Recent Posts

The influence and passion of George Armelagos
Published 5/15/2014 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Jason DeCaro
This morning a giant of our field passed away. George Armelagos was a pioneer of biocultural anthropology from a political economic perspective, and one of the earliest, strongest, and most consistent voices against scientific racism among the old guard of physical anthropology. He was one of those people whose personality and intellect could fill a room even when he spoke at little more than a quiet rumble. His bioarchaeological contributions fundamentally altered our understanding of human adaptation and of population health. And his students are everywhere carrying on his work in the classroom, in the laboratory and the field, and in public advocacy. I just don't know how to state this more strongly except to say there are only a tiny handful of scholars as influential as this within our discipline in a whole generation. Soon I'll write a full length piece reflecting on his importance in laying the intellectual foundation for a... read more ❯
Week 10: Human Osteology
Hello all! Last week we introduced the students to osteology. This week we brought some more bone castes and taught the students about human osteology. We focused on the process of sexing skeletons. Physical anthropologists can tell many things from studying a human skeleton. One of the easier things to determine is the biological sex of the person. Before starting the activity, we showed the students some of these features using the castes. For each group we provided both a female and male skull as well as female and male pelvises due to the fact that these are the most useful for determining the sex of skeletons. We showed the students that male pelvises have part of a bone that bends forward whereas a female does not. This bone, called the sacrum, is more straight in women so that is does not act as an obstruction during childbirth. We also showed the... read more ❯
The Concept of Dissociation (Transcendental Medication -- Part 3)
Thinking of office cubicles in the brain may help us imagine how dissociation might work & even be a great metaphor when we start suggesting that sometimes there is a jerky boss in our heads who comes out & barks at employees then cloisters himself away & a whole host of employees sitting in their cubicles with the various personalities that resemble aspects of ourselves that manifest under various circumstances. But this model doesn't really explain what dissociation is. Another way of viewing dissociation is simply as a psychological construct.  Dissociation isn't a specific thing, like love or stress are not specific things. A construct is something that exists in the mind but can't be localized to only one physical object. Dissociation is not the office walls or the computers in the cubicles or even the office flirt; it's the totality of everything & how information flows & is gated... read more ❯
Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis -- Part 2
Dissociation and Human Consciousness There is little agreement on what consciousness is or how to define it, but most reduce in some way to being aware of inner & external states. This reduces to two essential capacities that are related, self-awareness & theory of mind.  Self-awareness is the ability to distinguish the self from others & be reflexive, while theory of mind is the use of self-awareness to be able to infer the probable mental state of another based on personal experience or knowledge of a similar situation. Therefore, theory of mind presupposes self-awareness. However, no one is either fully self-awareness nor necessarily highly attuned to the minds of those around them. This is not just because they are ignorant but precisely because of the burden of these awarenesses. In fact, research on deception-detection suggests that people may not be particularly good at mindreading (Barnacz et al. 2009), but, I would... read more ❯
Maximizing Success for Undergraduate Anthropology Majors: Missed Manners
Published 5/5/2014 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
Reblogged from Anthropology News "Missed Manners" (Part One) & (Part 2) by Ty Matejowsky & Beatriz Reyes-Foster: Hey Tye, Sorry I missed class last week. My parents bought me a cruise.  Did I miss anything important. If you could send me the missed lecture notes that wood be great. Thnx! Faculty routinely receive hastily written emails like this one – unsigned messages laced with poor grammar and overly-familiar tones that make inappropriate requests without so much as a “please” or “thank you.”  Many professors are inclined to attribute such breaches of etiquette to a growing sense of entitlement among today’s undergraduates –“I pay your salary, therefore, you should do x or yfor me.”  While these faculty sentiments are certainly understandable as many students are inculcated with a consumer mentality, there may be something going on besides a deeply ingrained sense of privilege.  For all the legitimate concerns about treating our students as customers, these faux pas may simply reflect... read more ❯
Week 8: Comparative Osteology
Published 4/21/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author BPersons
Physical anthropologists rely on osteology, or the scientific study of bones, to identify individual species, learn about the lives of an individual, or even to identify ancient illnesses (aka paleopathology). The skeletal features of bones reflect the life histories of individuals, and trained osteologists can use those features to identify the age, sex, diet, and, at times, even the cause of death of a particular specimen. However, analyzing and comparing the bones from different species can also tell us about the evolutionary history of those species and the degree to which different species are related. For example, the overall form and organization of a dog's skeletal features would be very similar to those of wolves, as those species are related. The same could be said for different species of fish, reptiles, turtles, etc. In anthropology, osteologists often compare human skeletons with those of other primates so that we can learn about our... read more ❯
The African Interregnum: Good Rituals Make Good Friends
Published 4/16/2014 in Primate Religion & Human Consciousness
Author Uday
Matt J. Rossano received his doctorate in Psychology from the University of California at Riverside in 1991. He is a Professor of Psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA. He is the author of Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved, released in June 2010 by Oxford Press. His interests include: Evolution and human nature, evolutionary psychology, consciousness, evolution of the mind/brain, religion and science, and evolution of religion.   Around 100,000  years before present(ybp), anatomically modern humans (AMH)(these are not the same as Neanderthals and other hominids at the time) went back to the place from whence they emigrated, Africa; however, their retreat did not last as they were expanding again into the Eurasian landmass again 60,000 ybp and showing evidence of a much more sophisticated social structure and developed levels of cognition. This might have been due to ecological conditions in Africa at the time... read more ❯
Sweaty T-Shirts
Published 4/15/2014 in Anthropology of Sex
Author Ross
For this exercise, males in the class were instructed to wear a new T-Shirt provided by the instructor for up to 3 days. Males were instructed to not wear colognes or deodorants while wearing the T-Shirt, and to exercise while wearing it in order to get his natural scent into the fibers. Then, the males were instructed to measure the ratio of their 2d4d phalanges. Females were instructed to come into the HBERG research lab and smell each of the shirts worn by the men, which are now in plastic ziplock bags to preserve "freshness." Females sniffed the shirts and ranked them on a scale from 1 to 5 where 1= Good, 3=Neutral, and 4=Bad.  Then they were instructed to take a test online and provide their method of birth control as well as which week of their cycle they are on.     The mean age of males was 20.7, the mean GPA... read more ❯
Shamanism: A look at the Earth's original neurotheology
In his essay, "Shamanism as Neurotheology and Evolutionary Psychology," author Michael Winkelman looks at various instances of shamanism across cultures to find similarities that reveal "universals" about the practice. Winkelman recently retired from his post as an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University to begin studies in Brazil. Winkelman focuses his research on shamanism as medicine, applied medical anthropology, and cross-cultural relations. His knowledge of cross-cultural relations allow him to find these shamanistic "universals" that he argues are the basis of the practice's modern resurgence. After receiving his Bachelors degree from Rice University, Ph.D from the University of California at Irvine, and Masters Degree from the University of Arizona, Winkelman made strides in researching shamanism's ability to heal substance abuse issues as well. To preface his research, Winkelman starts by noting that shamanism is... read more ❯
Queer Activity: Juliann
Published 4/14/2014 in Anthropology of Sex
Author Ross
Yesterday I told my best friend that I was queer. She looked at me and said "is this supposed to surprise me? you talk about how gorgeous girls are and how you would 'totally be lesbian with them' reguarly." I giggled, but just let her keep talking. She continued by asking me questions about my sexuality. I told her it was fluid and something that I believed would change throughout my life. I said I was excited by the idea of exploring my sexuality and wasn't going to try and define it. She simply said "that's awesome, I wish I was confident enough to be who I wanted to be without caring about other's opinions." I then told a coworker the same thing, and she almost fell out of her chair! She was very confused and asked me repeatedly what I meant. I told her I was a 2 on... read more ❯

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