaches at SOAS and in Stavanger, Norway.
Ingie Hovland (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).

Under the shadow of guns. Negotiating the flaming fields of caste/class war in Bihar, India.
George Kunnath (School of Oriental and African Studies).

Studying-up those who fell down: elite transformation in Nepal.
Stefanie Lotter (University of Heidelberg).

>> continue

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Friday, February 25, 2005, 17:17

Beyond Ethnic Boundaries? Anthropological study on British Asian Cosmopolitans

Anthropologist Cicilie Fagerlid (University of Oslo) has recently published her thesis about young British Asians on the web. In her introduction, she writes:

"Society cannot remain a society if people feel excluded on basis of what characterises them as a category. The imagined category Britishness must not exclude the imagined category Asianness. How is the interface between recognition for difference, societal belonging and individual freedom played out?

This thesis is based on 11 months fieldwork among, roughly, 30 British Asians, aged 20 to 30, in London in 1999. With the anthropological focus on the micro level, on the experiences of socially and culturally embedded individuals, I hope to show how Britain, step by step, is moving in the direction of a cosmopolitan society.

By focusing on the individual negotiation, the diversity that appears indicates that their British Asianness can be contained by neither an old idea of Britishness nor essential traits of Asianness." >> download the thesis (459 kb, pdf)

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005, 21:12

Dissertation in Anthropology put online before it will be published as a book

Anthropologist P. Kerim Friedman (Temple University) published his dissertation on the web before it will be published as a book! "No need to wait for the book", he writes. In an earlier post, Friedman encouraged anthropologists to use the Internet to share their knowledge and support the "Open Access" - philosophy.

About his dissertation he writes:

"This dissertation examines contemporary linguistic markets and language policy in Taiwan in terms of the historical processes of state formation, class alliances, and identity politics, drawing upon Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of linguistic markets and Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony as well as the literature on nationalism and linguistic ideology.

Emphasis is placed on the historical processes underlying the construction of Taiwan’s linguistic markets as Taiwan’s linguistic nationalism emerged throughout history, focusing on the continuities and changes across Qing, Japanese, KMT and DPP rule. >> continue

Open Source Anthropology : Are anthropologists serious about sharing knowledge?

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Monday, February 21, 2005, 21:53

Ethnographic lecture confronts female gang myths

The Lantern, Ohio State University

In a presentation titled "The Politics of Representation," ethnographer Marie "Keta" Miranda addressed the general misrepresentation of gang members, but focused largely on women. She discussed the knowledge she gained through her ethnographic collaboration with Chicana youths in Oakland, Calif., published in the 2003 book "Homegirls in the Public Sphere".

It is important to recognize that women in gangs do have agency and they do make significant decisions. She said the gangs she studied in northern California were unique because they consisted entirely of young women. Miranda stressed the need for people in power to change their approach in order to provide more understanding of subculture groups. >> continue (oops, seems like the article has disappeared already!?! >> read a copy of the article)

Homegirls in the Public Sphere - Reviewed by Ramona Lee Pérez, New York University (Association of Feminist Anthropology)

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Sunday, February 20, 2005, 19:17

Burkina Faso: Thousands of migrants now living as strangers in their homeland


More than 365,000 people have fled from violence in Cote d'Ivoire to safety in Burkina Faso over the last two years. However there are no haunting images of refugee camps, packed to overflowing with people who have lost everything. For the new arrivals are former Burkinabe migrants going home. They have simply melted into the villages and the countryside, taken in by relatives and in some cases, even strangers. They are refugees in their own country.

The number of Burkinabe migrants that poured out of Cote d'Ivoire is almost double the number of Darfur refugees that have spilled across the Sudanese border into Chad. But while overcrowded refugees camps in eastern Chad have repeatedly come under the spotlight, attracting generous international aid, Burkina Faso's masses have largely fallen off the international community's radar screen. >> continue

11 Million People Without a State (OneWorld.net)
antropologi.info's links on migration (multilingual)

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Sunday, February 20, 2005, 18:26

What does it mean to be Muslim in a secular society? Anthropologist thinks ahead

The Daily Star Lebanon

Dounia Bouzar, an anthropologist and educator, spent two years working with 12 Muslim associations in France studying the different ways young Muslims approach their daily life. Her newest book, "Monsieur Islam n'existe pas; Pour une desislamisation des debats" (Mr. Islam doesn't exist; de-islamisizing the discussions), is one of several publications just out in France that examine "la France Musulmane," or Muslim France. Part of the goal in her new book is to show just how diverse the community is.

Discrimination is still a big problem in France and Bouzar feels it's important to look for the reasons why a percentage of young Muslims feel the need to look abroad for guidance - a relatively new phenomenon. >> continue

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