News » Archives » 2011

Anthropologist Agustín Fuentes Explains “Planet of the Apes” Fascination

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opening nationwide Friday, is expected to be a summer blockbuster. So what’s the fascination with apes taking over? Why not Planet of the Dogs or Planet of the Seagulls? “The lure of the Planet of the Apes movies lies in our fascination with the possibility that we are not the only sentient beings on earth,” says University of Notre Dame anthropologist Agustin Fuentes, who specializes in human evolution and primatology.

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Anthropologist Rahul Oka Shares Insights on Somalia Famine

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By flip-flopping its position on which groups can provide humanitarian aid to the thousands of starving Somalians, and forbidding supplies from foreign agencies not currently working in its strongholds, the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab is “playing an interesting game,” says University of Notre Dame economic anthropologist Rahul Oka, who currently is in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp conducting fieldwork on trade and the distribution of relief supplies.

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Anthropology Alumna Supports International Housing Initiative

Author: Renée LaReau

Stephanie Sluka Brauer ’97 helps house families in 18 countries as the resource development manager for Habitat for Humanity International’s Africa and Middle East regional office. Brauer, who majored in anthropology and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, now lives and works in Pretoria, South Africa.

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Russian Major Learns Subtleties of Slang in Moscow

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Morgan Iddings expected some culture shock when she traveled from Notre Dame to Moscow for an intensive Russian language immersion. The first-year Russian student faced an added challenge when she realized her host mother didn’t speak a word of English. “Nevertheless, I ended up having a great experience,” Iddings says.

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Anthropologist Catherine Bolten Reveals Human Side of Sierra Leone

Author: Sara Burnett

An army officer betrayed by the government and put on trial for a treasonous crime he didn’t commit. A market trader who forges an alliance with a rebel leader in order to feed her starving children. And a man who almost gets himself killed several times in order to get food for his pregnant wife. These are among the scores of survivors Notre Dame anthropologist Catherine Bolten came to know during more than seven years researching post–war Sierra Leone.

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Notre Dame anthropologist tracks trade in conflict zones

Author: Aaron Smith

Rahul Oka

Even the most carefully planned humanitarian and development efforts are often stymied by the chaotic realities on the ground in war-torn zones such as Sudan and Northern Kenya.

University of Notre Dame economic anthropologist Rahul Oka aims to improve the success rate of these critical relief missions by studying how local trade networks are able to operate in the same areas with remarkable resilience and efficiency

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Abandoned Irish Island Offers a Window to the Past

Author: Kevin Clarke

The last 24 human inhabitants of the Irish island of Inishark departed together on October 20, 1960—a solemn end to a slow, steady decline. This small community’s collapse more than 50 years ago now offers Anthropology Professor Ian Kuijt and his students “a window” to Irish life in the 19th century. “These people were living little differently than they were in the 1860s,” he explains.

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Notre Dame anthropologist takes Irish oral tradition online

Author: Kevin Clarke

Deb Rotman

Deb Rotman is in a race against time.

Rotman, director of undergraduate studies for Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology, is keenly aware that the generation of Irish immigrants who can still share memories of the Irish Civil War and their experiences in early 20th century America will soon be lost forever.

“Those generations have some really great stories that we’re trying to capture, but we can only do so much,” she says.

Unable to personally interview every surviving immigrant, Rotman and a group of her students are working with Kevin Abbott in the University’s Academic Technologies office to construct an online database to help collect and preserve as many of these valuable tales as possible before it’s too late.

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Anthropologist Rahul Oka Tracks Trade in Conflict Zones

Author: Aaron Smith

Even the most carefully planned humanitarian and development efforts are often stymied by the chaotic realities on the ground in war-torn zones such as Sudan and Northern Kenya. Notre Dame Economic anthropologist Rahul Oka aims to improve the success rate of these critical relief missions by studying how local trade networks are able to operate in the same areas with remarkable resilience and efficiency.

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Anthropology Alumni Reflection: Applying Cultural Analysis in the Real World

Author: By Meagan Sutton, '04

Throughout post-graduation life, I have found many useful applications for what I learned in Notre Dame's anthropology program. Yet the true test was when I found myself on the ground in Dharamsala, India, in 2008 with an M.A. thesis topic and a fieldwork proposal.
 
Fieldwork was not a requirement for my M.A. thesis by any means, and it was out of the ordinary that a student would travel to gather research for the thesis. I chose to do so because reading books in the library had led me to more questions than conclusions about Tibetan studies. I found a number of works in which I felt that authors were writing within a framework that lacked awareness of cultural relativism (the principle that people's beliefs and actions should be interpreted in terms of their own cultural framework). This is an awareness I think is crucial in any discipline. I attribute my critical analysis of these works to the fantastic guidance provided to me by my anthropology professors at Notre Dame.…

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Notre Dame anthropologist receives grant to explore human nature

Author: Kate Cohorst

Agustin Fuentes

Who are we? Why are we here? Why do we do what we do? What makes humans unique?

These are the universal questions at the heart of an ambitious new initiative led by University of Notre Dame anthropologist Agustín Fuentes.

Funded by a $197,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Human Natures Project is a two-year research effort that could pave the way for a much larger, long-term endeavor.

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Notre Dame to Host Economic Anthropology Conference

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The University of Notre Dame will host the 2011 conference of the Society for Economic Anthropology on March 10 to 12 (Thursday to Saturday), where scholars from archeology, history, cultural anthropology, and economics will explore several views of greed and excess, and examine how different societies tolerated or controlled these behaviors. All presentations will be held in McKenna Hall on the Notre Dame campus.

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Peer Review Lauds Anthropology Students and Faculty

Author: Kate Cohorst

The Notre Dame Department of Anthropology "would be a gem at any university in the country," a trio of outside experts says.

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Anthropology professors James M. Calcagno of Loyola University, Timothy K. Earle of Northwestern University, and Judith T. Irvine from the University of Michigan conducted the department's decennial external review in September 2010.

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