December 2010 Blog Posts (19)

The Masses: A Myth

Coincidentally, I've been reading Karl Gaspar's "The Masses are Messiah: Contemplating the Filipino Soul."  The book written by a Filipino theologian, whose background is obviously Marxist, explores the spirituality of the Filipinos.  He expounds on the concept of "masa" (common people) and "misa" (religious rite) as he explains Filipino spirituality and poverty in the Philippines.  I'm still halfway in my reading, but I found Midgley's views from class struggle to selfish gene very relevant…


Added by M Izabel on December 30, 2010 at 10:44pm — 5 Comments

Mary Midgley on some modern myths that might interest you

Brilliant 5-mins video riff by philosopher Mary Midgely on some modern myths that sustain morality: Working Class, Market, Common Good and Selfish Gene. I won't add any commentary here, but I sure would be glad of yours, if you have any.

Added by Keith Hart on December 28, 2010 at 3:00pm — 3 Comments

Film and cosmology

I have taken an interest in a - seemingly irrelevant to anthropologists - controversy over the shooting of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit in New Zealand. The protests were incited by Warner Bros' threats to move the film production to Europe, just because the actor's Union went on strike over employment conditions. This is the story I narrate on my website:…


Added by Rodanthi Tzanelli on December 24, 2010 at 3:15pm — 4 Comments

'Nature and Nurture' Researchers Win Prize

The title of this post is the title of a news item in the 10 December, 2010 issue of Science magazine. According to this item, the husband-and-wife team Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffit, who have joint appointments at Duke University in the U.S.A. and King's College London, have been awarded the 1 million Swiss franc Klaus J. Jacob's Research Prize for their longitudinal study of New Zealanders linking genetic mutations with violence and depression while also "showing that environmental… Continue

Added by John McCreery on December 22, 2010 at 5:37pm — No Comments

Sarita Colonia a 70 años de su muerte

"¿Hace cuántos años que murió?" pregunta un niño a su madre y en medio del silencio del cálculo que busca la respuesta, aparece una mujer que se roba la atención de todos, trae una torta blanquísma en la manos. Discretamente me empino para ver entre los chicos que se acercan curiosos y veo SU…


Added by Elizabeth Lino C. on December 22, 2010 at 7:30am — No Comments

Can an anthropologist's interpretation or an outsider's theory be dangerous?

Read this anthropologist's dissertation outline and how he implemented Gunnar Myrdal's theories in an Indigenous community:

"An Introduction of Family Planning Program to Akhas in Thailand"


For more:…


Added by M Izabel on December 20, 2010 at 8:33pm — No Comments

Yes, We Kant

Keith Hart has, several times since I joined OAC, urged us to look deeper into anthropology's history and consider the anthropology of Immanuel Kant. I must confess that I have resisted this suggestion, anticipating a head-banging encounter with Kantian critical philosophy. Today, however, having a bit of time on my hands and procrastinating from getting to work on other tasks, I turned to Questia to see what I would find if I searched for "Kant anthropology." At the top of the list of works…


Added by John McCreery on December 17, 2010 at 7:21am — 11 Comments

Selfish neurons and human enhancement

In October of 2009, I heard Dr. Kenneth Harris give a talk at Imperial College's Neuro-science Technology Symposium on what I will call the capitalist brain. Now by this I do not mean the brain of a capitalist nor even the brain as molded by one (e.g., the news media has popularized the developing practices of…


Added by Josh Reno on December 12, 2010 at 5:00am — 5 Comments

Letter from St Andrews

There is a lot of snow in St Andrews today as there has been for more than a week. There is also an unusual level of commotion. The University of St Andrews is a very conservative institution. It was (arguably) established by a papal bull of the last 'Babylonian' Pope, Benedict XIII, in 1413. There is no train line to St Andrews: the town with its ruined cathedral sits on the tip of a peninsula of the Eastern Scottish coast; perched on a cliff looking out over the North Sea. The heir to the… Continue

Added by Huon Wardle on December 8, 2010 at 4:30pm — 1 Comment

Is Anthropology Science?

Science is a loaded term and concept. How it should be understood and contextualized is science in itself. Should it be empirical, replicable, and useful? I do not wonder why Stephen Hawking has yet to receive a Nobel. If Europe's CERN completes and succeeds replicating "Big Bang" on earth and finds energy uses for it, scientists like Hawking will, maybe, get their medals. Astronomy will be respected as science, and astronomers will stop calling themselves astrophysicists just so they will… Continue

Added by M Izabel on December 6, 2010 at 9:41pm — 2 Comments

Hot Off the Presses: U.S.A. Science Now Third in the World

Science, November 19, 2010, p. 1032

"A new analysis of the U.S. research base by Thompson Reuters points to an increasing concentration of academic research....The…

Added by John McCreery on December 5, 2010 at 12:35pm — 2 Comments

"Knowing" in art, design and science


Added by John McCreery on December 5, 2010 at 10:09am — 3 Comments

Freeloaders, Reciprocity, and Exchange

Not long ago an OAC member posted under the discussion thread something about "gift," Mauss, and altruism, and he gave an example about a stranger asking for a cigarette from another stranger, which, I thought, could be explained well using reciprocal altruism or altruistic exchange, physiology, and lung cancer. When the stranger gave a cigarette, a plus for his health was the exchange. They could even begin a long-term friendship that would involve reciprocal asking and giving of cigarettes.… Continue

Added by M Izabel on December 4, 2010 at 5:35pm — No Comments

Full Text of AAA Long-Range Plan Adopted by the AAA Executive Board on 11/20/2010

Russell Bernard sent me the full text of the AAA Long-Range Plan adopted by the AAA Executive Board on 11/20/2010. He obtained the document from Virginia Dominguez, president of the AAA. Here is the text in…


Added by Jacob Lee on December 3, 2010 at 11:12pm — 3 Comments

The Language of Reciprocity and Exchange

If someone says, "Thank you," and another one responds, "You're welcome," does the response deny, cancel, or balance out a reciprocity or an exchange? Does it mean the one who thanks is welcome again to avail, receive, or ask for favor? Does the one who responds mean what he says or is he culturally conditioned linguistically to say "You're welcome" if he hears someone say "Thank you"? Is the "thank you-and-you're welcome" dialogue, in itself, a reciprocity of acts and an exchange of… Continue

Added by M Izabel on December 3, 2010 at 7:13am — 27 Comments

Conflict and Resolution: Exchange Versus Reciprocity

Bourdieu's symbolic violence, I think, is central in reciprocity as Nash Equilibrium is in exchange.

I remember writing a post before about how my grandmother and my friend's grandmother practiced reciprocity. They gave each other food, drinks, clothes, jewelries, plants, and even animals that they did not need, value, and meaningfully utilize. It was an ego reciprocating another ego back-and-forth in an almost endless fashion. They were outdoing each other. Once, my…

Added by M Izabel on December 3, 2010 at 2:18am — No Comments

The Birth of Society

How does a society emerge? Is it communism or capitalism that gives birth to it? Is it physical or conceptual? Can a nation or state have multiple societies? Is society communistic or capitalistic?

Here are my answers:

Power distributed and exercised hierarchically among groups and individuals is a requirement for the concept of society to emerge in a certain group or community. No wonder among indigenous peoples who are egalitarian and…


Added by M Izabel on December 2, 2010 at 3:21am — 10 Comments

Communalism, Reciprocity, and Exchange

Thomas Headland wrote:

"Twentieth-century Casiguran Agta history can be divided into three periods. The first is the Forager Phase, which lasted until 1964, when the Agta were still able to live their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle based on collecting and trading forest products with downriver farmers for…

Added by M Izabel on December 1, 2010 at 8:22am — No Comments

Indian Rupee Symbol: Designing Globalized Culture

Considering the large number of OAC members coming from India, I wonder why most of them do not participate in discussions and debates. They play the opposite of Amartya Sen's "The Argumentative Indian." I hope this post can stir them and make them share their views on the new symbol of Indian rupee and the issues of inclusive globalization and of designing globalized culture.…


Added by M Izabel on December 1, 2010 at 4:06am — 6 Comments

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