ZNet India interviews anthropologist Angana Chatterji
One of the most controversial "development projects" in recent years is a series of more than 3,000 dams in India?s Narmada River Valley. These dams flood vast areas and displace hundreds of thousands, mostly peasants and adivasi (tribal) people, while promises of relocation and resources usually prove to be illusory.
- National dreams and global capital have created incredible suffering and destroyed not just human life, not just part of our cultural heritage, but also the natural heritage of the Valley, says Angana Chatterji, a Calcutta-born anthropology professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco It is cruel and criminal.
- We drove to Purni, beyond which the land is engulfed by an infinite stretch of gloomy water. Narmada Sagar exemplifies the violence of nation-making in India today -- a demonic, calculated rush for homogenized, unsustainable futures. This is what cultural genocide looks like. >> continueSEE ALSO:
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A new sign language created over the last 30 years by deaf children in Nicaragua has given experts a unique insight into how languages evolve. The language follows many basic rules common to all tongues, even though the children were not taught them.
It indicates some language traits are not passed on by culture, but instead arise due to the innate way human beings process language, experts claim.
The development of language has long been the focus of debate. Some people in the extreme "nature" camp believe that grammar is essentially hard-wired in the brain, while those in the extreme "nurture" camp think language has no innate basis and is just culturally transmitted. >> continue
(via Sybille Ambers Blog)
IPS News Service
Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology and History (MNAH), one of the ten most important institutions of its kind in the world, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with cocktail receptions and new exhibitions. Sadly, however, there is little to celebrate for the impoverished descendants of the peoples whose cultures are proudly preserved in the museum's halls.
The director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Sergio Raśl Arroyo, said that the MNAH has succeeded "in crafting an extraordinary bridge between the past and present, allowing us to reshape our idea of what cultural diversity means." But in Mexico today, cultural diversity is not marked by respect, but rather by the discrimination of some groups against others, according to historian Lorenzo Meyer.
"It's really paradoxical," U.S. anthropologist Teo Martens told IPS. "The museum showcases the greatness of Mexican indigenous cultures, and on the street outside you see the miserable conditions they live in." >> continue
Professor Dr. RISHIKESHAB RAJ REGMI ? who teaches anthropology at the Tribhuwan University - is a well known anthropologist of Nepal:
"The event of September 1 was very mysterious. The people who attacked mosque and Muslims are not Nepalese. I cannot believe that any Nepali who has grown up in the social harmony can do such works against their own brothers and sisters. The process of integration is very strong in Nepal. People of different religions live together respecting sentiments and sensitivities of each other.
"Two main mosques standing in front of the Palace of Hindu monarch is one of the great examples of religious tolerance existing between Muslim, Hindu and other communities. One of the main Mosques is standing side by side with Sanskrit Hostel, where Brahmin live and study, in Durbar Marg. Without supply of bangles and beads (Chura, Pote) and other ornaments by Muslims who make them, marriage of Hindu people cannot be complete. Through the marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims, the society has been further integrated and united." >> continue
To observe the city?s changing cuisines, Anthropology Professor Merry White White and her students travel to some of the best-known and least-known ethnic neighborhoods in the city, where they have a chance to study food as it relates to migration and community-building. They visit the North End, of course, where Italian food has become enmeshed in the promotion of Italian culture, and Chinatown, less of a tourist destination, but a neighborhood with a strong ?food identity,? White says.
For White, it is a sign that her studies of cooking and culture have finally been deemed a legitimate and important part of academia. ?It?s a matter of how food has come into acceptance in the curriculum in general,? she says. ?In the late 1980s, I think the world wasn?t ready for it yet.? changing food trends reveal a lot about changing cultures >> continue
Thursday, September 16, 2004, 14:44
UN Decade of Indigenous People Ending to Mixed Reviews
National Geographic News
2004 is the last year of the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The program's accomplishments may be best described as mixed. While indigenous issues are receiving more political attention worldwide, observers say that most indigenous people remain mired in poverty. Hunter-gatherer groups, in particular, are facing persecution and attacks on their way of life.
John Scott, the UN Permanent Forum officer, says it would be a step forward if governments stopped treating indigenous people as being separate from the rest of the population and instead as being part of their countries. >> continue
50,000 Indigenous Colombians March for Basic Rights (OneWorld.net, 16.9.04)
National Geographic News
Imagine our world without chocolate or chewing gum, syringes, rubber balls, or copper tubing. Native peoples invented precursors to all these and made huge strides in medicine and agriculture.
They developed pain medicines, birth-control drugs, and treatment for scurvy. Their strains of domesticated corn, potatoes, and other foods helped reduce hunger and disease in Europe?though Indians also introduced the cultivation and use of tobacco.
As the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., readies for its grand opening Tuesday, bone up on Indian innovations in food and candy, outdoor gear, and health and exercise. >> continue
A hundred social scientists and geneticists gathered this week in Alexandria to sort out the meaning of race, and didn't, quite. When Leith Mullings, an anthropologist from the City University of New York, sardonically said that "only people of color have race, and only women have gender," everyone knew what she meant.
A professor who argues that race is a biological myth sat next to a professor who wants the U.S. government to pay reparations to African Americans. Their positions are not inconsistent, but they require a bit of explaining. Race is complicated.
"It doesn't exist biologically, but it does exist socially," said Alan Goodman, incoming president of the American Anthropological Association, which sponsored the meeting at the Holiday Inn in Old Town. It will take a long time for people to grasp the illusory nature of race at the biological level, Goodman said. It's like understanding that the Earth isn't flat >> continue