Exploring Anthropology
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Exploring Anthropology
Exploring the world with anthropological lens. News, information, commentary, videos about humans in all their differences, issues and complexity.
Curated by DrMarranci
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Neanderthals shared speech and language with modern humans, study suggests

Neanderthals shared speech and language with modern humans, study suggests | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it

Fast-accumulating data seem to indicate that our close cousins, the Neanderthals, were much more similar to us than imagined even a decade ago. But did they have anything like modern speech and language? And if so, what are the implications for understanding present-day linguistic diversity? The MPI for Psycholinguistics researchers Dan Dediu and Stephen C. Levinson argue in their paper in Frontiers in Language Sciences that modern language and speech can be traced back to the last common ancestor we shared with the Neandertals roughly half a million years ago.

 

The Neanderthals have fascinated both the academic world and the general public ever since their discovery almost 200 years ago. Initially thought to be subhuman brutes incapable of anything but the most primitive of grunts, they were a successful form of humanity inhabiting vast swathes of western Eurasia for several hundreds of thousands of years, during harsh ages and milder interglacial periods. We knew that they were our closest cousins, sharing a common ancestor with us around half a million years ago (probably Homo heidelbergensis), but it was unclear what their cognitive capacities were like, or why modern humans succeeded in replacing them after thousands of years of cohabitation. Recently, due to new palaeoanthropological and archaeological discoveries and the reassessment of older data, but especially to the availability of ancient DNA, we have started to realise that their fate was much more intertwined with ours and that, far from being slow brutes, their cognitive capacities and culture were comparable to ours.


Dediu and Levinson review all these strands of literature and argue that essentially modern language and speech are an ancient feature of our lineage dating back at least to the most recent ancestor we shared with the Neanderthals and the Denisovans (another form of humanity known mostly from their genome). Their interpretation of the intrinsically ambiguous and scant evidence goes against the scenario usually assumed by most language scientists, namely that of a sudden and recent emergence of modernity, presumably due to a single – or very few – genetic mutations. This pushes back the origins of modern language by a factor of 10 from the often-cited 50 or so thousand years, to around a million years ago – somewhere between the origins of our genus, Homo, some 1.8 million years ago, and the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis. This reassessment of the evidence goes against a saltationist scenario where a single catastrophic mutation in a single individual would suddenly give rise to language, and suggests that a gradual accumulation of biological and cultural innovations is much more plausible.

 

Interestingly, given that we know from the archaeological record and recent genetic data that the modern humans spreading out of Africa interacted both genetically and culturally with the Neanderthals and Denisovans, then just as our bodies carry around some of their genes, maybe our languages preserve traces of their languages too. This would mean that at least some of the observed linguistic diversity is due to these ancient encounters, an idea testable by comparing the structural properties of the African and non-African languages, and by detailed computer simulations of language spread.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Hippocampus
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Human Rights Groups Divided Over Potential Syria Intervention - TIME (blog)

Human Rights Groups Divided Over Potential Syria Intervention - TIME (blog) | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
San Francisco Chronicle
Human Rights Groups Divided Over Potential Syria Intervention
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Human Rights Groups Divided Over Potential Syria Intervention.
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Ethnographic writing: The Studs Terkel model or what?

Ethnographic writing: The Studs Terkel model or what? | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
So, let’s say you’re in the middle of writing up your dissertation.  You’re going through your interviews, making notes, seeing some patterns, and piecing together some of the stories you are going to tell about your fieldwork.  Then you start...
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Who Are Georgia's Muslims?

Who Are Georgia's Muslims? | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
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Who Are Georgia's Muslims? RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty At the time of the 2002 census, 433,784 people, or 9.9 percent of the Georgian population, identified themselves as Muslims, according to a monograph posted on the website kavpolit.com...
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Millions of Americans Watch Porn. But For Academics, Studying It Remains A Challenge.

Millions of Americans Watch Porn. But For Academics, Studying It Remains A Challenge. | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
Slate Magazine (blog)
Millions of Americans Watch Porn. But For Academics, Studying It Remains A ...
Slate Magazine (blog)
I spoke with Dr.
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Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions - BBC News

Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions - BBC News | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
BBC News
Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions
BBC News
This week, religious violence has once again flared in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
DrMarranci's insight:

The world looks at Syria but the cultural and physical genocide is totally ignored in Burma 

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'Mini Brains' Built From Stem Cells

'Mini Brains' Built From Stem Cells | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
A cross-section of a mini brain showing different brain regions. (Image credit: Copyright: IMBA/ Madeline A. Lancaster ) Talk about thinking small.
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A New Era of Anti-Semitism Is Here. Daniel Goldhagen Blames Globalization. - Tablet Magazine

"The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism offers an in-depth look at anti-Semitism around the world. He argues that it’s an almost pathological prejudice that spans centuries and cultures and therefore is a uniquely destructive force that has redoubled its strength thanks to a new age of globalization and information-sharing."

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Over simplified and wide-brushed representations normally become successful since they appeal to 'common sensical' reasoning

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Israel's Most Liberal City Introduces Racially Segregated Kindergartens

Israel's Most Liberal City Introduces Racially Segregated Kindergartens | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
When Tel Aviv kids go back to school this year, they will attend racially segregated kindergartens funded by the municipality. Lisa Goldman has the story. (#Israel is the nr.1 country in #multiculturalism and #antiracism, check the link.
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Prayer Plaza in Jerusalem for Both Sexes Ignites Uproar

Prayer Plaza in Jerusalem for Both Sexes Ignites Uproar | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
Israeli officials unveiled a plaza where men and women can pray together. But the move was denounced as discriminatory by the main group that has protested the rules at the holy site.
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A Perfect Daughter: Gender Reassignment by Gillian Laub - TIME

A Perfect Daughter: Gender Reassignment by Gillian Laub - TIME | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
A Perfect Daughter: Gender Reassignment by Gillian Laub TIME Her portrait shows what it was like for Nikki coming out with her gender identity, finding solace in puberty-blocking medication and looking to the gender reassignment surgery on the...
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Oldest Evidence of Cooking With Spices Found, Scientists Say

Oldest Evidence of Cooking With Spices Found, Scientists Say | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
Hunter gatherers in Europe used garlic mustard seeds to add some pungent spice to their foods.
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The Terrible Lives of Chinese Sex Workers

The Terrible Lives of Chinese Sex Workers | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
The arrest of a high-profile investor for soliciting prostitution casts a spotlight on an unregulated industry where women risk social stigma, violence, and disease.
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You Know That “Women Make 77 Cents to Every Man's Dollar” Line? It's Not True. - The Slatest

You Know That “Women Make 77 Cents to Every Man's Dollar” Line? It's Not True. - The Slatest | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
The Slatest
You Know That “Women Make 77 Cents to Every Man's Dollar” Line? It's Not True.
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Why are thousands of Muslims in Hampshire this weekend? - BBC News

Why are thousands of Muslims in Hampshire this weekend? - BBC News | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
BBC News
Why are thousands of Muslims in Hampshire this weekend?
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It promises to be a beautiful sunny weekend. But why have tens of thousands of Ahmadi Muslims come together in the picturesque Hampshire countryside?
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Experiment lets man use his mind to control another person’s movements

Experiment lets man use his mind to control another person’s movements | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
A human brain-to-brain interaction experiment lets one man’s thoughts control another person’s movements.
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Scientists Find Direct Genetic Ties Between Ancient Remains and Living ... - Popular Archaeology

Scientists Find Direct Genetic Ties Between Ancient Remains and Living ... - Popular Archaeology | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
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elizama ramirez's curator insight, February 21, 2014 2:24 PM

It has been proven that what the Natives Americans have been saying about their ancestors being in their spot ever since time begun. This was proven by a micochondrial DNA from some remains found with the current people. Very impressive to know.

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Ethnography Matters: An exchange platform for “trash”: Stories from the Object Ethnography Project

Ethnography Matters: An exchange platform for “trash”: Stories from the Object Ethnography Project | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
Editors’ note: In this final post of our Ethnographies of Objects edition, we talk to Max Liboiron, Founding Member & Project Leader of the Object Ethnography Project (OEP). The OEP is a project to facilitate the donation of objects among strangers.
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‘The Tender Soldier’ Examines the U.S. Counterinsurgency Strategy

‘The Tender Soldier’ Examines the U.S. Counterinsurgency Strategy | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
“The Tender Soldier,” by the journalist Vanessa M. Gezari, examines the military’s “Human Terrain” teams, which operate as quasi-social scientists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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How the Internet powered a DIY drug revolution

How the Internet powered a DIY drug revolution | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
From ecstasy busts to underground narcotics cookbooks, this is the untold history of the Internet's long and intimate relationship with drugs.
DrMarranci's insight:

very interesting ineed! 

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How 'big data' is changing lives

How 'big data' is changing lives | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
A lifetime of data in a day? How 21st Century data deluges are changing the way we live.

Via Pierre Levy
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The Science of Emotions and Embarrassment

The Science of Emotions and Embarrassment | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
"Emotions are a primary idiom for defining and negotiating social relations of the self in a moral order." --Catherine Lutz & Geoffrey White I recently read an article on the relationship betwe...
DrMarranci's insight:

I actually tend to disagree with this view of emotions; I proposed my understanding in Chapter 3 of my book The Anthropology of Islam. I think emotions are better understood as the neuroscientist Damasio has proposed. 

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Australian Muslims: Multiculturalism and Politics - Onislam.net

Australian Muslims: Multiculturalism and Politics - Onislam.net | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
Onislam.net Australian Muslims: Multiculturalism and Politics Onislam.net As Governor General Quentin Bryce noted at Ed Husic's swearing in ceremony, his appointment was “a wonderful day for multiculturalism and everything it stands for in our...
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Dane Tregeagle's curator insight, September 15, 2013 10:25 PM

The issue raised by this page is one of racial division and misrepresentation in Australian society. The concern at hand in particular being raised here is that many believe Muslims and people of Arabic descent are treated unfarily, and so the position by this article is supportive of community efforts to assist our fellow Muslim Australians. However, I disagree with the view brought forward that Muslims are discriminated against any more than the supposed 'white' Australians in today's society. I feel this is because while discrimination has been present in the past, we have moved as a nation to become a multicultural society, and we would be stupid to think otherwise.

Zach Owen's curator insight, May 25, 2015 3:48 PM

Political: What would it be like to live in Australia as a Muslim?

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HowStuffWorks "Human Death and Decay"

HowStuffWorks "Human Death and Decay" | Exploring Anthropology | Scoop.it
A body farm isn't a field where bodies are grown -- it's a research site for criminal investigations. Read about the body farm and how its research is used.
DrMarranci's insight:

Forensic anthropology, a different fieldwork !

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