William Leap’s Reflections upon Retirement

William Leap is retiring after being a professor of anthropology at American University for 46 years. Ilana Gershon asks him to reflect on his career. What article or book that you wrote are you most pleased with?  Could you talk about the story behind writing it? Easier than citing a single book or article, I’d […]

The Human Birth Hour

“Nothing good happens after midnight” is a phrase that might be taken with a grain of salt in light of recent research on the timing of human births. A seminal 1956 study, showed that the number of non-induced, vaginal births in US hospitals peaked between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and declined throughout the day.

“Which Children Matter?”

The debate on immigration has recently boiled over, with border policy being brought front-and-center. This more recent attention and uproar was ignited by reports of children being separated from their parents at the United State’s southern border. Whether  images of children being detained or the chilling audio  of children crying out for their parents, these children triggered something intensely emotional for all sides.

Creators of the Contemporary in Africa

In Ghana, creative culture and the contemporary art sphere is in a period of exponential growth and refiguration. Across Accra and Kumasi, the contemporary creative scene has been growing at an unprecedented rate since 2011–pervading public spaces, transportation infrastructure, historical sites, and online social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In the absence of support structures for the arts, many artists and institutions have begun using urban public spaces as creative venues and substantive mediums for producing and displaying art.

Your Fieldwork and Thinking Lives On

It is getting ever easier to share something valuable from fieldwork or writings sparked by those materials, whether you are early, middle, or late career. But particularly in those retrospective moments around the time of retirement, the idea comes to mind of sifting some things out to donate to an archivist at your alma mater, workplace, or a national repository like the vast space at the Smithsonian Institution.

Fear and Food, Two Extremes of Human-Insect Relations

At the beginning of June 2018, I set off for my first field season in the valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, to learn more about traditional medicine involving edible insects. One day, the group of students that I was traveling with stopped at a restaurant to have comida (lunch). We were offered an array of snacks, soups, salads, meats, and a make-it-yourself tostada bar. Amongst the toppings offered in the tostada bar was a small bowl of chapulines (the local name for grasshoppers), and I convinced a few of the students to try some along with me. Most were afraid, some willingly put them on their tostadas like I did, while others struck up the courage to eat a single chapulín to say that they did it.

A Seductive Power Disturbing #MeToo

Echoing the global #MeToo movement, Chinese social media have raised a new wave of debates on issues of sexual harassment in Chinese educational institutions. Most critiques attend to the unequal power relations in which faculty members offer scholarly opportunities or advancement in exchange for sexual contacts with students, mostly female.

Fieldwork through the Eyes of an Undergraduate

Running through terminal three at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, two thoughts crossed my mind: “I have to make this flight,” and, “This is my McCallister moment.” It was not until I was finally seated on my seven-hour flight to Heathrow that doubt began to creep into my mind. All of the trip anxiety that I had before leaving came rushing back somewhere between hours three and four of the flight.

Forming Mobile Research Teams

Last year, our small group of three anthropologists trained in the United States and Great Britain decided to attempt a rare professional move: to forego participating in the more normative, individualized pursuit of tenure-track work in the global North in order to create a novel space of team-oriented scholarly production in Ecuador—a country we call home.

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Max has struggled with anxiety all his life. He uses a combination of two devices, one to measure his vital signs such as heart rate and breath, and a second that responds to irregular readings from the first. This second device provides a mechanical buzzing stimulus, and Max uses it for about ten minutes whenever he feels overwhelmed.