Anthropology - breaking news, gossip, slander, lies etc


there are no accidents
recently saw this book:

Domesticating the World
African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization
Jeremy Prestholdt

boldly unsettles the idea of globalization as a recent phenomenon—and one driven solely by Western interests—by offering a compelling new perspective on global interconnectivity in the nineteenth century. Jeremy Prestholdt examines East African consumers' changing desires for material goods from around the world in an era of sweeping social and economic change. Exploring complex webs of local consumer demands that affected patterns of exchange and production as far away as India and the United States, the book challenges presumptions that Africa's global relationships have always been dictated by outsiders. Full of rich and often-surprising vignettes that outline forgotten trajectories of global trade and consumption, it powerfully demonstrates how contemporary globalization is foreshadowed in deep histories of intersecting and reciprocal relationships across vast distances.

looks like stuff i have not encountered at all before. if it holds water might have to move some stuff around in my head to accommodate these accounts... anyone read or know about it?

any other anthropological concerns, issues, points of interest, recommendations, BS calls, beef, related or unrelated to above welcome.

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Funny you should post something about consumerism in Africa - there was a piece on last week about the Kenyan fashion industry, of all things:

Apparently Kenyans are the butt of jokes because they are regarded as the worst-dressed people in east Africa, but local designers are trying to change that. Hardly front-page news, but it at least makes a fucking change from reading about bank bonuses, paedophiles and X-Factor, that's for sure. :)

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I've always felt anthropology deserved its own hot-breaking gossip thread.

actually, this has been in the news lately - serious cricitisms of a Pentagon program to embed anthropologists & other social science types w/military units in Iraq & Afghan. big ethical issues I guess, research vs. counterinsurgency, i.e. data from studies being used to select military targets. which, I dunno. I guess maybe blurring the line between academic and consultant. I'm not going to pretend to understand the ethical codes of a field that seems pretty inextricably rooted in colonial paternalism (tho I could just be displaying my ignorance here).
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booty bass intellectual
Not really anthro (do we need an ethnomusicology thread AND and anthro thread?), but there actually are some breaking news, slander, and lies about Jared Diamond, who has apparently libeled a New Guinean tribesman for murder in a New Yorker article. The tribesman is suing.

Good coverage at this blog:

More breaking news, murder, controversy:

A good anthro blog:


there are no accidents
^^ that guy is sure a harsh critic of diamond!

"And if you go to, you will find a series of articles on “Collapse” and “Guns, Germs and Steel”, two of his best known books and a harbinger of the polluted nonsense that would make their appearance in the New Yorker Magazine. Despite his reputation as a fair-minded friend of stone age peoples, he is anything but."

investigating now... thanks for the heads up!


there are no accidents
so far i do not understand this guy's beef with Diamond.

read his review of Guns Germs and Steel (PBS doc. version), and while he adds some good points perhaps omitted by Diamond, there is no major disputes on the main thesis of location and historical contingency being the source of the European advantage.

and none of the articles on his blog demonstrate any factual disagreement with Diamond's work at all -- all of the articles actually only address this recent New Yorker scandal, which i can not comment on.

so what the fuck is this guy's deal? I'm almost tempted to write him off as some kind of jealous professional rival, the way he bad mouths the "superstar scholar" without any substantial argument.


there are no accidents
OK found some substantial critique here, in response to a chapter of Collapse, in which Diamond describes the environmental devastation in Montana:

It is really too bad that in the 50 pages Diamond devotes to Montana, the American Indian does not enter the picture. It as if one decided to write about the environmental crisis facing Alaska and failed to mention the Inuit. This omission is particularly egregious since the Indians had a different relationship to nature than those who conquered them.

Since Jared Diamond is so anxious to show how precapitalist societies were just as negligent as their successors on environmental questions, you'd think he'd have at least mentioned how the Blackfoot and other indigenous peoples fared.

My own travels to Indian country in Montana and my readings in Blackfoot history provide a different perspective than that laid out by Jared Diamond.

and what follows is a description of the vastly more environmentally friendly lifestyle of the Blackfeet, and their sustainable recycling system.

Elsewhere, this guy has criticized Diamond's downplay of "Genocidal Intentions" of the Europeans in favor of "'value-free' explanations that account for the death of 90 percent of American Indians through germs.

all valid from where i'm standing. and in particular, i sympathize with this last bit:

In my view, socialism will synthesize the best of hunting-and-gathering societies and the technology that capitalism has fostered. As bleak as the picture Jared Diamond draws of Montana, it would seem that the only realistic solution is one that is rooted both in the primeval past and the revolutionary future.
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there are no accidents
thanks ripley. reading some of that now. starting with this article from 2005.

good stuff. enlightening and eye opening. i particularly like the stuff about the drastically different cultures which occupy a single location through out history, invalidating Diamond's thesis of environment dictating culture. and many other points, such as the problems with Diamond which arises when looking at the very very recent dominance of Europe in historical perspective... the following is from the comments:

Locating some factors that have played a part in the complex weaving and shaping of modern civilization, then isolating them and constructing a deterministic worldview based on them is not showing the big picture, it’s blowing up a small picture.

It has to do with varieties of anti-racism. JD’s falls squarely in the camp of “no nothing” anti-racism, which drives us bananas. “no nothing” anti-racism insistently locates racism at a convenient scale. What we mostly face in the classroom are students who vociferously insist that while there might still be some scary tribes of racists out there (they usually point south, fabled homeland of the last living groups of uncontacted cretins who might hold such retrograde views), they think racism isn’t such a big deal because they look into their own hearts and see none, and into the hearts of their near and dear ones and see none there, either (oh, except grampa joe. and aunt ellen. golly, maybe their brother-in-law, too, and, well, anyway, definitely not MOST of the hearts in question).

That racism might be a social-stuctural problem as much as an individual one is a point they Stubbornly. Refuse. To. Concede. And they embrace any and all evidence to the contrary. In my own classroom, I try to illustrate the point with reference to Durkheim’s suicide study, which produced the startling piece of knowledge that something that seemed so personal in fact manifested patterns if studied on a different scale. People are willing, in fact accustomed, to think sociologically about those sorts of problems. But racism? In no time they are damply reciting the famous bits of MLK’s oratory in order to tell you how wrong you are.

Okay, so a book like GG&S really hits our buttons. Is is another variety of no-nothing anti-racism, here writ REALLY REALLY LARGE (into geography) rather than really really small (into individual hearts and minds). It helps make impossible the kinds of thinking about race, power, and history that sociological/anthropological scholarship indicate are necessary to bring about (1) genuine causal understanding and (2) change. It obviates what we take to be the all-important “middle part” between human origins and human psyches. - Ozma

and ran into the following:

Environmentalism and Eurocentrism - James M. Blaut

an article about the above article.

a New York Review which looks interesting.

an NPR broadcast of "competing theories" between Diamond and Victor Davis Hanson.

have yet to read. won't be the first time i use Dissensus as a note pad :)
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there are no accidents
no Luka, not familiar with this man's work... which part of it do you suggest or is relevant to the topics at hand?


heavy heavy monster sound
no Luka, not familiar with this man's work... which part of it do you suggest or is relevant to the topics at hand?

I think you'd really, really love 'Steps Toward An Ecology Of Mind' zhao.

There's a great film script somewhere to be written about Bateson and Margaret Meade.