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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:


Thursday, August 04, 2005, 13:43

Reminder: No more updates on this page / this RSS-feed

There will be no more updates on this page / via this newsfeed. The blog has moved to http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/

New RSS feeds



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Tuesday, August 02, 2005, 21:36

Update your bookmarks! Blog moves! 1 year anthro-news sorted into categories

I've finally upgraded my blog, and moved my entries to my new blog, powered by b2evolution. Now, more than one year's anthropology news are sorted into categories like books, corporate anthropology, language and much more.

Recent comments show up on the front page, search is improved.

A new calendar with RSS-support is also installed. Everyone is allowed to add events (moderated by me).

The anthropology in the news blog moves from now on to

RSS Posts:

RSS Comments:

For more options, see farther down on the main page

During moving the entries from my old blog, some errors might have occured.

The following days, I'm going to "finetune" the categories.

If you have comments or suggestions let me now, but comment the post in the new blog

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Monday, August 01, 2005, 10:35

Intel is using anthropologists in new development centers to develop computers


In a bid to eventually sell more chips, Intel plans to announce Monday that it has set up four new offices around the world that are staffed with anthropologists and engineers to help design computers with features for emerging markets. Traveling from dusty rural villages in India to busy Internet cafés in Brazil, these Intel employees will collect data from weather to the content needs of people in regions where computers are not yet popular.

The company began sending ethnographers to study how people interact with technologies. One anthropologist spent a year living in rural China. With the creation of its new business unit and four development centers, Intel has set up permanent and locally hired staff to do ethnographic studies and engineering. The efforts appear to be paying off. >> continue

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Saturday, July 30, 2005, 01:09

Online Research Project: Children & fire

Anthopologist Dan Fessler tells us about a new research project "Children and Fire" and asks us to participate and be informants >> read more in antropologi.info Forum

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Friday, July 22, 2005, 10:16

New blogscript, new features: Move to b2evolution in August

I'll start to use a new blog script from august - b2evolution. All posts will be sorted in categories, so it's easier and more fun to find old entries and information on different topics. All links to older entries in this blog will still work. But there will be a new URL for entries and the RSS-feed from august on.

b2evolution has similar features as the more popular Wordpress, but additionally a multiple blog feature (neccessary in my case with blogs also in German and Norwegian).

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Monday, July 04, 2005, 13:26



With best regards, Lorenz

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Thursday, June 30, 2005, 23:36

Social Neuroscience - Psychologists neuroscientists and anthropologists together

The Guardian

A rapidly growing field of research called "social neuroscience" draws together psychologists, neuroscientists and anthropologists all studying the neural basis for the social interaction between humans.

Traditionally, cognitive neuroscientists focused on scanning the brains of people doing specific tasks such as eating or listening to music, while social psychologists and social scientists concentrated on groups of people and the interactions between them. To understand how the brain makes sense of the world, it was inevitable that these two groups would have to get together. >> continue

Social cognitive neuroscience: At the frontier of science (American Psychological Association)

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Thursday, June 30, 2005, 23:23

Ethnography a Buzz Word in the Industry - Where is the Quality Control?

A post on "This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics" about "self-trained anthropologists" who claim to be experts in ethnographic research led to an interesting debate:

"There are lots of people claiming to do ethnography who are, um, “self trained.” There are of no barriers to entry and no one licensing ethnographers. And the term “ethnography” is now so sought after in certain circles that there is plenty of demand." >> continue

Articles on Corporate Anthropology

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 18:42

Geldof's Live8 and Western myths about Africa

Interesting post on Black Looks by African feminist Sokari on Live Aid that remembers on the debates on the African Village in the zoo of Augsburg. In both cases, it's our images of Africa that are questionable.

She writes:

"Do They Know Its Christmas" has just been re-recorded - remember the lyrics?

"underneath a burning sun.............where nothing ever grows" "no rain nor river flows"

This is the vision of Africa being sold to millions of young people all over the West - an African stereotype described by Gerald Caplan as "helpless, dependent, passive victims, and we westerners as decent, selfless, compassionate, resourceful missionaries".

These simplistic and reductionist views of Africa are not just unhelpful they actually add to the problems Africa faces as it reduces them to "natural causes - bad luck".

She quotes Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie who suggests that it is not only Africa that is in receipt of Aid, the West also needs to be weaned off the Aid it receives from Africa and lists 5 areas where that aid comes from. >> continue

Globalvoices Roundup: Africans on Live 8
Globalvoices: More Africans - and Afrophiles - on Live8

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 18:28

Conference Culture

Academics live in another world. In this world, time does not exist. Researchers arrive late in seminars. People kept opening the door and entering the room even 10-15 minutes after Richard Jenkins had started with his keynote speech at Childhoods 2005 in Oslo. Jenkins: "It's like holding a lecture in a bus station."

"Oh, I don't know about time", the next speaker says, surprised over the fact that 13 of her 15 minutes already have passed while she is still struggeling with her introduction. She was not the only one.

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Monday, June 27, 2005, 14:32

Thailand: Local wisdom protects hometown from the onslaught of globalisation

Bangkok Post

"We fishermen have knowledge about the Mekong based on our time-tested experiences," said Oon Thammawong, 57, of Ban Had Bai in Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district. "But policy-makers dismiss us as simple folk so that they can dismiss our voices and impose their policies, which only benefit businessmen but destroy our way of life."

Over the past five years, in the wake of the building of dams and the blasting of rapids in China, the condition of the Mekong as it flows through Chiang Khong has drastically deteriorated. Like other communities, the Bangkok-oriented education and political systems have robbed the locals of their historical roots and pride in their culture.

Local pride swelled, however, when a group of residents took on the role of researchers to profile Chiang Khong's ethnographic history and document changes in their hometown. "Reconnecting with one's past and understanding what has shaped one's present is always an empowering process," explained veteran anthropologist Srisakara Vallibhotama, director of the project, which is supported by the Thailand Research Fund. >> continue (updated with copy 22.7.05)

Local taboos could save the seas

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Friday, June 24, 2005, 13:16

Locating Bourdieu - Interview with anthropologist Deborah Reed-Danahay

Interesting interview by Scott McLemee with anthropologist Deborah Reed-Danahay on her recent book Locating Bourdieu in the magazine "Inside Higher Education". The book is according to Scott McLemee "a very good place for the new reader of Bourdieu to start".

Reed-Danahay summarizes one of Bourdieu's main points and compares France to the USA:

"Bourdieu believed that we are all constrained by our internalized dispositions (our habitus), deriving from the milieu in which we are socialized, which influence our world view, values, expectations for the future, and tastes. These attributes are part of the symbolic or cultural capital of a social group.

In a stratified society, a higher value is associated with the symbolic capital of members of the dominant sectors versus the less dominant and “controlled” sectors of society. So that people who go to museums and like abstract art, for instance, are expressing a form of symbolic capital that is more highly valued than that of someone who either rarely goes to museums or who doesn’t like abstract art.

The person feels that this is “just” a matter of taste, but this can have important consequences for children at school who have not been exposed to various forms of symbolic capital by their families."

"His work on academia provided us with a method of inquiry to look at the symbolic capital associated with academic advancement and, although the specific register of this will be different in different national contexts, the process may be similar. Just as Bourdieu did in France, for example, one could study how it is that elite universities here “select” students and professors."

>> to the interview in "Inside Higher Education"

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Friday, June 24, 2005, 13:03

Our obsession with the notion of the primitive society

(post in progress)

Quite regularily, newspapers report about so called "primitive peoples". The newest example is the Reuters-story "Hunter-gatherers face extinction on Andaman island" where we read "how primitive tribesmen came out of the jungle armed with bows, arrows and spears, raided a village in the Middle Andaman island and looted tools, food, clothes, cash and jewellery" and the reporter asks if this is an "indication that the Jarawa hunter-gatherers remain untamed primitives -- or a cry for help from man's earliest ancestors, their forests and their lifestyle, their existence under threat as never before?".

I've always wondered why Westerners are so obsessed with this notion of the primitive, with the notion of linear evolution where the so-called so called enlightened West reigns on the top. From an anthropological point of view one could explain this phenomenon like this: These so-called primitives are used by the West in order to construct a positive image of itself - the "primitives" play the same role as the so-called "Orient" - as shown by Edward Said in his classic "Orientalism".

Or as Adam Kuper wrote in his book The Invention of Primitive Society: "Primitive society was the mirror image of modern society - or rather, primitive society as they imagined it inverted the characteristics of modern society as they saw it."

This also applies to anthropologists as we know. Kuper writes:
"The anthropologists took this primitive society as their special subject, but in practice primitive society proved to be their own society (as they understood it) seen in a distorting mirror. For them modern society was defined above all by the territorial state, the monogamous family and private property. Primitive society therefor must have been nomadic, promiscuos and communist. (...) Primitive man was illogical and given to magic."

"Stone Age Tribes", tsunami and racist evolutionism"

UPDATE: See also Evamaria's ramblings: As an anthropologist, Cameron Diaz' travel show on MTV is pretty offensive to my sensibilities. 'The life of the Massai has remained the same for the last 600 years.' Ugh, that kind of remark makes my skin crawl! >> continue

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 23:24

Islam Is Gaining a Foothold in Chiapas / Red Alert in Chiapas

Der Spiegel

Long a bastion of Catholicism, southern Mexico is quickly turning into a battleground for soul-savers. Islam, too, is gaining a foothold and the indigenous Mayans are converting by the hundreds. "In Islam, race plays no role," Anastasio Gomez, a Tzotzil Mayan from Mexico, says joyously. His enthusiasm is understandable. After all, in his home state of Chiapas, Mexico's poorest, the indigenous people are viewed as second class humans, and whites and Mestizos treat the Indian majority as if they weren't there.

"They see themselves as restorers of Islam," says the anthropologist Gaspar Morquecho, author of a study of the Muslims of Chiapas. "Their defiance of capitalism is similar in many respects to the critique of globalization espoused by many left-wingers."

"In Islam, the Indians rediscover their original values," claims Esteban Lopez, the Spanish secretary general of the Muslim community. "The Christians destroyed their culture." >> continue


Red Alert: Zapatistas - War in Chiapas likely to resume (Indymedia San Francisco Bay Area) / see also comment by Subcomandante Marcos on ZMag and Blogosphere Reacts to Zapatista Communique on Global Voices Online

An anthropologist inside a Community in Resistance in Chiapas (University of Kent at Canterbury)

Book review: Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico (American Ethnologist)

Subcommander Marcos: Chiapas - The Southeast in Two Winds A Storm and a Prophecy (Latinamerikagruppene i Norge / Latin American Groups in Norway)

Chiapas - Wikipedia

Chiapas - pictures at flickr

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Monday, June 20, 2005, 15:18

Book review: Ritual praxis in modern Japan

The Japan Times Online

Anthropologist Satsuki Kawano in her study of various ritual practices in the city of Kamakura wishes to see religious rites as being both culturally constructed and socially generated. Kawano prefers to demonstrate that partaking in religious rituals does not necessarily involve "belief" in its ordinary sense. Rather "ritual life is not so much about individual faith as it is about securing the well-being of families and communities." >> continue

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Monday, June 20, 2005, 12:35

Radio interview on African Village/ "Germans&Japanese less sensitive about race"

The African Village at the zoo in Augsburg, Germany is still debated in the international media.

"An African culture festival creates a storm in Germany. Critics say it's like shows in colonial times that degraded Africans. The flap has sparked a broader discussion about racism in Germany, and what it's like to be both dark-skinned and a native German", the National Public Radio (NPR) summarizes the debate around the african village in the zoo in Augsburg. >> listen to the radio report by NPR

On L'express and several other news sites comment the African Village like this: "Germans and Japanese are less sensitive about race in general and about Africa in particular than, say, people in France or the United States, where a significant minority of the population is of African descent >> continue

In Detroit and London: More African Villages in the Zoo
African village in the Zoo: Protest against racist exhibition

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Monday, June 20, 2005, 12:10

Rituals - mechanisms for both creating solidarity and for increasing conflict

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research

Dutch-sponsored researcher Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta analysed the dynamics of the conflict between Muslims and Christians in the Molucca Islands. The anthropologist proposes that rituals play an important role in this. Ritual was found to unite and mobilise people in a confrontation with real or supposed outsiders, but it also helped them to reach an agreement after the confrontation. >> continue

Rituals and conflict solution: Fetsawa Umamane - a wedding ceremony in support of durable solutions in West Timor. By anthropologist Ingvild Solvang

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005, 22:43

Ethnomusicologist uses website as an extension of the book

(via Fieldnotes): Ethnomusicologist Aaron Fox has set up a website and blog as an "extension of the book": "I'm not going to republish the book on the site, but the book deals so much with sound that I had to make it possible for people to hear the music", he explains and adds: "I also really wanted to be able to interact with readers -- as we are doing now! Seems to me this is just the most under-used capacity of the web as an adjunct to traditional publishing. It's not like academic books sell in the tens of thousands, so it seems perfectly reasonable and possible to enter into a real dialogue with serious readers."

Anthropologist Tad McIlwraith on Fieldnotes comments: "I think about this in the context of my work with First Nations people and wonder if I could convince them to allow their actual voices to be found in files on my website. I think my work would be enhanced if they’d agree to that."

Aaron Fox' book is called Real County: Music and Language in Working Class Culture and is according to Tad McIlwraith "a fantastic ethnography".

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Monday, June 13, 2005, 21:10

In Detroit and London: More African Villages in the Zoo

There's been much discussion about the African Village in the Augsburg Zoo that took place last weekend. At the same time, the Detroit Zoo has arranged an African American Festival: "It will feature storyteller Ivory D. Williams, arts and crafts, authentic style food, hip-hop lessons, dance groups and an African American Community Resource area." They plan even more festivals like the Middle Eastern Festival, Caribbean Festival and the Native American Festival. No Bavarian or European festival, though. >> read the press release

The African Village in the Augsburg zoo wasn't actually a village. Visitors and journalists told about the usual stands with rings, arts and food that one finds on every festival. As Zeyneb Kaengo, 39, an African who was cooking at an African food stand, told to the press: "I do not understand why people are protesting. Maybe they thought we were going to be put in cages, but that's not true," she said. ( >> see some pictures or a slideshow - by the local newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine)

Nevertheless, the question remains "why Europe is suddenly obsessed with this exotic fascination for Africa, which only the zoo can provide" as the Guardian (Nigeria) asks in an interesting article. They write about forthcoming "African nights" in the London Zoo.

On the zoo's homepage we read:

"In addition to the unique opportunity to experience the animals settling in for the evening, visitors will be able to soak up the African culture with themed animal shows, live African performances, licensed bars and African food on offer throughout the evening. For the children there will be the opportunity to learn how to make Maasai masks, listen to traditional African stories and have their faces painted like tribal warriors!" >> continue

As anthropologist Nina Glick Schiller commented, the city of Seattle, USA, put Africans in a Zoo in May 2001, see article in the Seattle Post


BBC: Row over German zoo's Africa show

Radio interview on African Village/ "Germans & Japanese less sensitive about race"

African village in the Zoo: Protest against racist exhibition

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Monday, June 13, 2005, 12:49

Seeing Africa as exceptional underestimates common experience of globalisation

Anthropologist Christopher Davis, The Guardian

Tony Blair's Commission for Africa has left me bewildered. As an anthropologist interested in "traditional" medicine, I was delighted to see its report's attempt to take an Africa-centred point of view. Reading a sentence stating that "history shows African cultures to have been tremendously adaptive, absorbing a wide range of outside influences" is a relief to those of us who have tried for years to make this point.

But I was frustrated by what seems to be our incapacity to escape our own mental traditions - the casts of mind that always seem to come into play when we imagine Africa. Nowhere were these more in evidence than in the report's discussion of the role of religion in African social life. The risk is of the return of the 19th-century idea of "primitive mentality": the idea that "they" are less rational than "we" are. >> continue

>> see comments by Kerim Friedman /Savage Minds

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