- Ebola crisis is worse than statistics say
Aida Benton speaking at Brown University.
The Providence Journal (Rhode Island) reported on a teach-in on Ebola at Brown University. Speakers included an anthropologist, an epidemiologist, a biostatistician, a community organizer and a representative from the Rhode Island Department of Health. Adia Benton, an assistant professor of anthropology at Brown who specializes in the medical anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa, said the crisis is worse than statistics indicate. According to Benton, health institutions in West Africa have been gutted by war and corruption. Medical services, where they exist, are devoted to diseases such as HIV-AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and basic supplies are lacking. The solution is to build a health system in those countries, and that takes time.
- Ebola in local and global context
The Columbian (Washington state) reported on the work of cultural anthropologists Barry Hewlett and Bonnie Hewlett, a husband-and-wife team at Washington State University Vancouver. They have worked with the World Health Organization in containing previous Ebola epidemics in Africa. The Hewletts are co-authors of a 2007 book called Ebola, Culture and Politics: The Anthropology of an Emerging Disease. They were asked by the World Health Organization to learn why people flee the hospital, the ambulances and the health workers trying to save them.
In a talk this week at the university, the Hewletts noted that the current Ebola outbreak is fueled by West African people’s long-standing mistrust of their own governments as well as actions of foreign powers and international aid organizations.
- How to protect Syria’s cultural heritage? Answer: Stop the war
The New York Times “Room for Debate” section opened a discussion on: What is the most effective way to stop looting and preserve the ancient heritage of Syria? Respondents included Abdalrazzaq Moaz, the former Syrian deputy minister of culture and director general of Antiquities and Museums, is a visiting professor at Indiana University and a co-director of the American Schools of Oriental Research’s Syrian Heritage Initiative. Jesse Casana is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas and a co-director of the American Schools of Oriental Research’s Syrian Heritage Initiative. They said:
“It is critical to understand that the cultural heritage issue is simply one dimension of the much larger humanitarian crisis in Syria. Looting and damage follow on the heels of intense military conflict, regardless of which factions are fighting. Despite the fact that ideological destruction of the region’s extraordinarily rich cultural heritage could be considered a war crime, prolonged conflict inevitably results in looting and damage to ancient sites and monuments, for reasons of profit, desperation and tactical expediency.”
Their answer to the question: “The solution to the cultural heritage crisis is the same as the solution to the broader humanitarian crisis, and that is to find a comprehensive and just political resolution to the war. If we truly care about cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq or about the suffering of the people who live there, then our overall objective must be to advocate for a lasting peace.” (more…)