So, in a discussion I observed that wrapping packages was a pedestrian task which the Japanese have elevated to a high art. Which immediately made me wonder, what sorts of things am I doing that I'm actually overdoing or that I culturally expect to be overwrought? That people from other places would peg me as as someone from the US or even the midwest because of what I pay extensive attention to. What about other places? What cultures think a job done right is worth overdoing?
MeFi... help us please! My boyfriend and I cannot figure out the correct term to describe a group of current people whose technology consists of stone tools and not much more. More information in the extended explanation below. [more inside]
Seeking fiction recommendations about scientists and anthropologists immersed in other cultures. [more inside]
What are the most current books that explore the fields of research relating to the anthropology and genetic work of determining who migrated where and when in human history? [more inside]
Brahmins, shamans, priests, ascetics, monks, holy kings - all of them have some kind of taboo or another that prohibits sex or the tastiest food items. Jesus, Buddha, and Moses all had intense experiences of deprivation and self-denial before spiritual zeniths. My question is - why is that those individuals considered the most spiritually powerful are also taxed with the most prohibitions or expected to have undergone difficult and costly experiences? [more inside]
I noticed that many of my old favorites have been deleted, and there's one in particular that I've been itching to see again. I'm looking for a link/name/LoC listing??? of an old video clip from what seemed to be an anthropology documentary about indigenous music. My google-fu failed me. Description inside. [more inside]
Some cultures foster majority-held, strongly anti-LGBT beliefs, and some do not, and religion doesn't seem to be the source of these attitudes, just a justification for them. Considering all this, what cultural forces account for anti-LGBT attitudes? What are the origins of these beliefs? [more inside]
I am an anthropologist-in-training who spends time in living with a community with a strong medicine-man institution. The medicine-men claim to see various sorts of spirits, and often in very casual settings, like during walks in the forest or while sitting in the house. They'll say stuff like, "there's one sitting right there. It's red with hair on top." I want to know - is there a scientifically compelling way to investigate whether they actually "see" spirits? [more inside]
I'm looking for a somewhat academic book on the inter-relations in ancient societies between the functions (or functionaries) of religion, law, and the "state" (or rule). Particularly something covering Sumer (and Cuneiform Law) and delving into Judaic Law and Christian law would be good. [more inside]
Looking for a basic intro anthropology text that discusses the breadth of social and political structures in 'traditional' societies across the continents - or just across say Africa, or ... Some comments about the mistaken belief of widespread "communal" cultures across Africa has prompted an interest in the breadth of such variances in cultural organisations in 'earlier' or 'traditional' societies. Thus, an introductory text for the layperson would be good, nothing too massive or encyclopaedic.
I am interested in reading as widely as possible about the concept of children's rights. What resources would you recommend? [more inside]
Dearest Hivemind - Does anyone know of examples where the rules of a community or society fall apart after the community becomes less cohesive (i.e., the members of the community come to depend less on each other and interact more infrequently)? I imagine, for example, an instance where you have norms for helping others out in times of need (like sharing food), but then people become less dependent on each other and those norms dissolve. Examples from the academic literature are especially appreciated and they could occur on any scale (e.g., a children's clubhouse, a hunter-gatherer band, an American mid-century town, an organization, contemporary Japan). THANKS!!
Hi Does anyone know the pathway for getting work as an anthropologist in a business setting, or technology? Is anyone actually working in this area? What's is is like? What at are the prospects for starting a business in this area? What qualifications are recommended? Any info or links much appreciated. Yes Ive heard of Genevieve Bell at (Intel?), that would be my ideal job except Im 60 and nearly finished my undergraduate degree
I binge-watch Human Planet this weekend, and it was the most fascinating thing I've seen in a long time. It is an 8 episode show about how humans survive in different habitats: ocean, river, mountains, grassland, arctic, desert, jungle etc. But it covers SO much that there isn't much depth to each thing they talk about. I must know more! I have so many questions. Where can I learn more? [more inside]
I'm looking for tasks where (1) each person consistently does it in a particular way, (2) believes that everyone else does it that same way, and (3) is wrong about (2). [more inside]
Who was the anthropologist who suggested that multinational corporations are the highest life forms on Earth? Author William Gibson has recounted going to a lecture by a female anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in the late 70s. The anthropologist posited the idea that multinational corporations were the highest life form on Earth, which had a profound influence on Gibson's world view, and therefore on literature influenced by Gibson. Who was this anthropologist? I haven't been able to find out who she was.
I'm looking for books that: 1. List different beliefs and practices of many different world cultures, both contemporary or historical cultures. 2. Are accessible, as in not needing an anthropology degree to understand them. 3. Preferably have pictures. 4. Are non-fiction, NOT a narrative with characters. I just want the facts. 5. Can be for kids or adults. 6. Preferably not internet resources because I want to minimize screen time. [more inside]
Maori chiefs were taboo'd from eating inside their houses, the Jewish Kohen (priests) couldn't handle dead bodies, and clerical classes across religious traditions have required celibacy -- does anyone know of any other examples of taboos on holy or religiously influential people? The cultures can range from contemporary big religions (e.g. Abrahamic) to the animism of small-scale societies - all examples are welcome!! THANKS!
Tell me about what cultures, cultural practices, arts, religions, languages, lifestyles, hobbies, habits, fashion, unconventional individuals/families, or any other aspects of human life in the U.S. still remain severely underdocumented; or are at risk of fading away before they can be properly or meaningfully documented. [more inside]
Does anyone know any examples of colonial governments or outsiders making up stuff about the supernatural to convince traditional peoples to follow some law or give them some resource or do something else that it's in the self-interest of the outsiders? [more inside]
I am trying to find some confirmation (or refutation) of the idea that at least in some contexts (schoolyard fisticuffs and other low-stakes, non-lethal brawls) the bloodying of one combatant's face is a kind of an "okay, the fight is over, we have a winner, everyone go home" signal. [more inside]
What's the Russian equivalent of Watching the English? What about for other nationalities too?
Do you know of any compelling, well-written memoirs by archaeologists, anthropologists, or paleo-anthropologists discussing field work, preferably during the twentieth century? The more detail about day-to-day work in the field and departmental intrigues, the better! [more inside]
I'm in the process of putting together Ph.D. program applications and have run into a mental roadblock, namely being asked to put together a research proposal that I know is destined to be utterly meaningless. [more inside]
I'm looking to explore the big shifts and major revolutions that have made a historical impact. Examples in the modern age: the rise of democracy, the proliferation of capitalism, and the Information Age / Internet. What other big shifts and major revolutions have changed humanity? [more inside]
I recently learned that the panhandlers in my city (Cambridge, MA) often share their food when they get big items and it made me wonder - do homeless individuals often have explicit or implicit rules, like "share when you get food" or "the person who's been homeless the longest gets the best spot"? What do you think happens if people break the rule? I'm sure there's a lot of variation both within and between cities, but if anyone has any thoughts, I'd really appreciate it!
I have an original pet theory I came up with a long time ago involving the Internet and how people judge probability. It probably would fall into the anthropological, sociological or psychological fields. I'm not intending to make this post to discuss the theory itself as a sort of "let's b.s. back and forth about my idea" kind of thing. Reason I'm posting is because I'd like to know if this theory already exists or is an application of something broader that already exists. Maybe it's a theory being applied onto the communications medium of the Internet of some older theory in one of the above field(s) of study, or maybe it's a piecemeal construction of a few theories spliced together. Anyway, enough babbling, actual theory after the cut. [more inside]
I'm looking for academic-level writing on the ways that cities that are built on islands or peninsulas, or in geographically isolated areas, develop and behave differently from cities that are more easily and fully connected to other cities. This would be about the mindset and attitudes and not about urban planning or infrastructure. I'm thinking these may be anthropological or sociological studies. They may even just be a thought pieces or essays. I could swear I saw one that talked about Manhattan and Charleston, but I can't find it.
In May, I will be graduating with a master's degree in applied anthropology. I'll be meeting a potential employer this week (possibly tomorrow) at a 3-day long design/innovation bootcamp. How and when do I broach the subject of employment and ask to send him my resume? Bonus job search questions abound! [more inside]
I'm curious to learn about human decomposition rates and wanted know: how long would it take for a human child's skeleton vs. a human adult's skeleton to dissolve in acid peaty soil? What about in soil us humans interact with everyday? (i.e. public park soil, garden soil) Thank you! Also, if anyone knows the answer, if you could please explain to me where/how you got the information :)
I'm interested in resources (particularly blogs) that will help me learn about the interesting aspects of other cultures. I would like to be exposed to ideas that will challenge my assumptions about what is "normal" and about how society should work
Anthropologists, please help-- I'm looking for unique examples of interpersonal relationships or family/friendship customs that are blatantly transactional, specifically in so-called "primitive" tribes or far-flung cultures that exist/have existed within the past century. The more surprising, extreme, or out-there the anecdote, the better. [more inside]
OK... I'm probably going to mangle this question, because I'm not a sociologist or anthropologist, or remotely knowledgeable in those fields. So, I'm probably using all my terms incorrectly. But, long story short - it's been my experience that most behaviors that laypeople, in casual conversation, call "human nature" are really just cultural phenomena. In other words - a behavior that someone from the United States thinks is "human nature" might be completely absent in another culture or society. It that's true - then it's not really "human behavior" at all. So - my question - is the tendency for kids in grade school to form cliques "human nature" - or a phenomena that's specific to certain (e.g., our) cultures? [more inside]
I'm looking for book recommendations for thorough, engaging, and rigorous histories of Savile Row tailoring and/or books that talk about the history and philosophy of fine men's tailoring and dress. I'm not averse to books with technical information, as well as historical and cultural information. Thank you!
I'm about to finish The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Before that, I read Nancy Scheper-Hughes' Death Without Weeping. What's next? [more inside]
I am in need of some help... I've just completed an M.A. in Anthropology, I'm trying to pull together a CV for a job teaching as an adjunct professor or community college professor. I don't have professional teaching experience, even though I've got loads of experience teaching to my peers in graduate seminars. (I'm also not sure how to convey that, other than in a cover letter.) I've got some of my written work (Academia.edu), and one of my presentations on YouTube. I'm in the process of revising some other papers to put on Academia.edu... Hoping, I suppose, that displaying my work will make me a better candidate. Now, here's the question: How can I make my existing (non-teaching!) work experience relevant to applying for academic jobs? [more inside]
I am interested in learning more about anthropological approaches to family structure, and especially marriages and funerals. I have heard that anthropologists think of marriages and funerals as fundamentally similar because they are about shifts in who is a member of a family. A marriage adds someone, and a funeral takes someone away. Both marriages and funerals often take place in religious settings. Extended families are invited to both. A ritualized meal follows both a wedding and a funeral. These events are announced in newspapers, etc.. Can you tell me what anthropologists have written about these structural similarities of weddings and funerals? Any leads would be most appreciated.
I just finished reading an article from the New York Times Magazine about controversial anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon. One thing in particular about the article struck me- there is a claim (at least that's how I read it) that measles vaccine caused a breakout of measles in a group of isolated indigenous people that did not have measles exposure or immunity. I'm confused because I'm pretty sure you can't get measles from vaccine. Is there something different about the Edmonston B vaccine? [more inside]
Was there ever a period in time before widespread acceptance of germ theory, or, is there a current culture where raw or undercooked chicken is an accepted part of cuisine? [more inside]
Some decades ago I heard the term "Ur trait" (can't be sure of the spelling) in relation to a collection of cultural beliefs or possibly culturally driven practices that are universally distributed in humans around the globe, and which are believed to reach back to the early development of humans, so that they might represent bits of a core of human culture. I'm unsure enough of the concept that I don't want to make up examples which might lead respondents on a wrong path. Googling "ur trait" didn't yield any useful answers. The concept sounds similar, but is not identical to Jung's idea of a collective unconscious, which seems to be related a little more to psychology than cultural anthropology. I'm primarily interested in whether the phrase "ur trait" was ever in use, and secondarily in the concept it represents if not what I've described above.
I get to go to South Africa to do field work next summer, hurray! I know very little about South African history and culture beyond what I get from the (US) media. I'd like to read a few books between now and then to try and get caught up. [more inside]
Academics and anthropologists: What are the most interesting and important anthropological works on race published in (roughly) the past decade? [more inside]
What are the best articles and books on the complications of urban gentrification? What about the relationship of artists and bohemians to this process? [more inside]
Can you tell me about legal anthropology? Am I foolish to leave a secure career to pursue it? [more inside]
I want to read more nonfiction. About anything, really. I'm having trouble capturing the way to describe the kind of nonfiction I want to find. [more inside]
I’m currently working on my masters in an Industrial/Occupational Psychology program. My main topic of interest will be differences in national, social, and organizational cultures. What sort of anthropological or ethnological resources or books can you recommend regarding learning how to be good participant-observer and the techniques to do so? I’m already familiar with the works on culture from researchers such as Geert Hofestede, Edward Hall, and Fons Trompenaars. If there are any other recommendations regarding relevant resources or texts in related fields that my compliment my studies, please let me know. My interests lie in psychology, sociology, and politics which I believe are applicable. Thanks in advance!
I saw Cave Of Forgotten Dreams and loved it. Now I want to read more about early human history. Please recommend some good books on the beginnings of human art in particular and the emergence of human society and the beginnings of conciousness in general. I'm not a scientist and I'm not looking for a textbook, but I'm not afraid of a challenging read, either.
Book suggestions: Anarchism among Native Americans [more inside]
How do I turn my current (quite positive) experience with community work into (a) anthropological research pre-grad or (b) non-fiction writing? Or, how do you conduct research outside of the academy? [more inside]