Category Archives: Anthropology

82nd Airborne Division, Anthropologists Brigade

No, it’s not an Eddie Izzard routine. It’s the U.S. Army assigning social scientists to combat units in Afghanistan, and it’s awesome:

[Tracy] is a member of the first Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her teamís ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations ó in one case spotting a land dispute that allowed the Taliban to bully parts of a major tribe ó has won the praise of officers who say they are seeing concrete results.

Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division unit working with the anthropologists here, said that the unitís combat operations had been reduced by 60 percent since the scientists arrived in February, and that the soldiers were now able to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population.

That’s more like it! Actually talking to (and listening to) people in the countries we “liberate”, who woulda thunk it? Let’s just hope it doesn’t become so successful they have to institute a draft for anyone with an anthro degree…

The Uncomfortable Reality of Sex in Space

Wired News posted commentary by Regina Lynn called The Uncomfortable Reality of Sex in Space, which asks intriguing questions about the social realities of long space voyages:

I don’t care if you have a same-sex crew of great-grandparents who have never had a flicker of sexual desire in their entire lives. Lock a group of humans into a ship, sail them through space and time, and it won’t take long for that deep, ancient need for touch and intimacy to surface.

She also provides some thought-provoking solutions:

If NASA invites me to take part in discussions about sexual standards in space — it could happen — I will suggest sending all candidates into the adult internet for a year… Online, astronauts (and their partners, if they have any) can learn how to deal with sexual situations similar to those they will face in space, with one important difference: an escape hatch.

It’s a fascinating (and entertaining) piece, definitely worth reading.

socially-conscious clothing

Nate sent me two links that you might be interested in.† First comes Capsters, culturally sensitive sportswear for Muslim women:

Created by young Dutch designer Cindy van den Bremen, Capsters are sleek head coverings made from comfortable, stretchy fabrics… Covering a woman’s head and neck as stipulated by Islamic or cultural tradition, they make it possible for women to participate in sports and physical activities without having to worry about their headscarves shifting.

Of more interest to me personally are TOMS Shoes,† socially-conscious footwear that are taking the LA fashion scene by storm:

Not just casual chic slip-ons that were spotted all over L.A. this summer, TOMS Shoes give new meaning to ‘two for the price of one’. For each pair purchased (USD 38), TOMS gives a pair to a disadvantaged child in South America. Materials and shoes are produced and manufactured in Argentina under strict ‘no sweatshop’ guidelines, ensuring fair labor practices and minimal impact on the environment.

Good to hear about these things.† Perhaps my dream of a Whole-Foods-like clothing store is getting closer to feasibility…