49: AnthroNews: SWAA Panel

1 05 2008

By Jason Scroggins and Alecia Barela

Four Anthro students, and Professor Mullooly, presented a panel at the
annual Southwestern Anthropological Association (SWAA) conference April 11th at CSUF. Our panel’s theme was “Imagining a Brighter Future for the San Joaquin Valley”. The team’s research represented applied efforts in analyzing issues within the valley, including equity, access, and intercultural conflict and innovation.

Our presentations weaved together the work performed by the Institute for Public Anthropology over the last year:
Alecia Barela introduced the contesting paradoxical identities of a hospice thrift shop.
Bethany Ranson lectured on the digital divide existing in rural areas of the San Joaquin Valley.
Jason Scroggins presented the construction of a new restaurant paging system.
Heather Cruz focused on the necessity for Interpreting Services and cultural sensitivity in the health care industry.
Prof. Mullooly presented the power and pitfalls of employing Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) software in anthropological research.

A few newcomers to SWAA were apprehensive about presenting, but were relieved to find a welcoming atmosphere at the conference. The environment was non-competitive and conducive to the free-exchange of information and ideas. Among the panel attendees was Professor Jan English-Lueck from the Applied Anthropology program at San Jose St. and Fresno State’s very own Dr. Sydney Story. Dr. Story’s dissertation Spiritual Christians in Mexico: Profile of a Russian Village is a must read for everyone interested in the Anthropology of Religion. In a note of local interest there is also a Molokan settlement in the town of Kerman, 5 miles from Fresno. Perhaps an enterprising student should take a look.

Presenting at the SWAA conference was a gratifying experience. The coming together and meeting with one’s colleagues was a memorable and encouraging opportunity. All aspiring anthropologists should definitely consider partaking in next year’s 80th meeting of SWAA.

(From left to right; Bethany Ranson, Jason Scroggins, Heather Cruz, Dr. Mullooly, Alecia Barela)



49: Coprolites Shed New Light On Past

1 05 2008

by Ashlee Dotson

New evidence pushes the time frame of human habitation of North America back by at least 1,000 years. A team, led by Dennis L. Jenkins, an archaeologist at the University of Oregon, working in the Paisley Caves in the Cascade Range in Oregon found coprolites, also known as fossilized feces, that contains human DNA and dates to around 14,000 years old. This evidence supports the findings of other parts of the Americas.

The caves had some artifacts, including baskets, animal hides and bone, and a few projectile points, but there was not a large quantity and nothing that links the inhabitants to Clovis technology. The limited number of artifacts suggests that the caves were used for a short stay.

Because of the new evidence that pre-dates the Clovis complex it is clear that the previous migration theory must be reevaluated. The theory had been that humans crossed the land bridge after the glaciers that had blocked their way melted. With the new dates the melting would not have occurred and the Bering land bridge would have been an insurmountable obstacle.

For more information go to http://www.latimes.com and search coprolites.

49: Anthropologist of the Fortnight

1 05 2008

By Chrystal Kinsella

Julian Steward (1902 – 1972) first got bachelor degrees in Zoology and Biology at Cornel University. He then went to UC Berkley and obtained his Ph.D. in Anthropology.
Steward had a multilinear theory of evolution in which he theorized that cultures had many different ways of evolving, and there was no universal standard to this. He believed that the cultures environment directly effected the cultures development. The culture would adapt to their environment and evolve accordingly. In his theory, Steward paid no attention to kinship systems; it was all about the evolution in relation to the surrounding environment.
Steward was a part of the first research team to look at all aspects of all the cultures in a specific area, and how they interacted with each other. They examined everything, including economics, ecology, and politics. He is noted for his work on cultural ecology and cross cultural laws.

49: Quotation of the Fortnight

1 05 2008

“There are no theories unless based upon fact but facts exist only within the context of a theory.”

-Julian Steward

49: Anthro Field Trip: La Brea

1 05 2008

by Alecia Barella

A few weeks past, the Anthropology Club rose early and started out for the legendary La Brea Tar Pits. Regardless if it was their first time or not, all were excited to see La Brea because visiting the Page Museum is more than a trip to Los Angeles. Visiting La Brea is a trip back thousands of years to the Los Angeles Basin during the Ice Age period.

At the museum, club members were able to observe remnants of extinct mammals and vegetation from the Pleistocene Epoch. Standing next to these fossil displays, members were really able to grasp the magnitude of size and scale of what life was like 10-40,000 years ago. It was easy to feel a bit insignificant when one stood beneath a towering Columbian mammoth or near the deadly jaws of a saber-toothed cat.

Entrapment is still occurring at La Brea tar pits to this day and excavation is a continual project. Pit 91 is the famous dig site at Rancho La Brea and can be viewed by the public. After inspecting the pit, club members joining Dr. Pryor in the archaeological dig this summer felt a sense of gratitude, that no matter how dusty the dig may be…at least it will never include tar.

In lieu of the Getty Center, the club paid a visit to the Fowler Museum located on UCLA’s campus. The current exhibit featured global arts and cultures, highlighting several regions: Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. It was really rewarding to witness the different ways humankind celebrates life and their cultural history.

It is one thing to read about cultures in textbooks, it is another thing to behold their works of art. Club members got to experience a tangible connection with these cultures that couldn’t be achieved by reading alone.

The Fowler Museum was simultaneously hosting the international exhibit: Make Art/Stop AIDS. The exhibition is aimed at raising awareness and activism and features more than 60 contemporary works by artists from 5 countries. Some pieces were hauntingly sad, while others offered a vision of hope, but all of them carried the message that the AIDS crisis is far from over and demands more global attention.

Looking back, all members would agree the trip was a pleasant and successful adventure. From the excavated remains of La Brea to the existing issue of the AIDS epidemic, members were able to connect with the world of the past and today.

To see photos from the trip go to the Making Anthropology Public Picasa site.

49: AnthroNews: Anthro Club Update

1 05 2008

We have a tentative plan for a table at the last Monday night archaeology lecture of the academic year.
The traditional end of the year party is scheduled for 5 pm on May 31st at the Fresno State archaeology field class in Mariposa.