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 )
James Rilling, Professor in the Anthropology Department at Emory University, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan grandmothers brains while they looked at images of their children, their grandchildren as well as unrelated adults and children.
“When grandmothers viewed photographs of their grandchildren, they particularly activated brain regions that have previously been associated with emotional empathy, suggesting that grandmothers may be predisposed to share the emotional states of their grandchildren,” Rilling tells USA Today. When looking at picture of their adult children, areas of their brain associated with cognitive empathy where activated.
Recently discovered cave paintings and bone carvings offer new perspectives on long-held questions about art’s origins—not to mention the nature of art itself.
The paintings of Pigs were discovered on limestone walls of the Leang Tedongnge cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The question about what the oldest record of art is necessitates a definition of art, and leads us to the question of what the creation of art tell us about humans and their abilities at the time. The full article is available online.
Anthropologist Dietrich Stout decodes the brain’s “alphabet” and “grammar” for action to study behavioral evolution and measure the complexity of human technologies based on the making and use of different types of Stone Age tools.
This book provides a bridge between Shakespeare studies and classical social theory, opening up readings of Shakespeare to a new audience outside of literary studies and the humanities. Shakespeare has long been known as a “great thinker” and this book reads his plays through the lens of an anthropologist, revealing new connections between Shakespeare’s plays and the lives we now lead.
Close readings of a selection of frequently studied plays—Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, and King Lear—engage with the texts in detail while connecting them with some of the biggest questions we all ask ourselves, about love, friendship, ritual, language, human interactions, and the world around us. The plays are examined through various social theories including performance theory, cognitive theory, semiotics, exchange theory, and structuralism. The book concludes with a consideration of how “the new astronomy” of his day and developments in optics changed the very idea of “perspective,” and shaped Shakespeare’s approach to embedding social theory in his dramatic texts.
Shakespeare from outside literary studies but will also be valuable to literature students approaching Shakespeare for the first time, or looking for a new angle on the plays.
Dr. Rilling is interviewed by Sana Quadar about his research on fatherhood for the All In The Mind podcast on fatherhood. Rilling speaks about hormonal changes, brain functions and interactions between fathers and their children. Other guests are Dave Edwards and Dr. Jacqui Macdonald, the podcast is available online.
Loneliness has been increasingly recognized as a public health issue rather than merely an individual psychological issue, as the appointment of the UK’s very first Minister of Loneliness in 2018 shows. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our need for social connection. Technology has allowed many of us to connect even when we are physically remote. Our need to connect with others is the very thing that creates the potential for loneliness. For this reason, loneliness should not be pathologized as a disorder, but rather seen as a natural expression of what it means to be a social being, born into and existing within a society. This does not mean that loneliness is experienced in the same way everywhere. As the papers in this special issue, “toward an anthropology of loneliness” amply illustrate, culture shapes expectations, experiences and expressions of loneliness.
Following this publication from 2020 is the Podcast on loneliness and the special issue Toward an Anthropology of Loneliness (Ozawa-de Silva and Parsons, 2020), Transcultural Psychiatry Podcast, 22,February.
Willen, associate professor at UConn, established the Pandemic Journaling Project along with Katherine Mason, Assistant Professor at Brown University. In addition to giving a voice to people from different areas and backgrounds, this project will create records of how people felt throughout this historic event. In the New York Times article Willen and Mason voice some of their early analysis.
Sarah Kovalaskas joined the Department of Anthropology as a graduate student in 2018 and recently published a paper titled “Comparative analyses of the Pan lineage reveal selection on gene pathways associated with diet and sociality in bonobos” in the journal Genes, Brain and Behavior. Second and third authors are Jim Rilling, professor and department chair at Emory’s Department of Anthropology, and John Lindo, assistant professor at Emory’s Department of Anthropology.
“I feel like this paper was a great example of seizing an idea and making use of already existing data in that all the genomes are all publicly available online and we just needed the storage space and computational know-how to carry it out. The idea of ‘self domestication’ is something that I’ve been interested in and thinking about for a while, and I was hoping to work on similar topics for my dissertation. Even though I’m going in a different direction now it was a really nice way for me to build relationships with professors in the department after Adrian Jaeggi left Emory to continue his research at the University of Zurich. It also allowed me to dip my toes into other fields (genomics) and see how I could incorporate those techniques with my own interests and background working in the field with bonobos.”
While there has been a lot of research about how motherhood affects women, Dr. Rilling has been working to fill the gap by researching the effects of fatherhood on men. In the article he explains the effects of testosterone on the behavior of avian, primate, and human fathers, as well as his research on the effect of fatherhood on testosterone levels in men.