Anthropology

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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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

February 14, 2006
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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

Adekeye Adebajo recently reviewed Andrew Apter’s The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria for the Times Literary Supplement: "Traditional studies of Nigerian foreign policy have often ignored the cultural dimensions of Nigeria’s efforts to play a leadership role in Africa, although Nigeria has historically assigned itself the role—as the largest black nation on earth, comprising one in every five sub-Saharan Africans—of protecting black people globally. The country’s diplomats have, therefore, tried to champion the rights and interests of black people not just in Africa, but, for example, also in Brazil. Andrew Apter fills a gap in the literature by focusing on the spectacular Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), which was hosted by Nigeria in 1977." . . .

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Harry G. West discusses Kupilikula on BBC Radio Four

February 7, 2006
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Harry G. West discusses Kupilikula on BBC Radio Four

Harry G. West recently discussed his new book Kupilikula: Governance and the Invisible Realm in Mozambique on Laurie Taylor’s BBC Radio Four program "Thinking Allowed." You can listen to an archive of the program by following the link on the Thinking Allowed Web site. . . .

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