Archives For anthropology

When Andy Hurley performed with Fall Out Boy for the 2013 Victoria’s Secret fashion show on November 13th, he was given a costume to wear that included a shirt with the Rising Sun on it.

The Rising Sun symbol, used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, has come to represent horrors of wartime aggression (such as the Nanking Massacre) to many, particularly South Koreans and Chinese people.

The Rising Sun symbol is horribly offensive to descendants of people affected by these events, much like the Nazi Hakenkreuzflagge or the Confederate flag. Yet unlike those symbols, it continues to be used widely.

Many people simply don’t understand the connotations of this symbol. But after he was made aware of it, Andy and I felt that this incident would provide a good opportunity to heighten awareness of its cultural context. Here are his thoughts.

Continue Reading…

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“You’re going against 40,000 years of evolution”

“This innate toughness that men have is crucial to our survival.”

These points, and many others along the same lines, were made by Mr. Gavin McInnes, author of “How To Be a Man” in a recent discussion of masculinity on the Huffington Post. His argument is based on a suite of assumptions common in our culture. It often forms the basis of misogynist arguments against feminism. Basically:

1. Evolution has made men naturally more “aggressive and tough”, and women naturally more “compassionate and domestic”.

2. Therefore in the modern world, as in past societies, men are the natural breadwinners, and women the natural caretakers of the home/children.

3. Going against these gender norms, as feminism has done in the last few decades, is going against nature, and disrespectful of the importance of childcare!

According to Mr. McInnes, women who work outside the home are “forced to pretend to be men. They’re feigning this toughness. They’re miserable.” You’ll hear a lot of people agreeing with this line of reasoning. But is it scientifically based? Continue Reading…

Fighting words.

Jennifer Raff —  June 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

The antiscience trend in anthropology in recent years has, and continues to have, devastating effects on the lives of indigenous peoples…Indeed some current anthropological schools of thought have completely abandoned the idea that truth exists at all, and instead insist that each version of history is equally valid. This “postmodernist” perspective has been widely adopted by both academic anthropologists and some human rights agencies. Although we sympathize with a perspective that much of history that is actually propaganda that serves the interests of those who write it, the denial that any truth can be discovered or documented must be rejected as both naive and dangerous. Indeed, nothing could be more devastating to native peoples than a perspective that logically maintains that indigenous suffering can simply be considered another “version of history.”…An antiscience trend in recent anthropology is robbing indigenous peoples of this basic human right.
–Hill and Hurtado 1996, Ache Life History

Many thanks to my friend and colleague, Dr. David Samson, for this.