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AnthroCurrents – June 27, 2014

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

We’re #2!

Anthropology is ranked near the top of the Irish Independent’s list of the top 50 jobs of the future. As you read down the list, try not to feel too smug. We’ve all learned to take articles like this one with a grain of salt. (Bookmark it anyway.)

For the Children

  • Originally published in The Atlantic, this article from Business Insider delves into American attitudes toward potty training from the 1940s to present. Anthropologists don’t look so good here, but parents will surely feel a sense of relief about their own potty training choices as they tack back and forth between the extremes.
  • Leave it to an anthropologist to provide both political and historical context of the current wave of unaccompanied minors migrating across the U.S. border. Linda Green of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona provides that perspective.
  • Slate reports on a project that puts free pregnancy tests in the bathrooms of rural Alaskan bars. Turns out Alaska has high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome, and this program will test the idea that women who know they are pregnant will be less likely to binge drink. The project is being led by anthropologist/epidemiologist David Driscoll.

Noble Savage Alert

New Republic recently published a piece on Papua New Guineans using cell phones to communicate with the dead. As you read through the descriptions you will probably agree that we could substitute our own culture for the Ambonwari’s in much of the article. We shouldn’t pretend that we have a highly evolved system of cell phone etiquette, with our own peculiar habit of conducting cell phone conversations in the stalls of public restrooms. “They have found other uses for their phones: as watches, torches, music players, and simply toys,” says the article. “Isn’t that what’s they’re for?” says anyone who has ever purchased a smart phone.


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