#Anthropology roundup: “Anthropologists and Espionage, chapter 4,378

Is there anything new to say in the never-ending discussion of anthropology and espionage? Most anthropologists think it is unethical to gather intelligence on behalf of the government when they do their fieldwork — but not all of them. Some spies pose as anthropologists. Sometimes people start out as anthropologists and move into espionage as a form of applied work. Indigenous people and others have criticized anthropology as itself inherently a form of unethical surveillance which aids colonialism. It turns out there IS something new to say about these issues. In a recent number of History and Anthropology, Insa Nolte, Keith Shear, and Kevin Yelvington discuss the case of anthropologist and clandestine operative Jack Harris, comparing his fieldwork in West Africa with his intelligence work in South Africa during WWII.

What the Archaeology of Night Reveals

[no-caption] Culture Exclusive/Lost Horizon Images/Getty Images

As recently as a few decades ago in the Western world, stars dazzled humans with their brightness and the Milky Way could be seen spanning the far reaches of the heavens as night deepened into an unspeakable darkness. In the 21st century, such a scene is becoming a rarity across many parts of the globe as we light up the night like never before.

Race is Still a Problem in Anthropology

By Anar Parikh

[The following essay emerges from conversation with fellow PhD student and AES/SVA attendee, Scott Ross (George Washington University).]

How is it that a senior anthropologist used the n-word during a plenary lecture and no one is talking about it?

In Part I, I explored how Hobbes’s myth was a kind of science fiction story designed convince his readers to end the English Civil War by accepting peace under the rule of a single sovereign. (For Hobbes that meant either King or Parliament, but not both.) I also discussed how that myth “requires both the artificial man and the state of nature,” since “one part of the story cannot work without the other.” Now, in the conclusion of this two-part post, I consider how closely the appearance of the Hobbesian myth in Star Trek: Discovery and Black Panther actually fits Hobbes’s own version, and what we can learn from the differences.


Where a River of Life Became a Border of Control

[no-caption] Wenting Li/SAPIENS

The floor of the El Paso International Airport’s baggage claim area is a marble mosaic design; blue stones represent the Rio Grande (or Río Bravo, as it is called in Mexico), and brown stones symbolize the Chihuahuan Desert. Embedded within the river and the desert are circular bronze plaques with quotes from average citizens explaining what they love about their city.

Do Clothes Make a Messiah?

[no-caption] Livioandronico2013/Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published at The Conversation and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Over the past few decades, the question of what Jesus looked like has cropped up again and again. Much has been made of a digital reconstruction of a Judean man created for a BBC documentary, Son of God, in 2001. This was based on an ancient skull and, using the latest technology (as it was), shows the head of a stocky fellow with a somewhat worried expression.

Statistical Palaeoafricans

According to a new preprint by Durvasula and Sankararaman (D+S):

Using this method, we find that ~7.97±0.6% of the genetic ancestry from the West African Yoruba population traces its origin to an unidentified, archaic population

This ~8% matches well the ~9% of “West Africa A” in Yoruba of the model of Skoglund et al.Figure 3D. If “West Africa A” corresponds to the Archaic Ghost of D+S, then the Mende have the most of it at ~13%.

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