2015-2016 Department News

Howard Chiou recognized for completion of PhD in joint MD/PhD program

Howard Chiou, recipient of a 2016 PhD in Anthropology from Laney Graduate School, was the featured MD/PhD program representative in an Emory News Center story.  An annual feature of the news center, the article profiles students from each of Emory's nine schools to demonstrate the range of experiences that students pursue through Emory University.  Dr. Chiou's research and dissertation, "Changing Culture in Healthcare", seek to improve hospital safety standards and reduce medical errors.  Read more about Dr. Chiou's methodology, research interests, and anticipated applications here

Mel Konner elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Mel Konner has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, class of 2016.  Highly regarded author of 11 books, Dr. Konner's research has focused on links between biology and human behavior, medicine and society, and nature and culture.  In the fall of 2015, he was invited to contribute a monthly "Mind & Matter" column to the Wall Street Journal.  Dr. Konner has taught at Emory for 33 years.

Dr. Konner is in an elite group of four Emory faculty elected this year to the Academy, whose members "contribute to Academy publications and studies of science, engineering and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts and education; and American institutions and the public good."  The full story and more details of each inductee's career accomplishments can be found in the Emory News Center story here.

Paul Hooper's New Study Published in Royal Society B

Published 3/28/16, "Status competition, inequality, and fertility: implications for the demographic transition" is included in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B focused on evolution and fertility.  Paul Hooper co-authored the study with Mary K. Shenk of the University of Missouri, and Hillard S. Kaplan from the University of New Mexico.  From the abstract: "The role that social status plays in small-scale societies suggests that status may be important for understanding the evolution of human fertility decisions, and for understanding how such decisions play out in modern contexts. This paper explores whether modelling competition for status—in the sense of relative rank within a society—can help shed light on fertility decline and the demographic transition." Read the Emory eScience Commons story here.

Jenny Chio's film 农家乐/Peasant Family Happiness Featured in Screening Room

Dr. Chio's award-winning film, originally released in 2013, is available for limited time online viewing in the Screening Room. For two weeks, beginning March 18, 2016, the film is available to view online alongside an interview with Dr. Chio about her research on rural ethnic tourism in China and the role of filmmaking in ethnographic fieldwork and anthropological scholarship.  农家乐/Peasant Family Happiness won the 2013 David Plath Media Award given by the Society for East Asian Anthropology.

A feature of the journal Cultural Anthropology, the Screening Room highlights new ethnographic films as well as interviews with filmmakers and teaching tools.  From the website: "By documenting everyday interactions, the film explores the confusions, ambiguities, and opportunities created through the development of tourist economies… 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness is a complex film that plays with our own tourist gaze and desires for the exotic and bucolic, even as it reminds us of the work, investment, and complex reality of those who put their everyday lives, culture, and history on display. The film is accompanied by an insightful and detailed interview with the filmmaker, as well as references and related readings and films for those interested in tourism, development, globalization, ethnicity, rural economies, and contemporary China."

Peter Brown Appointed Gates Foundation Consultant

Peter Brown has been appointed as a consultant on community engagement for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Program and will present to their consortium of malaria elimination partners in London on April 2, 2016.

Peter Brown and Svea Closser Co-edit Textbook

Peter Brown and Svea Closser, a 2008 Emory Anthropology PhD, are co-editors of the third edition of "Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology, 3rd Edition" (Left Coast Press / Routledge, 2016).  Per the publisher, "The editors of the third edition of the seminal textbook Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology bring it completely up to date for both instructors and students. The collection of 49 readings (17 of them new to this edition) offers extensive background description and exposes students to the breadth of theoretical, methodological, and practical perspectives and issues in the field of medical anthropology. The text provides specific examples and case studies of research as it is applied to a range of health settings: from cross-cultural clinical encounters to cultural analysis of new biomedical technologies and the implementation of programs in global health setting."

Closser, whose dissertation was on "Global Development in Policy and Practice: The Polio Eradication Initiative from Atlanta to Rural Pakistan", is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology and Director of the Global Health Program at Middlebury College.

Kendra Sirak Co-Author of Paper Published in Nature

Doctoral candidate Kendra Sirak, who has been conducting field work while working in a lab in Dublin, has co-authored a paper published in Nature, the international weekly journal of science (Volume 528, Issue 7583).  Entitled "Genome-wide patterns of selection in 230 ancient Eurasians", the paper draws from the largest DNA data set ever assembled.  From the abstract: "Ancient DNA makes it possible to observe natural selection directly by analysing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events".  The project is a collaboration with the Reich lab at Harvard Medical School.  

Jenny Chio now Co-Editor of Visual Anthropology Review

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jenny Chio has been appointed as Co-Editor of Visual Anthropology Review, the journal of the Society for Visual Anthropology (a section of the American Anthropological Association). The journal promotes discussion and research into visual and media studies, including ethnographic film, photography, experimental media, and the politics of visual culture. Information about the journal can be found here: http://societyforvisualanthropology.org/visual-anthropology-review/.  Dr Chio also serves as a board member for the Society of Visual Anthropology (SVA).  Founded in 1984, the SVA "promotes the study of visual representation and media" and "acts as an advocate for visual representation", producing two issues of the Visual Anthropology Review each year.

Wall Street Journal adds Mel Konner to contributors to weekly column

Beginning 11/5/15, Dr. Konner will serve as a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal column "Mind & Matter," which appears on p. 2 of the Weekend Review section. Dr. Konner's columns will appear approximately once a month, alternating with those of three other behavioral scientists: Steven Pinker, Robert Sapolsky, and Alison Gopnik.  His first column, with some basic observations about the newly announced Homo naledi is online here.

Mel Konner Named 2015-2016 Senior Scholar for Center for Humans and Nature

Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology Mel Konner and Jonathan Haidt have been selected as this academic year's Senior Scholars at the Center for Humans and Nature (CHN), in their program "Questions for a Resilient Future." Dr. Konner's participation involves online essays and conversations, as well as an event that took place on Oct. 26 at the American Museum of Natural History in NY.  That event, in which both scholars gave lectures and were interviewed by NPR host Krista Tippett, will be broadcast and podcast in spring 2016, and the lectures will be up on the CHN website in December (http://www.humansandnature.org/questions-for-a-resilient-future-2015).

Suma Ikeuchi wins 2015 Condon Prize, Honorable Mention for 2015 Bestor Prize

Graduate student Suma Ikeuchi will be formally recognized for two achievements at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, awarded by separate subsets of the AAA.  Selected for the Condon Prize, her article "A Case for the Fantasy of an Audience: Debating Christian Selfhood in Multicultural Japan" will be published in Ethos: Journal for the Society for Psychological Anthropology in 2016.  Suma was also awarded an Honorable Mention for the 2015 Bestor Prize for her paper "Of Two Bloods: Nation, Kinship, and Religion among Japanese-Brazilian Pentecostal Migrants in Japan".

The Richard G. Condon Prize is awarded annually by the Society for Psychological Anthropology (SPA) to the the best student essay in psychological anthropology.  The prize is named for the late Richard G. Condon, whose work included the study of adolescence, family, and change among the Canadian Inuit. Psychological anthropology is defined broadly to include interrelationships among psychological, social and cultural phenomena. Essays are judged on their relevance to psychological anthropology, organization and clarity, and their theoretical and methodological strengths. 

Given by The Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) and named in honor of the first president of SEAA, the Theodore C. Bestor Prize is awarded annually for the best graduate student paper on any aspect of East Asian anthropology and/or East Asian anthropology’s contribution to the broader field.  Papers must deal with the anthropological study of East Asian societies and cultures, or other societies/cultures and diasporic and transnational communities with historical or contemporary ties to East Asia.  Submissions are judged on original empirical research and contribution to the field; organization, quality, clarity of writing, and cogency of argument. 

Shunyuan Zhang Wins the 2015 Kenneth W. Payne Prize

The Kenneth W. Payne Student Prize is presented each year by the Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA) of the American Anthropological Association to a graduate or undergraduate student in acknowledgment of outstanding anthropological work on 1) a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans* topic, or 2) a critical interrogation of sexualities and genders more broadly defined.

Seventeen students (seven undergraduate and ten graduate) submitted papers and films this year. Submissions were evaluated according to the following criteria: use of relevant L/G/B/T/Q and/or feminist anthropological theory and literature, potential for contribution to and advancement of L/G/B/T/Q studies and our understanding of sexualities worldwide, attention to difference (such as gender, class, race, ethnicity, nation), originality, organization and coherence, and timeliness.

The 2015 recipient of the Payne Prize is Shunyuan Zhang, PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology, Emory University, for the paper “Debris and Desire: Negotiating Erotic Spaces in Kunming, China.” The abstract reads: “This paper looks into how neoliberal flexibility embodied by male-to-female transgendered sex workers’ gendered and sexual performances was played out in the informal time and space of urban villages in Kunming, China. Through integrating a Deleuzian assemblage thinking as applied to urban studies, and a queer analytic perspective in sexuality studies, I problematize the notion of identity, both the identity of a place and that of transgendered individuals with the trope of becoming/unbecoming. With the help of ethnographic vignettes, this paper argues that although the debris of torn down urban villages was regarded as a zone of abandonment awaiting removal, the diverse flows of elements that constitute this place assemblage—its dim lighting, its lack of accessibility, its proximity to main street and so on—facilitated successful gendered and sexual performances of transgendered sex workers, which in turn unsettled the pre-given identity of the place as abandoned. Simultaneously, it is the plasticity of the assemblage of the debris and beyond that encouraged transgendered individuals’ further experimentation with their performances and enactment of desires, blurring the boundaries between urban informality and its formal counterpart, and those between non-normativity and the normal.”

Jess Thompson's new study published

An article in Emory's eScienceCommons details Assistant Professor Jess Thompson's rigorous statistical analysis of marks found on bones over 3.4 million years old. Found at a site in Dikika, Ethiopia, the two bones at the center of the study have sparked a 5-year debate regarding the source of their distinctive markings: butchery or trampling? Dr. Thompson is the lead author of the study, which was published by The Journal of Human Evolution and based on exhaustive examination of over 4000 bones from the same location. Relying on new strategies for data collection and analysis, Thompson's research has implications for a new understanding of early tool use, meat eating, and hominid development.  Yahoo news also featured an article on the study, found here.

Ph.D. alum Daniel Smith receives AfAA's Elliott P. Skinner award

Dr. Daniel Jordan Smith, who earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology at Emory in 1999, has several exciting pieces of news to share.  His latest book, AIDS Doesn't Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria has just been awardedthe 2015 Elliott P. Skinner Award from the Association of Africanist Anthropology, given annually to "the book that best furthers both the global community of Africanist scholars and the wider interests of the African continent".  This is Dan's second major book award.  In 2008, Dan was selected for the Margaret Mead Award for his book A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria (Princeton University Press, 2007). Given jointly by the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology, the Margaret Mead Award recognizes younger scholars for achievements that help make anthropological research meaningful to the broader public.

Additionally, Dan has been promoted to full professor at Brown University, where he is currently serving as Chair of the Anthropology Department.  His Elliott P. Skinner award will be presented at the AAA meeting in November. 

Peter Little presents at European Conference on African Studies

Profesor Peter Little, the Anthropology department's outgoing Chair and the Director of Emory's Development Studies Program, was a panel member on the topic of the "Economics of Statelessness: business and state formation in the Somali territories" at the 6th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) in Paris this July.  

The panel was organized by GOVSEA (Governing Economic Hubs & Flows, Somali East Africa), "a four year collaborative research program involving Danish and East African researchers that "analyses state formation dynamics under conditions of limited statehood by examining the governance of economic hubs and flows and their state effects in Somali East Africa. It is positioned in the growing body of literature on fragile states and postconflict peace- and state-building."  The analysis and documentation began in 2014 and will end in 2017. Dr. Little is a member of the GOVSEA scientific advisory board.

Journal of Human Evolution publishes study led by Liv Nilsson Stutz and Aaron StutzStutzes in Jordan

Dr. Liv Nilsson Stutz and Dr. Aaron Stutz, a Senior Lecturer in Emory College and an Associate Professor at Emory's Oxford College, had their study of Early Upper Paleolithic artifacts published in the online "Journal of Human Evolution" on 6/12/15.  Tools and other artifacts collected from the Mughr el-Hamamah (Cave of the Doves) site have contributed to a "new window onto a transitional time, on the cusp of modern behaviors, bridging the Middle and Upper Paleolithic."  The Stutzes coordinated cave excavations in the Levantine corridor in Jordan in 2010.  Carol Clark's article in Emory's eScienceCommons, "Stone tools from Jordan point to dawn of division of labor", gives an overview of the work behind the study, including a slideshow narrated by Liv Nilsson Stutz that summarizes the team's findings.  

New address and design for online archive of Ivan Karp's publications

The online archive of Ivan Karp’s published papers has moved and gotten a new look! Emory University launched the popular online archive in 2012 in order to keep Karp’s (1943–2011) work widely available. Karp was a social anthropologist and a leading scholar of social theory, museum and heritage studies, and African studies. He began his long-term research with Iteso communities in western Kenya in 1969. Karp wrote extensively about power, personhood and agency, about African societies and systems of thought, and he published groundbreaking work about museums and exhibitions.

The updated Ivan Karp Archive includes new photos and links and a new homepage design. The archive organizes Karp’s papers thematically, with sections devoted to Social Theory and African Systems of Thought; Museums, Exhibitions and Public Scholarship; African Philosophy; and the Iteso People of Kenya. Important features include: a) downloadable links to Karp’s published papers; b) video clips from his presentations, including one on writing successful grant proposals; c) links to the finding guide for the Ivan Karp Collection at the National Anthropological Archives, where Karp’s fieldnotes and unpublished papers have been deposited; d) an In Memoriam section with a praise poem written about Karp in Kenya and audio from the memorial in his honor held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in November 2011. The archive also includes complete lists of Karp’s books and of the works published in the two book series for which he served as editor: the African Systems of Thought series at Indiana University Press and the Smithsonian Series in Ethnographic Inquiry at Smithsonian Institution Press. The archive can be found online at http://halleinstitute.emory.edu/karp/index.html.

 Karp was the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor at Emory University before his death in September 2011. He served previously as the Curator of African Ethnology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and as a professor at Indiana University and Colgate University. He founded the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory and for over a decade co-directed it with Corinne Kratz, fostering ongoing collaboration with colleagues in universities, museums, and other cultural institutions in South Africa through the Institutions of Public Culture program. The redesigned archive also features information about efforts to honor and continue Karp’s collaborative work in South Africa through the African Critical Inquiry Program, supported by gifts to the Ivan Karp and Corinne Kratz Fund.

Jessica Thompson featured in CBS article 

A recent CBS News article features research by Emory Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jess Thompson, among others.  The 5/20/15 article on the CBS website, entitled "Scientists find world's oldest stone tools", explores the implications of tool use pre-dating the previously believed earliest known use by 700,000 years. Research in Kenya's Lomekwian 3 archaeological site has yielded clues that could substantially change timelines for tool development and use by human ancestors.  Dr. Thompson is also a senior collaborator and the director of MEMSAP, the Malawi Earlier-Middle Stone Age Project.  

Alumna Maria Town appointed to White House policy role

Maria Town, who earned her BA in Anthropology from Emory in 2010, was recently appointed Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement at the White House. Maria built a formidable resume of policy and community engagement work during her time at Emory.  In addition to serving as the Student Government Association President, she was a Community and Diversity Fellow for the Office of the Provost, working with the Center for Women, the Office of Disability Services, the Office of University-Community Partnerships, and the Office of Equal Opportunity Porgrams.  Her new appointment follows a five year tenure as a Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.  Click here to read the full National Council on Disability article on Maria's appointment. 

Carol Worthman elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, class of 2015

An elite honor society established in 1780, the Academy serves as an independent policy research center, convening "leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world...The Academy membership encompasses over 4,600 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members and reflects the full range of disciplines and professions: mathematics, the physical and biological sciences, medicine, the social sciences and humanities, business, government, public affairs, and the arts." (from the AAAS website, www.amacad.org)

"Carol Worthman, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology, explores the cultural, behavioral and biological bases of the human condition.  Her specialties include human developmental, reproductive and behavioral ecology; sleep; sex differences; life history; comparative medical anthropology; biocultural theory; developmental epidemiology; and mental health.  Worthman joined Emory in 1986, the same year she launched the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology, helping build Emory’s reputation as a leader in biocultural anthropology. As director of the laboratory, Worthman collaborates with students and colleagues from across the United States and abroad to explore what makes us human." (from the 4/23/15 Emory Report - read the full story here)

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 10, 2015, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Dr. Worthman, along with three other Emory colleagues named this year, is in highly select company: only 16 members of the Emory University community have been named to the Academy since 1992.

Bobby Paul's new book released April 24th, 2015Paul book

The most recent book by the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies is Mixed Messages: Cultural and Genetic Inheritance in the Constitution of Human Society.  As described by the publisher, University of Chicago Press, "Scholars have tended to study our genetic and symbolic lineages separately, but in recent years some have begun to explore them together, offering a 'dual inheritance theory.' In this book, Robert A. Paul offers an entirely new and original consideration of our dual inheritance to date, going deep inside an extensive ethnographic record to outline a fascinating relationship between our genetic codes and symbolic systems."

Study led by Dietrich Stout published by PLOS ONE

Higher order brain functions than previously believed played a role in the creation of Stone Age tools, as described in a 4/21/15 article in Emory's eScience Commons article about Stout's study. "Cognitive Demands of Lower Paleolithic Tool Making" reveals the results of an 18-month study incorporating functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) brain scans.   Click here to read the full study, which lays some of the groundwork for Stout's Language of Technology project, a three-year archeology experiment also involving Stone Age hand axe production and MRI scans.