Women as leaders in early Christianity Fairy tales?

Rosemary Joyce writes in her article Women as leaders in early Christianity; Fairy tales? about images that were discovered in the Roman Catacombs of women that appear to be the preachers.  She explains the anthropological view of coming to this explanation and why the Vatican’s view of these images are misinterpreted.  The figures are identified as women, in a position of leading prayer, and wearing the proper attire for a priest.

Archaeologist and anthropologist have identify these images as female priests.  The Vatican and many other christian denominations believe that the bible and other doctrines do not allow females to be leaders of the church.  However based on the original translations of biblical texts there is evidence of females being the leaders of great congregations.

This information does promote room for a lot of controversy.  Some believe that these finding are just fairy tales as the title suggests.  However Rosemary Joyce uses clear evidence to support otherwise.  This is no fairy tale.  Somewhere along the way women have been degraded in status.  There is evidence of Jewish and Christian communities in the ancient Mediterranean where women held positions of  high priests, teachers, apostles, and many other highly regarded positions.  It is amazing that anthropology can be used to prove old theories and myths wrong.  Especially ones that have been institutionalized and have used bad translations of religions texts to justify.



How to Interact with Strangers

Erin B. Taylor compares her personal experiences of interacting with strangers in London, England and Sydney, Australia in her article Hug, Hit, or Ignore? Cultural differences in dealing with strangers.  The cultural norms for interacting with strangers is very different in Sydney and London.   In London it is unacceptable to interact with any stranger on the subway even when the train stops suddenly with no explanation.  While in Sydney stranger strike up casual conversation about career goals and travel plans just about anywhere.

There is stark difference between two cities that were once ruled by the same power.  Taylor creates a theory of social code for each city and explains why each city might be the way it is.  In London and in all of England there are major social class difference when it comes to wealth and royalty.   Social norms of not interacting with strangers prevents movement among social class.  Social norms in Sydney and all of Australia are very different.  Taylor describes that “In Australia, we believe that egalitarianism and ‘mateship’ are at the core of our identity.”  The identity of ‘mateship’ might come from the common reason people first settled in Australia.  Australia was started as a colony for convicts from England.  Unlike wealth and royalty separating people in London, the fist citizens of Sydney were forced to settle because of the commonality of being convicts.  Taylor takes an anthropological view of how we treat strangers based on cultural history.


Hidden value in Famous Movies

The article by Erin B. Taylor is a review of the book Hollywood Blockbusters; The Anthropology of Popular Movies by Anthropologists David Sutton and Peter Wogan.   The article explains that the book exemplifies a new way of using anthropology.  Sutton and Wogan use an anthropological view to discover what makes famous movies famous.  They find that the most renowned movies like The Godfather (1972) revel a part of American Culture in a way that others do not.  The movies almost subconsciously revel aspects of ourselves that are hard to distinguish.

The author explains that every culture has myths that are passed down from one generation to another.  “But it can be difficult to identify just what is the Thor, Medusa or dreamtime spirit of our place and time.  This is partly because societies tend to blend into one another as people and cultural products move fluidly around the world.”

Movies however can capture a spirit of a time period that then can be passed down from generation to generation.  They can explain a culture and attitude of a decade or just common human nature.  In the case of The Godfather it is explained that when food is offered it binds people together and when it is not tension or violence emerges.

Showing is telling and a picture is worth a thousand words.  It makes sense that movies can almost subconsciously capture an essence of American Culture and the ones that capture it best are the movies that are passed down from one generation to another.


The Brain in Love

In the article and ted talk The Brain in Love anthropologist Helen Fisher talks about her research looking at the brain and what it means to be in love.  She looked at the MRI brain scans of people in love and figured out what regions of the brain were activated.  She then compared it to the MRI brain scans of those who just been dumped.  She found that romantic love can act like an addiction.  “Romantic love is more than a cocaine high. At least you come down from cocaine! Romantic love is an obsession. It possesses you. You lose your sense of self. You can’t stop thinking about another human being. Somebody is camping in your head.”

Helen fisher is an anthropologist who has partnered with a neurological  scientist to explain how love works.  Her research and anthropological way of  looking into human emotions can be explained through analysis of MRI brain scans with the help of a neurological scientist.  I think this cross disciplinary work is amazing and is so interesting.  Love is an emotion that is documented though out history and in every civilization.   Helen fisher has been able to explore and start to explain how love works by looking at it from two different angles.

Source: http://popanth.com/multimedia/the-brain-in-love

Anthropological look at Burlesque

In the article The Anthropologist in the Museum: What is Burlesque? by the author refereed to as Dustin(oneman) describes being an anthropologist  responsible for an exhibit at a museum about Burlesque.  He talks about the cultural content and history of Burlesque.  He “burlesque as an art form grades into and branches off from a lot of other theatrical traditions, and has been in a state of near-constant change for at least the last century-and-a-half.”  The author describes Burlesque style dancing as a ‘parody’.  The women who stared in shows in the 1920s to 1950s where mostly immigrants or poor.  They were dressed in high fashion for the time in fancy furs and pearls.  They preformed choreographed dances.  It was never about sex it was about entertainment.  Many famous Comedians such as Abbot and Costello preformed on Burlesque stages.  The author compares Burlesque to the adult entertainment today.  The major differences he mentions are “striptease — burlesque dwells on the act of undressing, not on the state of being undressed. The second is humor — the best burlesque should make you laugh like crazy,”  Its interesting to me that anthropology can be used to take apart an aspect of culture and bring it back to life through a museum exhibit.  The author is also able to go through the history and culture of Burlesque.  It impacted the women’s lives they were performers and dancers.  While erotic and scandalously clad for their day the goal of Burlesque was to put on an entertaining and comedic show for the audience.

Source: http://savageminds.org/2012/09/24/the-anthropologist-in-the-museum-what-is-burlesque/#more-8540

Doctors without Borders

In the article Anthropology and Humanitarian Aid author Emilie Venables talks about her experience as an anthropologist working with Doctors Without Borders.  She explains how her role, while not usually known, is very important and crucial in helping people.  She talks to the local people at a location and figures out what methods and strategies the doctors are using are working. Emilie is also involved in developing focus groups and conducting indepth interviews with locals.  Her responsibility is to learn about the culture and content of a village or area where the doctors are trying to help.  The anthropological view of learning about people and culture of a specific area allows the doctors to help the people in the best way possible. Emilie gives an example of a woman with AIDS and tries to figure out why she is not taking the medication that will protect her unborn baby.  She finds out that the women is worried her husband will learn of her positive status.  He is her only source of economic support and worries about the future of her and her child.  Emilie explains that while talking to the HIV positive woman she learns about the struggles that she has to endure.  While she can not force her to take the medicine she is able to listen to the woman and learn from her.  The use of anthropology allows individuals and doctors to offer better medical attention and support to those in need.