Writing about Coffee

Despite being a lifelong non-coffee-drinker, I somehow found myself reading two fantastic books about coffee recently. The first, Miriam Sagan’s A Hundred Cups of Coffee, hijacked me from reading the OTHER coffee book I’d just started. Sagan’s series of short meditations inspired by drinking a cup of coffee (and, occasionally,

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The Blueberry Wars

In elementary school, the first “robin red-breast” of spring signaled warmer days, colorful flowers, and a promise that the school year wouldn’t last forever. I considered robins my friends. Of late, I’ve come to perceive those same songbirds as my enemies. This year, thanks to non-stop April rains, the blueberry

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Goose Lessons

What can an anthropologist (who specializes in humans) learn from an unlikely species (like a goose)? Plenty, it turns out. My husband and I went goose-banding the other day, thanks to my husband adventurous spirit in discovering a creative, public-outreach program organized by our coastal state’s Department of Environmental Management (“DEM”).

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Birth as Ritual/Ritual as Birth

Cultural anthropologist, Robbie Davis-Floyd, is a leading anthropologist in the fields of childbirth, midwifery, and obstetrics.   A Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas-Austin, she has studied childbirth practices firsthand in the U.S., Mexico, and elsewhere, and has promoted the work and legitimacy of

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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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To Be a Man Is Not a One-Day Job: A Conversation with Daniel Jordan Smith

Daniel Jordan Smith has been conducting research in, and writing about, West Africa since 1995.     His first book, A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria, was a compelling work narrating the daily experience of interrelations between morality and economy, seen from the bottom up. It won

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Irish Writers, Anthropologically Speaking: An Interview with Helena Wulff

Anthropologist Helena Wulff has been conducting research on youth culture and multiple art worlds (especially in Western Europe) for over thirty years. Wulff’s recent book, Rhythms of Writing: An Anthropology of Irish Literature (Bloomsbury, 2017), brings an anthropologist’s questions to the world of contemporary literature. In a review of her new book for

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Environmental Anthropology: An Ethnographer’s View of a Cove Cleanup

The curse of the anthropologist: finding culture everywhere in nature. Publicly posted signs reinvent the medieval European town crier, or the West African village drummer   Today, the coastal neighborhood in which my husband and I now live hosted a cleanup in a nearby cove.   Of course, this effort

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Doing Development the Right Way: A Conversation with Charles Piot

Anthropologist Charlie Piot has been conducting research on the political economy and history of rural West Africa for over thirty years. His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999), has gained wide attention for re-theorizing a classic, out-of-the-way place as existing within the modern and the global.  

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The Anthropology/Poetry Nexus–An Interview with Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

Can artists and social scientists inhabit the same universe? Melisa (“Misha”) Cahnmann-Taylor embodies that nexus. Her advanced degrees include an MFA in poetry . . . and a PhD in educational linguistics. She’s published plenty of scholarly work in academic journals and books (about language learning, sustainable or fragile states

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