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AnthroCurrents – May 30, 2014

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

Summer Books

  • Nicholas Wade’s new book A Troublesome Inheritance has been in the news for a few weeks now, but criticisms of his ideas linking genetics to social behaviors continue to mount. You can’t swing a fossilized Australopithecus without hitting a negative review. If you want to be prepared at the water cooler, you should read something about it. I liked these pieces from New Republic, Huffington Post, and the Boas Network.
  • The novel Euphoria by Lily King fictionalizes the adventures of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. This book isn’t getting a lot of press yet, although it has been reviewed by Kirkus. It will be available June 1.
  • Finally, I would love to hear readers’ thoughts on the new (and free) book Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication recently released by NASA. You can download it here if you’re curious. Of course you’re curious.


  • A mainstream television news site is reporting on an anthropologist looking at middle-class food consumption. No surprise that this population has a lot of anxiety around food (see this NAPA blog post about Susan Squires’ work on Go-Gurt), but some people outside of anthropology might be surprised at how much diversity exists within this small part of middle-class America.
  • Better late than never, Fareed Zakaria’s commencement speech at Sarah Lawrence this year challenges Florida Governor Rick Scott’s 2011 comment on the need for anthropologists.
  • Marketing Week published a nice piece on ethnography as a tool for research on customers, providing more examples of how anthropological methods can be employed in a business setting. They stress looking for differences between what people say and what they actually do.

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