20 Excellent TED Talks for Anthropologists
Considering its multidisciplinary status, many students adore taking up anthropology as amajor. Few other career paths let them travel all over the world in order to meet fascinating peoples and dissect the hows and whys of their bodies, minds and cultures. Anyone familiar with the TED Talks lecture and demonstration series probably realizes that the site overflows with videos of interest to the anthropological community. Think of the following list as a mere sample! Be sure to explore the rest of TED for more intellectual, provocative pleasures.
Over at Neuroanthropology Greg is asking how anthropology can best brand itself. Its a long entry, but don?t worry, you can just make a point of only reading the passages which have been bolded. I?ve argued for some time that anthropology?s brand is diluted by popular representations of it but I?ve never really sat down and attempted to reduce to a few bullet points what exactly that brand is or ought to be, as Greg has done. Greg focuses on five main things that anthropologists do: make discoveries, interesting stuff, fieldwork, science, and advocacy. I like many of these but I think I?d like to offer a twist on some of them here, and if I had my druthers for a central message out of anthropology I think I?d go with this instead:
Since graduating from high school, I?ve several times worked as a salesman, first flogging reference books door-to-door over summers while an undergraduate and later, while writing my dissertation, getting involved in the ?design consulting? business where I helped sell something a lot less tangible. Sales was a great training ground for an anthropologist: nothing prepares you for quickly manufacturing social relations like slogging around door-to-door with a sample case, and a large lecture room of first-year students is a lot easier to sell than a skeptical dairy farmer in Wisconsin.
Regular readers of my twitter stream probably know that I am the father of twin boys who are now crawling all over me and everything I own. I don?t generally blog about my family since I feel it is their right to leave their own data trail on the Internet, but I wanted to make an exception in this case and talk a little about how Americans dress their infants. Like many couples, my wife and I have purchased practically none of the clothing out children wear. Instead, we?ve been relying on hand-me-downs and gifts from family and friends ? a pretty typical situation when kids are at an age when they outgrow clothes every couple of weeks, and families with older kids are desperate to get rid of all the stuff they accumulated when their kids were small. As a result of this, I?ve had the unusual experience of seeing what people have decided my children should wear (or, in the case of hand-me-downs, what they thought their children should wear).
Royal rumpus over King Tutankhamun’s ancestry
Can we be sure which mummy was the daddy? When a state-of-the-art DNA analysis of Tutankhamun and other ancient Egyptian royals was published last year, its authors hailed it as “the final word” on the pharaoh’s family tree. But others are now voicing doubts.
The analysis of 11 royal mummies dating from around 1300 BC was carried out by an Egyptian team led by Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass. The project was overseen by two foreign consultants, Albert Zink of the EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, and Carsten Pusch of the University of Tübingen, Germany.
Kambiz links to an interesting paper on grape domestication. From the paper:
Archaeological evidence suggests that grape domestication took place in the South Caucasus between the Caspian and Black Seas and that cultivated vinifera then spread south to the western side of the Fertile Crescent, the Jordan Valley, and Egypt by 5,000 y ago (1, 21). Our analyses of relatedness between vinifera and sylvestris populations are consistent with archaeological data and support a geographical origin of grape domestication in the Near East (Fig. 4 and Table 1).
This column was put here on the blog because our regular February column was dedicated to a letter from the AD in response to the concerns about the changes by the AAA Executive Committee to the preface of the Long-Range Plan. With these words my work concludes as AD Secretary and Contributing Editor. I put the pen in the able hands of E Christian Wells. It has not only been an honor but also a lot of fun to write the column and participate in the AD Executive Committee. On my way out let me say that you are well represented by the current committee. It is a hardworking group dedicated to advancing the cause of archaeology within the AAA.