anthropology | WAMC

anthropology

Book cover for "Nobody's Normal"
W. W. Norton & Company / W. W. Norton & Company

Roy Richard Grinker is professor of anthropology and international affairs at the George Washington University. He is the author of several books, including "Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism."

His latest is "Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness." The book charts the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma, from the early industrial revolution, through America’s major wars, and into the high-tech economy.

We will discuss the book as well as COVID’s impact on the experience of mental illness, including its disruptions in mental health care, social isolation, depression, and grieving. Grinker is co-leading a yearlong study of changing funeral practices during the pandemic.

In "Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia: Equality Reimagined," psychological anthropologist Martin Schoenhals argues that the negative emotions of sadness, anger, and fear evolved in tandem with hierarchy, while happiness evolved separately and in connection to prosociality and compassion.

The book covers a range of human concerns, from economics and education, to media and communication, to gender and sexuality. Schoenhals argues that equality of love is as important and possible as is economic equality.

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism--the role it plays in evolution as well as human history--is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History,zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic.

  As the adage goes: home is where the heart is. This may seem self-explanatory, but none of our close primate cousins have anything like homes. Whether we live in an igloo or in Buckingham Palace, the fact that Homo sapiens create homes is one of the greatest puzzles of our evolution.

In Home: How Habitat Made Us Human, neuroanthropologist John S. Allen marshals evidence from evolutionary anthropology, neuroscience, the study of emotion, and modern sociology to argue that the home is one of the most important cognitive, technological, and cultural products of our species’ evolution. It is because we have homes—relatively secure against whatever horrors lurk outside—that human civilizations have been able to achieve the periods of explosive cultural and creative progress that are our species’ hallmark.

  In 1965 George Gmelch signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers organization. Growing up sheltered in an all-white, affluent San Francisco suburb, he knew little of the world outside. Over the next four seasons, he came of age in baseball’s Minor Leagues through experiences ranging from learning the craft of the professional game to becoming conscious of race and class for the first time.

Playing with Tigers is not a typical baseball memoir. Now a well-known anthropologist at Union College, Gmelch recounts a baseball education unlike any other as he got to know small-town life across the United States against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, civil rights protests, and the emergence of the counterculture. The social and political turmoil of the times spilled into baseball, and Gmelch experienced the consequences firsthand as he played out his career in the Jim Crow South.

Drawing from journals he kept as a player, letters, and recent interviews with thirty former teammates, coaches, club officials, and even former girlfriends, Gmelch immerses the reader in the life of the Minor Leagues, capturing—in a manner his unique position makes possible—the universal struggle of young athletes trying to make their way.

College of St. Rose

Unhappy with what they say is low pay and inconsistent scheduling, more than 300 College of Saint Rose adjunct professors are preparing to get out the vote in their upcoming union election.

The Bering Strait is usually thought of as the migratory path whereby many of our ancestors found their way to America.

Dennis O'Rourke, professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, is hunting for clues that might indicate a people indigenous to this area.