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

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It’s Not “Just” a Symbol

The new Maya Angelou quarter is a symbol, yes. But not “just” a symbol. Because, symbols matter. If they didn’t, they would just be like other, ordinary stuff. If symbols didn’t matter, we wouldn’t fight over them. As in, people burning or otherwise desecrating flags when they’re mad at their

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When Women’s Laughter Keeps Men in Line; or, What Gathering-Hunting Women of Central Africa Have in Common with Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, et al.

Among the Mbendjele gathering-hunting people who live in the Republic of Congo, “women’s laughter manages to keep men in line.” Drawing from ethnographic research by Jerome Lewis, anthropologist Chris Knight relates that among the Mbendjele, “senior women exercise a special privilege, seeing it as their enjoyable role to bring down

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A Tale of Two (Ad) Campaigns

For a while, the mega-global corporation, Unilever — owner of Dove beauty products — spoke thoughtfully to the world’s women. The 13-year-long “Real Beauty” campaign that began in the early ’90s aimed to “change the conversation” about gender by presenting women of many colors, sizes, and body shapes in its ads

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An Anthropologist at the Women’s March on Washington, Part 2: The Posters

  Photo by Noam Galai Women (and some men) with signs, as far as the eye could see. In my first post about the Women’s March of January 21, 2017, I chronicled the social and emotional ties I saw created in this space of massive communitas, feminist style. Here, I

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When Feminism Starts in Fifth Grade

Can ten-year-olds be feminists? Absolutely. This group of fifth graders just voted to forfeit their basketball season unless their co-ed team is allowed to compete, girls included. Feminism is not a radical world view.  It’s simply the proposition that women and girls are human.  These ten-year-old boys and girls in

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An Open Letter to My Grandchildren

Dear Dean and Mona,   At four years old and ten months old, you are both too young to understand why the grown-ups around you keep talking about confusing words like “deeply flawed candidates” and “misguided pollsters.” But sooner than I’d like, the realities of yesterday’s vote will begin affecting

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The Power of Menstrual Politics

The latest in the abortion wars: “One Indiana woman recently created the Facebook page Periods for Pence where she encourages others to call the governor’s office to report their periods, since they could technically be having a miscarriage.”   A new generation of feminists is defying classic menstrual taboos by the simplest possible

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