Communicating in Times of Crisis

It started with people tagging me on Facebook, during the first few days of the family separation crisis at the US-Mexico border. Concerned friends drew my attention to legal aid groups who were working at the border, asking if anyone could find interpreters for lesser-spoken and indigenous languages.

Euphemisms for the Global Other

I recently attended a conference in Copenhagen about sustainable consumption where I kept hearing “the Global South” used to refer to poor people in general, to low income countries, and the continents of Africa and South America.

Reclaiming “Allahu Akbar” from Semantic Pejoration

Allāhu akbar, the Arabic phrase meaning “God is the greatest,” has gained connotations in US public discourse that differ vastly from its meaning among Muslims. Understanding this process may be the first step to reclaiming its positive connotations.

Review Time

Ilana Gershon, a contributing editor for the Society for Linguistic Anthropology, asked seven editors for their insights on questions that authors of books commonly ask. Five are press editors (Berghahn, Chicago, Indiana, Princeton, Stanford) and two are series editors. This month’s column explores the following question: how long does it usually take to get reviews back on a manuscript?  

How to Counter Misinformation

To defend his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, Trump uttered several bald-faced lies to deflect responsibility for the humanitarian crisis he created. Although the lies he and administration officials repeated seemed to represent a new nadir even for this presidency, the constant flow of misinformation from this White House has vexed political journalists from day one. How do you cover a president who frequently utters false claims without giving credence to the misinformation?

What Are We Celebrating?

In Frederick Douglass’s famous oration, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?,” he calls himself a citizen, but the speech is full of references to “your national independence” and “your political freedom.” This ambivalence reflects the bitter irony of celebrating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence while black men and women were held as slaves, bought and sold like animals.

How “Fake News” Lost Its Meaning

Collins Dictionary named fake news its 2017 word of the year, an easy choice given the word’s “unprecedented usage increase” of 365 percent over the previous year. Collins defines fake news as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news.” But this dictionary definition belies the shifting usage of the word in actual contexts of situation since the 2016 election.

Internet Privacy Hogwash

Ever since the early years of the Internet, privacy and public conduct have been hot button issues. Some initial bad experiences taught me and my departmental colleagues that all emails should be treated as public documents, which means they are not the place for expressing opinions about tenure cases or job candidates.

Starbucks, Racism, and the Anthropological Imagination

After a series of discrimination allegations, Starbucks announced in April that it would close to eight thousand stores on May 29 to conduct racial bias training. Many applauded the multinational corporation for taking a stance against racism, while others scoffed. Anthropologists have long kept a pulse on how corporations pollute environments, depress wages, control workers, create war, and, as a mentor recently reminded me, how they “just kill people.”