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]
What are some good "official" programs, websites and journals on [any form of] anthropology? [more inside]
Are there any ethnographies of corporate culture that are primarily academic? [more inside]
Please help me win my FaceBook debate (or, at least, learn something new): MUST dogs be walked? Is it truly better for cats to be only indoors? Are cats less domesticated than dogs? I'd like fact-based support, not ASPCA party line. Gimme Science! [more inside]
Where can a fellow (who has access to online academic resources but is 1000mi+ from a quality academic library) get some hands-on advice for gathering data for social network analysis? Bonus substantive questions inside. [more inside]
Name-that-story-filter: Anthropologist mother with her daughter (and son?) on a planet separated from the rest of civilization by years of sub-light space travel. Mom maintains scientific detachment, but daughter is assimilated into peculiar local culture with taboos against social interaction, driving mother and daughter apart. Inspired by this AskMe. [more inside]
I have a dream of becoming an anthropologist someday. The problem is I don't know what I should focus on. [more inside]
My sister is looking for undergraduate research funding to support some field work in Japan for her BA thesis project. She's especially interested in questions about gender and sexuality. Any advice on grant-giving organizations she might look into? [more inside]
Need to find cases of state-sanctioned development projects against local consent, especially if by private for-profit companies
I am looking for good examples to cite for a brief section of paper that looks at contemporary debates over development -- specifically examples of economic development projects which have gone ahead against the consent of local people on the grounds that the benefit to the larger society outweighed any detriment to the local people - especially if the development itself was/is carried out by a for-profit company. [more inside]
A few years ago I landed on this idea of what I think may really be the perfect fun-and-interesting job for me: a textbook editor. But even more so with social studies content. How do I do it? [more inside]
An anthropologist studying some primitive society fell in love with one of the women he was studying, and, against all professional decorum, married her and brought her home. The ensuing events were apparently pretty interesting. The person who told me about it can't remember if it was a book, a film, or what. Or which country...or which anthropologist. Can anyone help?
Are there ever any reliable inferences to be drawn about a person's work or lifestyle from physical characteristics? [more inside]
In Oliver Sacks' The Minds Eye he references "primitive cultures" in which people do not recognize photographs as representational. Where can I read more about that?
Dating around the world. How does it work? [more inside]
Help me find this webcomic about an anthropology student and some mysterious ancient buildings and the culture that created them. [more inside]
Looking for books that revisit a person or groups of people at different points in their lives, a la the "Up" series by Michael Apted. [more inside]
Considering a Masters in Anthropology... curious about which programs are worth applying to and job/graduate options afterwards [more inside]
Do human beings as a species, homo sapiens sapiens, have a strong body odor in their natural state? Anthropologists, biologists, informed laypeople, any way to get at the truth? [more inside]