Ten Treasures (and a Bonus): A Selection of Anthropological Gems You Might Have Missed from the Past Few Years

I began interviewing authors of fabulous new anthropology books for this space back in 2016. While completing 11 interviews, I also amassed a backlog of more terrific books whose authors I planned to interview. One thing led to another, and my embarrassingly accumulating backlog fell hostage to a pandemic. I’ve

Continue reading

A Tale of Two [Unvaxed] Women

We needed to find a new plumber. I called around. The first business that seemed willing to clean our boiler and replace a problematic hose spigot had availability soon. Before settling on a date, I remembered to ask the woman answering the company’s phone–let’s call her, Mary–a non-plumbing question: Will

Continue reading

Weed or Not Weed?

Weeding is an exercise in anthropology. How do we know what’s a weed? The great French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, organized his nearly-80-year-long career around a single, foundational principle: “culture” basically comes down to classification. If something is “this” (whatever “this” is), then it’s not “that.” Reciprocally, if something is “that,” then

Continue reading

Does “Reasonable” = Racist?

What can anthropology contribute to the critical conversation about race in America, following the welcome jury decision in the Derek Chauvin trial? After they amassed and presented a week’s worth of technical details–medical, anatomical, temporal, legal–in the end, the prosecuting attorneys’ case against Derek Chauvin rested on a simple claim:

Continue reading

What Anthropology Teaches Us about COVID-19, Part 3: A Few Thoughts about Culture, and What We Can Learn from Artists . . . and the Homeless

What is “culture”? Early generations of anthropologists offered all sorts of definitions. No matter what their specifics, the various definitions inevitably shared one feature: “culture” is identifiable. Above all, it encompasses a set of beliefs and behaviors that, together, are premised on an enduring set of values. Or something like

Continue reading
%d bloggers like this: