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Week 5: Meddling Monkeys Scavenger Hunt
Published 3/24/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author BPersons
One of the ways that physical anthropologists learn about people is to study our nearest living relatives – primates. Primates include any member of the group of animals that includes human beings, apes, and monkeys. Learning about how primates navigate their world helps us understand the challenges and survival strategies that humans had to face in the past. Primatologists, or specialists who study primates, are especially interested in learning how primates address one of the biggest issues that we all face: how to feed your family. Each primate species has a different from of social organization, although all primate species have to figure out how to survive against the odds. Factors that figure in to those odds include the proximity of other groups, competition for resources, the availability of high-calorie foods, and the need to protect the sensitive members of one’s group from predators. This week’s activity pitted student groups against each... read more ❯
Zār spirit possession and it's bias towards women
Published 3/19/2014 in Primate Religion & Human Consciousness
Author Hannah
Janice Boddy is a Canadian anthropologist who specializes in medical anthropology, religion, gender issues and colonialism in Sudan and the Middle East. In Spirit Possession and Gender Complementarity, an excerpt from her book Women, Men and the zār Cult in Northern Sudan, she describes her experience at a zār ritual ceremony among the Hofriyat people of Sudan. The zār ritual is performed to bring about certain spirits who then possess a human host and manipulate their behavior in a way that allows for identification of different zār species. The cult exists today throughout northern Sudan and similar versions of the name can be found in Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia, Arabia, and southern Iran. Background information aside, what is this whole zār conspiracy anyways? Boddy describes it as a spontaneous ritual with an imaginative basis that draws inspiration from a comprehensive collection of symbols and spirit roles. She compares the ceremony in a... read more ❯
Week 4: Museum Anthropology
Published 3/16/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author rhmiller
  Snow days cannot hold us back! I’m Rachel Miller, an Anthropology and Biology student here at UA and am happy to be part of the UA Partnership at TMSE. I am happy to report that we are back on track after having a few unexpected snow days over the past few weeks. Today we covered Museum Anthropology. After spending some time on Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology, this was the perfect way to apply learned information. Our students learned various aspects of museum and artifact handling for this week’s lesson. Students were broken up into groups and each student was to act as a curator for their individual artifact. Here is Sally helping a student identify a conch shell. In order to become curators, students filled out a notecard to go alongside their artifact. The students had to identify material, color, size, place of origin (if possible), and a description for their artifact. Here are... read more ❯
Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis -- Preface
Dissociation is the main focus of this series. Dissociation is a filtering, compartmentalizing, or apportioning of consciousness or awareness. I've called dissociation 'partitioning of awareness' (2005). This essentially means we can compartmentalize aspects of awareness from each other in our mind. It's the psychological state shared among shaman when they travel mentally to other realms, when initiates leave their bodies & are replaced by deities or spirits, or when you seem to be under the spell of someone else during hypnosis... read more ❯
Excessively playing video games good or bad, or both?
Published 3/11/2014 in Primate Religion & Human Consciousness
Author awhunt1
Have you ever been so absorbed in a video game that you lose track of time? One moment its noon and the next thing you know the moonlight is shining through the windows. This is not uncommon to many, our lives are filled with all sorts of video games, from the Sims to World of Warcraft. In fact, several researchers studied the positive and negative effects video games, in particular World of Warcraft, had on gamers. Apparently getting immersed in such a visually stimulating game as WoW can have both good and bad impacts on health. Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Michael G. Lacy, H.J. Francois Dengah II, Jesse Fagan, and David E. Most studied the dissociation or immersion of those playing WoW. What's really going on in our brains while playing? Snodgrass and friends identify absorption as becoming unaware of the environment around them and time perception maybe altered. According to Snodrass it... read more ❯
Week 3: Archaeology and Garbology
Published 3/11/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author BPersons
After a brief hiatus, the TMSE blog is finally being updated!   For this week’s lesson, our students learned about another branch of anthropology – archaeology.  Archaeology is the branch of anthropology that focuses on studying people in the past. However, since archaeologists cannot follow the lead of ethnographers and ask ancient peoples about their lives, archaeologists have to rely on other evidence to learn about ancient societies. Specifically, archaeologists have to rely on looking at the material remains of human activity. Specifically, archaeologists study artifacts, or items that were made and used by humans, as well as sites, or concentrations of artifacts.   While the idea of “material remains” or the “archaeological record” may at first sound obtuse, nearly every human activity leaves a trace, and, archaeologists are trained to compare those material traces to learn about human behavior.   My favorite example of the material record always begins with a family picnic, which at... read more ❯
Ethology Study
Published 3/10/2014 in Anthropology of Sex
Author Ross
Students were tasked with employing two ethology techniques discussed in class (focal sampling and scan sampling) on people trying to hook up. The choice of research setting was up to the discretion of the investigator, some examples include bars, restaurants, coffee shops, the Quad, The Ferguson Center, the Rec, etc. For those who may not be familiar with focal and scan sampling, these are two of the tools ethologists and anthropologists use to collect data. The main distinction between ethology and anthropology is the former is interested in strict observation from the outside (one might call this an etic approach), and the latter often engages in what's known as participant observation (an emic approach). Focal sampling focuses on a fixed individual or point in space and all of the observations taking place within a pre-determined time frame (15-30 minutes for the purposes of this assignment) are recorded. Scan sampling scans the environment... read more ❯
DeCaro, Collaborators Receive Head Start Grant
Published 3/8/2014 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
Jason DeCaro is one of several recipients of a grant from the Administration of Children and Families who will implement and assess intervention programs to improve school readiness and child well-being among Head Start preschoolers in West Alabama. In partnership with the Community Service Programs of West Alabama (CSPWAL), he and the other grantees (Ansley Gilpin and John Lochman from Psychology and Caroline Boxmeyer from Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine) will follow children into first grade to assess the effectiveness of programs that teach children social and emotion regulation skills, and support parents and teachers in fostering positive home and school environments. DeCaro and colleagues are receiving $2.25 million over 5 years to assess these program, which a classroom curriculum for the children, and interventions to address broader challenges - such as parental mental health, job prospects, and financial obstacles - that influence family well-being. Dr. DeCaro's involvement in the project centers around assessing... read more ❯
Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis -- Part I
Introduction This serial post will be about dissociation as transcendence & why both are apparently ubiquitous & simultaneously extremely psychosocially diverse.  I will make several functionalist claims, as follow: Consciousness is costly Dissociation is a basic function of consciousness Dissociation defrays the costs of awareness Transcendence is just another word for dissociation Transcendence appears in diverse psychocultural forms not because of its primacy but because it is a baseline necessity Transcendent experiences are those beyond the limits of ordinary experience (Beauregard 2011).  There are varieties of transcendent experiences moderated by personal, social, & cultural circumstances.  Personal circumstances can be psychological & biological &, of course, are not mutually exclusive of social & cultural influences but are directly influenced by & interact with them.  Therefore, we can study transcendence from a number of perspectives.  For instance, I study speaking in tongues & other... read more ❯
Arboreal Clambering: A Fancy Way of Saying Monkeys Climb Trees
Self-Conception and Evolution I’m going to start off by defining four important aspects of self-conception as touched on in the reading 🙂 Self-conception is the awareness of self as… 1.      An object of knowledge 2.      The subject of experience 3.       An entity that exists through time 4.       A causal agent In this article John G. H. Cant and Daniel J. Povinelli focus the most on number 4, self-conception as the awareness of self as a causal agent. What exactly does being aware of yourself as a causal agent mean? Why should we care? And what are Povinelli and Cant exactly hypothesizing? Well, a causal agent is an entity that produces an effect or is responsible for events or results. So basically it means possessing the awareness that your actions have specific consequences. We should care because there is not much known regarding the evolution of these aspects of self-concept, and Povinelli and Cant have evidence to believe that number 4... read more ❯
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