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AnthroCurrents – July 24, 2015

A biweekly look at recent stories on anthropology and practicing anthropologists in the popular media

  • Anthropologist Jason Hickel of the London School of Economics punctures the dream that microfinance will help alleviate poverty.
  • You may have heard that the U.S. military’s HTS (Human Terrain Systems) program is no more. You can read this nice overview at Bloomberg, if you are willing to ignore some of the disparaging remarks aimed toward anthropologists. We are all, apparently, left-wing Bernie Sanders supporters.
  • As if someone had access to all the questions that come to me in the shower, a new study has disproved the notion that romantic kissing is a nearly universal part of the human experience. The study found that about half of the cultures examined did not do romantic kissing at all.
  • M. Luhrmann writes in the New York Times about the ways different cultures perceive different mental illnesses and conditions. While Americans see excessive sadness as the primary symptom of depression, fieldwork done in China about 30 years ago revealed that research subjects most often associated depression with the chronic physical pain it can cause.
  • There’s a growing wave of criticism against the work of Ruby Payne, and anthropologists are among the critics. Many in the education and social services worlds saw Payne’s work as ground-breaking, but many now say her work drives a wedge between middle-class educators and the poor children they serve.

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