Anthropology

Review: Cheney and Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics

April 16, 2007
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Review: Cheney and Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics

Publishers Weekly recently ran a review of the latest from authors Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind. Ever since Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking work, there have been a plethora of books studying the social lives of primates, but the PW review notes that in Baboon Metaphysics Cheney and Seyfarth’s deft combination of social drama and scientific study makes this book stand out. From PW: Lovers’ quarrels and murder, greed and social climbing: baboon society has all the features that make a mainstream novel a page-turner. The question Cheney and Seyfarth ask, however, is more demanding: how much of baboon behavior is instinctive, and how much comes from actual thought? Are baboons self-aware?… While describing important research about baboon cognition and social relations, this book charms as much as it informs. Indeed, Baboon Metaphysics delivers an unprecedented and compelling glimpse into the mind of another species. . . .

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Press Release: Patillo, Black on the Block

April 9, 2007
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Press Release: Patillo, Black on the Block

Mary Pattillo is a Newsweek Woman of the 21st Century because of her critically acclaimed last book, Black Picket Fences, which changed forever the way many of us think about the black middleclass in America today. In Black on the Block, Pattillo returns to the South Side of Chicago to explore how class conflicts within the black community are dramatically changing the shape and terms of racial solidarity. Her focus is the work that more affluent members of the black community are doing to lift historically impoverished and dilapidated neighborhoods out of abject poverty—and the tensions that arise between poorer and middleclass blacks when they do so. Black on the Block explores the often heated battles between haves and have-nots, home owners and apartment dwellers, and newcomers and old timers as they clash over the political implications of gentrification and reaching out to white economic power bases. Read the press release. We also have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Caitlin Zaloom on “What Capital Markets Can Learn From Clifford Geertz”

March 28, 2007
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Caitlin Zaloom on “What Capital Markets Can Learn From Clifford Geertz”

In the March 23rd issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, author Caitlin Zaloom has penned an interesting piece about the late Clifford Geertz, one of the world’s leading cultural anthropologists, and a man she calls her intellectual “grandfather.” In her article, Zaloom cites Geertz’s groundbreaking studies in books such as Peddlers and Princes and Agricultural Involution as the foundation for her own new book, Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. Out of the Pits is a fascinating exploration of how the recent trend of online trading is effecting the culture of the marketplace. Zaloom’s article states, “even though their publication preceded today’s global economy by decades, Clifford Geertz’s works on culture and economy can still help us understand the cultural import of the online evolution in the world’s marketplace.” Here’s a few links to the UCP website where you can find out more about the works of both of these groundbreaking figures in the field of anthropology: Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia The Religion of Java Kinship in Bali Peddlers and Princes We also have an excerpt from Out of the Pits. . . .

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Caitlin Zalooom on BBC Radio 4

March 16, 2007
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Caitlin Zalooom on BBC Radio 4

Author Caitlin Zaloom was recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed discussing her new book Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. Host Laurie Taylor talks with Zaloom about the stock market’s gradual transition from face-to-face exchanges made on the trading room floor to internet based trading and how this move into the digital realm effects the culture and business of global trade markets. You can listen to archived audio of the discussion on the BBC’s Thinking Allowed website. We also have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney on Letters from Iwo Jima

March 1, 2007
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Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney on Letters from Iwo Jima

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, author of the recent Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers, recently penned an interesting article for OpenDemocracy.org discussing Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning film Letters from Iwo Jima. Eastwood’s cinematic exploration of a pivotal battle of World War II, says Ohnuki-Tierney (and others), parallels the objective of her recent book in trying to “undo the demonization of Japanese soldiers that was propagated by the American mass media during and after the Pacific war of 1941-45.” And in fact, Eastwood’s film not only shares a common objective with Ohnuki-Tierney’s book, but also the means of accomplishing that objective. Both the movie and the book focus on the writings of Japanese soldiers during the war as a vehicle through which to arrive at a deeper understanding of who these soldiers were. Ohnuki-Tierney writes: Clint Eastwood’s film Letters from Iwo Jima begins and ends sixty years after the end of the war it depicts. At the start, a team of Japanese investigators is searching for whatever may have been left by Japanese soldiers holed up on Iwo Jima, part of a group of Pacific islands around 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo. The team finds a large sack buried where the soldiers had . . .

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Review: Zaloom, Out of The Pits

December 12, 2006
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Review: Zaloom, Out of The Pits

In a recent review for Time Out Chicago Ruth Welte writes that Caitlin Zaloom’s Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London “is half fascinating cultural portrait and half in-depth academic text.… but what emerges from the mix is a nuanced, bottom up picture of Chicago’s economic importance in the world market, and how our city’s working class swagger has shaped derivatives trading from the inception of the market.” But what is “working class swagger” really worth in the market of the new millennium where “floor traders are being phased out as online trading becomes the norm,” and “the need to be seen” is no longer relevant? According to Welte, Zaloom’s got the answer. Out of the Pits considers the implications of this sea change for everyone involved, from the traders and brokers on the floor of the former Chicago Board of Trade, to the market as a whole. Documenting how Chicago is responding to the digital transition and how its traders are remaking themselves to compete in the contemporary marketplace, Out of the Pits is a must read for business buffs or anyone concerned about the future of the American marketplace. Read an excerpt from the . . .

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Clifford Geertz, 1926-2006

November 1, 2006
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Clifford Geertz, 1926-2006

Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential cultural anthropologists of the last four decades, died last Monday at the age of 80 of complications following heart surgery. As noted in his obituary in today’s New York Times, Geertz differentiated himself from his intellectual forebears by rejecting the view of anthropology as “an experimental science in search of laws” in favor of “an interpretative one in search of meaning.” Known for his extensive research in Indonesia and Morocco, Dr. Geertz’ work helped to define and give character to an intellectual agenda of non-reductive, interpretive social science that continues to provoke much excitement and debate about the nature of human understanding. The University of Chicago Press published a number of Dr. Geertz’ works including The Religion of Java, Kinship in Bali, as well as a volume on Geertz, from the centennial session of the American Anthropological Association, Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues. . . .

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Review: Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

September 14, 2006
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Review: Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

Fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, lingering smells of garden-grown herbs and spices, traveling merchants and farmers hawking their wares—these romanticized images of the local street market have helped it to retain its almost timeless appeal to consumers worldwide. Today, tourists flock to places like Carpentras, a city near Avignon in the south of France, to experience the provincial traditions of its outdoor market. In Market Day in Provence Michèlle de La Pradelle explores the modern popularity of the market at Carpentras to deliver a revealing critique of the various fictions that have allowed it to survive in the midst of a modern economy. Sarah Howard explains in a recent review for the Times Literary Supplement: According to de La Pradelle, although patrons understand the reality of the modern market, they are caught up in a theatre of illusions, a vast participatory dramatization or a “kind of method acting for the masses.” … Gritty bunches of leeks and muddy potatoes convince them that products are fresher and more natural. Peasant-like sellers extolling the virtues of “their” pâté embody rural, artisanal images, while regional toponyms, such as “Sisteron” lamb and “Cavaillon” melons, allow patrons to connect with the terroir. Yet, Howard notes, . . .

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Press Release: Scientific American, Evolution

September 5, 2006
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Press Release: Scientific American, Evolution

Drawing from the pages of Scientific American—one of the most respected science magazines in the world—Evolution contains more than thirty articles written by some of the world’s most respected evolutionary scientists. An accessible and timely collection of the most exciting research and thinking on evolution in the past ten years, the book is organized into four sections—the universe, cells, dinosaurs, and humans—with articles, reproduced here in their entirety, that shed light on topics such as the search for life in our solar system and cybernetic cells to the evolution of feathers and the design of the human body and whether it was meant to last. In all, Evolution will be a reference for any reader curious about what’s motivating the science of evolution at present—and where it’s likely to go from here. Read the press release. . . .

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Review: Guthrie, The Nature of Paleolithic Art

August 25, 2006
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Review: Guthrie, The Nature of Paleolithic Art

Who created the cave art of the Paleolithic era? And why? In some academic quarters, those questions are regarded as more or less settled, and so R. Dale Guthrie’s book, The Nature of Paleolithic Art has been received about as warmly as the Ice Age. However, in her review of the book in the August 18 issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement, Nadia Durrani recognizes that the answers to those basic questions “remain unclear.” Durrani found Guthrie’s book a “fascinating and compulsive read” even as she acknowledges that it is “a controversial book.” (Readers of this blog will have noted our previous postings that have excerpted bits of Guthrie’s book to convey some of the fascinating content of the book. Plus we have all of the preface available online.) What is Guthrie’s thesis? The hot button that has drawn attention—and fire— is that much of the surviving Paleolithic art was not created by shamans for religious purposes or done purely for art’s sake, but was done by “testosterone-laden” young boys. Guthrie’s evidence for so radical a theory? Durrani explains: Guthrie’s thesis draws its main impetus … from the surprisingly limited themes dealt with by the art. Although Palaeolithic art . . .

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