Recent Posts

Anthropology joins the Alabama-Greece Initiative (Again)
Published 5/26/2016 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
For the past several years, the UA College of Arts & Sciences has been developing the Alabama-Greece Initiative. As outlined on the Initiative website, it is an effort to "develop an extensive and formal collaborative relationship with Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (AUTh)." In 2015, archaeologist and chair of our Anthropology Department was selected for the Initiative. Dr. Brown established a relationship with AUTh faculty developing a museum studies program & is returning this summer with UA students to conduct research at Vergina. Vergina is the site of the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, & a large, extended cemetery for the inhabitants of the city of Pella, which was Phillip's capital & Alexander's birthplace, before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 90 BC. This year, I was selected to participate in the 2017 Initiative. Along with Luoheng Han, Ana Corbalan, Andrew Dewar, Vaia Touna, Rebecca Salzer,... read more ❯
Finding the Culture in Acculturation
Published 5/23/2016 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Courtney Andrews
"Juana," a Mexican immigrant who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, is a native of a small ranching village in Jalisco. Fifteen years ago, her husband lost his job in Mexico. They had no money saved, and she was scared for the safety of her children because of drug-related crime in their community there. Her husband convinced her that they needed to move to the U.S. where he could find work, they could get their kids in good schools, and they could have better lives. He went first, and, a little while later, Juana paid a “coyote” to take her across the border. After a month-long, treacherous journey, during which she was arrested and sent back, attacked by wild animals, left behind in the desert without food or water, and was constantly scared, she finally made it across the border and eventually to Alabama... read more ❯
Revash and the Laguna de los Condores: My Final Visit to Chachapoyas Archaeological Sites
Published 5/9/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
On May 7th I visited the Chachapoyas archaeological site of Revash and visited the small but amazing museum in Leymebamba, Peru. Revash's mausoleums are architectonical rests located in the Amazonas region of Peru. The mausoleums of Revash, located outside of the small community (100 persons?) of San Bartolo were studied by the archaeologists Henry and Paule Reichlen. The three groupings are located in a straight line along the narrow hall that was shaped by the cavity excavated in the rocky wall of the imposing canyon. They remain almost intact except for the mummies located inside, which were destroyed by rodents and pillaged long ago. The mausoleums resemble small housings and miniature "villages,” similar to the cliff-houses of Colorado. Judging by the osseous remains still present in the tombs, Revash's mausoleums were not used for individual burials. The walls of the mausoleums include art made from incisions. They are constituted by... read more ❯
Chachapoyas Warriors of the Clouds: A Visit to Two Burial Sites
Published 5/6/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
The Chachapoyas, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, were Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas Region of present-day Peru. The Inkas conquered their civilization shortly before the arrival of the Spanish in Peru in the 16th century. Their incorporation into the Inka Empire was fraught with constant resistance to the Inka troops. The name Chachapoya is the name that was given to this culture by the Inka; the name that these people may have used to refer to themselves is not known. The meaning of the word Chachapoya may have been derived from sach'a-p-qullas, the equivalent “people who live in the woods" (sach'a = tree, p = of the, qulla = nation; in which Aymara is spoken). Some believe the word is a variant of the Quechua construction sach'a phuya (tree cloud).The Chachapoyas were devastated by the 18th century but remain as a strain within... read more ❯
Ayahuasca Visions: Ceremonies Two and Three
Published 5/6/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
This is my third post on my experience with the medicinal brew ayahuasca in San Roque, Peru. In my two previous posts (Ayahuasca Visions: The First Experience, and Ayahuasca: “La Medicina”) I provided background information on ayahuasca and described my first experience in an ayahuasca ceremony. In this post I will relate my second and third experiences in the ayahuasca ceremonies and include information on the Quechua and Shipibo cultures who discovered ayahuasca and still practice ayahuasca shamanism. My second ayahuasca ceremony was a celebration of my life. First I had visions of all my family and friends, past and present. These visions filled me with joy and I extended blessings and felt gratitude to each and every one. If a sad or otherwise negative thought started to creep in, it was immediately replaced with joy and gratitude. Next, I re-experienced moments of rapture in my life; everything from football plays,... read more ❯
The Kuelap Ruins: A Chachapoyas Fortress and Religious Center in Peru
Published 5/5/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
On May 4th, 2016, I was able to visit the ruins of Kuelap, Peru. The fortress of Kuelap or Cuélap is associated with the Chachapoyas culture, and consists of a walled city, with massive exterior stone walls surrounding more than four hundred buildings. Radiocarbon dating samples show that construction of the structures started in the 6th century AD and the complex was occupied until the Early Colonial period (1532-1570). It was rediscovered in 1843.The complex, situated on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, is roughly 600 meters in length and 110 meters in width. It could have been built to defend against the Huari or other hostile peoples. However, evidence of these hostile groups at the site is minimal. Judging from its sheer size, Kuelap's construction required considerable effort, rivaling or surpassing in size other archaeological structures in the Americas. There are multiple levels or platforms within the... read more ❯
Ayahuasca Visions: The First Experience
Published 5/3/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
Long ago there was a Quechua man hunting in the forest. He can across a jaguar and was preparing to shoot it with his bow and arrow when he saw the beast beginning to chew on a vine wrapping itself around a tree. He thought this was strange and instead of shooting stood silently and watched the jaguar. Next, the animal began to chew on a leafy, green plant that was nearby. The jaguar then lay on the ground without moving. The hunter came close and saw that the beast’s eyes were open even though it appeared to be sleeping. The hunter came forward and nudged the jaguar with his foot. The animal did not respond. “How strange, that the beast will not attack me even though I can tell it is not dead and its eyes are open!” thought the hunter. The hunter realized this must have something to... read more ❯
Ayahuasca: "La Medicina"
Published 5/3/2016 in The Schema
Author Greg Batchelder
Ayahuasca was first described outside of Indigenous communities in the early 1950s by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, who had originally worked with the Kiowa in the U.S., participating in peyote ceremonies. Schultes was famous for ingesting all types of plants and their derivatives while traveling throughout the amazon. He was Wade Davis’ advisor, and sent Davis to the amazon to study coca. Ayahuasca is the Hispanicized style spelling of a word in the Quechua languages, which are spoken in the Andean states of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. Speakers of Quechua languages or of the Aymara language may prefer the spelling “ayawaska.” This word refers both to the liana Banisteriopsis caapi, and to the brew prepared from it. In the Quechua languages, aya means "spirit, soul", "corpse, dead body", and waska means "rope" and "woody vine", "liana". It is often referred to as "La Medicina"- the medicine. People who have... read more ❯
Food and Semester Review - TMSE
By Hannah Tytus This was our last day at TMSE! We’ve all had so much fun together this semester, and to conclude our program we definitely had to go out with a bang. So we ditched the traditional powerpoint and had ourselves a traditional Southeast Asian feast! We took our shoes off upon entry and arranged ourselves on the ground in a circle to eat.Our home cooked meal encompassed cuisines from many different countries in the region, and everyone got a choice of how to devour their food: By fork and knife, like an American? Or perhaps chopsticks, like the Chinese? Most people went with the Indian option--to eat with their hands! Once our guest of honor, Lynn, took her first bite, we all dove into the delicious food. It was both a rowdy and a joyful affair. Some of our dishes included pineapple tarts, seaweed salad, mango pudding, egg rolls, varieties of... read more ❯
Biocultural Anthropology & Linguistic Anthropology: Points of Possible Convergence?
Published 4/26/2016 in Biocultural Systematics
Author Sonya Pritzker
Biocultural anthropology offers an inherently interdisciplinary, cross-subfield approach to anthropological research. As such, it draws heavily upon various biological, cognitive, and sociocultural theories, among others, to point researchers towards certain methodologies and variables for inclusion in their research design. The outcome of such an approach yields a growing genre of work that articulates the ways in which the human body, at every level, both shapes and is shaped by cultural practices. As one of the four major subfields of the discipline, linguistic anthropology also engages questions regarding bidirectional connections between culture and body. Such work emphasizes the ways in which embodied experience is constantly mediated by interactions that involve words, gestures, and prosodic features such as rhythm and emphasis. Despite a shared interest in demonstrating links between culture and body, theoretical and methodological approaches within biocultural and linguistic anthropology have only rarely been actively combined. Besides... read more ❯

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