Timbuktu Manuscripts: An Urgent Need for Digitization

Timbuktu is located on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, immediately north of the Niger River, in present day Mali.  The city’s position, at the crossroads of what were once major continental and intercontinental trading routes, made it a historically important center of commerce, religion, and scholarship. Commercially, Timbuktu was the hub of a […]

Recommendations for Summer Reading

There are a couple of recently published books that, while not focusing solely on archaeology in North America, are good reads for those with an interest in the subject: Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson, and Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums by Samuel […]

Conversation, Not Coffee, is What the Heart Wants

Masculinities and Femininities of Public Space Coffee changed the public landscape in the 15th century when it started to make its journey from Yemen to the wider Middle East. The port town of Mocha in Yemen played a leading role in allowing coffee to embark upon new lands.  With a strategic location by the Red […]

Should Endangered Languages Be Saved?

The exact number of languages spoken in the world today is unknown, but it is undisputed that the number is declining at a high and accelerating rate.  Two sets of statistics are commonly reported.  First, of the approximately 6000 languages currently spoken, somewhere between 50% and 90% will have become extinct by the end of […]

Learning to Walk Behind Bars

The Treatment of Accompanied Children in Detention Over the past 30 years, immigration detention in the United States has expanded significantly.  In 1994, there were less than 7,000 individuals detained every day in immigration detention facilities, by 2012, over 34,000 persons were detained on a daily basis. These detention facilities range from spaces at county […]

In Celebration of Womanhood

May 16th has officially been declared ‘Kuwaiti Women’s Day’ in Kuwait and this year marked its very first celebration. The day is commemorative of two important events that gave women voice in the country.  On May 16th 2005, women in Kuwait won the right to vote and run for office. Exactly four years later on May […]

Advancing Critical Food Systems Education through Service Learning

In anthropology departments across the country, food systems courses are becoming increasingly prevalent. Their rapid growth makes sense, because of the significant overlap between the study of food systems and traditional areas of anthropological inquiry, such as food security, the anthropology of nutrition, and ethnobotany. Yet, despite anthropologists’ attention to cultural politics, food systems education […]

Bint al-Wadi’i

Bint al-Wadi’i, Al-Ahjur, Yemen (circa 1944-2016), الله يرحمها ويعوض اهلها Written in memory of a friend whose support was crucial to my understanding of life and etiquette during my ethnographic research in Yemen. In 1978-79, my husband, Daniel Varisco, and I spent 18 months conducting dissertation fieldwork in the beautiful basin of al-Ahjur, located in […]

The Prominence of Consent

Is understanding consent as “simple as tea?” Increasingly, we have begun to think that it is common sense to see rape and other forms of sexual assault almost exclusively through the lens of consent. The lack of a freely given agreement by a competent person— commonly known as consent— is essential to U.S. legal definitions […]

What’s In My Syringe?

Perspectives on the Vaccine Scandal in China As a medical anthropologist based in China, I have found the Chinese health system a fascinating setting to observe societal changes taking place including the effects of the various system level socio-medical policies on communities, individuals and the well-being of its citizens. Looking back, in the pre-reform socialist China […]