Friday, October 8, 2010

The Anthro Reader, Vol. 10

This Reader covers a look at green spaces in NYC, Clovis culture, an explanation on why we need anthropologists, and more. Onward!

First a bit of urban anthropology: Emily Anthes has a great post up at Wonderland that describes a project looking at backyards in New York City. Researcher Evan Mason has determined that tiny residential yards in New York cover an area roughly the size of 62 Central Parks! Now Mason is investigating the ecological benefits of the these spaces, and Anthes has a really nice interview with her. Here's an excerpt:
Credit: Wonderland
I think there are a lot of New Yorkers who want to be green. They might look at a small bit of open space in front of or behind their house and say, ‘Well what good could this do?’ But the more information we have about the environmental benefits of these spaces, the more we see that cumulatively, tremendous benefits can be realized. It’s a nice way of doing something for the environment that does something for you as well. Does it really make me feel good to recycle a can? No, not really. It doesn’t enhance my life. But if I can do something good for the environment and sit outside on a gorgeous day like today—even if it’s a little space—how great is that?
 Mason is apparently looking for photos of backyards—you can find her contact info at Wonderland.

A Clovis Point.
Credit: Wikipedia
CFeagans has new post up at A Hot Cup of Joe. It provides a look at some new research on Clovis. Previously it had been proposed that the Clovis culture disappeared after Earth was struck by several comets. The resulting environmental effects is thought to have create stress for PaleoAmericans. However, new research reveals that Clovis sites may have only been occupied once, which makes it harder to argue that the culture collapsed:
The authors stress that, when it comes to Paleoindian sites, single occupation is the norm. It isn’t unusual for either a Clovis or a post-Clovis site to show evidence for only a single occupation. Archaeological sites generally follow the rules of superposition, with oldest materials at lower strata and younger material at higher strata. Sites like tells in the Near East or Mesopotamia often have multiple levels of culture that demonstrates successive occupations through time at the same site as newer cultures build on the ruins of older ones. Not so, however, with most, Paleoindian sites.
It's definitely some food for thought for your Friday.

I've borrowed the following photo from Fran Barone at analog/digital. It explains why we'll always need anthropologists:

Credit: Analog/Digital

As one reader commented, "Humanity: always up to something." But feel free to share your own interpretations below or on Fran's blog.

Readers, you know I'm a big fan of the oysters in the waters around NYC. I'm thrilled that they're making a comeback, as are the waters they live in. A post from Heather Goldstone at Climatide warns that we're not out of the woods yet though. The rising acidity of oceans makes it harder for shellfish to draw the calcium carbonate they need from the water to create shells. It's troubling—and a reminder of the direct relationship we have with our environment.

Colleen Morgan talks about Bahamian ship graffiti on Middle Savagery:
Graffito of early-19th-century British warship,
New Providence. Credit: Middle Savagery
In many cases ships were etched into the plaster and stone walls of these small buildings, and from these drawings she makes inferences about the ships that are depicted in the graffiti. There were almost 100 instances of this type of graffiti and sloops, warships, and schooners were drawn in such a way that indicated that the inhabitants of these buildings (presumably enslaved people) were “familiar with ship construction and rigging.”
The images are certainly thought provoking. They constitute a record that may yield very interesting insights into the Transatlantic trade from voices that have largely been missing.

Now a time waster: part of the appeal of Hogwarts is that technology is really second-fiddle to magic! But what if ... ? That's the question this fun distraction from Vulture aims to answer. Readers can get a glimpse at the Facebook profiles and Twitter streams of our favorite students from Hogwarts.


  1. Krystal, thanks for the mention and for another great Anthro reader.

  2. Thanks for sharing the photo! I had a good laugh.