In 2018, then UK Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” and appointed the country’s first minister for loneliness. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called loneliness a “growing health epidemic,” stating that social isolation is “associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
What do the following have in common? Rising rates of social anxiety and social withdrawal, alarming rates of suicide (up 51% among teenage girls in the U.S. in just a two-year period from 2019-2021, and up over 300% over a ten-year period), the increasing number of mass shootings, the epidemic of burnout in healthcare and other sectors, eating disorders. All too often, at the heart of each of these is a lack of social connection and the feeling of being loved, accepted, and understood. This is loneliness. Education is the most powerful tool we have for bringing about this change. Recent research in psychology and neuroscience shows that young children and even infants have a natural orientation towards kindness and helping over cruelty.
The Francis L. K. Hsu Prize is given to the book that was judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field of Anthropology of East Asia and is awarded by the American Anthropological Association’s Society for East Asian Anthropology. In The Anatomy of Loneliness, Ozawa-de Silva gracefully threads the needle of writing for a non-specialist audience while adding to conversations about loneliness, suicide, and social connection in the anthropology of East Asia. Moreover, she writes about the particularities of a social phenomenon in Japan in ways that speak to global experiences of loneliness as a part of the human condition, but one exacerbated by the structures of modern life and neoliberal policies. To do so, the book draws together current research in anthropology, sociology, psychology, and neuroscience/developmental biology, to theorize the anatomy of loneliness as both individual and social. The chapters chart Ozawa-de Silva’s research journey from a study of the dramatic increase in suicides in Japan beginning in 1998, to her discovery that a lack of social connection, loneliness, and a sense of meaning in life better reflected the stories she encountered than the assumed economic or mental health causes. In order to study suicide ethnographically, the book analyses first, second, and third person accounts seen through the phenomenon of suicide websites, the commodification of intimacy, the perceptions of college students, and the 2011 natural and nuclear disasters. The book ends with a timely focus on the communal loneliness of areas forgotten in post-Fukushima recovery initiatives and emerging examples of their resilience through community. Thus, Ozawa-de Silva writes about suicide and loneliness in Japan in ways that speak to wider global trends while giving us some hint at potentially better ways to live today. The committee also found Chikako’s book to be “poignant, richly ethnographic, and an exemplary instance of a book that really speaks beyond our field.”
The Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing is an annual juried book award by the American Anthropological Association’s Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA). The prize committee “seeks graceful, accessible ethnographic writing which deeply explores its subject and contributes in innovative and engaging ways to the genre(s) of ethnography and the field of humanistic (and/or post-humanistic) anthropology.” Chikako Ozawa-de Silva’s The Anatomy of Loneliness humanistically explores issues of human biology, and it analytically transforms loneliness from an individual state of being into a societal predicament. This book is a jarring, empathetic, and even paradoxical diagnosis of emerging collective social structures that make people feel alone. Along the way, readers are introduced to a brave and novel vision for what an inclusive society might mean. The book’s subject matter, from mental health to suicide, is challenging — but Ozawa-de Silva shows us how to rigorously write these topics in ways that cultivate inclusive engagement rather than reproduce the senses of alienation the book explores. The committee also felt that The Anatomy of Loneliness offers a truly unique, distinguished, and even experimental model of accessibility. This book is lucidly written. it is also a text that creatively and transparently brings the reader alongside the author in all her intellectual premises, all her conceptual inspirations, and every one of her turns of thought.
Watch Professor Ozawa-de Silva read the first 5-minutes of her book here.
Dr. Alexander Hinton graduated in 1997 and majored in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology. His dissertation was on the Cambodian genocide. Today, he is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Center for the Genocide and Human Rights, and UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University, Newark. He is an award-winning author and editor of seventeen books, including most recently, Anthropological Witness: Lessons from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Cornell, 2022)—which focuses on his testimony as an expert witness at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and his exchange with “Brother Number Two.”
The AIME award is reserved for persons who have “raised public awareness of anthropology and have had a broad and sustained public impact at local, national, and international level.” Congratulations Dr. Alexander Hinton!
Read more about the AAA 2022 Award Recipients here!
“Selling Industrial ‘Gallina Criolla’ Products in Guatemala” details these new corporate marketing tactics of competing with gallina criolla economies of indgenous and peasant peoples. The report begins by summarizing the latest science on the economic, ecological, social, nutritional, and taste differences between gallina criolla and industrial chicken. It shows that the gallinas criollas that emerge from campesina systems of production are different animals than the industrial chickens that emerge from industrial systems of production. The methods of rearing involved, the ecological and economic functions the birds perform, and the nutritional value and taste of the chicken meat from the two systems are not the same. At the same time, while gallina criolla production is one part of agroecological systems that tend towards diversity, industrial production of commercial chickens tends towards homogeneity.
Marcela Benítez (Emory University, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology) and Jacob Abernethy (Georgia Tech, School of Computer Science) were recipients of the AI.Humanity Seed Grant Program. They were awarded $100,000 in funding towards their proposal to develop and implement “smart” testing stations using artificial intelligence (AI) for long-term cognitive assessment and monitoring of wild capuchin monkeys at the Toboga Forest Reserve in Costa Rica.
The research found different and previously undetected ancestry in a man and a woman dating back 800 and 1,500 years, both from an archeological site in eastern Uruguay. This supports the theory of separate migrations from North America into different areas in South America. “We’ve now provided genetic evidence that this theory may be correct,” Lindo tells Phys.org.
Dr. Sirak received her PhD in 2018 for her dissertation on “A Genomic Analysis of Two Early Christian Cemetery Communities from Sudanese Nubia”, she is now a staff scientist at Harvard University. Her research bridges the fields of Ancient DNA and archaeology and helps shed light on social structures as well as the genomes of ancient populations.
The 25th anniversary of Peter Little and Michael Watts’ edited book, Living Under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa (with Michael Watts), is the basis of a Special Issue of the Journal of Agrarian Change (Volume 22, Number 1, 2022).
The introduction to the journal issue discusses how “it was the publication in 1994 of Living Under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, a collection edited by Peter Little and Michael Watts, that marked a seminal moment in critical scholarship on contract farming in the developing world. . . . The legacy of Living Under Contract is evident in the sustained engagement with contract farming by critical scholars in the subsequent three decades since its publication (see Vicol et al. 2022, 3-4, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joac.12471 . )” Peter Little and Michael Watts were invited to write the epilogue, titled “The afterlife of Living under Contract,” to the Special Issue (see Little and Watts https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joac.12467 )
Nomadic Peoples, 2021, volume 25, Number 2. As the introduction to the volume states, “the special issue interrogates the frequently overused concept of resilience through an examination of a series of case studies from East Africa. It addresses the ways in which anthropologists have studied the interactions between pastoral communities and outside actors under the guise of ‘building resilience’ ..and it challenges readers to think beyond persistent dichotomies of local/global, modernity/tradition, and culture/environment (Konaka and Little 2021: 165). Most of the articles in the issue were based on a panel sponsored by the Commission of Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) and presented at the Bi-annual Congress of the IUAES, held in Poznan, Poland, August 27-31, 2019. Peter Little.