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Photos and articles from cultures around the world.
Photos and articles from cultures around the world.


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I came upon this incredibly interesting post today (in link) in which the author has shared select photos of artwork and descriptions from Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d, or The Artificial Changeling, what is believed to be one of the earliest comparative social commentaries on body modification.

The 17th century book, written by John Bulwer (b.1606; d. 1656), is a nearly 600-page exploration of every kind of body modification imaginable, from piercings and tattoos to eyebrow alteration and makeup application.

I so wish I could learn more about this book, but it is very rare and information is scarce. I did find some additional photos of the book's artwork:

#anthrolit   #anthropology   #culturalanthropology   #comparativestudies   #socialcommentary  
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#AnthropologistOfTheWeek: Alfred Kroeber

(I have recently returned from a week-long vacation, so I figured I should probably get back into the swing of things here on +Anthropos-logia!)

"Everything social can have existence only through mentality."
–Alfred L. Kroeber, "The Superorganic" (1917)

Alfred L. Kroeber (b. 1876; d. 1960) was an American cultural anthropologist. He studied anthropology under the instruction of Franz Boas at Columbia University, where he earned the first anthropology Ph.D. ever awarded by Columbia. Kroeber was fascinated by 'the nature of culture' (in fact, he wrote a book [1952] with that exact title).

Kroeber did a lot of archaeological work in New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru and then moved on to California to study the area's numerous Native American tribes. During this time, Kroeber formed a notable relationship with a man who was/is believed to be the last surviving member of the California Yahi. Since this man's birth-name was unknown (even to the man himself) Kroeber called him "Ishi" (meaning 'man'). Ishi shared invaluable information with Kroeber about the Yana language, traditions, and other social constructs of the Yahi.

I found a couple of Kroeber's written works about California's tribes and linked them below. It is easy to see that he put a lot of work into publishing these studies. I'm even more interested in the third item I have linked, though I have not yet read the article in its entirety!

Works by Alfred Kroeber...
The Patwin and their Neighbors (1932):
Handbook of the Indians of California; Ch. 8 (1925):
"The Superorganic" (1917):

Further Reading...
Biographical memoir by J.H. Steward:
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology:

#anthropology #culturalanthropology 
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#Anthrolit Recommendation/Reflection: "Shakespeare in the Bush"

I stumbled upon this essay today and after doing the tiniest bit of research, I was surprised that I had not heard of it before. "Shakespeare in the Bush" by Laura Bohannan (found here: is apparently a very popular and well-known essay that is used in many high schools and colleges. And it relates very well to the post I shared yesterday (how language shapes worldviews).

The author and narrator, Bohannan, tells her experience of visiting the Tiv (an ethnic group and nation) in West Africa. Before her journey begins, a friend gives her a copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet in hopes that she will study (and come to the correct interpretation of) the famous tragedy while she is in the bush (rural, undeveloped land) in Africa.

Bohannan describes her surroundings, the tribe she's studying, and a few of the activities that the people of the tribe take part in during her visit–a popular one is storytelling. During her stay in the homestead, Bohannan reads Hamlet in her free time, but when the tribe's elders ask her about it, she decides to translate the story into the Tiv language and shares it with the tribe; however, much to her surprise, the elders have more than a couple of questions about and disagreements with what she once thought to be a "universal" story.

Bohannan's essay is truly thought-provoking and very funny in parts. I like that it has a somewhat personal touch and that Bohannan gives the reasoning for some of her translations. One of my favorite parts is near the start of her re-telling of Hamlet when Bohannan explains that Hamlet's father died and his uncle married his mother, which provokes the following comments:

"He did well," the old man beamed and announced to the others, "I told you that if we knew more about Europeans, we would find they really were very like us. In our country also," he added to me, "the younger brother marries the elder brother's widow and becomes the father of his children. Now, if your uncle, who married your widowed mother, is your father's full brother, then he will be a real father to you. Did Hamlet's father and uncle have one mother?"

This essay is just an excellent example of how “correct” interpretation directly relates to cultural experience and observation. I recommend taking a look at the full essay (especially if you enjoy the works of Shakespeare; it’s not too long and it’s a fun read) here:

#anthrolit #anthropology #linguistics #linguisticanthropology #storytelling #literarystudies #ethnocentrism
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I came across this short informative article, "How Language Seems To Shape One's View Of The World" from NPR, (link here: that discusses simple differences in language and issues that may arise when learning a new language. In particular, the author points out that (according to research cited in the article), in order to become fluent in a new language, one will likely need to make changes in the way s/he observes and sorts any given set of events or things. 

One basic example from the article explains, ". . . English distinguishes between cups and glasses, but in Russian, the difference between chashka (cup) and stakan (glass) is based on shape, not material."

Read the full article:

More About Language...
Interview with Lera Boroditsky:
About linguistic relativity:

Related Reading...
"How Language Shapes Thought" by Lera Boroditsky:
The Bilingual Mind by Aneta Pavlenko:
The Language Hoax by John H. McWhorter:

#linguistics   #linguisticanthropology   #psychology   #anthropology   #socialscience  
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#AnthropologistOfTheWeek: Zora Neale Hurston

African-American folklorist, anthropologist, and author, Zora Neale Hurston (b. 1891; d. 1960), is perhaps best known for her influential novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). Hurston attended Barnard College and worked with Franz Boaz, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead while she was there. Upon receiving her B.A. in 1927, she traveled through the Caribbean, the American South, and Central America, where she conducted her research on cultural traditions and folklore.

Hurston's portrayal of African-Americans in her stories and novels was criticized by many during the time of the Harlem Renaissance and her work was quickly overshadowed by the more political writings of, namely, Richard Wright, but after years of being hidden away (and years after her death), Hurston's legacy revealed itself again when Ms. magazine published Alice Walker's article, "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" in 1975.

"No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you." — Janie, from Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

For more information about Zora Neale Hurston and the significance of her work, have a look at the following links:
Alice Walker on Hurston:
Their Eyes Were Watching God (PDF):
Reflection on Mules and Men (PDF):

#anthropology #aotw #myth   #writing
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Literature Recommendation: Righteous Dopefiend (2009)

I recently had a look through my small collection of anthropology books and from my shelf, I pulled Righteous Dopefiend, a powerfully devastating ethnography which chronicles the lives of two dozen homeless heroin & crack addicts surviving in Los Angeles.

Authors, Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg (also the photographer) spent over a decade forming relationships with these addicts. There is a lot of sadness in this ethnography, but there is also hope, as is common in any story of addiction.

The photos depict some pretty desperate scenes (there is a reason Schonberg shot them all in black and white), but they are real and show a side of people that many of us never see. (Check out the gallery in the links listed below the following quote.)

"Y'know when you're walkin' and you look up across the street and you see someone you think you know? And then you walk closer, and it turns out to be a close friend, someone you used to kick it with as a kid. And you walk up to each other, and you each ask how the other's doing. And you talk for a while. And then you leave, saying to yourself, 'Wow! It was really good to see him.' That's what heroin feels like to me." — Hank (a character from the book)

If you'd like to learn more about Righteous Dopefiend, take a look at the following links:
Interview with Bourgois: Bourgois' website:
Google Books preview:

#anthrolit #anthropology #visualanthropology   #photography   #poverty #addiction #druguse #drugabuse #death
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A bit of visual anthropology for you all...
So, I just came across this short article which features some great photos of the "heavy metal cowboys" of Botswana. The photos are part of South African photographer, Franck Marshall's exhibit called Renegades.

For more info about Botswana's metal scene, check out these links:
Article from Metal Injection (Jul 2012):
Renegades exhibition page:
Video from band, Skinflint:

#visualanthropology   #anthropology   #africa   #southafrica   #photography   #art  
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For some reason, several of the posts I have shared here on +Anthropos-logia seem to have disappeared! For me, only nine posts show up, but I am certain I've shared about fifteen. Very odd... I hope I can figure out what the problem is!

Anyway, I came across this fantastic blog a few weeks ago called Anita's Feast and I wanted to share my new discovery. :P This travel blog's creators, Tom and Anita, write and share entries about their new experiences with food and cultural traditions from around the world. The blog also features some pretty amazing food photography (and just photography in general).

So, if you are interested in food and its wonderful cultural significance, please take a look at Anita's Feast! Linked here in my post is a bit about the history and traditions behind Uzbekistan's national dish, plov. (Which looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Simple, too!)

#food   #foodandart   #anthroblog   #rice   #culturalanthropology   #anthropology  
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I apologize for the extreme lack of posts as of late. The holidays kind of snuck up on me, but I would love to get back in the habit of posting something new each weekday! So...I suppose I'll get right to it.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has very recently published some pretty fascinating research about a "newly discovered metacarpal from Kaitio, Kenya, [which] dates to 1.42 Mya and provides evidence for the evolution of the modern human hand more than 600,000 y earlier than previously documented."

You can learn more about this research and its significance by visiting the linked article as well as the PNAS website (source of quoted text) here:

#archaeology   #anthropology   #science   #evolution   #physicalanthropology  
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Semana Santa by martabreijo:

"Holy Week in Spain is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter."

#visualanthropology   #holyweek   #spain  
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