Navigating Silicon Valley’s Contradictions

You can spot the extremes on the street in Silicon Valley. You can find monumental architecture and tour “the mothership,” a gigantic circular edifice that is the home to the Apple headquarters. You might spot a few autonomous vehicles, piloted by a host of competing companies, especially Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Roxana Wales

Roxana Wales, recently retired, is a respected corporate ethnographer and research scientist. She was one of the first anthropologists to begin working on corporate ethnographic projects and she has many great stories to tell. This is her prized “anthropological moment,” about being invited to join a NASA team attempting to send a robot to Mars to search for signs and evidence of the existence of past water.

A Demagogue’s Words Matter

Trump’s immigration metaphors set a divisive tone from the top. His immigration metaphors do not constitute “plain speaking,” “strong language,” or “passionate debate,” nor can they be innocently excused as his “own style.” His language is textbook demagoguery, and his immigration metaphors help constitute our current sociopolitical moment.

HHS Transgender Proposal a Shabby Costume

Implementing the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed definition of sex as “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with” is so manifestly impracticable that calling it a “policy proposal” is a shabby costume. Any serious observer can see that it doesn’t cover the sneer beneath; it’s not meant to.

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.

Speaking with Silence

Words take center stage in the verbal sparring of the Twitter age. But, amidst the endless talk and noise of today’s political landscape, we often overlook the powerful communicative potential of silence.

Brazil’s National Museum Fire

On September 2, a hot Sunday in Central Brazil, I saw the incredible images of an enormous fire rapidly consuming the National Museum of Brazil—a building that is itself protected as heritage. The building was the residence of the Portuguese royal family and was transformed into the first house of science in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century.

AAA Resources on Ethics and Professional Responsibility

We devote this month’s MPAAC column to a responsibility shared by all American Anthropological Association members: awareness of the Association’s Principles of Professional Responsibility. If you haven’t looked at the statement since its 2012 passage, it’s always worth another look.

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.

White Patriarchy Gets a Pacifier

In less than the time it takes you to read this, someone in the United States will be sexually assaulted. One person is assaulted every 98 seconds; almost 37 people in an hour and 888 people a day. There is less than a 1 percent chance that any given perpetrator will go to jail. Rape is underreported, under-prosecuted, and disbelieved. Ours, as anthropologist Peggy Sanday might say, is a rape prone society.