Nicolas Ellwanger on Primatology as Anthropology

The Essence of Primates: An Opposable Thumb. Cover of Anthropologies, Issue 5. Photo: Ryan Anderson, 2011

It’s a great pleasure to be reading a cogent piece of online Anthropology and find it was written by a recent UVic Anthropology graduate.  This was the case when looking in the archives of the fairly new, excellent website Anthropologies.  The piece by Nicolas Ellwanger (M.A. 2007) is titled Primatology as Anthropology, and in it he makes a clear and compelling statement about how the study of non-human primates enhances the Anthropological project – indeed is integral to the project as a whole.   Continue reading


Colloquium Monday October 3: Peter Stahl

Early Holocene Humans and Indigenous Fox in the Neotropical Lowlands of South America

Peter Stahl
Department of Anthropology , University of Victoria  

  Monday October 3, 2011

11:30, MAC D103

Tropical areas of the western hemisphere are recognized as important hearths for the domestication of a wide range of plants; however, it has always been somewhat puzzling to consider that few, if any, animals were ever domesticated in the tropical lowlands of South America. Although the domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris) was likely the first exotic animal domesticate to have been introduced into the western hemisphere, its widespread acceptance in the Amazon basin appears to have been a very recent phenomenon.  Continue reading

The “Body Horrors” Blog

Screenshot of The Body Horrors blog

We took a quick look a few days ago at Somatosphere, a Medical Anthropology blog, and it brought to mind another interesting, if slightly queasy-making, site called Body Horrors.

This site, written by Rebecca Kreston, “aims to explore the intersection of infectious diseases, the human body, public health and anthropology. I hope to look at the interaction of infectious diseases and cultural/social behaviors. The focus will primarily be on microbiological organisms and parasitic helminths.”

It’s a serious site written by a serious scholar, but with a light touch, or as light a touch as its morbid interests allow.  Kreston doesn’t seem to be an Anthropologist by training, but she has a welcome openness to considering the culturally specific, and sensitive, factors which inform infectious disease.

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Jody Weir’s Lemur Research Blog

UVIC Anthropology/Biology Ph.D. student Jody Weir doing research in Madagascar. Click to watch video.

U.Vic Ph.D. student (Interdisciplinary between Anthropology and Biology) has been keeping a highly entertaining blog while conducting her year-long primatology fieldwork in Madagascar.

Jody is principally interested in animal behaviour and it’s applications to conservation. She has worked with dolphins in New Zealand, sea turtles in Barbados and whales and other marine mammals in British Columbia.

Her current Ph.D. research at UVic is focused on infant development in the two largest species of lemur alive today, especially how the young learn to feed. Her field research is based out of a small camp in the Maromizaha rainforest of Madagascar – she’s been there a few months at this point. Her primary supervisor is Dr. Lisa Gould, a Primatologist in the Anthropology Department and a noted authority on Lemurs.

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Colloquium Monday Sept. 19: Ann Stahl

Community members in Banda, Ghana examine posters of archaeological research into their history.

Making history in Banda. Anthropological visions of Africa’s past 

Ann Stahl, Professor & Chair, Department of Anthropology , University of Victoria  

  Monday Sept. 19, 2011

11:30 MAC D103

In a 2001 book Making history in Banda. Anthropological visions of Africa’s past I worked toward the dual goals of bringing to view the processes of history making in the present at the same time as illuminating something of the character of the ‘lived past’ in contexts when Banda villagers were participating in shifting global networks. Though I have long shared research results with local authorities, in summer 2011 I endeavoured to broaden community outreach around our research project  by producing a series of posters intended to communicate project results to local communities. In this seminar I describe those outreach activities, their reception, and their implications for making history in Banda, 2011.

Somatosphere: A Medical Anthropology Blog

Screenshot of the group blog.

Medical Anthropology is an important disciplinary focus within Anthropology, focusing on the intersection of human cultural and biological processes, past and present, and the institutional engagement with culturally-specific notions of health and disease.  There is a good encyclopedic overview of the field here (PDF). is a well-written and accessible medical anthropology blog which aims to cover the the intersections of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, cultural psychiatry and bioethics.  It’s a group blog, meaning there are multiple authors, and this helps keep it fresh and up to date.  Some posts which are worth checking out over there, and give a sense of the breadth of the blog, include:

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Race: are we so different?

Screenshot from the AAA "Race" website.

The American Anthropological Association – the leading body of professional Anthropologists – has produced a cool website about the concept of “Race”, as known through historical, biological, and experiential perspectives.

Designed as a public service from the discipline, it’s a well-produced website which manages to be broad in scope, and yet deep enough to be fairly educational.

For example, there is a nice interactive graphic which shows the association between sickle cell anemia and malaria.  The sickle-shaped red blood cells, while not optimal for health in their own right, do a valuable service in protecting the body against malaria by helping rid the malaria parasite.  Contrary to popular wisdom, then, the disease is not related to skin colour.

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