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The Embeddedness of Cultural Knowledge: How Social Networks Shape Cultural Consonance
Published 3/19/2016 in Anthropology to the Max
Author Max Stein
The relationship between social networks and health has been well-established in anthropology, and more generally the social sciences, ever since Émile Durkheim uncovered the link between social isolation and suicide. Medical anthropologists, too, have long recognized that persons with more diverse social ties and greater emotional and economic support are typically healthier. Still, few have ventured beyond simply linking social involvement to well-being to explore how this association is intensified by the added role of culture. Specifically, how does the embeddedness of shared cultural knowledge in a social network contribute to the deleterious effects of the social sphere on health, through the added impact of psychosocial stress arising from incongruity with these beliefs? I recently concluded nearly two years of data collection in Peru for my dissertation, amassing social network data for hundreds of people in an attempt to answer this question. My research involves a group of internal migrants from... read more ❯
Guys, We're Finally Talking About Monkeys.
  Pia Nystrom Pia Nystrom and Pamela Ashmore are university professors, researchers, and best friends. They are also passionate animal lovers. Nystrom and Ashmore both received PhDs in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis where they met as graduate students. Nystrom now lectures across the Atlantic at the University of Sheffield in the UK, while Ashmore is an Anthropology department head at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Though they have lived in different continents since 1994, these two friends managed to write a book for undergraduates on their favorite subject, primates. The Life of Primates (2008) gives the reader an in-depth yet straightforward review of nonhuman primate biology. This includes the social behaviors, environments, and cognitive processes of primates as well as basic physiology. The chapter we’ll be discussing is “The Primate Brain and Complex Behavior.” In this section, Nystrom and Ashmore cover a broad range of topics from they “why”s to... read more ❯
The Bribri and the way of Siwa
Published 10/14/2014 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
Sometimes while searching frantically through the University libraries’ databases for peer-reviewed journal articles you find that pot of gold under the rainbow. I had a moment like that this morning; I had been searching for peer-reviewed articles which contain information concerning the recent history of the Bribri. This information has been extremely difficult to find. I have been patching together information I have found in websites and books, but I've been unhappy with either the sources of my material or the information contained therein. This morning my hard work paid off and I found an article written by Polly J. Posas entitled “Shocks and Bribri agriculture past and present.” In this article, which mostly focuses on Bribri agriculture, Posas includes data gleaned from editorials written at the University of Costa Rica and a couple of books written in Spanish which I have not been able to gain access to. This... read more ❯
23 & Me
Published 9/12/2013 in Biology, Culture, and Evolution
Author kecoward
I'm really excited about having the opportunity to have my genes tested with my Biology, Culture, & Evolution class. I am looking forward to learning more about my ancestry. All I know is that at some point my ancestors lived in Ireland and Scotland, and on my mother's side my great-great grandmother was a Choctaw Indian. I think it will be really cool to find out more about my ancestry even further back than that. I also think it will be really beneficial for me to know which diseases I'm at risk for. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease run in my family on both my maternal and paternal side. If I am at greater risk for that, I can make sure to maintain a healthy diet and exercise in order to prevent those diseases. However, I am a little worried about finding out that I may be at a... read more ❯
My investigation into my genes and family history
Published 9/13/2013 in Biology, Culture, and Evolution
Author Emily Barron
If you've been reading some of the blogs on this site, you probably know by now that the Biology, Culture, and Evolution class has the opportunity to do genetic testing this semester. I've always thought ancestry was fascinating, and my mom's side of the family has much more mystery surrounding our heritage so I would really like to find out what I can about that. However, I'm also looking forward to some of the information they can give me on genes more pertinent to my daily life and my future. I am interested in the health issues that 23 and Me will test. I am especially interested in the genes for Tourette's Syndrome and restless leg syndrome. I have read some research recently that Tourette's, RLS, and other tic disorders are very closely related genetically. I have a chronic tic disorder, which is on a... read more ❯
A New Look at an Old Method: Ethnography as Essential to Good Work, or How Doing Should Start with Being
Published 1/27/2014 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Kathy Oths
The inaugural meeting of the University of Alabama Department of Anthropology Journal Club was held Friday January 18th at 2:00 p.m. Attendees were grad students Tina Thomas, Becky Read-Wahidi, Anjelica Callery, Achsah Dorsey, and Greg Batchelder; undergrads Brittany Brooks, Samantha Sloan, and professors Kathryn Oths, Dick Diehl, and Ian Brown. With me (Kathy Oths) moderating, a lively discussion ensued regarding a recent piece in Social Science and Medicine (SSM), On sitting and doing: Ethnography as action in global health by Stacy Pigg [99:27-134(2013)], the previous editor of Medical Anthropology. She relates scenes from her fieldwork among International Health (now Global Health) and NGO personnel who were attempting to introduce HIV/AIDS prevention education in Nepal in the late 1990s. As she sat and listened ‘between the cracks’, it emerged that a word-play exercise that encouraged participants to shout out ‘sex’ words was antithetical to a Nepalese aversion to discussing sex (much less... read more ❯
“Depresión”: What does it mean?
Published 10/21/2014 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
During my stay in Yorkin this past summer, it was mentioned by one of the women that there used to be a lot of “depresión” in the village before they started their ecotourism project. My initial reaction was, “I wonder what exactly they mean by “depresión”?” And then I started thinking about administering the CES-D, which is a depression scale that has been used in many contexts internationally, in the community. I also knew that some way, somehow, I would have to get at exactly what they mean by “depresión” but I was a little unsure of how to do this. After my presentation of my pre-dissertation research in Yorkin, our new faculty member in the department of anthropology here at the University of Alabama, Lesley Jo Weaver, turned me on to an article she had just had published (Weaver and Kaiser 2014) describing the methodology that I was looking for. In this article she... read more ❯
Shelby's Human Ethology Assignment
Published 2/12/2013 in Anthropology of Sex
Author Johnna Dominguez
Date: 2/9/2013 Time: 8:06 PM (arrival) Location: Workplay Theatre (Birmingham, AL) 550 23rd Street S. Setting: very dark, smokey, crowded hipsters everywhere (flannel, PBR and thick rimmed glasses are abundant) older crowd (25 - baby boomers) locals - very talkative (not boisterous); everyone has a drink FOCAL SAMPLING  white male; 20s; tall; longer brown hair flannel drinking - whiskey and coke, PBR; smiling; swaying; laughing with a flanneled friend (male) swaying to music, occasionally glancing around; not nervous but obviously interested in finding a partner focal point and friend talk and glance around a lot; laughing occasionally lots of eye contact with other women (attractive crowd) - winking or smiling very receptive to all attention makes eye contact with me at 8 min again at 11 min walks over after 2nd round of eye contact “Are you going to dance with me or am I going to have to buy you a shot or two to get your back off of this wall?” *he taps hand on wall I’m leaning against... read more ❯
Kyle's Human Ethology Assignment
Published 2/12/2013 in Anthropology of Sex
Author Johnna Dominguez
Focal I went to the research grounds on a busy Friday night with a friend. For my specimen I chose a Caucasian female with dark brown hair that I could watch over my friends shoulder. She was dressed in a green cocktail dress with high heels and a leather jacket. Her hair was down and her makeup was tastefully done. She was also out with a blonde friend, having a drink at the bar and chatting. This continued for about four minutes, until a male patron walked up and began chatting with the pair. Her reaction was relaxed, she seemed to know the man from some other meeting, possibly school. The subject's friend began to appear agitated about two minutes in, probably due to the fact that the male was focusing all his attention on the brunette. The male subject was sending signals such as putting his chest out and nodding... read more ❯
What Do Bamboo Lemurs Eat?
Published 9/11/2013 in The Monkey Speaks His Mind
Author Christopher Lynn
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