22/03/2015

Yesterday was the Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar 2015! This event showcases all sorts of scientific things in a fun way to interact with the public, and I volunteered to assist Prof. Jason Danely at his anthropology stall. 

The stall was called 'Healing Wings', and we spent the day making origami paper cranes with visitors. I know this doesn't sound like your traditional science activity (I bet you were thinking rockets and slime, right?), but we were part of a zone that dealt with healing and medicine. As anthropologists, we cannot ignore the contribution of cultural practices when it comes to healing, and what better way to display this then with paper cranes, a Japanese symbol of spiritual healing.

If you don't know, it is a Japanese belief that if you can make 1000 paper cranes (千羽鶴 - senbazuru) , you will be granted a wish by the crane. Usually this is associated with asking for long life or recovery from illness or injury, which makes them popular gifts for loved ones. 

Paper cranes were made by Japanese people after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is a famous story of Sadoko Sasaki, the girl who was diagnosed with leukemia after the bombings and tried to make 1000 paper cranes, but sadly died before she could finish. This inspired people to strive for peace, and a statue of Sadoko Sasaki holding a golden crane was erected at the Hiroshima Peace Park.



When considering medicine, I think that it is important to include the multitudes of cultural beliefs that make up a huge part of so many peoples' lives. For example, for many Chinese people, western medicine is a relatively new concept, and so you find many people may seek new medicines, but also seek traditional healing (e.g. acupuncture). It has been argued that these treatments, whilst they may have been proven to be "ineffective" in a medical sense, can still make a significant impact on peoples' health. It is the meaning placed on the activity or treatment that has been observed to produce physiological effects (similar to the effects seen when placebos are used). It could be argued therefore that the cultural and spiritual side of healing is an essential part of our being, and we should embrace them wholeheartedly.

As for the bazaar, it was a great success and I believe that Prof. Danely's stall attracted a lot of attention (hurrah for anthropology!). If you would like to know more about Prof. Jason Danely and his work then click here, he has written a very interesting book called 'Aging and Loss: Mourning and Maturity in Contemporary Japan', you should have a look (click the book title).
Prof. Danely (left) and myself at the Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar 2015.
Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

Anthropology at the Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar 2015

Yesterday was the Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar 2015! This event showcases all sorts of scientific things in a fun way to interact with the public, and I volunteered to assist Prof. Jason Danely at his anthropology stall. 

The stall was called 'Healing Wings', and we spent the day making origami paper cranes with visitors. I know this doesn't sound like your traditional science activity (I bet you were thinking rockets and slime, right?), but we were part of a zone that dealt with healing and medicine. As anthropologists, we cannot ignore the contribution of cultural practices when it comes to healing, and what better way to display this then with paper cranes, a Japanese symbol of spiritual healing.

If you don't know, it is a Japanese belief that if you can make 1000 paper cranes (千羽鶴 - senbazuru) , you will be granted a wish by the crane. Usually this is associated with asking for long life or recovery from illness or injury, which makes them popular gifts for loved ones. 

Paper cranes were made by Japanese people after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is a famous story of Sadoko Sasaki, the girl who was diagnosed with leukemia after the bombings and tried to make 1000 paper cranes, but sadly died before she could finish. This inspired people to strive for peace, and a statue of Sadoko Sasaki holding a golden crane was erected at the Hiroshima Peace Park.



When considering medicine, I think that it is important to include the multitudes of cultural beliefs that make up a huge part of so many peoples' lives. For example, for many Chinese people, western medicine is a relatively new concept, and so you find many people may seek new medicines, but also seek traditional healing (e.g. acupuncture). It has been argued that these treatments, whilst they may have been proven to be "ineffective" in a medical sense, can still make a significant impact on peoples' health. It is the meaning placed on the activity or treatment that has been observed to produce physiological effects (similar to the effects seen when placebos are used). It could be argued therefore that the cultural and spiritual side of healing is an essential part of our being, and we should embrace them wholeheartedly.

As for the bazaar, it was a great success and I believe that Prof. Danely's stall attracted a lot of attention (hurrah for anthropology!). If you would like to know more about Prof. Jason Danely and his work then click here, he has written a very interesting book called 'Aging and Loss: Mourning and Maturity in Contemporary Japan', you should have a look (click the book title).
Prof. Danely (left) and myself at the Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar 2015.
Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

28/02/2015

The production and use of stone tools was a crucial point of our ancestral evolution, allowing early hominin to harness greater control over their environment, so understanding when they were first produced and used is an important step. In this essay I want to first look at the original evidence of stone tool use and where they come from, then look at how this evidence has changed and hopefully answer the question of when and where the first stone tools were made and used.


Finds made by Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, led archaeologists to believe that they had discovered the first stone tools (see figure 1), chronologically dated to around 1.85mya (Toth & Schick, 2013). Today, the geographical distribution of finds related to the Oldowan now includes much of northern and southern Africa, southwest Asia and southern Europe, which encompasses several hominin species and habitat types. So identifying the initial responsible hominin is still problematic, and the strongest links seemed to connect to Paranthropus boisei and Homo habilis in the Olduvai gorge (Wynn et al, 2011).

Figure 1: Oldowan Tools From Tanzania

Later discoveries were made at Gona, Ethiopia, in the form of flakes and cobbles, that pushed the dates further back to around 2.5-6mya (McPherron et al, 2010). This time period suggests that they were produced and used by species of hominin at the time, including Australopithicus africanus and aethiopicus. However another possible candidate is Australopithicus garhi, found in Bouri, Middle Awash, alongside cut marked animal bones; and although there were no stone tools at the site, they correspond with roughly contemporary sediments at Gona (Toth & Schick, 2013). This changed the perspective of early hominin abilities, as there seemed to be an astonishing level of skill in the tools made by what were previously seen to be 'specialised apes', therefore questions were raised as to whether stone tool manufacture was in fact older still (de la Torre, 2011).

It was argued that the tools found at Gona were too advanced to be the first attempts by early hominin, and a discovery made at Dikika, an area close to Gona, seemed to support this theory. Two fossilised bones of large herbivores were found with what looked like cut marks from stone tools (see figure 2), which would mean that they were in use 800,000 years before previously thought (Dominguez-Rodrigo et al, 2010). This caused considerable excitement, due to the fact that the hominin species at that time was Australopithicus afarensis, a species previously thought too primitive to use stone tools, and supporting analysis of the hand of A. afarensis shows short fingers capable of fine-scale manipulation needed for tool use (Braun, 2010).

Figure 2: Cut marked bones, with scans, from Dikika Ethiopia

However, there is a strong possibility that the marks on the bones were caused by crocodiles, as they correspond equally to the tick shaped nicks that Nile crocodiles and Griffon vultures can create (Domínguez-Rodrigo, 2012). Another cause could be 'trampling', in this case the substrate movement of the fossils, which causes patterns of damage, mostly in lithics and bone, that make it extremely difficult to differentiate them from tools used for butchery (Nielsen, 1991), rendering hypotheses using such evidence questionable.

In conclusion, due to the lack of direct evidence from the Dikika site, the date still officially stands at 2.5-6mya, originating in eastern Africa, with archaeological evidence centered around the Middle Awash. That isn't to say that stone tools weren't used up until this point; as argued by Pitt Rivers, Oldowan tools were probably preceded by stone tools similar to those used by modern chimpanzees, we just don't have sufficient evidence to fully support this theory (Panger et al, 2002).

Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

References:

Braun, D.R. (2010). Australopithecine Butchers. Nature, 466(7308), pp. 828.

Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T. R., & Bunn, H. T. (2010). Configurational approach to identifying the earliest hominin butchers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(49), pp. 20929-20934.

Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T. R., & Bunn, H. T. (2012). Experimental study of cut marks made with rocks unmodified by human flaking and its bearing on claims of∼ 3.4-million-year-old butchery evidence from Dikika, Ethiopia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(2), pp. 205-214. 

McPherron, S. P., Alemseged, Z., Marean, C. W. et al. (2010). Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 466(7308), pp. 857-860. 

Nielsen, A.E. (1991). Trampling the Archaeological Record: An Experimental Study. American Antiquity, 56(3), pp. 483-503.

Panger, M. A., Brooks, A. S., Richmond, B. G., & Wood, B. (2002). Older than the Oldowan? Rethinking the emergence of hominin tool use. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 11(6), pp. 235-245.

de la Torre, I. (2011). The Origins of Stone Tool Technology in Africa: a Historical Perspective. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 366(1567), pp. 1028-1037.

Toth, N. & Schick,K. (2013). African Origins. In C. Scarre (ed) The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies. Thames & Hudson: London pp. 46-83.

Wynn, T., Hernandez-Aguilar, R. A., Marchant, L. F., & Mcgrew, W. C. (2011). An ape's view of the Oldowan revisited. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 20(5), pp. 181-197.

Image references:

Figure 1: http://lithiccastinglab.com/images/olduancoresgroup.jpg

Figure 2: McPherron, S. P., Alemseged, Z., Marean, C. W. et al. (2010). Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 466(7308), pp. 857-860.

When and Where Did Hominin Begin to Make and Use Stone Tools? - A short Essay

The production and use of stone tools was a crucial point of our ancestral evolution, allowing early hominin to harness greater control over their environment, so understanding when they were first produced and used is an important step. In this essay I want to first look at the original evidence of stone tool use and where they come from, then look at how this evidence has changed and hopefully answer the question of when and where the first stone tools were made and used.


Finds made by Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, led archaeologists to believe that they had discovered the first stone tools (see figure 1), chronologically dated to around 1.85mya (Toth & Schick, 2013). Today, the geographical distribution of finds related to the Oldowan now includes much of northern and southern Africa, southwest Asia and southern Europe, which encompasses several hominin species and habitat types. So identifying the initial responsible hominin is still problematic, and the strongest links seemed to connect to Paranthropus boisei and Homo habilis in the Olduvai gorge (Wynn et al, 2011).

Figure 1: Oldowan Tools From Tanzania

Later discoveries were made at Gona, Ethiopia, in the form of flakes and cobbles, that pushed the dates further back to around 2.5-6mya (McPherron et al, 2010). This time period suggests that they were produced and used by species of hominin at the time, including Australopithicus africanus and aethiopicus. However another possible candidate is Australopithicus garhi, found in Bouri, Middle Awash, alongside cut marked animal bones; and although there were no stone tools at the site, they correspond with roughly contemporary sediments at Gona (Toth & Schick, 2013). This changed the perspective of early hominin abilities, as there seemed to be an astonishing level of skill in the tools made by what were previously seen to be 'specialised apes', therefore questions were raised as to whether stone tool manufacture was in fact older still (de la Torre, 2011).

It was argued that the tools found at Gona were too advanced to be the first attempts by early hominin, and a discovery made at Dikika, an area close to Gona, seemed to support this theory. Two fossilised bones of large herbivores were found with what looked like cut marks from stone tools (see figure 2), which would mean that they were in use 800,000 years before previously thought (Dominguez-Rodrigo et al, 2010). This caused considerable excitement, due to the fact that the hominin species at that time was Australopithicus afarensis, a species previously thought too primitive to use stone tools, and supporting analysis of the hand of A. afarensis shows short fingers capable of fine-scale manipulation needed for tool use (Braun, 2010).

Figure 2: Cut marked bones, with scans, from Dikika Ethiopia

However, there is a strong possibility that the marks on the bones were caused by crocodiles, as they correspond equally to the tick shaped nicks that Nile crocodiles and Griffon vultures can create (Domínguez-Rodrigo, 2012). Another cause could be 'trampling', in this case the substrate movement of the fossils, which causes patterns of damage, mostly in lithics and bone, that make it extremely difficult to differentiate them from tools used for butchery (Nielsen, 1991), rendering hypotheses using such evidence questionable.

In conclusion, due to the lack of direct evidence from the Dikika site, the date still officially stands at 2.5-6mya, originating in eastern Africa, with archaeological evidence centered around the Middle Awash. That isn't to say that stone tools weren't used up until this point; as argued by Pitt Rivers, Oldowan tools were probably preceded by stone tools similar to those used by modern chimpanzees, we just don't have sufficient evidence to fully support this theory (Panger et al, 2002).

Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

References:

Braun, D.R. (2010). Australopithecine Butchers. Nature, 466(7308), pp. 828.

Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T. R., & Bunn, H. T. (2010). Configurational approach to identifying the earliest hominin butchers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(49), pp. 20929-20934.

Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T. R., & Bunn, H. T. (2012). Experimental study of cut marks made with rocks unmodified by human flaking and its bearing on claims of∼ 3.4-million-year-old butchery evidence from Dikika, Ethiopia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(2), pp. 205-214. 

McPherron, S. P., Alemseged, Z., Marean, C. W. et al. (2010). Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 466(7308), pp. 857-860. 

Nielsen, A.E. (1991). Trampling the Archaeological Record: An Experimental Study. American Antiquity, 56(3), pp. 483-503.

Panger, M. A., Brooks, A. S., Richmond, B. G., & Wood, B. (2002). Older than the Oldowan? Rethinking the emergence of hominin tool use. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 11(6), pp. 235-245.

de la Torre, I. (2011). The Origins of Stone Tool Technology in Africa: a Historical Perspective. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 366(1567), pp. 1028-1037.

Toth, N. & Schick,K. (2013). African Origins. In C. Scarre (ed) The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies. Thames & Hudson: London pp. 46-83.

Wynn, T., Hernandez-Aguilar, R. A., Marchant, L. F., & Mcgrew, W. C. (2011). An ape's view of the Oldowan revisited. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 20(5), pp. 181-197.

Image references:

Figure 1: http://lithiccastinglab.com/images/olduancoresgroup.jpg

Figure 2: McPherron, S. P., Alemseged, Z., Marean, C. W. et al. (2010). Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 466(7308), pp. 857-860.

16/02/2015

Today, many anthropologists conduct fieldwork by travelling to (if necessary) a chosen destination to live with people and conduct ethnographic research by practicing 'participant observation'; staying in area long enough to be considered 'natural' by the natives (Eriksen, 1995, pp.27). Bronislaw Malinowski is regarded as a founder of modern anthropology for his promotion (not necessarily creation) of these 'intensive personal fieldwork' methods that "revolutionized the content and practice of anthropology" (Wax, 1972, pp.2-3). Herealised that one could not create an accurate picture of peoples' lives from the comfort of an armchair, that one must physically live and observe people to truly understand them, which changed the face of anthropology completely. In light of this, I will be looking at what the point is of carrying out such fieldwork.

The way in which fieldwork is carried out obviously differs between anthropologists, due to differences in working style, location, risks, and many more factors. In his ethnography: "Japanese Working Class Lives, An Ethnographic Study of Factory Workers", Roberson chose the Shintani Metals Company to conduct his research on the lives of factory workers in Japan, after having not much idea what to do. However, Roberson's approach wasn't to simply observe the people at work, he actually asked to work with them, eventually working full weeks from 08:00 until 17:00 or more, in addition to writing up his research notes. This may seem like it could be counterproductive to his research, Roberson even says he started asking himself "is this Anthropology? Are you really going to write about this?!" (pp.25). Nevertheless it is then revealed that this participation allowed Roberson to get much closer to the workers, as he was considered a fellow colleague, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for his research (Roberson, 1998).
However, fieldwork can never be perfect. The very nature of fieldwork itself leaves it vulnerable to flaws and oversights, whether they are down to the anthropologists themselves, or uncontrollable external conditions. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to defamiliarise oneself, but is a skill that can provide new perspectives without the limits of one's own cultural experience and ways of thinking. It can be hard to change oneself to allow conformity to social regulations and rules, but may be the key to gaining the trust of a group of people (which is a huge part of fieldwork; if people don't trust you, you won't learn anything), as we see that MacClancy had this issue during his fieldwork in Ulí Alto, where the natives' main problem was his formality. They wanted to see him more emotionally involved, even going as far as to say he should have maintained a girlfriend there (MacClancy, 1988, pp.239). Another main issue with fieldwork is the question of ethics, whether it is the privacy of people's information, or even whether the people's safety is at risk. We see that in an attempt to make public the outrageous actions of the American military against South American refugees, Bourgois disregarded the privacy rights of his subjects and host country to make his statement to the media for the suffering people (Bourgois, 1990). 

So we can see that fieldwork in its nature is a tricky thing to get right, but that doesn't make it any less important when trying to understand one's research subjects. It's for this reason that since Malinowski's initial foundation of effective fieldwork methods, the process has changed and indeed improved. The emergence of multi-sited ethnography has potentially improved the perspectives available to anthropologists conducting fieldwork as "one learns more about a slice of a world system" giving a "definite sense of doing more than just ethnography" (Marcus, 1995, pp.113-114). Also, a re-evaluation of the way anthropologists conduct fieldwork in relation to their subjects of study has highlighted the benefits of collaborative ethnography. This approach allows anthropologists to "probe the deep mysteries of the human species" by pulling together different anthropological traditions (academic, applied etc.) to gain a much deeper understanding (Peacock, 1997, cited in Lassiter, 2005).

In conclusion, I personally believe that fieldwork is anthropology's main component. Without fieldwork, there would be very limited understanding in regards to different cultures, as it is the act of 'participant observation' that allows an anthropologist to truly learn about a culture through experience. What do you think? Is fieldwork truly the most important part of anthropology? If not, then what is? Please leave your comment below...

Thanks for reading!



Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

References:
Bourgois, P. (1990). Confronting Anthropological Ethics: Ethnographic Lessons from Central America. Journal of Peace Research 27(1), pp.43-54.

Eriksen, T.H. (2010). Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology. 3rd ed. London: Pluto.

Lassiter, L.E. (2005). Collaborative Ethnography and Public Anthropology. Current Anthropology 46(1), pp.83-106.

MacClancy, J. (1988). Going Nowhere: From Melanesia to the Mediterranean. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford XIX(3), pp. 233-240.

Marcus, G. (1995). Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, pp.95-117.

Peacock, J.L. (1997). The Future of Anthropology. American Anthropologist 99(1), pp.9-17.

Roberson, J.E. (1998). Japanese Working Class Lives: An Ethnographic Study of Factory Workers. London: Routledge.

Wax, M. (1972). Tenting with Malinowski. American Sociological review 37(1), pp.1-13.

Anthropology Fieldwork: A Short Comment

Today, many anthropologists conduct fieldwork by travelling to (if necessary) a chosen destination to live with people and conduct ethnographic research by practicing 'participant observation'; staying in area long enough to be considered 'natural' by the natives (Eriksen, 1995, pp.27). Bronislaw Malinowski is regarded as a founder of modern anthropology for his promotion (not necessarily creation) of these 'intensive personal fieldwork' methods that "revolutionized the content and practice of anthropology" (Wax, 1972, pp.2-3). Herealised that one could not create an accurate picture of peoples' lives from the comfort of an armchair, that one must physically live and observe people to truly understand them, which changed the face of anthropology completely. In light of this, I will be looking at what the point is of carrying out such fieldwork.

The way in which fieldwork is carried out obviously differs between anthropologists, due to differences in working style, location, risks, and many more factors. In his ethnography: "Japanese Working Class Lives, An Ethnographic Study of Factory Workers", Roberson chose the Shintani Metals Company to conduct his research on the lives of factory workers in Japan, after having not much idea what to do. However, Roberson's approach wasn't to simply observe the people at work, he actually asked to work with them, eventually working full weeks from 08:00 until 17:00 or more, in addition to writing up his research notes. This may seem like it could be counterproductive to his research, Roberson even says he started asking himself "is this Anthropology? Are you really going to write about this?!" (pp.25). Nevertheless it is then revealed that this participation allowed Roberson to get much closer to the workers, as he was considered a fellow colleague, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for his research (Roberson, 1998).
However, fieldwork can never be perfect. The very nature of fieldwork itself leaves it vulnerable to flaws and oversights, whether they are down to the anthropologists themselves, or uncontrollable external conditions. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to defamiliarise oneself, but is a skill that can provide new perspectives without the limits of one's own cultural experience and ways of thinking. It can be hard to change oneself to allow conformity to social regulations and rules, but may be the key to gaining the trust of a group of people (which is a huge part of fieldwork; if people don't trust you, you won't learn anything), as we see that MacClancy had this issue during his fieldwork in Ulí Alto, where the natives' main problem was his formality. They wanted to see him more emotionally involved, even going as far as to say he should have maintained a girlfriend there (MacClancy, 1988, pp.239). Another main issue with fieldwork is the question of ethics, whether it is the privacy of people's information, or even whether the people's safety is at risk. We see that in an attempt to make public the outrageous actions of the American military against South American refugees, Bourgois disregarded the privacy rights of his subjects and host country to make his statement to the media for the suffering people (Bourgois, 1990). 

So we can see that fieldwork in its nature is a tricky thing to get right, but that doesn't make it any less important when trying to understand one's research subjects. It's for this reason that since Malinowski's initial foundation of effective fieldwork methods, the process has changed and indeed improved. The emergence of multi-sited ethnography has potentially improved the perspectives available to anthropologists conducting fieldwork as "one learns more about a slice of a world system" giving a "definite sense of doing more than just ethnography" (Marcus, 1995, pp.113-114). Also, a re-evaluation of the way anthropologists conduct fieldwork in relation to their subjects of study has highlighted the benefits of collaborative ethnography. This approach allows anthropologists to "probe the deep mysteries of the human species" by pulling together different anthropological traditions (academic, applied etc.) to gain a much deeper understanding (Peacock, 1997, cited in Lassiter, 2005).

In conclusion, I personally believe that fieldwork is anthropology's main component. Without fieldwork, there would be very limited understanding in regards to different cultures, as it is the act of 'participant observation' that allows an anthropologist to truly learn about a culture through experience. What do you think? Is fieldwork truly the most important part of anthropology? If not, then what is? Please leave your comment below...

Thanks for reading!



Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

References:
Bourgois, P. (1990). Confronting Anthropological Ethics: Ethnographic Lessons from Central America. Journal of Peace Research 27(1), pp.43-54.

Eriksen, T.H. (2010). Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology. 3rd ed. London: Pluto.

Lassiter, L.E. (2005). Collaborative Ethnography and Public Anthropology. Current Anthropology 46(1), pp.83-106.

MacClancy, J. (1988). Going Nowhere: From Melanesia to the Mediterranean. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford XIX(3), pp. 233-240.

Marcus, G. (1995). Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, pp.95-117.

Peacock, J.L. (1997). The Future of Anthropology. American Anthropologist 99(1), pp.9-17.

Roberson, J.E. (1998). Japanese Working Class Lives: An Ethnographic Study of Factory Workers. London: Routledge.

Wax, M. (1972). Tenting with Malinowski. American Sociological review 37(1), pp.1-13.

04/08/2014

A few weeks ago I asked whether anyone wanted to send anything that they would like posted as a guest post. I received a few replies, and here's one from Maria Carrillo who can find here on Facebook

Connecting to Family and Religion While in College - Maria Carrillo


"With the coming of fall semester only a few weeks away comes the beginning of a new college. Living away from their parents, already living out of the home, or planning to commute, college students will be embarking on an adventure and developing what I call their own student identities. Part of their identity will be reflected in how they dress, activities they participate in, and perhaps most importantly what they choose as a major and field of study. Despite their age, sex, or even cultural background, all will be exposed to new ideas, ways of thinking, and topics that may put into perspective or question their current beliefs. Despite their course of study and years it may take to finish, a degree students will learn to become critical thinkers and analyze educational information presented to them. How does the process of critical analysis of information spill into their personal lives and analysis of their own personal beliefs?


Through a series of ethnographic interviews conducted as part of my thesis project, I found that family can be a key player that aids in the reinforcement of culture and spirituality during students college years and a silent force that brings students back to some of their core beliefs years after graduating. I also found that the skills of critical analysis that students develop in college, for analyzing research and information, are not always applied to their life. I believe this is an example of the process of compartmentalizing that permits students to develop new identities during and after college.  


While not the case across the board, students tend to put personal beliefs, specifically religious, spiritual beliefs on the “back burner” of their thoughts while in college. The view their family has of them is still important to them even while pursuing their own desires. It is important that as individuals they can develop an individual identity while still maintaining some connection to their family and culture. When asked about their current religious beliefs students would almost automatically refer to “how they were raised,” their family’s beliefs, and how despite their lack of time, they maintained these relationships. When engaged in discussions about their religious and spiritual beliefs students will often bring up ideas of family, time, and critical analysis. Perhaps even more interesting is the question of whether or not individuals revert back to beliefs or adapt changes post higher education. 


The college years are typically marked by the ability an individual has to explore their identity without large outside influence. They may lack a comfort with the idea of having to defend their beliefs. As they become increasingly exposed to new ideas in college, students realize that their beliefs are not the only ones out there. This realization could be part of what prompts students to hold back and listen to others. They realize they are no longer in their home community and now have to pass to form part of a larger community where everyone feels differently. I believe that can be said about the student experience at any age and exploring religious and spiritual beliefs is one part of that."


I'd like to say a big thank you to Maria for the wonderful information and all the work she put into this post, please feel free to leave comments below.


Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

Connecting to Family and Religion While in College - Guest post from Maria Carrillo

A few weeks ago I asked whether anyone wanted to send anything that they would like posted as a guest post. I received a few replies, and here's one from Maria Carrillo who can find here on Facebook

Connecting to Family and Religion While in College - Maria Carrillo


"With the coming of fall semester only a few weeks away comes the beginning of a new college. Living away from their parents, already living out of the home, or planning to commute, college students will be embarking on an adventure and developing what I call their own student identities. Part of their identity will be reflected in how they dress, activities they participate in, and perhaps most importantly what they choose as a major and field of study. Despite their age, sex, or even cultural background, all will be exposed to new ideas, ways of thinking, and topics that may put into perspective or question their current beliefs. Despite their course of study and years it may take to finish, a degree students will learn to become critical thinkers and analyze educational information presented to them. How does the process of critical analysis of information spill into their personal lives and analysis of their own personal beliefs?


Through a series of ethnographic interviews conducted as part of my thesis project, I found that family can be a key player that aids in the reinforcement of culture and spirituality during students college years and a silent force that brings students back to some of their core beliefs years after graduating. I also found that the skills of critical analysis that students develop in college, for analyzing research and information, are not always applied to their life. I believe this is an example of the process of compartmentalizing that permits students to develop new identities during and after college.  


While not the case across the board, students tend to put personal beliefs, specifically religious, spiritual beliefs on the “back burner” of their thoughts while in college. The view their family has of them is still important to them even while pursuing their own desires. It is important that as individuals they can develop an individual identity while still maintaining some connection to their family and culture. When asked about their current religious beliefs students would almost automatically refer to “how they were raised,” their family’s beliefs, and how despite their lack of time, they maintained these relationships. When engaged in discussions about their religious and spiritual beliefs students will often bring up ideas of family, time, and critical analysis. Perhaps even more interesting is the question of whether or not individuals revert back to beliefs or adapt changes post higher education. 


The college years are typically marked by the ability an individual has to explore their identity without large outside influence. They may lack a comfort with the idea of having to defend their beliefs. As they become increasingly exposed to new ideas in college, students realize that their beliefs are not the only ones out there. This realization could be part of what prompts students to hold back and listen to others. They realize they are no longer in their home community and now have to pass to form part of a larger community where everyone feels differently. I believe that can be said about the student experience at any age and exploring religious and spiritual beliefs is one part of that."


I'd like to say a big thank you to Maria for the wonderful information and all the work she put into this post, please feel free to leave comments below.


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06/07/2014

Hello readers, here's an interesting video about the language and it's role in human nature. I've posted a video by RSA animate before, because I think they are incredibly informative and bring forward great ideas and insights, so I will definitely be posting more in the future (so if you like them, check back often!):



Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

RSA Animate - Language as a Window into Human Nature

Hello readers, here's an interesting video about the language and it's role in human nature. I've posted a video by RSA animate before, because I think they are incredibly informative and bring forward great ideas and insights, so I will definitely be posting more in the future (so if you like them, check back often!):



Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

05/07/2014

Here you go Readers, this is random funny post #3...

I thought this one was funny, because even though it's poking fun at scientists (in a lighthearted way), there does seem to be a truth about the integrity and dedication shown by many scientists in regards to their work. I know, I know, that seems like a cheesy thing to say about a comic like this, so ignore me and have a laugh:



http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1480#comic
Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

[Image credit: Zach Weiner (you can find more funny comics by Zach Weiner Here)]


Funny Picture #4 (Anthropology Comic)

Here you go Readers, this is random funny post #3...

I thought this one was funny, because even though it's poking fun at scientists (in a lighthearted way), there does seem to be a truth about the integrity and dedication shown by many scientists in regards to their work. I know, I know, that seems like a cheesy thing to say about a comic like this, so ignore me and have a laugh:



http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1480#comic
Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

[Image credit: Zach Weiner (you can find more funny comics by Zach Weiner Here)]


04/07/2014

This is an interesting piece of information that I actually saw thanks to Robin Öberg on Facebook. It describes the different aspects in which the modern myth of the Slenderman have evolved into something more than just an urban legend or scary story. 

The 'Slenderman'
Almost every generation has created its own monsters and myths, from folk tales to the fear of TV inspired foes such as 'Jaws', but this generation's  monster was spawned from the internet. To the internet users that know the Slenderman well, it is a 'suburban ghoul' that dwells in the darkest places we can think of; old abandoned buildings, rusty old playgrounds and silent dark woods.

The Slenderman has its own history, methodology and, as of late, controversy due to an attack in Wisconsin during which two girls stabbed another in order to appease Slenderman’s dark needs. On May 31, two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin stabbed a third girl nearly to death, believing that the Slenderman was threatening their families and reading their minds, and that he would appear if they killed for him. It was a terrible incident that highlighted the underlying psychological effects of the internet and its influences on its users. 

Unlike most urban legends, the Slenderman's origins are quite clear, he was born on June 8, 2009, on a forum site frequented by Photoshop pranksters. He belongs to a man in Florida named Eric Knudsen who is surprised that the Slenderman has not been discarded like so many other internet phases. Slenderman first appeared on the SomethingAwful forums under a thread titled “Create Paranormal Images.” It appeared as a tall, out of focus figure standing next to a tree accompanied by the text: 

“One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.”

– 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.

Other posters also added their own back-story content that went back as far as 16th-century Germany and even to 5000 BC, and some added their own photos. One particularly clever image is a modified woodcut. In the original, a skeleton takes a child from its parents, perhaps into death. In the modified version, the skeleton has long arms and legs and its misshapen skull is hidden by the eaves of the house.




In the following months, Slenderman gained specific definition, courtesy of a poster on Yahoo Answers in 2011, two years after the original posts: 

The Slender Man is a supernatural creature that is described as appearing as a normal human being but he is described as being 8 feet tall and he has vectors or extra appendages that are described to be as sharp as swords. The creature is known to stalk humans and cause many disappearances. He is described as a shadow creature that has missing a face. The creature fits into many mythologies in legends from nations such as germany and celts which brings up the possibility that he could be real. A man named victor Surge found this legend and made his own version of it which he called slender man. The slender man is not exactly evil according to mythology but victor Surge’s version shows him as an evil creature that stalks humans to kill. In mythology he was actually trying to save you from a painful death by taking you to the under world early.

Interestingly, Slenderman was born of the previous generation’s boogeymen. From a long interview with Slenderman’s creator, Knudsen AKA Victor Surge.

I was mostly influenced by H.P Lovecraft, Stephan King (specifically his short stories), the surreal imaginings of William S. Burroughs, and couple games of the survival horror genre; Silent Hill and Resident Evil. I feel the most direct influences were Zack Parsons’s “That Insidious Beast”, the Steven King short story “The Mist”, the SA tale regarding “The Rake”, reports of so-called shadow people, Mothman, and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. I used these to formulate asomething whose motivations can barely be comprehended and causes general unease and terror in a general population.

The key word there is terror; as it is widely disputed as to what the Slenderman does when he 'gets you'. Based on this, there was a popular video game created, where the player simply walks through a fenced off forest area in the dark, searching for eight pieces of paper with various warnings about the Slenderman on them. However, as you find more and more pages, and you catch glimpses of the Slenderman, when he 'gets you' he doesn't kill you, you simply disappear in a cloud of electric snow.

As you can see, one of the most iconic internet images began as an image on a photoshop forum, and has become something of a legend. Many are the people who have glimpsed his form through the trees after exposure to the frightening idea on the internet, and thus he will be a symbol of fear for many years to come...

(I'd like to thank the author of the original article Here.)

Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

[Image credit: Lu1uLemon, Unknown]

The Slenderman Story

This is an interesting piece of information that I actually saw thanks to Robin Öberg on Facebook. It describes the different aspects in which the modern myth of the Slenderman have evolved into something more than just an urban legend or scary story. 

The 'Slenderman'
Almost every generation has created its own monsters and myths, from folk tales to the fear of TV inspired foes such as 'Jaws', but this generation's  monster was spawned from the internet. To the internet users that know the Slenderman well, it is a 'suburban ghoul' that dwells in the darkest places we can think of; old abandoned buildings, rusty old playgrounds and silent dark woods.

The Slenderman has its own history, methodology and, as of late, controversy due to an attack in Wisconsin during which two girls stabbed another in order to appease Slenderman’s dark needs. On May 31, two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin stabbed a third girl nearly to death, believing that the Slenderman was threatening their families and reading their minds, and that he would appear if they killed for him. It was a terrible incident that highlighted the underlying psychological effects of the internet and its influences on its users. 

Unlike most urban legends, the Slenderman's origins are quite clear, he was born on June 8, 2009, on a forum site frequented by Photoshop pranksters. He belongs to a man in Florida named Eric Knudsen who is surprised that the Slenderman has not been discarded like so many other internet phases. Slenderman first appeared on the SomethingAwful forums under a thread titled “Create Paranormal Images.” It appeared as a tall, out of focus figure standing next to a tree accompanied by the text: 

“One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.”

– 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.

Other posters also added their own back-story content that went back as far as 16th-century Germany and even to 5000 BC, and some added their own photos. One particularly clever image is a modified woodcut. In the original, a skeleton takes a child from its parents, perhaps into death. In the modified version, the skeleton has long arms and legs and its misshapen skull is hidden by the eaves of the house.




In the following months, Slenderman gained specific definition, courtesy of a poster on Yahoo Answers in 2011, two years after the original posts: 

The Slender Man is a supernatural creature that is described as appearing as a normal human being but he is described as being 8 feet tall and he has vectors or extra appendages that are described to be as sharp as swords. The creature is known to stalk humans and cause many disappearances. He is described as a shadow creature that has missing a face. The creature fits into many mythologies in legends from nations such as germany and celts which brings up the possibility that he could be real. A man named victor Surge found this legend and made his own version of it which he called slender man. The slender man is not exactly evil according to mythology but victor Surge’s version shows him as an evil creature that stalks humans to kill. In mythology he was actually trying to save you from a painful death by taking you to the under world early.

Interestingly, Slenderman was born of the previous generation’s boogeymen. From a long interview with Slenderman’s creator, Knudsen AKA Victor Surge.

I was mostly influenced by H.P Lovecraft, Stephan King (specifically his short stories), the surreal imaginings of William S. Burroughs, and couple games of the survival horror genre; Silent Hill and Resident Evil. I feel the most direct influences were Zack Parsons’s “That Insidious Beast”, the Steven King short story “The Mist”, the SA tale regarding “The Rake”, reports of so-called shadow people, Mothman, and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. I used these to formulate asomething whose motivations can barely be comprehended and causes general unease and terror in a general population.

The key word there is terror; as it is widely disputed as to what the Slenderman does when he 'gets you'. Based on this, there was a popular video game created, where the player simply walks through a fenced off forest area in the dark, searching for eight pieces of paper with various warnings about the Slenderman on them. However, as you find more and more pages, and you catch glimpses of the Slenderman, when he 'gets you' he doesn't kill you, you simply disappear in a cloud of electric snow.

As you can see, one of the most iconic internet images began as an image on a photoshop forum, and has become something of a legend. Many are the people who have glimpsed his form through the trees after exposure to the frightening idea on the internet, and thus he will be a symbol of fear for many years to come...

(I'd like to thank the author of the original article Here.)

Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

[Image credit: Lu1uLemon, Unknown]

29/06/2014

Hey all, just to let you know that Harris Anthropology is now listed on the Anthropology Report 2014! 


There are lots of amazing anthropology blogs on the list, and I'm quite proud that it's been added. You can find the website here:



So, if you're interested in becoming part of this blog, then please, follow it using the follow widget in the sidebar, you won't be disappointed. You can also find me on:




Thanks for listening guys and gals, it's thanks to your support that this blog has come so far :)

Anthropology Blogs 2014

Hey all, just to let you know that Harris Anthropology is now listed on the Anthropology Report 2014! 


There are lots of amazing anthropology blogs on the list, and I'm quite proud that it's been added. You can find the website here:



So, if you're interested in becoming part of this blog, then please, follow it using the follow widget in the sidebar, you won't be disappointed. You can also find me on:




Thanks for listening guys and gals, it's thanks to your support that this blog has come so far :)

25/06/2014

Okay, I know that this isn't the most important discovery that modern archaeologists have made, but it deserves to be heard nonetheless. After all, lots of us wear trousers (or pants) today, so it stands to reason that we should be interested in when they were (possibly) first worn, am I right?

Anyway, back to the story. State media in China has stated that two pairs of trousers were found, in the far-western Xinjiang region, that date back as far as 3,300 years, and may possibly be the oldest trousers in existence. The state-run China Daily cited scientists as saying that the trousers (found by Archaeologists in May) are made from animal fur and were found on the bodies of two mummified male Shamans, probably in their 40s. 
Photograph: M Wagner/German Archaeological Institute
An international is working together to repair and preserve the pairs of trousers, which are currently the oldest with any resemblance to modern trousers. "They were almost the same shape as today's trousers," the report quoted Lu Enguo, a researcher at the Institute of Archaeology in Xinjiang. Even older apparel resembling trousers have previously been discovered in the region, but they were made according to a more simple design and lacked a piece of fabric covering the crotch, Lu added.

Archaeologists believe that trousers were invented by Nomads in the area for the purpose of horse riding. The nomads "at first wore a kind of trousers that only had the legs," said Xu Dongliang, deputy head of the institute, adding that "crotches were sewed on to the legs, and gradually other styles, such as bloomers, appeared". The report also stated that previously, the oldest pair of trousers that included a crotch were just 2,800 years old.

So there you have it. Archaeologists may have found the origin of our fabric leg friends, or at least their oldest surviving ancestors (If I had discovered those mummies, the story would have been "3,300 year old Mummies found wearing skinny jeans").

(I'd like to acknowledge The Guardian as the source of this information, which can be found Here.)

Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ too, Thanks. 

Archaeologists Have Discovered the World's Oldest... Trousers

Okay, I know that this isn't the most important discovery that modern archaeologists have made, but it deserves to be heard nonetheless. After all, lots of us wear trousers (or pants) today, so it stands to reason that we should be interested in when they were (possibly) first worn, am I right?

Anyway, back to the story. State media in China has stated that two pairs of trousers were found, in the far-western Xinjiang region, that date back as far as 3,300 years, and may possibly be the oldest trousers in existence. The state-run China Daily cited scientists as saying that the trousers (found by Archaeologists in May) are made from animal fur and were found on the bodies of two mummified male Shamans, probably in their 40s. 
Photograph: M Wagner/German Archaeological Institute
An international is working together to repair and preserve the pairs of trousers, which are currently the oldest with any resemblance to modern trousers. "They were almost the same shape as today's trousers," the report quoted Lu Enguo, a researcher at the Institute of Archaeology in Xinjiang. Even older apparel resembling trousers have previously been discovered in the region, but they were made according to a more simple design and lacked a piece of fabric covering the crotch, Lu added.

Archaeologists believe that trousers were invented by Nomads in the area for the purpose of horse riding. The nomads "at first wore a kind of trousers that only had the legs," said Xu Dongliang, deputy head of the institute, adding that "crotches were sewed on to the legs, and gradually other styles, such as bloomers, appeared". The report also stated that previously, the oldest pair of trousers that included a crotch were just 2,800 years old.

So there you have it. Archaeologists may have found the origin of our fabric leg friends, or at least their oldest surviving ancestors (If I had discovered those mummies, the story would have been "3,300 year old Mummies found wearing skinny jeans").

(I'd like to acknowledge The Guardian as the source of this information, which can be found Here.)

Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ too, Thanks. 

21/06/2014


Here you go Anthropologists, this is random funny post #3...



http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1528#comic
Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

[Image credit: Zach Weiner (you can find more funny comics by Zach Weiner Here)]

Funny Picture #3 (Anthropology Comic)


Here you go Anthropologists, this is random funny post #3...



http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1528#comic
Please don't forget to follow this blog (which you can do via the sidebar) to keep up to date with anthropological and scientific news and research, and check out Harris Anthropology on FacebookTwitter and Google+ too, Thanks.

[Image credit: Zach Weiner (you can find more funny comics by Zach Weiner Here)]