Anthropology joins the Alabama-Greece Initiative (Again)

Alexander the Great with Mount Olympus in the background (May 14, 2016).

For the past several years, the UA College of Arts & Sciences has been developing the Alabama-Greece Initiative. As outlined on the Initiative website, it is an effort to “develop an extensive and formal collaborative relationship with Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (AUTh).” In 2015, archaeologist and chair of our Anthropology Department was selected for the Initiative.

Dr. Brown established a relationship with AUTh faculty developing a museum studies program & is returning this summer with UA students to conduct research at Vergina. Vergina is the site of the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, & a large, extended cemetery for the inhabitants of the city of Pella, which was Phillip’s capital & Alexander’s birthplace, before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 90 BC.

This year, I was selected to participate in the 2017 Initiative. Along with Luoheng Han, Ana Corbalan, Andrew Dewar, Vaia Touna, Rebecca Salzer, Amir Zaheri, and Arun Gupta, I traveled to Thessaloniki to meet with potential collaborators and develop a proposal for research. I met with George Kitsios and George Athanasopoulos and discussed plans for an exciting study I’ll share more about in the future. In the meantime, following are some of the photos from our wonderful visit. Thanks to Dean Olin and our partners at AUTh for making this opportunity possible and for the lovely hospitality!

 

Frozen Moments from the Fall

Happy Holidays from the UA Department of Anthropology!

Spring Classroom Activities

Experiential learning is important across the University of Alabama, and Anthropology is no different. Students in my “Primate Religion and Human Consciousness” (UH 300) and “Evolution for Everyone” courses had fun (I hope) this semester with a few of the activities I set up. Primate Religion & Human Consciousness is a course in the cognitive science of religion I teach every spring for the Honors College. This semester we explored cooperation and prosociality by replicating Milgram’s “lost letter” study in Tuscaloosa. Students stuffed envelopes with fake money and sheets with pre-set locations, addressed the envelopes to me, put stamps on them, and dropped them off around town to see how many would be returned from various districts. They also chose cooperative groups (two teams chose churches and the other team chose the UA swim team) to investigate how cooperation is inculcated and maintained. I was impressed at the students’ integration of the two activities in developing conclusions about the roles of sociality in communities that were contrary to many of their initial expectations.

In “Evolution for Everyone” (ANT 150), the goal is to expose students to evolutionary principles and their cross-disciplinary applications and implications. This semester, drawing instructor Charlotte Wegrzynowski introduced students to the principles of drawing, which was once a basic skill of field naturalists before the age of photography. This activity emphasized different ways of knowing and the details we often miss or can never understand without the experience of paying close attention to the parts that make up the whole and the connections between our intellectual and kinesthetic experiences.

Frozen Moments from the Spring

Evolutionary Studies Club Hosts 3rd Annual Darwin Day Colloquium

On February 12, Charles Darwin’s birthday, the UA Evolutionary Studies Club hosted the 3rd annual Darwin Day Colloquium. The event was hosted by the Alabama Museum of Natural History and featured an afternoon of talks from UA students and faculty, in addition to a talk by alumnus Dr. Amanda Glaze and keynote by University of Louisiana at Monroe evolutionary psychologist Dr. Kilian Garvey. Special thanks to the hard work of Club members, particularly Taylor Burbach, who understands why Dr. Lynn recruits students who get as stressed about things as he does—they are the type who get things done, and the result was a smashing success.

This annual event is open to anyone interested in promoting cross-disciplinary evolutionary studies in Alabama and the Southeast region. This includes students of ALL ages, teachers, and those with a personal but abiding interest in improving science-based integrative education. Neither Charles Darwin nor Alfred Wallace (the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection) were academics!

In fact, next year, the University of Alabama and its Evolutionary Studies program will host the first annual SouthEastern Evolutionary Perspectives Society meeting February 12-14, 2016. Proposals for academic and creative presentations are being accepted through July 31, 2015. Email Amanda Glaze (alglazephd@gmail.com) or Steve Platek (splatek@gmail.com) to submit your proposal or for more information. Please consider joining us!

Anthropology & Evolutionary Working Group Host Dr. Pat the Beer Archaeologist

On January 29 the Anthropology Department and Evolution Working Group hosted biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern for an ALLELE (Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution) talk from his book, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcohol. The event included a meeting with the ANT 150 “Evolution for Everyone” students, dinner with Anthropology students, EVOWOG members, and Wendi Schauffer from UA Press, the ALLELE talk, and an Ancient Ales tasting after the talk at Druid City Brewing.

Special thanks to the Evolutionary Studies Club for organizing the tasting and Druid City for hosting and to our students who helped with the logistics. Dr. Pat’s work is endlessly fascinating and will be included in a new spring 2016 course on the “Anthropology of Drugs.” Master’s student Cassie Medeiros, whose research focus is the archaeology of alcohol, particularly evidence of moonshine stills in Alabama, was particularly thrilled to be a part of the event.

Moments from Undergraduate Honors Day 2015

Photos by C. Lynn and I. Brown

Potlatch 2013

The UA Anthropology Department kicks off the academic year and welcomes new members to the department with an annual potlatch. A potlatch involves, ideally, the garnering of prestige thru the gifting of valued objects. These objects obtain their values through the histories of their transfers through the years. Following are some of the highlights of the 2013 potlatch, held in Smith Hall on Friday, August 30.

Dr. John Blitz, Master of Ceremony
Dr. John Blitz, Master of Ceremony
New grad students
Our new meat–er, grad students! Welcome!
The old gang
The old gang
More of our high-achieving grad students
More of our high-achieving grad students

image

Front office goddess, Missy Sartain
Front office goddess, Missy Sartain
Our new front office finance goddess, Teri Kirkendoll
Our new front office finance goddess, Teri Kirkendoll & her husband
It means nothing to me
It means nothing to me
Our new fearless leader & chair, Dr. Ian Brown
Our new fearless leader & chair, Dr. Ian Brown
Dr. Marysia Galbraith
Dr. Marysia Galbraith

image

Loretta Lynn passing the ritual armadillo on to Dr. Steve Kosiba
Loretta Lynn passing the ritual armadillo on to Dr. Steve Kosiba
The valuable "shot-ski" relic has entered the ring
The valuable “shot-ski” relic enters the ring
This lunchbox is a very fine thing
This lunchbox is a very fine thing

image

image

Thank you for the two-year-old cheese puffs, Elizabeth. They are a very fine thing & apparently still edible.
Thank you for the two-year-old cheese puffs, Elizabeth. They are a very fine thing & apparently still edible.

image

image

Steve passes on the ceremonial shin guards on to newly minted Dr. Francois Dengah
Steve passes on the ceremonial shin guards on to newly minted Dr. Francois Dengah
Greg Batchelder thanks LisaMarie Malischke for her warm welcome to the department
Greg Batchelder thanks LisaMarie Malischke for her warm welcome to the department

image

Dr. Dick Diehl passes on the booty of a long & exciting career!
Dr. Dick Diehl passes on the booty of a long & exciting career!
Who will receive the ceremonial ____ shoveler? Hmm...
Who will receive the ceremonial ____ shoveler? Hmm…
Rebecca Bria upset that she didn't get the deity statue or bag of Zapps
Rebecca Bria upset that she didn’t get the deity statue or bag of Zapps

image

image

image

image