Recent Posts

Week 1: Introduction to Anthropology & Creating a Clan
Published 1/22/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author BPersons
Dr. Brooke Persons, reporting for duty. Our first week of the UA-TMSE partnership was a resounding success. We started off the semester with a brief introduction to Anthropology and a discussion of culture, a concept that unifies the four fields of anthropology. Culture, or the shared knowledge that guides behavior and distinguishes one group from another, permeates every aspect of our lives. In fact, as humans we soak up culture and react to cultural clues from childhood through adulthood, thereby providing the tools that we need to be successful within a given society. The students provided examples of how culture guides behavior and then described the symbols, ideas, and characteristics of American culture. Their examples included: -speaking English -our national flag -our national anthem -our government -the foods that we eat -playing sports for recreation, including baseball, basketball, and soccer To illustrate both how culture is created and differs between groups, the students were divided into small groups and... read more ❯
Welcome to UA-TMSE Anthropology Spring 2014!
Published 1/22/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author BPersons
Welcome to the blog of the Spring 2014 partnership between the University of Alabama’s Department of Anthropology and the Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools – Elementary (TMSE)! Over the next 12 weeks, this blog will follow our exploits as we teach an Introduction to Anthropology class to a group of 3rd and 4th graders from TMSE. The goals of the TMSE-UA partnership are manifold, but our primary goal is to introduce elementary students to the exciting world of Anthropology through discussion, directed learning, and goal-oriented instruction. The students will learn about the four fields of Anthropology through classroom activities that will focus on Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Physical Anthropology.  An important part of this experience will also offer an opportunity for us (as educators) to gain experience sharing our world with elementary age children. The Spring 2014 TMSE partnership uses many of the activities that have been tested in previous iterations... read more ❯
The Stone(d) Age: Altered Consciousness Past and Present
Studying the Stone Age is almost so boring that it’s rude, right? Researcher Yulia Ustinova has the right idea (second only to studying history while actually stoned) by approaching ancient peoples specifically to find out what type of mind-altering shenanigans they were into back then. Her research focuses mainly on the role of Greek religion within society, and her current project is entitled “Mania: Altered States of Consciousness and Insanity in Ancient Greece.” Sounds entertaining to say the least. Among a ton of papers and chapters in collective volumes, Ustinova has written two books entitled: "The Supreme Gods of the Bosporan Kingdom: Celestial Aphrodite and the Most High God" and "Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind. Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth." She currently teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, but has also taught in London and Chicago and conducted research in Leningrad. Suffice it to say she’s... read more ❯
Monkeying Around!
Published 12/7/2013 in The Monkey Speaks His Mind
Author Christopher Lynn
Student presentations are required as part of the "Non-Human Primates" course, but we all get a little tired of the lecturing, so what better way to internalize the material than engaging some of our primate preadaptations & monkeying around. Here are some photos highlighting the experiential aspects students came up with to enhance their lessons.   A good closed... read more ❯
4 Reasons 23andMe is the Bossest Service for Personal Genetic Testing
Published 12/6/2013 in Biology, Culture, and Evolution
Author Taylor Burbach
For our Biology, Culture, and Evolution class, we had the opportunity to have our DNA tested for various health and ancestry markers. I have been reluctant to blog about this experience because some of the information I learned was shocking at first. I think now that I have had some time to wrap my mind around my results, I am much more comfortable sharing. 4: It helps you prepare for your future health. Even though the information provided by 23andMe is by no means a diagnosis or set-in-stone, the information has helped me plan what I need to prioritize as far as my health is concerned. Doctors have all these recommendations about when you need to get tested and what you need to be tested for, but the list can seem endless. Who has time for all that anyway? I now know what I need to look out for and what specific... read more ❯
Chimpanzees (Common or aka Robust)
Published 12/3/2013 in The Monkey Speaks His Mind
Author claycock
Order: Primates Family: Hominidae Subfamily: Homininae Genus: Pan Species: Pan troglodytes The first European contact with chimpanzees happened in Angola during the 17th century by a Portuguese explorer named Duarte Pacheco, the dairy that he kept was also the first documentation that they could make tools. The use of the word chimpanzee did not happen until 1738 and is derived from the Tsiluba word 'kivili-chimpenze’ which means mockman or apes. Chimpanzees live in a total of 21 African countries with the majority of the population being in what use to be the equatorial belt. They range from the west coast of Africa to as far east as western Uganda and Rwanda. There are three subspecies of common chimpanzee that live within a variety of habitats, from secondary regrowth forests and open woodlands with the greatest number residing in the rain forest. Chimpanzees are covered with black hair except on their faces, hands, and feet. Their arms... read more ❯
Primates on the Loose at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
Published 11/27/2013 in The Monkey Speaks His Mind
Author Christopher Lynn
Sounds like a lame excuse to post photos of my kids, doesn't it? Yeah, well, only partially. In fact, here's one to get us started. But what I really wanted to post was a few that involve depictions of non-human primates. The following depicts St. Dominic with the Devil in the form of a monkey. St. Dominic apparently seized the The Devil & made him hold the candle for him. I really like the portrayal of the monkey. I... read more ❯
Out of Africa and to the New World: Fantastical Musings on the Adaptability of Mental “Disorders” of the Bipolar and Schizophrenic Spectrums
Published 11/25/2013 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
When I read about the DRD4 dopamine receptor gene in an article by Schaller and Murray (2011) my curiosity was raised once again about an idea I have been playing with for a while concerning the possibility of “bipolar” mania and some forms of mental functioning which fall on the “schizophrenia” spectrum as being, in some contexts, “adaptive.” There are two contexts I will discuss in this post: 1) the role of certain mental states in contributing to novel problem solving, and 2) the role of these same states in contributing to human migration.  I will also discuss how therapeutic dissociation, which I suggest is prevalent in these populations, has been an important adaptive strategy, and has been culturally instituted. Finally, I will discuss how people with these forms of mental functioning “signal” their distress (or culturally atypical thoughts/behaviors) in culturally salient ways. In some very interesting research, Dein and Littlewood... read more ❯
23&me Results
Published 11/24/2013 in Biology, Culture, and Evolution
Author peadams
When I did 23&me I was most excited to learn about my ancestry. My 23&me results were somewhat disappointing. Both sides of my family claim some Native American ancestors, but 23&me says that I am 98.4% European and of that 79% Northern European with the rest being non-specific European. I am only 0.8% Native American, which is enough to show that there might be something in my past, but not as recent as some family members would like to say.  I have a small amount of German/French ancestry (3.4%), but the cool part about that is that it is all located together on one of my two second chromosomes. So I have almost an entire chromosome that is from German/French ancestry. The 0.8% Native American is also together in one piece indicating that it came from one place, which is pretty cool. I could be possible that the genes from... read more ❯
So you want a graduate degree in Anthropology?
Published 11/18/2013 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
You thought this was going to be one of those mean-spirited videos bashing students who ask for letters of reference, didn't you? This following verbatim advice came from the BioAnthropology News Facebook group (which I highly recommend you join!).  I can't find it on there anymore, so I'm really glad I saved this.  I email it to students every year but thought it might be easier for everyone to find if I republished it here. By the way, if this is you, don't ask for a letter of recommendation at all: http://youtu.be/57aOIkaXQGc ********************* When asking for a letter of recommendation, give your professors at least two weeks notice. Go ahead and ask if they feel like they can write you a good letter, otherwise it wastes time for both of you. Corollary A: Give the professor ALL necessary information. They should NOT have to look up your information; remember, a) they are not required to write you... read more ❯

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