Category Archives: anthropology

Talking shit

Last week at UCL, Sjaak van der Geest of the University of Amsterdam gave a stimulating talk on the topic of faeces. His point of departure was the great 16th-century humanist Erasmus’ observation that his own shit was “bland” to … Continue reading

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Afterlife

One of my favourite works of anthropology is a study of infancy among the Beng of Cote d’Ivoire. For people in this West African community, children are understood to come from the Afterlife. In their way of thinking, people’s spirits … Continue reading

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A distorted lens

Before They Pass Away, a project of the Anglo-Dutch photographer Jimmy Nelson, provides a window on some of the indigenous peoples of the world. His photographs — reproduced in a coffee-table book and a lavish website — are beautiful. But … Continue reading

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The EPA: A victim of its own success?

William Ruckelshaus was the first director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a recent interview he reflected on what’s changed during the 43 years since the agency was established — and in particular since the passing of landmark … Continue reading

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Top ten books of 2013

These are the books that marked the year for me.* Each resonated in one way or another with things I’ve learned as a researcher in Ethiopia and Congo, and as a dad.   1. The landgrabbers: The new fight over … Continue reading

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A day in the life, in the Congo rainforest

A further installment from last summer’s research trip to the Congo   Within an hour of sunrise, I was woken by the heat. Outside my tent, Jerome sat on a makeshift bench, with his laptop open in front of him. … Continue reading

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Hunter-gatherer conference: day 1

  Today was the first day of the international Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHaGS).   The 10th meeting of its kind since 1966, it’s brought together approximately 200 delegates — scholars from all four continents, and from the … Continue reading

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