Anthropology roundup: Ethnographers as Writers… “Ebola Teams Need Better Cultural Understanding…

Zora Neale Hurston, The Making of an Anthropologist

Little did Zora know that moving to New York from Washington, DC, where she was a student at Howard University, would forever change the trajectory of her life. When Zora landed in Harlem, she became the latest arrival to what would become enshrined in history as the Harlem Renaissance. Zora’s dramatic flair and need for attention attracted the likes of the actress Fanny Bryce who hired her as a secretary and, after discovering Zora had few secretarial skills, kept her on as erstwhile chauffeur and travel companion.


Ethnographers as Writers: Getting Started

Every article, book, or thesis begins with a first word, but getting started feels overwhelming. My worst prose derives from disorganized thinking and writing, and over the years I’ve experimented with different systems to help me get my projects off the ground. When I map out some incremental steps, my projects seem more manageable.

A Death in the Field

Serendipity confounds me. I spent most of Monday writing the following reflections on the death of a Bulgarian woman, one of my “key informants,” who unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago while I was in Sofia. You can imagine my surprise when I logged on to Savage Minds this morning to post my short tribute to Ana. I encountered Ruth Behar’s beautiful piece on the passing of Esperanza, her comadre in Mexico and the inspiration for Translated Woman. Behar’s essay moved me to tears, and my own purple prose pales in comparison to her poetic rumination on the way an ethnographer’s life can become intertwined with those whose stories we have the privilege to tell. Journalists would say that I’d “been scooped,” since this post evokes many of the same issues and emotions as Behar’s and she is by far the more accomplished writer and anthropologist. But for Ana’s sake, I’ll post this humble essay anyway. The fleeting immortality of the written word is the only gift we ethnographers have to give.

Ebola Teams Need Better Cultural Understanding,Anthropologists Say
Discover Magazine (blog)
The solution, some say, is to reevaluate treatment and prevention tactics with the benefit of an anthropological perspective. That was the call delivered last week by a meeting of the AmericanAnthropological Association in Washington D.C. If .

Ethnographers as Writers: A Light-Hearted Introduction to Academese

Academics are collectively responsible for the production of some of the most obtuse and impenetrable prose in the English language.  Rhetorical fashions come and go, but the penchant for opacity has become a defining feature of contemporary scholarship.

Anthropologist Krystal D’Costa considers food as a spectator sport in history, aka “food porn.” From Scientific American: Read the rest


The eastern European mtDNA discussed in this article might be a remnant of the population of Proto-Europeoids that occupied Siberia even in Upper Paleolithic times (as the genome of the Mal’ta Upper Paleolithic Siberian has shown). However, the authors write:

Ethnographers as Writers: An Introduction

…cal communities. In recent years, the ethnographic method spread from its original home in cultural anthropology to a wide variety of fields in the humanities and social sciences, yet as it grows in popularity, it remains
Zora Neale Hurston’s Gifts to Anthropology– Pt 1


It is fitting that I end this blog on January 1, 2015. The winds of January blow with grace across Zora Neale Hurston’s memories. She died January 20, 1960 (fifty-five years ago) and January 7, 2015 will mark the 124th anniversary of Zora’s real birthday (January 7, 1891). Throughout her life, Zora shaved almost ten years off her age, even entering Barnard College at the age of 35. Her life was not only “wrapped in rainbows,” the title of the latest Hurston biography by Valerie Boyd’s, but it was also wrapped in mysteries. And the greatest mystery of all are her contributions to anthropology, which have  never been acknowledged.


The Real World of Democracy (and Anthropology)

…, I have incorporated the text as required reading for the past two years in my course on Political Anthropology. Taking advantage of the fact that August is a fellow Montreal resident, he has kindly come twice to present guest lectures

Anthropology and the police – Trinidad Guardian

Trinidad GuardianAnthropology and the policeTrinidad GuardianApplied anthropologists who historically have worked to improve justice systems around the world, are quick to point out the racist logic and prejudice against


Love, Jealousy, and Anthropology: Euphoria by Lily King
Everyday ebook
Set in the 1930s, between two World Wars, Lily King’s Euphoria is a quiet yet powerful stroll through a time and place that many of us will never know. King based her heroine, Nell, on the controversial American anthropologist Margaret Mead, her second

The Obligation of Gifts
Scientific American (blog)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. Email Print. Krystal D’Costa is an anthropologist working in digital media in New York City. You can follow AiP on Facebook. Follow on Twitter @krystaldcosta.

Anthropology news: ‘lightly’ built skeletons of modern humans have a recent origin

Researchers studying the changes in bone density in humans over the millennia believe that changes in our skeletons have to do with an evolutionary shift from foraging lifestyle to a more sedentary way of life. Read the rest

The Indiana Jones of collapsed cultures: Our Western civilization itself is a …
PBS NewsHour
Ted Fischer, a professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University, studies the ways cultural values influence economic decisions. Today on Making Sen$e he interviews the “real Indiana Jones,” aka

Cornell anthropologist Bernd Lambert dies at 82
Cornell Chronicle
Bernd Lambert, professor of anthropology emeritus and a faculty member in Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences since 1964, died Jan. 3 at home in Ithaca. The cultural anthropologist, an authority on kinship among the Pacific islanders of the Republic

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