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Anthropology

Marmes Rockshelter
Fall 2018

The curation crisis

More than 8,500 years ago, a group of people used a rock shelter at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers as a base camp. When rediscovered in the early 1950s, the shelter amazed scientists, including Washington State University archeologist Richard Daugherty, with its wealth of artifacts—and the age of its human remains. Named after the property owner at the time, the Marmes Rockshelter was soon inundated by waters from the recently closed Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake. Although a levee had been built by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the shelter dry, the Corps neglected to take into account the … » More …

Spring 2018

Fires burned, cauldrons bubble

In the embers of an ancient winter day, a Swedish scout scrambles up the hill of snow-covered boulders, hurrying over the slippery ground between them along a narrow path. His panting breath trails after him until he stumbles through the castle gate gasping, “Vandals on the riverbank! Bandits to the east!”

The heavy palisade slams shut behind him as men rush to position along a glinting rock wall. From 150 feet above the valley floor, they watch as silhouettes begin scaling the boulders below. With a signal, arrows and stones rain down upon them, yet the marauders advance, dragging their weapons or clenching them in … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Winter 2017

Briefly noted

 

Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat

By R. James Cook

American Phytopathological Society Press: 2017

Throughout the compelling stories and personal experiences shared by Jim Cook, a retired research plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and emeritus professor of plant pathology at Washington State University, readers can find practical crop management techniques and other beneficial information that can be used in the field and the lab. Cook also chronicles many of his insightful experiences—and imparts his philosophy, wisdom, and practical guidance.

 

Living on the Edge: Adventures of a Hunter

By Shannon L. … » More …

Hat made from leaves
Fall 2017

The people’s plants

The Dominican boy had a leaf draped over his head, secured with a length of vine. Anthropologist Marsha Quinlan was intrigued.

“I asked him, ‘Is that a hat?’” she recalls. “And he explained that, no, he woke up with a headache and the leaf makes your head feel better. And I thought that was so cool!”

Quinlan was a graduate student at the time, on her first trip to the Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). And that was the moment she realized she had to delve further into ethnobotany.

How people around the world use plants for food, … » More …

Smoking Place in Idaho
Fall 2017

Holy smokes

The straggly plant is easy to dismiss. Narrow leaves and white, trumpet-like flowers, fade easily into Northwest fields and roadsides. But Nicotiana attenuata, commonly known as coyote tobacco, contains medicinal and ceremonial properties long revered by Native American cultures.

For thousands of years, coyote and other types of wild tobacco have provided what many consider a versatile healing remedy and meditative, spiritual channel to the Creator. Much of the botanical lore was muddled, however, with the arrival of Europeans and subsequent cultural upheaval.

At Washington State University, researchers Shannon Tushingham and David Gang ’99 PhD are using a combination of archeology and high-end molecular chemistry … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Fall 2017

Briefly noted

 

The Positive Leader: Five Leadership Strategies for Attaining Extraordinary Results

Howard Gauthier ’81

Sports Leadership Publishing Company: 2016

Through a series of parables, this book gives leadership strategies designed to build successful teams in the workplace, on the playing field, or in the boardroom. Gauthier is a former college basketball coach and athletic director, and is currently an associate professor of sports science at Idaho State University-Meridian.

 

Midwives and Mothers: Medicalization of Childbirth on a Guatemalan Plantation

Sheila Cosminsky ’64 MA

University of Texas Press: 2016

In this exploration of birth, illness, death, and survival on a Guatemalan sugar and coffee plantation, Cosminsky … » More …

Spring 2017

Ends of eras

Yes, Mesa Verde is the richest archaeological preserve in America. A sanctuary of cliff dwellings. Petroglyphs. Thousands of sites holding clues to an ancient civilization. But is it too much to ask for better cell phone reception?

For two days, my wife and I meandered around the park and its environs, climbing with other tourists among the 40 rooms of Balcony House, visiting dozens of kivas—rooms for religious rituals—and walking among striped pieces of broken pottery, or “sherds,” that litter the place. But it wasn’t until we retreated to the park’s Spartan lodgings, also called kivas, that we could tap the wi-fi and fill our … » More …

Living Buddhism cover
Spring 2016

Living Buddhism—Mind, Self, and Emotion in a Thai Community

Living Buddhism cover

Julia Cassaniti

Cornell University Press: 2015

A scholarly work woven with human drama, the book treats readers to an engaging account of Buddhism as it occurs in the everyday lives of two extended families in rural Northern Thailand.

WSU assistant professor of cultural anthropology Julia Cassaniti spent 10 years observing life in the small mountainous community of Mae Jaeng. She formed close relationships with the villagers while helping in their shops, taking part … » More …

Ancient grains freekeh, amaranth, barley, quinoa, bulgur, millet, and farro. Courtesy Pioneer Press
Winter 2015

Ancients among us

Safeguarding our future

The arid soil on the mile-high Hopi Mesa trickles through clenched fingers like sand. If you visit this isolated corner of northeastern Arizona, you might find it hard to believe it is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas.

For more than 2,000 years, the Hopi and their ancestors have carved a living out of the rough terrain. They survived drought, famine, war, and a fluctuating climate that drove many of their ancient southwestern neighbors elsewhere in search of more fertile lands.

One key to the Hopi’s longevity is a variety of drought-tolerant corn they have adapted over the … » More …

Barry Hewlett and Aka man
Spring 2015

We’re one big counterculture

Back in the early 1970s, Barry Hewlett was part of the whole counterculture thing. He designed his own major at California State University, Chico—sociology, anthropology, and psychology—and set off after graduation for Europe. By the time he got to Greece, he was bored.

“I thought, ‘This is so familiar to me,’” recalls Hewlett, now a Washington State University anthropology professor.

Other people his age and temperament were heading to India. Not wanting to follow the crowd, “I went the other way, directly south,” he says, “and there were no other European folks with me.”

He ended up in central Africa, encountering hunter-gatherers for the first … » More …