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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, June 12, 2005, 15:07

New book reviews: English identity, Value Pluralism in Indonesia, Culture Rights

American Ethnologist and The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology are some of the best places to stay informed about new anthropology books. A few days ago they published their newest reviews, among others:

The Making of English National Identity. By Krishan Kumar.
Krishan Kumar’s The Making of English National Identity (2003) is exactly the kind of scholarly work promised, but seldom delivered, by the most vocal proponents of interdisciplinary research. >> continue

A Place on the Corner. By Elijah Anderson
This work utilizes an ethnographic framework to examine the social order of African-American men on the South Side of Chicago in the early 1970s. In particular, Anderson studies the men who hang out at Jelly’s, a liquor store/bar. In examining these men, he finds that there is a lot more going on beneath the surface than the average person would expect. >> continue

Islam, Law and Equality in Indonesia: An Anthropology of Public Reasoning. By John R. Bowen.
Islam, Law, and Equality in Indonesia is a definitive study of lived “value-pluralism” in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. Bowen shows anthropologists and others how legal anthropology in Muslim context may be rendered as an anthropology of “normative pluralism” >> continue

Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives. By Jane K. Cowan, Marie-Bénédicte Dembour and Richard A. Wilson (eds).
So often collections of essays are just that: agglomerations of papers loosely focused around a theme. Here, however, the theme is important (and unrecognized) enough that its elaboration gives rise to a wealth of examples, all of which build on a central dilemma: that the concept of “unity in diversity” is only unproblematic when difference is similar—when “culture” does not violate “universal rights,” when the discourse on universal rights does not challenge existing cultural practices. >> continue

Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia. By Melissa L. Caldwell.
Melissa L. Caldwell’s study of the Christian Church of Moscow (CCM) soup kitchen may seem an odd ethnographic choice, but the author cogently illustrates the ambiguous and sometimes paradoxical world of poverty and social support in Moscow in the late 1990s. Caldwell suggests that a transnational community emerges from the economic marginalization brought on by the transition to capitalism. >> continue

The Marketing Era: From Professional Practice to Global Provisioning. Kalman Applbaum
This book is about marketing and self-representation of marketers. Kalman Applbaum can lay claim to being an insider in two academic professions—anthropology and marketing. The intellectual and practical benefits of this dualism become immediately apparent to the reader as the argument unfolds. >> continue

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Friday, June 10, 2005, 17:51

'War on Terror' Has Indigenous People in Its Sights

Gustavo González, ZNet/ IPS News

The "war on terror", identified in Amnesty International's annual report as a new source of human rights abuses, is threatening to expand to Latin America, targeting indigenous movements that are demanding autonomy and protesting free-market policies and "neo-liberal" globalisation. In the United States "there is a perception of indigenous activists as destabilising elements and terrorists," and their demands and activism have begun to be cast in a criminal light, lawyer José Aylwin, with the Institute of Indigenous Studies, told IPS.

In the view of anthropologist Pedro Ciciliano at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the NIC report (National Intelligence Council) is "exaggerated and fraught with errors typical of U.S. intelligence based on biased information." >> continue

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Friday, June 10, 2005, 17:19

Introduction to Indigenous Peoples and How can blogging help my research?

Savage Mind has recently pointed to the blog by the Anthropology librarian Cynthia Tysick, University at Buffalo, New York. She seems to be surfing alot and lists a lot of useful links. Some of her recent entries are Introduction to Indigenous Peoples and How can blogging help my research?

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Friday, June 10, 2005, 16:51

BBC: Row over German zoo's Africa show


German anti-racism campaigners have condemned plans to stage an African cultural festival in a zoo. Responding to the criticism, Augsburg Zoo Director Barbara Jantschke said she does not see anything wrong with staging the event in a zoo, where many cultural exhibitions are held. Mrs Jantschke also argued that the zoo was the ideal place to convey the necessary "exotic atmosphere" for the festival.

It is an attitude which campaigners like Ms Noah So want to change. "There is an urge in Germany to see those who are not white as part of something exotic or romanticised." This treatment insinuates that non-whites are not really part of German society, she says. >> continue

Read also German magazine DER SPIEGEL: German Zoo Scandal: 'African Village' Accused of Putting Humans on Display

African village in the Zoo: Protest against racist exhibition

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Monday, June 06, 2005, 14:20

Local Foods - New issue of Open Access journal "Anthropology of Food"

Lots of interesting articles can be read in full-text in the new issue of the journal "Anthropology of Food", edited by Virginie Amilien and Gunnar Vittersø at SIFO - Norwegian Institute for Consumption Research, f.ex about "coalho" cheese in the northeast of Brazil, José Muchnik, Estelle Bienabe and Claire Cerdant write: "This pressed curd cheese made with non pasteurized milk, typical of this region, "is not just a cheese" for the local consumers. It represents their culture, their way of life and their way eating.

Rachel Eden Black conducted ethnographic fieldwork at Porta Palazzo in Turin, which has one of the largest and oldest farmers’ markets in Italy. Farmers’ markets not only support the local production of food, but also help in the sharing of local knowledge of culinary traditions.

"France has Champagne, Norway has tjukkmjølk", Virginie Amilien, Hanne Torjusen and Gunnar Vittersø write in their article From local food to terroir product? - Some views about Tjukkmjølk, the traditional thick sour milk from Røros, Norway.

>> overview over all articles in Anthropology of Food "Local Foods"

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Monday, June 06, 2005, 13:36

More on the return of spies to college campuses

As posted earlier, the CIA is sponsering anthropologists to gather sensitive information during their fieldwork.

The Kansas City Star provides more detailes about the spies on the campus. Among others, they interviewed Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, who leads the American Anthropological Association’s Committee on Ethics. She says:

“It’s the secrecy that runs afoul of our ethical code.When you don’t own up — when you don’t honestly say who you are, and for whom you’re working — then you’re not doing social science. You’re doing espionage.

Furthermore, we read that Felix Moos who defended the CIa-program in Anthropology Today says, that he "has fielded hundreds of electronic letters and interview requests from around the world and that “about 60 percent realize I’m on the right track”. He adds:“About 40 percent feel it’s government intrusion into the universities. You know, the usual suspects …"

>> read the whole article in the Kansas City Star

"War on terror": CIA sponsers anthropologists to gather sensitive information

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Monday, June 06, 2005, 13:01

Why American shopping culture is rejected in India

Daily Telegraph

It is easy to see why multi-national giants such as Wal-Mart, French rival Carrefour and Tesco, all of which are active in China, are so attracted to India. The country has the world's second largest population after China with over 1bn inhabitants. But the largest problem for Western retailers hoping to enter India is cultural, and stems from the disparate nature of the retail scene.

Simon Roberts, an anthropologist specialising in India and founder of Ideas Bazaar, a research consultancy, says that attempts to create a shopping mall culture - so established in the West - have so far failed. Although chain stores will appeal to certain bourgeois communities in India's so-called "million cities" (those with more than 1m residents), Roberts says that the demand could be limited because of families' lifestyles.

Many families have domestic staff who do the shopping, and the concept of the "weekly shop" simply does not exist. India is also a deeply religious society, with doctrinal conventions governing behaviour. "An Indian woman in Varanasi might not leave the house except to go to the temple, so do you expect her to suddenly pop off to Wal-Mart?" he says. >> continue

Simon Roberts' blog at Ideas Bazaar

PS: Exciting to read an article about an anthropologist you know - or think you know, because you're a reader of his blog. That's the effect of blogging - as Andrea Handl explains in "blogging and the "big men" in anthropology"

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Friday, June 03, 2005, 00:57

Weblogs are sweeping the political and social landscape of Iran

Hadi Ansari, OhmyNews International

Only four years have passed since Hossein Derakhshan, Iran's leading blogger and Internet activist, published a guide to making a weblog in Persian. Now the influence of weblogs has spread to every aspect of Iranian people's daily lives. Farsi has become the third most prominent language of bloggers on the Net, despite the fact that Farsi speakers around the world number just 100 million (including Afghans and Tajiks who speak Farsi). >> continue


The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging - ethnographic study of Persian-language weblogs

Skypecast - Interview about Blogging in India with Dina Mehta

Ethnographic study on bloggers in California & New York

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Friday, June 03, 2005, 00:24

"War on terror": CIA sponsers anthropologists to gather sensitive information

"A CIA scheme to sponsor trainee spies secretly through US university courses has caused anger among UK academics, the BBC reports. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program pays anthropology students up to $50,000 (£27,500) a year. They are expected to use the techniques of "fieldwork" to gather political and cultural details on other countries. Britain's Association of Social Anthropologists called the scholarships ethically "dangerous" and divisive."

"Undergraduates taking part in the scholarship programme must not reveal their funding source and are expected to attend military intelligence summer camps."

The CIAs activities are defended by an American anthropologist (Felix Moos, University of Kansas). He wrote according the BBC in Anthropology Today: "The United States is at war. Thus, to put it simply, the existing divide between academe and the intelligence community has become a dangerous and very real detriment to our national security at home and abroad." >> read the whole article (BBC)

Let's hope anthropologists say NO to the CIA!

This story reminds me on Montgomery McFate's controversial article Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of Their Curious Relations where she urges anthropologists to cooperate with the military and Dustin M. Wax's comments: "a functioning anthropology can never be on the side of U.S. forces"

UPDATE: See also why anthropologist Robert M. Offer-Westort thinks that anthropologists should say No.

UPDATE 2 (6.5.05): More on the return of spies to college campuses in the Kansas City Star

PS: By the way. Check what kind of definition of anthropology the BBC uses on their website: "the study of esp. primitive peoples"...


Cloak and Classroom: Many social scientists say a new government program will turn fieldwork abroad into spying. Can secrecy coexist with academic openness? (David Glenn, Chronicle of Higher Education, 25.3.05)

The CIA's Campus Spies. Exposing the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (Dave H. Price, Counterpunch, 12.3.05)

Anthropologists as Spies (David Price, The Nation, 20.11.00)

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005, 12:45

Most searched words: Zoo Augsburg african village. Newspapers start to report

Just a short note on what people search: "Zoo Augsburg african village" are the most searched words at the moment. It's quite striking how often this site is visited by people (from countries all over the world!) searching for news about the planned exhibition of Africans in the Zoo in Augsburg, Germany. The news has spread mainly via the internet. Only two newspapers (update 1.6.: now it's three - no four!) in Germany have been interested in this issue so far. It is widely debated on German language blogs and forums, though.

Here I've collected updated news and links:

>> African village in the Zoo: Protest against racist exhibition

>> Bewusster oder unbewusster Rassismus? Proteste gegen "African Village" im Zoo

[ 3 comments / write comment ]


Monday, May 30, 2005, 23:15

The Paragon of Animals or are Humans unique?

Jason Godesky, The Anthropik Network

The final for my very first anthropology class included an essay question, asking what made humans unique from the rest of the animal kingdom. We are unique in many ways. That uniqueness, however, does not go nearly as far as we've congratulated ourselves. >> continue

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Monday, May 30, 2005, 10:59

Anthropology Matters - New issue out on anthropology of science and technology

New methods in the anthropology of science and technology is the topic of the new issue of the anthropology online journal "Anthropology Matters" that was published these days. The papers developed out of a panel at the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) Decennial Conference at the University of Manchester in July 2003. I the introduction we read:

"On the basis of the papers published here, we suggest that not only does ethnographic research prove extremely adaptable to new environments, contexts and conditions, but it also serves to make important contributions to current debates and discussion, particular in the field of science and technology."

We find articles on dynamics how to study and theorize environmental protest movements in West Bengal (by Amites Mukhopadhyay), the role of computers in Hungarian civil society (Tom Wormald), on the relationship of information technologies to anthropological fieldwork through a consideration of internet-based clinical trials (by Jenny Advocat), on fieldwork in a web design company (Hannah Knox) and on how anthropological fieldwork might rise to the challenge of the bureaucratized, ‘objective’ forms of evaluation that anthropological researchers are increasingly facing (Susanne Langer) >> continue to Anthropology Matters 1/2005

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Sunday, May 29, 2005, 19:33

Tsunami and Internet: Social Tools - Ripples to Waves of the Future

Anthropologist Dina Mehta

Today, I believe that no crisis on this scale or magnitude will ever be handled again without sms, blogs, and wikis. That social tools will become a natural extension of rapid adaptation to chaotic conditions. While traditional media was doing its job, the World Wide Web was engaged in reaching people in ways that traditional media was not - by speaking in real voices, in real time - creating this huge wave of empathy, solidarity and action. Apart from the speed of dissemination of information, the blog also had a 'face' - people had access and could call or email. As a result, lowering barriers to getting information. Technology with Heart. >> continue

The Internet Gift Culture

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Sunday, May 29, 2005, 19:14

Morocco Times

Prologues, the North African review of books, chose to dedicate its winter issue to anthropology in North Africa. Coordinated by anthropologist Hassan Rachik, this number focuses on the evolution of this discipline in both North Africa and Spain. After decades of isolation due its being associated with colonisation and ethnic divisions, anthropology is slowly making its way back into universities.

Now that North African countries no longer focus on the protection of their newly acquired Nation States - which led them to cast aside anything outside their common Arab heritage - it is up to the very descendants of the populations examined by Gellner, Geertz or Berque to make this discipline theirs. >> continue

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Sunday, May 29, 2005, 18:55

Rise of armchair anthropology? More and more scientists do online research

Some days ago, anthropologist Kerim Friedman wrote about Armchair Anthropology in the Cyber Age?: "I predict that we will slowly see the return of the “armchair anthropologists” Malinowski so famously dethroned." The reason: "The web offers a tremendous, and ever growing database of lived experience."

The newspaper Age (Australia) writes more about the ongoing trend to gather research data online:

"Researchers around the world are tapping into the global reach of the internet as never before, seeking answers to a wide variety of topics, including: humour at the office, drug abuse, religious beliefs, parenting styles, mother-daughter relationships, human mate selection, extramarital affairs, fascination with celebrity and sexual boredom.

Anthropologist Daniel Fessler knows how to spice up the titles for his studies to lure web surfers. Last year, he posted a study on physical attractiveness online with the alluring title Are They Hot or Not? buried among others with titles such as Development of Gender Concepts in Infancy.

Praising online surveys over face-to-face Fessler says: "We don't need people to engage in a lot of attempts to make a good impression, we need them to provide us with honest responses." >> continue

(Fessler's answer doens't sound convincing. It's not that easy. The rules are the same in the online- and the offline-world. Without a good relationship to your informants you can't write a good ethnography)

Armchair Anthropology in the Cyber Age?

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Friday, May 27, 2005, 14:08

UPDATED: African village in the Zoo: Protest against racist exhibition


The zoo of Augsburg/Germany is planning to open a "African village" with people from Africa "situated in an unique African steppe landscape", critically reports Norbert Finzsch in an email, professor of History at the University of Cologne. It's remarkable, that scientists at our university are researching the historical dimension of the Völkerschauen in the 19th century while the zoo of Augsburg in about 80km distance is carrying on this tradition in the 21th century. >> continue


Discussion on Savage Minds (anthropology group blog)

Kurt Jonassohn, On A Neglected Aspect Of Western Racism: From the beginning of the 1870s to the end of the 1930s - the exposition of so-called exotic peoples in zoological gardens attracted a huge public

Anthropological Days at the Olympic Games: 'Great Fun for Savages'

UPDATE 20.6.05:
Radio interview on African Village/ "Germans & Japanese less sensitive about race"

UPDATE 14.6.05: In Detroit and London: More African Villages in the Zoo

UPDATE 10.6.05: Now the BBC starts to report on the African village

UPDATED UPDATE 2 ;) By 2nd of June several German newspapers have written about the protest against this exhibition: Frankfurter Rundschau, Tagesspiegel, Jungle World, Neues Deutschland, while the conservative DIE WELT defended the arrangement and cites some Africans who consider the combination of zoo and african culture as perferct (for their business). >> continue to my post in German with more links in German

The news spread extremly fast. Savage Minds provides a link to the original email by Norbert Finzsch. He writes:

"The way Africans and African Americans in Germany are perceived and discussed, the way they are present on billboards and in TV ads prove that the colonialist and racist gaze is still very much alive in Germany. This is the direct result of forty years of German colonialism and twelve years of National Socialism. People of color are still seen as exotic objects (of desire), as basically dehumanized entities within the realm of animals. This also explains why a zoo has been selected as site for the exhibit."

"The African German community and concerned individuals like myself call to your attention the need to protest against the opening of the exhibit in the Augsburg Zoo. Please direct your personalized letters of protest to Frau Dr. Barbara Jantschke (Director Zoo Augsburg) at barbara.jantschke@zoo-augsburg.de ."
>> continue

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Friday, May 27, 2005, 13:49

Dance Anthropology: Even when borders blur, dance movements retain ethnic roots

SanDiego.com Union Tribune

The way we move tells us who we are. The rhythm of our walk, the sports we play and our dances define us as individuals and cultures. Movement also can cross borders. That makes modern dance a stunning example of global communication, since, according to dance anthropologist Judith Lynne Hanna, there may be as many dance languages as humanity's 6,000-plus verbal languages. >> continue


Exotic dancing - is it art? Interview with dance anthropologist Judith Lynne Hanna (Minnesota Public Radio)

Book review: Heartbeat of the People: Music and Dance of the Northern Pow-Wow. Tara Browner (American Ethnologist)

Book review: Shaping Society through Dance: Mestizo Ritual Performance in the Peruvian Andes. Zoila S. Mendoza. (American Ethnologist)

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Thursday, May 26, 2005, 23:48

Cultural lag, a lethal drag

The Globe and Mail

Cultural lag is the term first coined by anthropologists to describe the gap between an invention and society's ability to actually use it. It took about 50 years for the typewriter to displace the pen. When electricity first came to my father's Cape Breton village in the 1930s, it was viewed with distrust and adopted by few. But cultural lag is not just about machinery and inventions, it is also about ideas. >> continue (link updated with copy, already removed from the web!!!)

PS: The Cultural Gap - also an explanation for the reluctant active use of the internet by academics?


John F. Kraus: Cultural Lag or Cultural Drag. The Impact of Resource Depletion on Social Change in Post-Modern Society

Scott London: Understanding Change: The Dynamics of Social Transformation

Culture Change: An Introduction to the Processes
and Consequences of Culture Change

Social Change - overview by SOSIG

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Thursday, May 26, 2005, 23:19

Open Access Anthropology - Debate on Savage Mind

A delayed note on two articles that (again) lead to a debate on the oldfashioned publishing conventions in the social sciences:

Christopher Kelty: Recursive public irony On the difficulties to get a free copy of his own article, published in the journal Cultural Anthropology, when you're not member of the American Anthropological Association.

Alex Golub: Anthrosource — actually useful? Many suggestions on how to design a really useful anthropology portal (that also would prevent such ironies as mentioned in Kelty's article)

Collection of articles on Open Access Anthropology

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 01:12

Too much to read...

... and no time to post! Too many anthropology blogs! No more time to check Google news for anthropology news and comment other bloggers' posts'.... thanks for all the recent comments, though! (written after having read the recent posts on Savage Minds and The Old Revolution among others)

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