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Thus concludes a new study which conflicts with the identification of blood from a handkerchief presumed to be from the execution of Louis XVI and the presumed head of Henri IV. It is nice that this study was made possible by the co-o...
Thus concludes a new study which conflicts with the identification of blood from a handkerchief presumed to be from the execution of Louis XVI and the presumed head of Henri IV. It is nice that this study was made possible by the co-operation of three patrilineal Bourbon descendants. I've mentioned before that the European nobility is an untapped resource for historical/genetic studies, as they can often document much longer lines of descent than most others, so it's good to see that at least some descendants of kings are willing to contribute to this kind of research. European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 9 October 2013; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2013.211 Genetic genealogy reveals true Y haplogroup of House of Bourbon contradicting recent identification of the presumed remains of two French Kings Maarten H D Larmuseau et al. Genetic analysis strongly increases the opportunity to identify skeletal remains or other biological samples from historical figures. However, validation of this identification is essential and should be done by DNA typing of living relatives. Based on the similarity of a limited set of Y-STRs, a blood sample and a head were recently identified as those belonging respectively to King Louis XVI and his paternal ancestor King Henry IV. Here, we collected DNA samples from three living males of the House of Bourbon to validate the since then controversial identification of these remains. The three living relatives revealed the Bourbon’s Y-chromosomal variant on a high phylogenetic resolution for several members of the lineage between Henry IV and Louis XVI. This ‘true’ Bourbon’s variant is different from the published Y-STR profiles of the blood as well as of the head. The earlier identifications of these samples can therefore not be validated. Moreover, matrilineal genealogical data revealed that the published mtDNA sequence of the head was also different from the one of a series of relatives. This therefore leads to the conclusion that the analyzed samples were not from the French kings. Our study once again demonstrated that in order to realize an accurate genetic identification of historical remains DNA typing of living persons, who are paternally or maternally related with the presumed donor of the samples, is required. Link
about 7 hours ago
The UC Irvine Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce the launch of a new degree: a Master of Arts in Social Sciences with a concentration in Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies. This one-year program uses an interdiscipl...
The UC Irvine Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce the launch of a new degree: a Master of Arts in Social Sciences with a concentration in Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies. This one-year program uses an interdisciplinary approach to prepare students to respond to the significant and rapidly changing impact of medicine and technology upon societies around the world. Students explore issues such as global inequalities in disease burdens and health outcomes; the ways in which race, class, and gender impact medical and scientific knowledge and practice; the social, economic, and political contexts of emerging technologies; and the impact of science and technology on bodies, communities, and the environment. Admitted students will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty within the Anthropology Department and from around the University. To Apply: Applications for admission to the UC Irvine M.A. in Social Sciences (Medicine, Science, and Technology Studies) will be accepted until April 15, 2014, using the UCI Online Application for Graduate Admissions (apps.grad.uci.edu/ogsa). For more information about this new degree, please visit the department website (http://www.anthropology.uci.edu) or contact Angela C. Jenks at ajenks@uci.edu.
1 day ago
From the paper: If we allow for the possibility that K1a9 and N1b2 might have a Near Eastern source, then we can estimate the overall fraction of European maternal ancestry at ~65%. Given the strength of the case for even these founde...
From the paper: If we allow for the possibility that K1a9 and N1b2 might have a Near Eastern source, then we can estimate the overall fraction of European maternal ancestry at ~65%. Given the strength of the case for even these founders having a European source, however, our best estimate is to assign ~81% of Ashkenazi lineages to a European source, ~8% to the Near East and ~1% further to the east in Asia, with ~10% remaining ambiguous (Fig. 10; Supplementary Table S9). Thus at least two-thirds and most likely more than four-fifths of Ashkenazi maternal lineages have a European ancestry. Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2543 doi:10.1038/ncomms3543 A substantial prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages Marta D. Costa et al. The origins of Ashkenazi Jews remain highly controversial. Like Judaism, mitochondrial DNA is passed along the maternal line. Its variation in the Ashkenazim is highly distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders. However, due to their rarity in the general population, these founders have been difficult to trace to a source. Here we show that all four major founders, ~40% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation, have ancestry in prehistoric Europe, rather than the Near East or Caucasus. Furthermore, most of the remaining minor founders share a similar deep European ancestry. Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed, nor recruited in the Caucasus, as sometimes suggested, but assimilated within Europe. These results point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities, and provide the foundation for a detailed reconstruction of Ashkenazi genealogical history. Link
1 day ago
The following is a modified version of an interview with Allan Young that first appeared in Altérités 6(1) 2009: 110-118. We thank the editors of Altérités for allowing us to publish it here. Anthropologists have long been interested in...
The following is a modified version of an interview with Allan Young that first appeared in Altérités 6(1) 2009: 110-118. We thank the editors of Altérités for allowing us to publish it here. Anthropologists have long been interested in the study of biomedicine, psychiatry and in the epistemology of science. With the rapid growth of the life sciences, neurosciences and other disciplines trying to understand the human brain, the need for an anthropological perspective on such issues has never been greater. Anthropology’s objects of study are often situated on the borders of nature and culture, biology and society, the body and the mind. Science bears within it the traces of historical truths and moral economies. It is a product of what Allan Young—Professor of Anthropology and the Marjorie Bronfman Professor of Social Studies in Medicine at McGill University–calls ‘epistemic cultures’. Young argues that anthropological work has to do with unveiling the epistemological premises of contemporary science, as well as its normative impact on the way we think about ourselves, our behavior, what’s normal, and what’s not. In this regard, Young made a significant contribution to the anthropological study of psychiatric science through his pioneering book, The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (1995), in which he discusses the invention of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In recent years, his research has centered on social neurosciences, their epistemology and their conception of the brain and of human nature (Young 2011, 2012). In this interview, Allan Young discusses both of these projects, as well as the actual and potential relationships between anthropology, neuroscience and philosophy.   Vincent Duclos: Your book The Harmony of Illusions (1995) is a great demonstration of the linkages between science, and psychiatry on the one hand, and broader historical configurations and moral economies, on the other. In what way is the invention of PTSD a good example of the institutionalization of new standards of evidence? Allan Young: This is a big question. First of all, let me say that the research on PTSD falls into the domain of psychiatric science. It is not our job as anthropologists to say ‘this is true science,’ ‘this is not true science’. Psychiatric science is an institution and our job is to study that institution. However, within the institution of psychiatric science, it is important to recognize differences within sectors. And the sectors often correspond to psychiatric disorders. PTSD is a very distinctive sector, or disorder, within psychiatric science. I think that one should be prepared that the standards of evidence or what I call the ‘epistemic culture’ of PTSD, is going to be in some way quite distinctive. I would reframe in my own vocabulary what makes the epistemic culture of PTSD distinctive or perhaps different from other psychiatric sectors or diagnosis. There are a number of factors that make PTSD distinctive. One thing that makes it special is that it has a longer history than many other psychiatric disorders, certainly going back into the 19th century. If we look at that history, one could say it’s the history of post-traumatic disorders. PTSD is simply the most recent of those disorders and there are a number of features that make PTSD special. The first of those features is that it is a disorder or psychiatric domain that is the product of multiple forces, not just one. Many people suppose that a history or genealogy of PTSD would be an account of developments in psychiatry from the 1870s to the present. That’s a fundamental mistake.  PTSD is not owned by psychiatry. It’s the co-production of a number of institutions and social interests, the most important of which, in addition to psychiatry, are legal institutions. From the very beginning of the 1870s, the definition of the diagnosis, i.e. the standards that would count as a post-traumatic disorder, have been establish
1 day ago
Proof of human migration from Sweden to Poland during the Early Bronze Age During the Early Bronze Age there was a very high level of territorial mobility of the Ún?tice culture in Silesia, a large community inhabiting the south w...
Proof of human migration from Sweden to Poland during the Early Bronze Age During the Early Bronze Age there was a very high level of territorial mobility of the Ún?tice culture in Silesia, a large community inhabiting the south western territories of Poland approximately 4 000 years ago. This is found in a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg which also conclusively confirms the first case of human long-distance overseas journey to Silesia from Scandinavia, probably from southern Sweden. 'Over 3800 years ago, a young male, possibly born in Skåne, made a journey of over 900 kilometers south, to Wroclaw in Poland. He died violently in Wroclaw, killed by Ún?ticean farmers, possibly due to romance with two local females, who were murdered together with him. This 'Bronze Age love story', with no happy end today is the first case of Swedish-Polish contacts in history ever', concludes archaeologist Dalia Pokutta, author of the thesis. Here is the thesis, titled: Population Dynamics, Diet and Migrations of the Ún?tice Culture in Poland.
2 days ago
It’s been a week now since US representatives Eric Cantor and Lamar Smith published an article on USA Today about “rethinking science funding.”  Their main point is supposedly that we need to take a closer, critical loo...
It’s been a week now since US representatives Eric Cantor and Lamar Smith published an article on USA Today about “rethinking science funding.”  Their main point is supposedly that we need to take a closer, critical look at how we fund science through grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  On the surface their argument seems reasonable, even “common sense.”  Below the surface, it’s little more than a disingenuous, ideologically-based attack on the social sciences.  And it’s nothing new from these two politicians and their cronies.  As a graduate student in anthropology–and a recipient of a dissertation grant from NSF–it’s pretty infuriating to see these two politicians trying to intervene so recklessly into the funding process.* I understand the need for both accountability and clarity in the whole grant process.  Are there things that need to be changed?  Problems that need to be addressed?  Absolutely.  There are always ways to improve how things work.  Definitely.  But what Cantor and Smith are proposing, despite some of their benign-sounding rhetoric, is not just some altruistic attempt to “help” make things better.  In fact, what they are doing is more like a witch hunt than the “we’re doing this for the people” line they’re trying to sell to the US public. Cantor and Smith begin their piece with a reminder about the US’s innovative past.  They name Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford to highlight some of the “most prominent Americans were also our nation’s greatest innovators.”  However, they warn, America’s glory days of innovation could be a thing of the past.  And if we aren’t careful, we’re going to get surpassed by countries like China and India. America spends a lot on science, they tell us, but we are slipping.  Especially in science and technology: The Chinese now have the fastest supercomputer. High-energy physicists look to research conducted in Europe more than America. And NASA astronauts hitch rides to the Space Station on board Russian spacecraft. This is the stuff that’s supposed to shock you, readers.  The Chinese have the fastest supercomputer??  High-energy physicists prefer European research now?  NASA has resorted to intergalactic hitchhiking?  For Pete’s sake what has happened to us?  Are you terrified yet?  Worried about what’s to come next?  Wondering why US astronauts have resorted to intergalactic hitchhiking?  Well, that’s just what Cantor and Smith are trying to stir up with their article.  It’s called fear mongering–and this whole bit about the US losing its place in the world is the bait.  Keep a close eye out for the switch–it’s coming soon. The next part of the article is where Cantor and Smith’s argument starts to hone in on its target, which is the NSF: To remain globally competitive, we need to make sure our priorities are funded and that the money is being used wisely. The National Science Foundation (NSF) spends nearly $7 billion of taxpayers’ money every year. On the whole, the process by which proposals are approved is a good one. Important research funded through the NSF has improved the quality of life for every American. It’s one of the best investments we can make in the future. In fact, all five Americans who won Nobel Prizes last year had received NSF funding. Ok, that sounds pretty good.  Seven billion goes to NSF, and a lot of the funded research is good.  And it’s a good idea to make sure the money is used wisely, right?  Who could disagree with that?  It’s all so darn reasonable!  But: While the NSF spends most of its funds well, we have recently seen far too many questionable grants, especially in the social, behavioral and economic sciences. [bold added] Ah ha!  The culprits!  It’s those pesky social scientists t
2 days ago
I got a note last week from a correspondent asking me about the word hithertofore, and whether or not it was a ‘proper word’.  I have to admit that at first glance I was very surprised, because of course it was a perfectly go...
I got a note last week from a correspondent asking me about the word hithertofore, and whether or not it was a ‘proper word’.  I have to admit that at first glance I was very surprised, because of course it was a perfectly good word, and one whose meaning I knew well.   But when the correspondent said that she’d looked around and hadn’t found it, I looked at it again and realized that of course it wasn’t a word.  Or was it? English has two words with a distinctly archaic flavour that mean ‘up to the present time’, hitherto and heretofore.    These synonyms also start with the same letter, are compounds containing to, and to top it all off, hither and here are also synonyms, so it’s not even semantically odd.   Neither word is especially common, and as you can see from this Ngram, hitherto and heretofore are really quite rare and becoming rarer.    It’s hardly surprising, then, that some speakers and readers might blend these two. Whether we think of it as adding -fore to hitherto, or substituting hither for here in heretofore, doesn’t much matter, as the result is the same, hithertofore. What should perhaps be more surprising is that hithertofore hasn’t hithertofore been included in any dictionary, not even with a usage note.   It’s not hard to find in use in printed books; Google Books claims 67,500 works containing it (although that number is probably inaccurate) in lots of different genres.  There are plenty of words in big unabridged dictionaries that are far less common than that.   I’ve found it going back at least as far as 1708, and I didn’t have to look very hard. While it seems at a glance that a higher than average proportion of these works are authored by non-native English speakers, I also would argue that one has to be relatively fluent to even make such an error, conflating two already-unusual words. Note, though, that its Ngram, rather than slowly declining from the 19th century until today like those of its two constituents, shows it to be largely a product of the mid-20th century, peaking around 1970.  This suggests, firstly, that perhaps it was at its most popular when its two constituents had declined enough in frequency that they had fallen out of regular use (and were thus prone to confusion), but were still common enough to be intermixed.   It hit its sweet spot half a century ago, but now the two well-accepted words themselves are falling out of use in favour of previously  or other terms, so hithertofore may actually have lost its chance to become another widely used variant (even at its most popular, it was less than 1% as frequent as heretofore).    I still think it’s a neat example of the way that memory, meaning, and phonology can lead to the appearance of nearly-invisible blends, and given that it is a relatively common error, it could probably use some lexicographical attention. Filed under: Linguistics
3 days ago
In October 2011, days after the brutal murder of the Libyan Leader, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, NATO General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared that the NATO mission in Libya had been one of the most successful in NATO’s history....
In October 2011, days after the brutal murder of the Libyan Leader, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, NATO General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared that the NATO mission in Libya had been one of the most successful in NATO’s history. In his new book, Professor Horace Campbell sets out to analyse that claim, and to analyse the totality of NATO’s war against the Libyan people, in the context of African efforts to secure African political and economic unity. Muammar al-Gaddafi was a military man. He came from a tradition of Third World armed struggle against imperialism. This was a tradition that, by its nature, has been one of secret plans and hidden alliances. Professor Campbell is a man of letters, a man who has devoted his life to a resistance against imperialism based in writing and open, public, activism. It is often difficult for these two traditions to understand each other. There is a tendency for each one of them to under-estimate the achievements of the other. This misunderstanding leads Professor Campbell to repeat certain claims that have been current among the Western Left, such as that Al Gaddafi had made peace with imperialist forces and had adopted neo-liberalism. This despite the fact that the Professor himself quotes a Wikileaks cable, sent to Washington in 2008 from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which expressed the view that “there will be no real political or economic reforms in Libya until al-Gaddafi passes from the political scene.” It’s true that there were weak minded and corrupt people in the Libyan government, who had fallen for the lie of neo-liberalism, but that goes to show that Al Gaddafi was not the all-powerful tyrant that some would like to present him as – he had to fight his corner, and he didn’t always win. Another unfortunate claim is that Al-Gaddafi referred to the people of Benghazi as “rats,” and threatened to massacre them. This is simply not true. Al-Gaddafi was referring to the racist lynch mobs, who, on the second day of their “peaceful demonstrations,” took fifty black migrant workers from a construction site, locked them in a shed, and burned them to death. He was not referring to the decent people of Benghazi–the vast majority. Even after these racist atrocities, Al Gaddafi offered peace to those who would lay down their weapons. He ordered his forces to withdraw from Benghazi and allowed an escape route into Egypt. As Professor Maximilian Forte has shown, in his Slouching Towards Sirte – NATO’s War on Libya and Africa, French military aircraft attacked a Libyan Army convoy–leaving Benghazi. Troops remaining in Benghazi had been ordered not to return fire, so much so, that when one military barracks was attacked by the “peaceful protestors,” who used a suicide bomber to blow in the gates, the soldiers allowed themselves to be captured rather than return fire. The black soldiers were separated out–and lynched. It’s true that the Libyan authorities made a mistake in Benghazi. But, the mistake was not in using too much force–it was in failing to quickly isolate the racist terrorists and using the full force of the state against them–as any state would and should. There had been many of these “uprisings” in Benghazi over the years, initiated by Al Qaeda linked Jihadist groups. However, in largely tribal societies like Libya, these Jihadist groups are closely tied in with particular tribal groupings. Al Gaddafi had always handled these uprisings in a particularly tribal fashion. He would make a small display of state force to show the Jihadists that they had no prospect of success, and then allow them to escape – so as to avoid having to kill them. 2011 was different–the Al Qaeda leaders had been assured, by their MI6 and CIA handlers, that if they created enough murder and mayhem they would be virtually assured of NATO support. I would mention one more misunderstanding in Professor Campbell’s book, before I move on to its many fine aspects. A
4 days ago
Folks, today I am beginning something new: the Savage Minds Occasional Paper Series. In it, I will present a series of open access, curated texts from the history of anthropological theory. I will keep going until I complete a free antho...
Folks, today I am beginning something new: the Savage Minds Occasional Paper Series. In it, I will present a series of open access, curated texts from the history of anthropological theory. I will keep going until I complete a free anthology suitable for classroom use, or until I get bored. If other minds want to publish in the series, then they can do so too — who knows what projects they may want to cook up… Here’s a link to the first one: a version of Kroeber’s 1917 article “The Superorganic” that is half the size of the original essay, edited and with an introduction by yours truly.  Please feel free to share widely! Now to the meat of the paper itself: Alfred Kroeber’s “The Superorganic” is a classic of anthropological theory. Originally published in 1917 in American Anthropologist, the article drew important responses from Edward Sapir and Alexander Goldenweiser. Kroeber included material from the article in his textbook Anthropology: Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, and Prehistory. Kroeber’s interest in the superorganic continued to develop in publications like Configurations of Cultural Growth. “The Superorganic” is central to understanding the thought of one of the founders of anthropology and indeed, the history of anthropological theory itself. And yet it is little read today. Why? There are many reasons: editors of textbooks and anthologies rely on disciplinary histories of anthropology, often transmitted orally, rather than consulting the findings of professional historians of anthropology. Anthropology’s oral history is often forgetful of the richness and sophistication of early Boasian anthropology. But much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Kroeber himself. The essay is extremely long, and larded with multiple examples used to make the same point.It is written with very purple prose — Matthew Bradley once opined that Kroeber “never used one word when three would do” — and his Victorian styles seems incongruous today.  This is especially true of the sexist and exoticist tone of his language, which is replete with phrases of male achievement and the mind of the ‘savage’. The essay is clearly written and structured, but there is little explicit signposting. When it comes to speaking for a contemporary audience, then, Kroeber is his own worst enemy. In this occasional paper I present an edited version of “The Superorganic”. The original essay is around 19,000 words. I have cut it down to just under 8,000. The argument has been preserved in its entirety, including Kroeber’s discussion of historical figures such as Gustave Le Bon, because I believe his criticism of their thought is relevant in a world where their intellectual heirs are still active. In a few cases I have altered verbs and nouns for agreement when deleting text caused them to disagree. These are indicated with brackets. The goal has been to respect Kroeber’s argument and stylistic choices while presenting a slimmed-down version which can be taught in a single session in an undergraduate or graduate theory course. I hope that this will become one of a series of papers which present early anthropological theory in a form that is accessible to everyone. There is today a tremendous amount of material which is open access. Much Boasian thought is now in the public domain, but is difficult to find and inconvenient to read. And frankly, once must already know what is in it in order to know it is worth finding in the first place. By cleaning and curating a selection of open access, I hope to make open access resources better known and to raise awareness of the actual history of anthropological theory. Like Savage Minds itself, this series is a homebrew’d, DIY project that does not want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There may be typos or other errors in the manuscript. In future editions these may be corrected. One of the ironies of “The Superorganic” is that Kroeber never actually
5 days ago
Syndemic Suffering: Social Distress, Depression, and Diabetes Among Mexican Immigrant Women By Emily Mendenhall Left Coast Press Inc., 2012 Hardcover, 145 pages US $28.45 In Syndemic Suffering, Emily Mendenhall explores the interactive...
Syndemic Suffering: Social Distress, Depression, and Diabetes Among Mexican Immigrant Women By Emily Mendenhall Left Coast Press Inc., 2012 Hardcover, 145 pages US $28.45 In Syndemic Suffering, Emily Mendenhall explores the interactive relationship between myriad forms of violence, social suffering, and chronic disease, including diabetes and depression. Positioned between public health and critical medical anthropology, Mendenhall offers a comprehensive framework for understanding the “biology of poverty” in the United States (113). This book makes three primary contributions to medical anthropology and anthropology in/of public health: the book moves beyond a focus on diabetes’ cultural idioms by instead drawing attention to social distress; it develops a syndemic approach to the clustering of violence, immigration, diabetes, depression, and abuse that many Mexican immigrant women face throughout their lives; and it offers a deductive mixed methodology. Political-economic Influences on Health Mendenhall argues that by focusing on cultural idioms of distress, such as susto, ‘fright,’ and coraje, ‘rage,’ public health and anthropological research often omit critical attention to the political and economic factors that influence health and well-being. Collapsing political and economic factors into cultural idioms of distress, Mendehall argues, also may encourage biomedical practitioners to dismiss such idioms as only folk beliefs not “biomedical ‘fact’” (55). Mendenhall draws from cultural notions of kinship and personhood that inform Mexican idioms of distress to emphasize how social stressors “are often contributors to and consequences of social distress, depression, and diabetes” (56). By focusing on social stressors Mendehall illuminates the feedback loop of social suffering: diabetes and depression are caused by social suffering and social suffering is enhanced by the experience of chronic disease. VIDDA Syndemic Mendenhall proposes a syndemic framework (Singer 1996; Singer & Clair 2003) for understanding “situations in which adverse social conditions, such as poverty and oppressive social relationships, stress a population, weaken its natural defenses, and expose it to a cluster of interacting diseases” (13). She identifies five core dimensions of health and well-being and names this syndemic VIDDA: Violence, Immigration, Depression, type II Diabetes, and Abuse. She argues that by evaluating these five dimensions as dynamically causal and individually experienced, her book “aims at demonstrating how increasing wealth disparity within our globalized, neoliberal world contributes to the profoundly disparate distribution of burdensome chronic diseases among the poor” (13). This framework, Mendenhall points out, can be extended beyond Mexican immigrant women in Chicago by elucidating sources of suffering. This framework should, however, be extended with attention to the particularities of historical and social factors among other populations. VIDDA bridges political economy of health and social epidemiological perspectives on embodiment by showing how “various dimensions of social, emotional, and biological stresses” are often “experienced as a single multifaceted force” (24). Drawing from these bodies of literatures, Mendenhall shows how environments, social inequalities, and emotional distress manifest in the body. Mixed Methodology The book’s most innovative contribution is its mixed methodology. Narratives ground the qualitative and quantitative methods, following a grounded theory approach. While this prioritization of narrative may not seem new to medical anthropologists, as Mendehnall highlights, her deductive approach is novel in biomedical sciences, which tend to start with etic categories. For example, she notes that while diabetes is considered an “endpoint” or “outcome” in biomedical studies, she positions glycemic control as “one measure of a stressful life” (24). The innovation of this methodology is its abili
5 days ago