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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Fulbright Exchange Program, National Science Foundation, and other national organizations have awarded postgraduate scholarships and fellowships to 16 members of the University of Notre Dame’s Class of 2011, 14 of whom are students in the College of Arts and Letters.
Notre Dame senior Molly Boyle has won a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant to implement the education program she designed to empower disadvantaged women in Peru.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anthropology, education, and science are a winning combination for Notre Dame alumna Jessica Fries-Gaither ’99. Her website, Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, is one of just 12 projects worldwide to win the 2011 Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE).
Agustin Fuentes, a professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Notre Dame Department of Anthropology "would be a gem at any university in the country," a trio of outside experts says.
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.