Anthropology

Word of Mouth
2:06 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

5.15.14: Figuring Out GDP, Alternative Labor Unions, and Did Neanderthal Parents Love Their Kids?

Credit Ervins Strauhmanis via Flickr Creative Commons

It gets bandied about countless times by economists, politicians, and newscasters, but what exactly is GDP? Today on Word of Mouth, the surprisingly fascinating process of measuring Gross Domestic Product, and what this live or die by economic indicator overlooks. Plus, prehistoric humans are commonly depicted as grunting, club-wielding brutes. Now, evidence that Neanderthal parents didn’t just rear children, but loved and cherished them. All that and more on today's show.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments

5.15.14 Full Show

Read more
Word of Mouth
12:48 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

The Life Of Cavemen, Outside Of The Cave

Credit wikipedia.org

Throughout the world, hundreds of caves have been discovered containing artifacts and paintings from pre-historic times. The art work found in these caves has provided a glimpse into pre-historic culture, but our guest, anthropological archeologist Margaret Conkey says they only tell part of the story of early man. For her project “Between the Caves” she has pushed archeological research beyond the caves, into the landscapes where Paleolithic people lived and thrived.  

Read more
Word of Mouth
11:39 am
Tue August 6, 2013

An Inside Account of L.A. Gang Culture

kevindean via Flickr Creative Commons

Jorja Leap is a small person with a long shadow on the streets of Los Angeles. She’s a professor of social welfare at UCLA, and an anthropologist who, for the past seven years has traced the kinship ties, rites, turf wars, and intervention programs operating in the bloodiest trenches of LA. Her book, “Jumped In” is part memoir and part ethnographic narrative of gang culture from a woman who’s earned street cred among gang members, respect from academics and props from law enforcement. We spoke to Jorja last year when the book was first released; it is now out in paperback.

Read more
Word of Mouth
9:46 am
Mon June 10, 2013

The Neanderthal Mind

Cranial comparison between Modern Man and Neanderthal from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Credit Matt Celeskey via flickr Creative Commons

To call someone a Neanderthal is to liken one to the heavy browed, ape-like troglodytes we see in history books or movies, but were they more sophisticated?

Sophisticated might be stretching it a bit, but a debate has surfaced in the scientific community about whether Neanderthals had a more complex culture than previous thought, and maybe even the cognitive powers equal to anatomically modern humans of the time.

Journalist Marek Kohn’s has been following the debate, his article “The Neanderthal Mind” appeared in the latest issue of Aeon magazine. He says the story starts with a perforated shell some fifty thousand years ago.

Word of Mouth
9:58 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Cannibalism At Jamestown

Forensic facial reconstruction based on human remains excavated in James Fort, Jamestown, Va. by William Kelso, chief archeologist at the Jamestown Rediscovery Project. Via newsdesk.si.edu
Credit Artist: StudioEIS; Photo: Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian

Experts at Preservation Virginia, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution have produced the first scientifically-verified case of survival cannibalism in colonial America. On Tuesday, forensic analysis of the 17th Century human remains of a 14-year old girl labeled “Jane” were unveiled. The discovery sheds new light on the deadly colonial winter of 1609 to 1610 referred to as the "starving time.” William Kelso, chief archeologist from Jamestown Rediscovery Project at Preservation Virginia provides us with some context about the discovery.

Read more
Word of Mouth
12:00 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Jane Goodall: Anthropologist, Primatologist...Plagiarist?

Credit Photo by Patriziasoliani, from Flickr Creative Commons

This month, award-winning anthropologist Jane Goodall was supposed to be celebrating the release of her fifteenth book “Seeds of Hope”. Instead, publication of the work has been delayed after investigation revealed Goodall borrowed a number of passages without attribution.  While reviewers for the Washington Post and New York Times held back from using the “P” word outright, a vocal minority is very concerned about the amount of copied material in ‘Seeds’ – and the dubious content of the book itself. Michael Moynihan is Cultural News Editor for The Daily Beast. You can read his article about Goodall’s new book here.

Read more
Word of Mouth
12:39 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

The Anthropology of Trash

Credit PetroleumJelliffe via Flickr Creative Commons

Thanks to thousands of sanitation officials working around the clock, millions of New York City residents walk the streets without being overwhelmed by the overpowering stench and volume of the tons of garbage produced by that city each day. Robin Nagle has been the anthropologist-in-residence at New York City’s Department of Transportation since 2006; combining traditional field work techniques with hand-on social science. She examines the often-ignored issues behind the city’s elaborate—and under appreciated—system of refuse collection. Robin's new book is called “Picking Up”.

Read more
Word of Mouth
12:52 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

The Human Science Behind Consumer Behavior

Credit Endless Simmer via Flickr Creative Commons

Anthropology translates literally to the “science of humanity." We tend to think of it as a field that seeks to answer the big questions about what makes us human. A number of consultant anthopologists are seeking to answer queries that appear somewhat less profound. For example, consulting firms like ReD Associates use field research and ethnography to figure out (among other things) how people are drinking Absolut vodka at house parties.  Their services offer corporate clients a deeper understanding of consumer behavior through these anthropological methods, which presents a challenge to a traditionally academic arena with its own code of ethics and standards.


Read more