46: Issue 46 of Culture Inscribed March 3, 2008

3 03 2008

Culture Inscribed has a snappy new look. Enjoy while being amazed by the latest in the study of humanity.

Feel free to comment as well – we are a blog now too!


AnthroSocial this week!

Tuesday, 3/4/08, 7-10pm

Me&Eds Pizza, First and Bullard.

Don’t be late, they closed at 9:00pm last month.


46: AnthroNews-Anthro Day!

3 03 2008

Anthro Day!

Heather Balcom

On February 5th, the Anthro Club, in conjunction with Associated Students, welcomed applied anthropologist Mark Dawson to campus. He specializes in applying anthropology to marketing, and in studying violence from an anthropological stand point. He has done ethnographic research in prisons, studied consumers for corporations, and, most recently, applied to the military’s Human Terrain System, a program designed to make the skills of anthropologists available to military units, with the aim of minimizing the need for lethal force.

Mark met students and faculty members at an afternoon reception, which was followed by a more formal discussion on ethics in anthropological research. The discussion began with questions about confidentiality in participant/researcher interactions, but soon branched out into other ethical questions faced by anthropologists. Is a researcher obliged to deny access to his or her data if that information might be used to harm the study’s participants? Are studies that are not publicly available ethical, or even anthropological? And, what became the theme of the event: Is there a code of ethics which defines anthropology as a discipline? “Do no harm” was put forth by Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum as a strong contender.

After the presentation, another group of anthropologists reconvened for a meeting of The Central Valley Applied Anthropology  Network (CVAAN) at M-n-Ed’s Pizza. Crystal, CVAAN’s artist, led a brainstorming session for logos, and Mark Dawson lent us his expertise in design.

Thanks to Robin Trayler, Dr. Hank Delcore and Dr. Jim Mullooly for organizing this event, and to our guest Mark Dawson for sharing his experience and perspective. You can find out more about the speaker at his blog, ethnography.com.

46: Upcoming Events

3 03 2008

Five Years of War in Iraq
What have we learned from five years of war?

Wednesday March 12, 2008 6-8 pm

Peters Auditorium, in the Student Recreation Center

An Interdisciplinary Panel including:

•Ellen Gruenbaum (Anthropology)

•Kevin Ayotte (Communications)

•Andrew Fiala (Philosophy)

•Yashaiya Abosch (Political Science)

46: 2007 Darwin Award Nominee-“Weight Lift”

3 03 2008

Confirmed True by Darwin        “Weight Lift”

(27 July 2007, Guadalajara, Mexico) 24-year-old Jessica was working out in the Provincia Hotel’s gym when she realized she needed something from the floor below. Instead of picking up the phone, using the intercom, or just walking downstairs, she decided that the open shaft of the industrial lift was the communications device for her.

So Jessica stuck her head into the empty shaft to shout to the people downstairs. And somehow, she missed noticing that the elevator was coming up towards her. If the elevator had been going down, one could say that she was in no position to observe the approaching lift. But, leaving aside the stupidity of sticking your head into an elevator shaft, if she was looking down, how could she miss the mass of metal inexorably headed her way?

Since an elevator cage and a skull are both solid objects, one had to give. Let’s just say, the elevator won. Jessica will be missed by her family, but not by the gene pool. (www.darwinawards.com)

46:Quotation of the Fortnight

3 03 2008

Brought to you by Jeanne Binning:

“When the actor is brought in—not the actor denoted by such vapid terms as intentional subject or culturally constructed self or social person but with desires and fears, hopes and anxieties, loves and hates, conflicts and defenses, the kind of actor we know ourselves and the people we study to be but who nevertheless seldom appears in our culture theories—then complexity unfortunately cannot be avoided” (Spiro 1997:7).

46: Anthro Club Minutes

3 03 2008

by Heather Balcom

Spring semester meetings are set for alternate Thursdays at 11am.

Our first event is “Anthropology Day,” Tuesday, February 5th, 2008. The featured speaker is Mark Dawson, discussing ethics in the anthropological study of war. The reception runs from 1pm to 3pm in PB 390, followed by his presentation from 4pm-5:30pm in East Engineering 191. As February 5th is the first Tuesday of the month, Anthropology Social Night follows the presentation from 7-10pm at M-n- Ed’s Pizza, on First and Bullard; come, eat pizza with our distinguished lecturer. This presentation is relevant to a variety of fields; please promote it to anthropologists and related non-anthropological disciplines (philosophy, sociology, psychology, etc.) alike.

We have tentative plans to help run the Discovery Center’s “Baby Fest” on April 12th. More information to come. Also in the works this semester: a second speaker, anthropology tote bags, and lots of attempts at publicizing anthropology, including presentations to high school students. Alecia, our new president, is brimming with ideas, and your suggestions for speakers, tote bag designs, or other events are greatly appreciated.

46:Anthropologist of the Fortnight – Melford Elliot Spiro

3 03 2008

Melford Elliot Spiro (born April 26, 1920) is an American cultural anthropologist specializing in psychological anthropology. He is known for his work on the Westermarck effect, and for his studies of the kibbutz. He has conducted fieldwork among the Ojibwa, on Ifaluk atoll in the South Pacific, in Israel, and in Burma (now Myanmar). He was a significant figure in a series of debates over relativism and postmodern theory among American cultural anthropologists in the 1980s and early 1990s, in which he consistently argued for the importance of the comparative method and the appreciation of universal psychological processes, especially child development and unconscious drives. He is also trained as a lay psychoanalyst.

He began his undergraduate career at Northwestern University in philosophy, but soon decided that the empirical and comparative methods of cultural anthropology provided a better approach to answering his questions about human nature. He received his B.A. in anthropology, working with Melville Herskovits, and continued on to graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania with A. Irving Hallowell. He received his Ph.D. in 1950. He later taught at Harvard University and was invited to found the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California, in the early 1970s. He has been professor emeritus there since the 1990s. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)


(Special thanks to Jeanne Binning)