DC event: Society for International Development, The Changing Face of Aid

When: Thursday, February 10, 2015, 8:30 – 10:30 AM

Where: Society for International Development Washington, 1101 15th St. NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC

Join us on Tuesday, February 10th for a lively discussion of how approaches to aid are changing and will continue to change in the future. Increasingly, the sources of donor-funded aid are diversifying. While funding once came from a few distinct sources, it is now coming from all over and often outside of the ‘official’ development sphere. This phenomenon requires a hard look at how we approach donor-funded aid now and in the future. Representatives from USAID, the private sector, an NGO and two foundations will discuss how donors’ priorities and strategies are shifting and how NGOs and private sector firms relying on aid are evolving as a result.

Moderator: Sheila Herrling, Senior Vice President, Social Innovation, The Case Foundation | @herrling


  • Catherine Godschalk, Vice President of Investments, The Calvert Foundation | @calvert_fdn
  • Jay Knott, Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Abt Associates | @abtassociates
  • Paul O’Brien, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, Oxfam America | @dpaulobrien
  • Eric Postel, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment and Assistant to the Administrator for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development | @EricPostel

For questions regarding this event, please contact Kara Frazier at


Anthro in the news 1/26/15

  • Political cartooning

The Business Standard (India) carried a review of a new book on political cartooning in India by cultural anthropologist Ritu Khanduri, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Texas at Arlington, College of Liberal Arts. Understanding what makes political caricature funny to some but not to others is critical today, says the author in an interview. Her book, Caricaturing Culture in India: Cartoons and History in the Modern World, traces India’s political history through political caricatures.

Khanduri comments:  “As a visual reaction to events, cartoons have the ability to reflect as well as shape public opinion. “They’re complex images with layers of sub-textual meaning. Understanding what makes them funny to some but not to others is what we need to understand, especially in our present times.”

  • Changing views on dating and marriage in Oman

Newsweek reported on changing patterns of finding a spouse in Oman where mixing between genders is limited. Marrying for love was rare just 20 years ago in Oman, and arranged matches were the norm, with minimal contact between a couple before their wedding. Oil wealth, globalization, and higher education have transformed the country since Sultan Qaboos bin Said seized power from his father in 1970. A survey of 921 Omanis aged 18 to 60, found that 83% were against arranged marriage. More than a love marriage, young Omanis want a “compatible marriage.” Many young people are looking for partners at university, at work or on social media. Social media offers a discreet ways for young men and women to connect.

Similar changes are happening in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, says Jane Bristol-Rhys, associate professor of anthropology at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Exposure to other cultures – whether through television, the Internet, or direct contact with foreigners – has influenced ideas about what a good marriage should look like. “They’re not living in a vacuum here, and they know there are other choices,” Bristol-Rhys says.

  • Rethinking mental illness

Cultural anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in which she comments in depth on a “remarkable document” from the British Psychological Society, “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia”. Its authors say that hearing voices and feeling paranoid are common experiences, and are often a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation: “Calling them symptoms of mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia is only one way of thinking about them, with advantages and disadvantages.” (more…)

Anthro in the news 01/19/15

  • Afghan-American youth who turn to extremism

Morwari Zafar writes in Time magazine about why some Afghan-American youth may turn to radicalism. Zafar is conducting fieldwork among Afghan-Americans for her dissertation in social anthropology at the University of Oxford. She writes: “The current policy climate risks insularity by focusing on external motivators — such as unemployment, disenfranchisement and susceptibility to recruitment via social media. Such an approach raises valid points, but it is conducive only to identifying a limited range of resolutions.” [Blogger’s note:  Morwari Zafar is a visiting scholar with the Culture in Global Affairs Program, within the Elliott School's Institute for Global and International Studies, at GW].

  • Korean adoptees seeking Korean roots

The New York Times Magazine carried an article describing how many Korean adoptees, from locations around the world, are returning to the Republic of Korea. The article mentions the work of Eleana Kim, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging. Kim notes that many adoptees fear that searching for their Korean roots is seen as a betrayal of their  adoptive parents and they dread “coming out” to their adoptive parents, whether in the form of birth-family searches, returning to birth countries, or criticizing the adoption system.

  • Spotlight on Breastfeeding

On NPR, biological anthropologist and blogger, Barbara King of William and Mary, interviews cultural anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler of the University of Delaware on cross-cultural breastfeeding practices. Dettwyler discusses cross-cultural patterns of which mothers decide to breast feed and for how long as well as social stigma toward women who may breast feed for “too long” in some people’s opinion.

  • Book in the news: Social inequality in South Africa

Seattle radio KUOW interviewed a co-author of a new book on South Africa showing that the country is less equal today than during apartheid. After Freedom: The Rise of the Post-Apartheid Generation in Democratic South Africa is an ethnographic account of seven young South Africans whose lives illustrate the realities of South Africa today. It is written by cultural anthropologist Katherine S Newman, provost at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Ariane De Lannoy, a sociologist and researcher at the University of Capetown. The radio interview ranges from the research methods, some of the people in the book, and parallels between poverty in South Africa and in the United States. (more…)

GW event: The Rice Theory of Culture


Speaker: Thomas Talhelm, doctoral candidate in cultural psychology at the University of Virginia
When: Thursday, January 22, 12-1pm
Where: 1957 E Street NW, 5th floor, conference room 501, Washington, DC, 20052

*Light lunch with be provided but seating is limited, so RSVP is required.

Talhelm will present findings from his research showing that Han China has distinct northern and southern cultures. He finds that southern Chinese show more interdependence and loyalty toward friends compared to the more individualist northern Han. These differences fall along the traditional dividing line between rice (south) and wheat (north) agriculture. Talhelm draws on the different labor production patterns between rice and wheat agriculture, emphasizing rice’s unique irrigation and labor requirements that require cooperation among farmers.

Talhelm is the lead author of the study on which this talk is based; findings appeared in the May 9, 2014 issue of the journal Science.

Sponsored by:

The Culture in Global Affairs Program of the Institute for Global and International Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, the George Washington University, Washington, DC

PBS documentary on an Indian American woman’s experiences in returning to India

We are excited to announce the DVD and digital release of Crossing Lines, an award-winning PBS documentary that explores the journey of an Indian-American woman’s return to India for the first time after her father’s death.

“Watch this documentary and give your kid a hug, especially if she is a girl.”
Ashfaque Swapan, India-West

“… in my Intercultural Communication class I showed Crossing Lines.  I show it every semester I teach the class.  The students were very moved by it.  One was in tears, literally.”  Jim Neuliep, Ph.D. St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI

Like most second-generation ethnic Americans, Indira Somani has struggled with identity issues since her parents migrated to the U.S. in the 1960s.  Born and raised in the U.S., Indira led an American life, but at home her world was Indian.  Crossing Lines takes you on a journey to India, where Indira visits her father’s extended family for the first time after his death.  It is the story of how one daughter pays tribute to her father in all that he’s taught her about India, Indian culture and family.

A favorite at festivals around the world, Crossing Lines has also aired on over 100 PBS affiliates across the U.S. and has been purchased by nearly 100 universities including Harvard, Yale, University of California- Berkeley, Arizona State University, University of Texas-Austin, Seattle Community College, University of Illinois and University of Denver.

“[Indira’s] wonderful, poignant and personal story is one that like so many American stories reaches across oceans and continents in search of our family histories and truths,” Peter Bhatia, Executive Editor, The Oregonian.

“[The film] sketches a more universal story of the problems that Asian immigrants face in reconciling homelands with adopted lands.” Radhika Parameswaran, Ph.D., Critical Cultural Studies Scholar,Indiana University.

Purchase a copy of the film at our website, www.crossinglinesthefilm.com or call us at 1-888-367-9154. The film can be directly ordered on the website, and a study guide for educators can be downloaded.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions or to book as guest speakers. We hope you’ll consider making Crossing Lines a part of your library’s collection!

GW event: The Future of the Ebola Response

Join the International Affairs Society (IAS) for a panel discussion on the future of the international response to Ebola.

When: Tuesday, January 13th, 7 – 8:30 pm
Where: Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street, NW, Room 505


  • Andrew C. Weber, Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response, U.S. Department of State
  • Dr. Ronald St. John, Incident Manager for Ebola in Washington, D.C., World Health Organization
  • Sasha McGee, Epidemic Intelligence Officer, Centers for Disease Control
  • Ron Waldman, Professor of Global Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, GW

Sponsored by The International Affairs Society.

RSVP here!

Anthro in the news1/12/15

  • On France as a target for jihad

Time Magazine published an article by cultural anthropologist John Bowen of Washington University in which he describes three factors contributing to France as a target for jihad: First, France has been more closely engaged with the Muslim world longer than any other Western country. Second, the French Republic has nourished a sense of combat with the Church—which for some means with religion of any sort. Third, the attack risks to add fuel to the rise of the Far Right in France and throughout Europe. In conclusion, he states:

“France will not change its decades-old foreign policy, nor are rights and practices of satire likely to fade away. But the main impact may be to use the attacks as an excuse to blame Islam and immigration for broad anxieties about where things are going in Europe today. Such a confusion can only strengthen the far right.”

Bowen is the author of Can Islam be French, Blaming Islam, and the forthcoming Shari’a in Britain.

  • On Muslim integration and discrimination in France

The International Business Times carried an article stating that the terror attacks in Paris will likely exacerbate the challenges faced by Muslim communities in Europe, as extreme right-wing political parties politicize the tragedy.  A large proportion of France’s Muslim population of five million faces day-to-day discrimination along with broader, institutional forms of disenfranchisement, said Mayanthi L. Fernando, a professor of anthropology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, whose work focuses on Islam and secularism in France. “The problem here is not a lack of willingness among a large number of French Muslims to integrate — many would say they are already integrated — the problem is they are not accepted as legitimately French by the rest of the white, Christian majority…The problem is that on one hand they are asked to prove their integration in the French mainstream, but on the other hand they are facing discrimination day to day and institutionally.”

  • Colonialism, dispossession, desperation, and suicide

The Guarani Indians of Brazil, according to a report cited in The New York Times and other media, have the highest suicide rates in the world. Overall, indigenous peoples suffer the greatest suicide risk among cultural or ethnic groups worldwide. In Brazil, the indigenous suicide rate was six times higher than the national average in 2013. Among members of the Guaraní tribe, Brazil’s largest, the rate is estimated at more than twice as high as the indigenous rate over all, the study said. And in fact it may be even higher. (more…)

Events in DC: Five years after the Haiti earthquake

The Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) invites you to series of events 5 years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake.


Interfaith Prayer Breakfast: In Commemoration

Monday, January 12, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Breakfast available at 8:30 a.m.

B-369 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515


Haiti 101: Learn the Basics in Just 1 Hour

Monday, January 12, 2015, 10:00 a.m. to 11 a.m.

B-369 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515


Roundtable Discussion: Haiti’s Political Crisis and the Impact on Reconstruction

Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Light Refreshments and Coffee

Cannon House Office Building 121, 200-299 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20003


Featured Participants:

  • Amb. Tom C. Adams, Special Coordinator for Haiti, U.S. State Department
  • Antonal Mortime, Plateforme des Organisations Haïtiennes de Droits Humains (POHDH)
  • Prof. Robert Fatton, University of Virginia
  • Prof. Robert Maguire, George Washington University

RSVPs for events kindly appreciated at rsvp-dc@ajws.org.


Follow us @LAHSPatGW or the Brazil Initiative @GWUBrazil


Anthro in the news 1/5/15

Source: Francisco Leong/Agence France-Presse. Getty Images

  • Paul Farmer in the news

Farmer zings M.S.F.: The New York Times quoted Paul Farmer, medical anthropologist and professor at Harvard University, in an article about controversy over the use of IV therapy for Ebola victims in West Africa. Two of the most admired medical charities are divided over the issue. Partners in Health, which has worked in Haiti and Rwanda but is just beginning to treat Ebola patients in West Africa, supports the aggressive treatment. Its officials say the more measured approach taken by Doctors Without Borders is overly cautious.

Farmer, one of the founders of Partners in Health, using the French initials for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is quoted as saying: “M.S.F. is not doing enough…What if the fatality rate isn’t the virulence of disease but the mediocrity of the medical delivery?”

Farmer joins the movie stars: The Huffington Post reported on an effort by The Hunger Games movie stars to keep pressure on efforts to stamp out Ebola. They created a YouTube video which includes luminaries Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Mahershala Ali and Julianne Moore….and Paul Farmer.

Farmer was right: Ross Douthat, a regular columnist for The New York Times, reflected on three errors he had made in 2014, one of which was to assume that the Ebola crisis would arrive in the U.S. Therefore, he supported travel restrictions. But now, he writes, “Two months later, there has been no wider outbreak, most of the cases treated domestically have resulted in a cure, and the president and his appointees can reasonably claim vindication (as can Dr. Paul Farmer who argued in an October essay that with Western standards of medical treatment, Ebola victims could have a 90 percent survival rate). (more…)

Anthro in the news 12/29/14

[Blogger’s note: Here is the last anthro in the news for 2014. Please stay tuned for my annual “best cultural anthropology dissertations” post coming soon]

Ruth Behar

  • U.S. Cuba relations: Hoping for a miracle

Ruth Behar, professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, published a piece in The Tico Times, reflecting on President Obama’s recent statement on U.S.-Cuba relations:

“When I awoke to the news of President Barack Obama’s proposed U.S. policy changes, I immediately thought: Isn’t it amazing that this occurred on Dec. 17? It’s a day of great significance to Cubans, when thousands of them make an annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Rincón to mark the feast day of San Lázaro…It is a Cuban custom to bring pennies to San Lázaro, hoping they will translate into miracles. Even my father likes to scatter pennies on the porch of his house in Queens…Right now, I don’t know whose promise of miracles to believe in more — those of San Lázaro and Babalu Ayé, or those of President Obama. Maybe both. Maybe both.” (more…)