Recent Posts

Building professional social networks through the American Anthropological Association annual meeting
Published 12/4/2016 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Christopher Lynn
A few years ago, I'd all but decided I wasn't going to go to the American Anthropological Association main conference anymore. This was the year it was in San Francisco (111th Annual Meeting, 2012). Ironically, that was a memorable conference. I had several good meals in the Vietnamese neighborhood nearby (it was hosted in the Tenderloin---mm, bahn mis), was part of a great neuroanthropology session convened by Daniel Lende and Greg Downey (and out of which, ultimately, a publication about my lab's teaching model came out in Anthropology Now), met Sonya Pritzker, who we ultimately wooed to Alabama to become a faculty member in my department, and spent at least two whole days walking around and exploring San Francisco with Max Stein and my best friend from graduate school, Courtney Kurlanska (Courtney likes to remind me about how it appeared that I was courteously pulling her out of the rain when... read more ❯
Ayahuasca Visions in the Peruvian Amazon
Published 11/29/2016 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Greg Batchelder
As a psychological anthropologist interested in alternative healing options, I recently traveled to Peru to experience ayahuasca with a shaman I had been corresponding with for some time. Ayahuasca is being used to help treat war veterans and others suffering from PTSD and depression. Its use as a treatment option for addicts has also become widespread. For thrill seeking millennials ayahuasca tourism has become a trendy activity. Ayahuasca was first described outside of indigenous communities in the early 1950s by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. When sending his advisee, Wade Davis, to the Amazon he told him not to come back without trying it. The word “ayahuasca” comes from the Quechua who have used it for thousands of years. Ayahuasca is made by combining Banisteriopsis caapi, a liana, with Psychotria viridis, a perennial shrub. P. viridis contains about 0.10-0.66% alkaloids, approximately 99% of that is dimethyltryptamine (DMT),... read more ❯
Engaging Activism in Anthropology of Disability
Published 11/29/2016 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Mirjam Holleman
The anthropologist is frequently construed as an ideally detached observer who doesn’t let his or her own ideals or visions for society interfere with or steer her research. But sometimes it’s hard not to care. As Sally Merry has described, pressing issues of social justice challenge the border between scientific disengagement and ethical activism and “open up important possibilities for rethinking what anthropology is and does, and what contributions it can make to global activism concerning social justice.“ This past summer I was in Poland, conducting preliminary ethnographic field research for my dissertation project about attitudes toward and experiences of people with disabilities in Poland. While I was in the field as a researcher, I didn’t feel personally affected by... read more ❯
Yorkín: Present Day
Published 11/24/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
This is the fourth post of a series of blogs describing the Bribrí people of Talamanca, Costa Rica. I have been living in the community of Yorkín conducting research since June of 2015. Yorkín is a community of around 270 people situated on the border with Panama which has experienced rapid culture change due to increased contact with outside influences and technologies brought about as the result of initiating ecotourism in the community. My research examines how these changes are influencing health. The current political structure in Talamanca involves local juntas comprised of varying numbers of locally elected officers. There seems to be one for everything – the community at large, health services, sports, and other organizations including Stibrawpa. The members are elected every two years. Only clan members may run for office or vote in the local elections. People are usually not elected for consecutive terms. A person may run... read more ❯
Talamanca History
Published 11/24/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
This is the third post of a series of blogs describing the Bribrí people of Talamanca, Costa Rica. I have been living in the community of Yorkín conducting research since June of 2015. Yorkín is a community of around 270 people situated on the border with Panama which has experienced rapid culture change due to increased contact with outside influences and technologies brought about as the result of initiating ecotourism in the community. My research examines how these changes are influencing health. In 1502 Columbus landed at the area of present day Limón during his third voyage, describing it as the costa rica– “rich coast.” His arrival sparked centuries of turbulent relationships between colonizers and the indigenous inhabitants of Costa Rica at large and the Bribrí in Talamanca specifically. The earliest accounts, such as that made by Juan Vasquez de Coronado, states that in the area the women worked alongside the... read more ❯
Talamanca: Early History
Published 11/24/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
This is the second post of a series of blogs describing the Bribrí people of Talamanca, Costa Rica. I have been living in the community of Yorkín conducting research since June of 2015. Yorkín is a community of around 270 people situated on the border with Panama which has experienced rapid culture change due to increased contact with outside influences and technologies brought about as the result of initiating ecotourism in the community. My research examines how these changes are influencing health.  The Bribrí share commonalities with the major cultural centers in Mesoamerica, the Andes, and the Amazon. However, they also have their own unique history and lifeways- starting with a version of their creation myth. This version is adapted from the many occasions I documented it during ethnographic data collection. The story relates how Sibö (the Bribrí creator) made the first indigenous people from seeds of corn. He brought the... read more ❯
Talamanca: Early Cultural Influences
Published 11/24/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
This is the first post of a series of blogs describing the Bribrí people of Talamanca, Costa Rica. I have been living in the community of Yorkín conducting research since June of 2015. Yorkín is a community of around 270 people situated on the border with Panama which has experienced rapid culture change due to increased contact with outside influences and technologies brought about as the result of initiating ecotourism in the community. My research examines how these changes are influencing health.  The indigenous populations of Latin America share biological and cultural commonalities due to shared genetics and the influence of major population hubs, such as the Mesoamerican cultural centers and the Andean and Amazonian cultures in South America. As with these population centers, the biological and cultural effects of the devastating contact with Europeans and centuries of European colonialization on the Bribrí of Talamanca and other dispersed indigenous groups of... read more ❯
Week 8 @ TMSE - Body Modification by Lisa Meister
In our final day of partnership, we explored the diverse world of body modification. I defined body modification as any deliberate act to change one’s physical appearance. When we looked at some examples from around the world like Nigerian earlobe stretching and Japanese teeth blackening, the students seemed shocked. They could not believe that someone would do that to themselves! I explained that in their communities, the modifications were more typical and held meaning. One very insightful student then noted that we all get our hair cut, and we see it as normal, though it may not be in other cultures. Following in that theme, we considered the question: who modifies their bodies? Simply put, everyone does. I presented evidence from as far back in human history as 5,300 years in the form of Ötzi the Iceman and his 61 tattoos. We looked at examples of body modification in its many... read more ❯
Week 7 @ TMSE - Race by Rochelle Williamson
This week our discussion was on “RACE”, which is a very complicated subject. Because of the complexities of the subject, students gained a wealth of information. The students learned that there are many different “RACES” of people throughout the world. Students were given the opportunity to come up before the class to point out the different “RACES” of people from across the world whose pictures were located on the PowerPoint Presentation screen. The students were very eager to display their knowledge. It was stressed that Anthropologists study people just like those shown and they also study other people from various parts of the world. TMSE students also learned today, that the United States is called the “MELTING POT” because there are so many different kinds of people living here. A demographic racial breakdown of the “RACES” here in America were illustrated to the students which allowed the students to clearly see the... read more ❯
WEEK 6 @ TMSE - Evolution by Will McCrary
Today’s topic at TMSE was evolution. This is an especially important topic to teach because evolution is so often glossed over in many public schools – I know it was in mine. If we can introduce the principles of evolution to kids when they are young, hopefully people will be more knowledgeable about the concepts of evolution in the future. There is a long way to go, but the University of Alabama and TMSE are taking a step in the right direction. It was pajama day and there was a substitute teacher so everyone was a little more excited than usual, but I think they still got the gist of the lesson. We started by reviewing what we talked about last week: primates. They were asked to give examples of primates and did very well, they remembered that gorillas, chimpanzees, and lemurs were all primates. Importantly, humans are also primates. We... read more ❯

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