Immigrant Communities and the Public Charge Rule

One crisp January afternoon one of us (Sarah) sat in the living room of Guadalupe, an immigrant farmworker in California’s Central Valley, as she explained why she had refused to accept Emergency Medicaid to cover her children’s delivery. Quietly and calmly, as though she were describing an ordinary event, Guadalupe shared how she and her husband scraped together the funds each month—on a farmworking salary averaging about $18,000 a year—to pay off the more than $20,000 debt they owed hospitals for the births of their children.

What Can Witchcraft Do in Mexico?

In late September 2017, in the quiet days that followed the annual feast of the Holy Cross in Santa Cruz Mixtepec, Oaxaca, I found a coin in the mouth of Jesus Christ. The silvery five centavo piece was lodged in the open mouth of a large wooden statue of Christ carrying the cross, known locally as El Dulce Nombre.

What Can Fossils Tell Us about Early Human Diets?

Happy National Fossil Day! Fossils are among the most thrill-inducing traces of the past to discover. These preserved remains of once-living organisms, usually more than 10,000 years old, are a primary source of evidence about the past. For a paleoanthropologist like me who is interested in reconstructing the diets of ancient humans, fossils are invaluable clues to that help piece together a puzzle that is inevitably incomplete.

Raising Health Expectations for Schizophrenia Patients

Blood tests, echocardiograms, waist measurements, and body weigh-ins comprise a cyclic apparatus of health checks at clozapine clinics. Most patients have a diagnosis of “treatment-resistant schizophrenia,” but their clinical records are mostly filled with cardio-metabolic concerns. Having a “clozapine belly”—as one patient described their weight gain to me—becomes normalized in the clinic waiting room.

Language on the Move

We live our lives through language, and it’s often assumed to be a direct index of who we are. But identity is more complicated than that. As we move and adapt to new contexts, which languages we speak, and with whom, changes.

Non-Modern Humans Were More Complex—and Artistic—Than We Thought

A recent exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas, asked visitors to view stone tools not as artifacts but as works of art. The curators—artist Tony Berlant and anthropologist Thomas Wynn—displayed hand axes without context, which encouraged patrons to see the lithics as aesthetic objects rather than tools.

Where Do We Come From?

The origin of modern humans is one of the most popular and hotly debated topics in the history of human evolution research. Researchers have produced a thick literature, both scholarly and public.

Picking a Bone with Evolutionary Essentialism

In the past year, at least four fossil finds have been billed as overturning the story of human evolution. The 300,000-year-old Homo sapiens specimen from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, is hailed as pushing back the age of our species by nearly 100,000 years.

Through Dappled Light

A common teaching analogy in paleoanthropology is that of the drunk looking for her keys in the light of a streetlamp. When a passerby asks if she dropped something, the drunk responds, “actually I dropped my keys on the other side of the road, but it is too dark for me to see over there.”

Great Ape Haters

In a tweet from 2013, Roseanne Barr called former United Nations National Security Advisor Susan Rice a “big man with swinging ape balls.” This year, Barr was at it again, tweeting “If Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby =vj.” VJ was a reference to Valerie Jarett, a former senior advisor to President Barak Obama.