love and marriage

Though love and marriage are two completely different definitions in anthropology, in most countries, people choose to get married because the couple loves each other rather than any other reason. However, in India and other countries on the world, the love marriage is forbidden and arranged marriage is the common form. Parents usually think their children lack of experience and are not able to figure out who is the right one to spend the rest of life with. Even in love-marriage societies, parents may sometimes concerns their children’s choice of spouse, therefore, it is quite understandable since the parents love their kids. But in India, marriage is not only about individuals, but also is related to political and human rights revolutions.

In recent decades, youth has begun fighting for the freedom of love-marriage. But “Love politics generate conflict over gender and intergenerational relations, between tradition and modernity.” Parents and their kids have different opinions and the thoughts represent the characteristics of the society they are living in and old school will always doubt new generation. In addition, since there is religious conflict in India, religion plays an important role in love-marriage. Some argues that love jihad helps to intensify a public construction of new forms of Muslim terrorism.

But why conflict happens in some circumstances is probably because people can not obtain human rights they need in a peaceful way so in order to guarantee the rights they are caring about, they have to fight with the power who prohibits them doing so. In a word, “love has become both a symbolic and real source of contestation.”

All should be aware of that the society is changing so the best way to solve the problem is negotiation and cooperation instead of fighting, especially in the unstable nation such as India. Development will be a long process.

“Puppy-dog Eyes”-Who’s domesticating who?

This article by John Hartigan examines the science of the loving and adorable “puppy-dog eyes” that dogs often give to their owners in times of want or guilt. He shows that the gazing of dogs into the eyes of their owners has an impact on both parties, eliciting a strong release of oxytocin for both species. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that is greatly released during times of affection, often towards loved ones. He states that it seems dogs have “hijacked the human bonding pathway” in the fact that they have adapted to the human means of communication. It is no doubt that eye-contact is extremely important in human communication and interaction, present even at very early ages of infancy. He argues that this was a crucial trait in dogs that lead to their strong domestication by humans- the fact that dogs are considered “man’s best friend”, and widely popular in the world. It seems as if they have evolutionarily found a way into the good graces of humans by using the psychological “cuteness” channel that we have for children. When pondering the fact that dogs often do this when they have done something wrong may be another story though. Research has shown that dogs are extremely sensitive to environmental and social cues, so this behavior might be effective in the owners withholding punishment that they can feel may be coming, even though they don’t necessarily know what they did wrong. So in the grand scheme of things it is interesting to view this from an anthropological perspective: who’s domesticating who?

Love and the Brain

This article by Erin B. Taylor is a review of a TED talk given by anthropologist Helen Fisher in which she talks about the brain and its activity during love, or the downfall of it. As to be expected, she states that love is experienced in many parts of the brain, from higher cognitive processes to very basic areas of the brain. One of these areas is the ventral tegmental area, which is part of the “reptilian” brain, that is considered to be one of the earliest evolved areas of the brain, functioning for basic survival needs, not higher order thinking. The ventral tegmental area is responsible for the release of the dopamine neurotransmitter, which is the same neurotransmitter released during a cocaine high. To study the brain and the effect of love, her team conducted an MRI study of people that had been recently “dumped” from long relationships. She found that three centers were primarily activated. The first area is the area the same area that is activated during intense love, but in fact after a breakup it becomes more active, perhaps explaining why it is difficult to let go of. The second area is the “risk calculator” region, perhaps one is running through the ideas of what they did wrong, how they could have fixed it? The third region is associated with deep attachment, which makes perfect sense. To summarize, love is an extremely powerful thing that effects our brain greatly. Love is an addiction, “the God of Love lives in a state of need”.

Sex Changes and Changing Rooms

This article is written by a woman attempting to gain a better understanding of gender and sex. It may or may not be important to know that this is a woman, who was born with female genitalia. Through the use of anthropology she recognizes why unisex bathrooms are so important for those of us who don’t identify as a neither male nor female, or both. This is the very essence of anthropology. She did not have to grow up a certain way to understand how members of the transgender community feel. The author also attempts to figure out the difference between sex and gender. She comes to the conclusion that sex is somewhat more of what you were born with where as gender is what you identify as. In the article she points out that it is impossible to alter the mindsets for individuals who feel like they were born in the wrong body, what is possible is changing the body that they feel entraps them. Gender and sex is a hugely important thing in anthropology due to the fact that all of us have a sex and most of us assume a gender. By anthropologists attempting to gain a better understanding, it ceases the hate that many people harbor towards the transgender community.

Archaeology from Space

This article and subsequent video tells the story of how archaeologist and Egyptologist, Sarah Parcak, found an ancient Egyptian capital city that had been missing for thousands of years. She and her team did this by using satellite data.They analyzed aerial images to reconstruct what the city looked like in her prime. Then, they used infrared to spot chemical changes to the landscape caused by building materials and from simply inhabiting a city. This relates to anthropology because they have found an ancient city using this new technology. Now that they have found it, they can further examine how Ancient Egyptians lived thousands of years ago. Through uncovering more artifacts they can gain an even better understanding of how our ancient ancestors survived in the Middle East so many thousands of years ago. This region in Egypt was most popular for its contribution to the world of art, architecture and religion. So, not only can anthropologists examine how the Egyptians were able to survive but they can also look into how the arts have developed over the years. They can examine the difference of Egyptian arts depending on the region and also throughout the years. Continuing to perform archaeology from space can help us to uncover so much of the world that has been lost for so many years. This can only aid anthropologists to gain a better understanding of humanity.

Vampirism: Striking at the heart of fear and desire

In this post, the author puts vampires into two separate categories, mythical and ‘real’ vampires. Since the 1922 film, Nosferatu, vampires have been seen as a comical ghoulish monster with a Eastern European accent. Children and adults alike often times light-heartedly dress up as the mythical creature for Halloween. The author of this article attempts to separate the knowledge of vampires that she grew up with, with the realistic vampire that many 14th and 15th century Europeans were terrified of. She examines artifacts of the past and find many instances where people were killed with a stake through their heart and massive decapitations of individuals.  This relates to anthropology because she does not let the vampires that she grew up on deter her for getting to know the truth about the real life vampires that so many Europeans had a true fear of. By looking at this information, the author can gain a better understanding of the mindset of medieval Europeans and the common fears they had. This informations lets present day people know that the fear of the afterlife coming back was a grand one. We can see traces of this in modern society as well. Reading this article, one can see beyond vampires being a thing to make fun of on October 31st and realize that there was a point in history where it was a legitimate fear.

Militarizing the Everyday

With the police violence inherent in our current society being publicly unveiled and protested, in addition to the increasing coverage of the US-Mexico border policing and the overall reaction to uprising across the country, it is becoming apparent that we live in a highly militarized society.  Nola Kline for Anthropology News identifies and supports the role that anthropologists can play in attempting to reduce this militarized society in her article “Militarizing Life.”  Perhaps the most interesting of her strategies was the call for anthropologists to address “reframing events such as those impacting communities in Ferguson and Atlanta as a part of life affecting everyone.”  While it is often easy to view these events as tragedies, but distant tragedies, anthropologists and reporting personnel alike need to push the fact that these events affect everyone regardless of geographic location.  The militarization of our society in one area is not simply that; it is a reflection of the fact that we allow the militarization of police to continue as a nation.  Anthropologists, those who are perhaps best suited to observe this phenomenon, can look to use their skills for change as Kline observes.  As a greater and more complete awareness of this militarization occurs, only then will policies begin to shift for the better.

Avoiding Speech in a Vaccuum

The way in which a course is constructed can have everything to do with the success of the course, and it’s consequential effect.  Barbara Jones of the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges describes in her article titled “Innovative Teaching Practices Maybe Worth Trying” how she herself as an anthropologist has applied her own knowledge to the construction of the classes she teaches.  One of the strategies she uses is the collaboration between writing/speech classes and her own anthropology classes, which helps students to be more engaged in the overall work that they are doing, and to benefit from the interdisciplinary teaching they receive.  A traditional course structure might see speech/writing classes as separate entirely from other subject classes like anthropology, and likewise students in each respective are are more likely to feel the absence of the other subjects.  Speech and writing classes often benefit greatly from exterior connection with other classes, and those other classes also constantly look to improve speech and writing within their respective student bodies.  Avoiding “speech in a vacuum” as a conscious decision can make all the difference; students feel less hindered by being graded strictly on reading comprehension and writing, and speech connects all the better with a subject.  With all this in mind, the inclusion of the oral exam within our class makes total sense, and the constant presence of dialogue in class as well.  The next step might be to even reach out towards a writing 101 class and allow them to play off the content addressed in Anthro 101.

Class and Natural Disaster


In 2011, Vermont and many other areas in New England were hit by Hurricane Irene.  Roads disappeared, houses and bridges were swept away, and entire communities were cut off from the rest of the world.  Although this natural disaster affected many people in the area, I would like to focus on two specific aspects of the whole event: the way in which lower class housing was damaged, and the way that people in the lower/middle class immediately looked to help out after the floods.  The trailer park in town was severely damaged because it had been placed in the flood-plane and was poorly constructed, while most of the upper-class housing was either elevated enough to avoid damage or was constructed with materials that could withstand the water.  After the damage was done, however, those who lived in these affected areas immediately came to the aid of their neighbors: taking quads through the woods to deliver supplies to isolated houses, shoveling out homes and cars, sheltering others without a moments hesitation.  Looking at the recent disaster in Nepal, and previous large-scale disasters such as the earthquake that affected Haiti not long ago, it seems as if there is a direct correlation between class and the way that people are both affected by these disasters and are willing to help.  Commenting on the events in Nepal, Carole McGranahan of Savage Minds observed that “his was a very class-conscious earthquake, in town & country it targeted underprivileged households with mud-mortar construction.”  She went on to say, however, that “in Nepal as in Haiti, we are witnessing duty and community in numerous acts of citizens responding to the devastation. Rescuing, caring for, organizing, making new commitments to each other, and in turn new demands on the state.”  The fact that some of the people who have lost the most are the ones to help the most says a lot about the ways in which class establishes views towards community, and understanding this level of generosity and selflessness is essential towards building better communities on a global scale.

Hot Criminals?

Buff and Busted: Criminalizing Men, was a topic of great interest to me. This blog discusses the power of hegemonic masculinity. The blog mainly focuses on the story of Jeremy Meeks, and how his mugshot ended up all around the internet. This mugshot helped Jeremy achieve internet fame with various woman offering to pay his bail and countless others starting fundraisers for the convict. I believe the convict is being treated in this case with way too much honor for his crimes.

Although I do believe that he used his upper hand to good use I blame not him but those who have supported this man. The people who lend him support are basically saying that it’s quite alright to commit a crime and not receive the proper punishment because your good looks basically excuse you; your good looks justify your inappropriate behavior. The people mostly women, who condone the idea of regarding beauty  above all other have a social responsibility to the rest of the world because it teaches the younger generations that they can basically commit crimes or act in an inappropriate way as long as they are beautiful. Which quite frankly pisses me off because I believe that kids are the future of the world and if we don’t do right by them and teach them ethics then what will the future hold for us.