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Anthropology

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 …

Prehistoric rock art depicting Nabataen trading caravan—eighteenth century B.C.E. Photo Avi Horovitz
Spring 2015

Gentle commerce

From humankind’s long history of violence, two chapters have come under the scrutiny of Washington State University researchers that point the way to a more peaceful world.

Tim Kohler, who has spent four decades pondering the people of the ancient southwestern United States, saw violence drop in one sector of the region as its people took up a sort of “peaceful commerce” with other groups. And Jutta Tobias ’06 MS, ’08 PhD, after helping Rwandan coffee farmers use computers to broaden their customer base, found they eventually came to think more charitably about people with whom they had been in conflict during the brutal ethnic … » More …

New and Noteworthy
Winter 2014

New & noteworthy

 

After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness

David J. Leonard

SUNY Press, 2012

After a brawl at a Pistons-Pacers game in 2004, the NBA adopted policies to govern black players and prevent them from embracing styles and personas associated with blackness. This book by Leonard, associate professor of critical culture, gender, and race studies at Washington State University, discloses connections between the NBA’s discourse and the broader discourse of anti-black racism.

 

Emergence and Collapse of Early Villages

Timothy A. Kohler (editor), Mark D. Varien (editor)

University of California Press, 2012

This book examines how climate change, population size, interpersonal conflict, resource … » More …

WSU evolutionary anthropologist Luke Premo
Fall 2012

Yet another existential mystery

Although humans greatly outnumber our closest living relatives the great apes, for some reason the genetic diversity of modern humans is much lower, posing a puzzle that only gets more puzzling the further geneticists look into our evolutionary past. Not only is this disparity counterintuitive, it contradicts a basic tenet of population genetics theory, that larger populations should display greater genetic diversity.

Luke Premo, an assistant professor of anthropology, has taken a stab, with coauthor Jean-Jacques Hublin, at exploring the conundrum in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (January 6, 2009).

Premo is an evolutionary anthropologist who studies Pliocene and Pleistocene hominin behavior … » More …

Spring 2012

Lessons from the Forest—The anthropology of childhood

Fresh out of college in 1971, with a little money saved up, Barry Hewlett bought a one-way ticket to Europe. He trekked around Europe for a while, but eventually started to get bored. He noticed many of his fellow youthful travelers were heading for India. So he headed south, for Africa.

He found a cargo boat that was going to Alexandria, Egypt, and booked passage. And kept going, up the Nile to Khartoum in Sudan. Along the way, he says, other travelers told him, you’ve got to see the pygmy people. So he made his way to Uganda to visit pygmies.

He didn’t stay long, … » More …

Winter 2009

Grover Krantz (1931-2002) and Clyde

“I’ve been a teacher all my life, and I think I might as well be a teacher after I’m dead,” Grover Krantz told the Smithsonian’s anthropology collections manager David Hunt as they negotiated Krantz’s proposed donation of his skeleton to the Smithsonian’s natural history museum. As a physical anthropologist specializing in hominoid evolution, Krantz gleaned his understanding and ideas by studying the bones of apes and humans. Following his death, his own bones would become available for study.

Odds were, however, that his bones would remain in a drawer, alongside the bones of his three Irish wolfhounds, which he had already donated, waiting for whatever … » More …