Anthropology

Freeman J. Dyson on Kamikaze Diaries

June 1, 2006
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Freeman J. Dyson on Kamikaze Diaries

While reviewing another book in the New York Review of Books, Freeman J. Dyson has some very interesting things to say about Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers: Even after recognizing the great differences between the circumstances of 1945 and 2001, I believe that the kamikaze diaries give us our best insight into the state of mind of the young men who caused us such grievous harm in 2001. If we wish to understand the phenomenon of terrorism in the modern world, and if we wish to take effective measures to lessen its attraction to idealistic young people, the first and most necessary step is to understand our enemies. We must give respect to our enemies, as courageous and capable soldiers enlisted in an evil cause, before we can understand them. The kamikaze diaries give us a basis on which to build both respect and understanding. Kamikaze Diaries presents diaries and correspondence left by members of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during World War II. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Press release: Richerson, Not By Genes Alone

May 26, 2006
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Press release: Richerson, Not By Genes Alone

Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution. What makes us human, renowned scholars Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd demonstrate, lies in our psychology—more specifically, our unparalleled ability to adapt. Building their case with such fascinating examples as the Amish rumspringa and the gift exchange system of the !Kung San, Not by Genes Alone throws aside the conventional nature-versus-nurture debate and convincingly argues that culture and biology are inextricably linked. Read the press release. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Katherine Dunham, 1909-2006

May 22, 2006
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Katherine Dunham, 1909-2006

Katherine Dunham—dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and activist—died on Sunday, May 21, 2006, at the age of 96. Dunham was born in suburban Chicago and studied anthropology at the University of Chicago. As a graduate student she did field work in the West Indies, an influence which she expressed in many forms, including her dance and her activism. A dozen years ago we were pleased to reprint Island Possessed, her book about Haiti, as well as A Touch of Innocence, the searing story of her first eighteen years. . . .

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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

May 3, 2006
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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

Library Journal recently reviewed Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers: "Poignant and heartbreaking…. Ohnuki-Tierney refutes simplistic stereotypes and offers readers the human face of what she defines as a ‘colossal tragedy.’ Well researched and written, this book is highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries." Kamikaze Diaries presents diaries and correspondence left by members of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during World War II. Outside of Japan, these kamikaze pilots were considered unbridled fanatics and chauvinists who willingly sacrificed their lives for the emperor. But the writings explored here by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney clearly and eloquently speak otherwise. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

April 12, 2006
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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers. From the review: "Like Anne Frank’s diary, this collection of kamikaze pilot diaries uses the eyes of those on the cusp of adulthood to bring to life the unfathomable daily realities of war.… The range of views encompassed illustrates these young men’s varying convictions: the latent patriotism in one young idealist, Sasaki Hachiro ("We cannot succumb to the ‘Red Hair and Blue Eyes’"), the influence of Thomas Mann on Hayashi Tadao ("Japan, why don’t I love and respect you?"), the sentimentalism of Matasunaga Shigeo ("Those who, even then, love Japan are fortunate. / But, poor souls; it is the happiness of a wild goose. / It is the fake blue bird whose color fades away under light") and the resignation of Hayashi Ichizo ("I will do a splendid job sinking an enemy aircraft carrier. Do brag about me") together eerily illuminate the tragedy of war in a way no textbook could." Kamikaze Diaries is a moving history that presents diaries and correspondence left by members of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during the war. Outside of Japan, these kamikaze pilots were considered unbridled . . .

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A Brain for All Seasons receives Walter P. Kistler Book Award

April 3, 2006
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A Brain for All Seasons receives Walter P. Kistler Book Award

Walter H. Calvin has received the 2006 Walter P. Kistler Book Award for his book A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change. The award, presented by the Foundation For the Future, recognizes authors of science-based books that contribute to society’s understanding of the factors that may impact the long-term future of humanity. Mankind has recently come to the shocking realization that our ancestors survived hundreds of abrupt and severe changes to Earth’s climate. In A Brain for All Seaons, William H. Calvin takes readers around the globe and back in time, showing how such cycles of cool, crash, and burn provided the impetus for enormous increases in the intelligence and complexity of human beings—and warning us of human activities that could trigger similarly massive shifts in the planet’s climate. On April 6, at 7:00 p.m., the University of Washington will host an award ceremony for Calvin. He will be interviewed, participate in a Q&A session, and sign books. The event is free and open to the public. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Press release: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

March 23, 2006
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Press release: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

An institution as old as time, the outdoor farmers’ market has experienced a renaissance in recent decades as consumers have sought an alternative to chain supermarkets and pre-packaged goods. For patrons of these street markets, the tomatoes are always redder, the lettuce greener, the melons larger, and the meat and fish more fresh. But are they? In Market Day in Provence, the late Michèle de La Pradelle (1944-2004) lifts the curtain behind the traditional farmers’ market once and for all in her award-winning study of the street market of Carpentras, France One of the oldest and most celebrated markets, Carpentras is the model for its more modern cousins. But they are all alike, according to de La Pradelle, in that above all else, money rules. On any Friday, several hours before dawn, trucks file in along the cobblestone streets of the city bearing goods not brought in from farmers but from wholesalers—many of whom supply the superstore chains surrounding the city. The vast majority of produce, meats, dairy products, and fruit here is of the same quality and price as elsewhere in the city. But the products at the market appear different, even fresher—a tribute to the market’s spectacle of . . .

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Review: Mark D. West, Law in Everyday Japan

March 7, 2006
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Review: Mark D. West, Law in Everyday Japan

The Japan Times recently praised Mark D. West’s Law in Everyday Japan: Sex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes. In the review, Jeff Kingston writes: "This is a superb book that explores the interaction of law, society and culture over a range of intriguing topics. In seven captivating case studies, Mark West shows how law influences people’s behavior and perceptions in everyday situations. Rather than trumping law, social norms are powerfully shaped by it. We learn that Japanese respond to incentives and penalties in ways very similar to people in other societies.… By choosing themes off the beaten track of legal analysis, West demonstrates that even the quirkiest phenomena can be analyzed. He ‘examines the incentives created by law and legal institutions in everyday lives, the ways in which law intermingles with social norms, historically engrained ideas, cultural mores, and the phenomena that cannot easily be explained.’ And he does so in a delightfully engaging manner." Compiling case studies based on seven fascinating themes—karaoke-based noise complaints, sumo wrestling, love hotels, post-Kobe earthquake condominium reconstruction, lost-and-found outcomes, working hours, and debt-induced suicide—Law in Everyday Japan offers a vibrant portrait of the way law intermingles with social norms, historically ingrained ideas, and cultural mores . . .

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"Acting white"

February 21, 2006
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"Acting white"

"Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." —Barack Obama, Keynote Address, Democratic National Convention, 2004 Ron Netsky, a writer for City (Rochester, NY), observed that the term "acting white" has been appearing in the media a lot lately (most recently in The Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times) . Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu popularized the term in a study published in Urban Review in 1986. Fordham is also the author of Blacked Out: Dilemmas of Race, Identity, and Success at Capital High, a book which explores academic achievement within the Black community and the price students pay for attaining it. Earlier this month, Netsky interviewed Fordham about Black education issues and what it means to "act white." City: In Blacked Out, you write that one of the things that seems to make the education process difficult is generational. Fordham: After the Brown decision and the Civil Rights act—in the 1960s . . .

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Ancient Graffiti

February 15, 2006
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Ancient Graffiti

Contrary to popular belief, not all ancient cave art was created by senior male shamans. R. Dale Guthrie, author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art, reveals that many graphic scenes of sex and hunting were drawn by teenage male "graffiti artists." In an interview with LiveScience, Guthrie said, "Lots of the wild animals in the caves have spears in them and blood coming out of their mouths and everything that a hunter would be familiar with. These were the Ferraris and football games of their time. They painted what was on their minds." The LiveScience feature on Guthrie, which is accompanied by four cave images, can be read . . .

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