A recent episode of First Civilizations interviews UConn Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dimitris Xygalatas on the role of ritual in the emergence of the first civilizations, religions, and priestly classes. First Civilization is a PBS documentary series that uses “the latest in archaeology, anthropology and genetics” to explore “how and why civilization first sparked into life.”
UConn Anthropology Professor Nicholas Blentoni is featured in a discussion of the 19th-century New England vampire panic on the Stuff You Should Know podcast. Stuff You Should Know is an award-winning educational podcast and one of the most popular podcasts in the world.
In a recent article in Newsweek and in light of the upcoming holiday season, UCONN Professor of Anthropology, Natalie Munro, presents evidence for evidence of a 12000-year-old holiday feast in the Hilazon Tachtit cave in northern Israel. This archaeological site was discovered and excavated by Professor Munro and her colleague Dr. Leore Grosman of the Hebrew University in the late 1990s. The site includes, among other things, the tomb of a “shaman:” the special burial of an older woman whose fine construction, plastered walls, and “eclectic array of animal body parts,” especially carnivores such as leopard, marten, and eagle, set the burial apart from other graves in the cave, and indeed other contemporary sites in the Middle East.
Based on other artifactual indicators from the site as well as other contemporary archaeological sites, Dr. Munro and her colleague have interpreted this evidence as a feast associated with the transition to agriculture. According to the article, “[t]hese feasts had an important role to play. Adapting to village life after hundreds of millennia on the move was no simple act. Research on modern hunter-gatherer societies shows that closer contact between neighbors dramatically increased social tensions. New solutions to avoid and repair conflict were critical.”
The discoveries at Hilazon Tachtit were also published by Leore Grosman and colleagues in 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In a recent article published for the online media outlet The Conversation, Dimitris Xygalatas, UCONN Assistant Professor of Anthropology, examines the anthropological roots and effects of established holiday rituals, including reducing anxiety, promoting sharing, and maintaining and strengthening family ties. The Conversation is a not-for-profit media outlet for scientific and academic news, and reports a monthly online audience of 5.2 million users onsite, and reaches around 35 million people through “creative commons republication.”
Dimitris Xygalatas’ latest publications focus on the issues of morality and psychology of rituals. Professor Xygalatas is coauthor of a paper in the latest issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review entitled “The Psychology of Rituals: An Integrative Review and Process-Based Framework.” With growing interest among psychologists in rituals and the causal mechanisms of ritual behavior, this paper serves to “provide an organizing framework to understand recent empirical work from social psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience.” In a second publication for the online media outlet The Conversation, Dimitris tackles patterns of distrust among religious people toward atheism and irreligious people, and the relationship between religious prejudice, morality, and belief. The Conversation is a not-for-profit media outlet for scientific and academic news, and reports a monthly online audience of 5.2 million users onsite, and reaches around 35 million people through “creative commons republication.” Dimitris Xygalatas is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UCONN.
Congratulations to our very own Jennifer Cook, who has accepted a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas! The Center is focused on immigration policy and public policy impacting Latinos. She will be working on publishing work from her dissertation, teaching for the Anthropology Department, and working closely with a Dallas-based NGO, the Latino Center for Leadership Development, which is working to create a “pipeline of leaders” equipped to address the rapid growth of the Latino population in the US.
Dr. Richard Sosis is the author of an essay on rituals that was published online by the Center for Humans and Nature. Richard Sosis is the James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology at the University of Connecticut.
Kitty O’Riordan’s blog post was published on the homepage of UCONN’s Digital Humanities and Media Studies program. Her post, which focuses on the intersections between digital humanities and the social sciences is entitled “Digital Humanities Is for Humans, Not Just Humanists: Social Science and DH.” Click here to access the full text of her blog post. Kitty is currently a Ph.D. student at UCONN’s Department of Anthropology.
UCONN’s Humanities Institute website has featured Dr. Sarah Willen’s research. Dr. Willen, a former fellow of the Humanities Institute, is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at the Human Rights Institute. Her research, which was partially supported by the Humanities Institute, focuses on health inequity and “health-related deservingness.” Click here for the full text of the featured article.
Anthropology Department faculty member Dr. Kevin McBride is an archaeologist specializing in the Native American history of Connecticut. He is also the director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. His work on the Pequot War of 1637 and his views on archaeologists’ use of metal detectors, a device commonly used by looters in illegal excavations, are featured in a recent New York Times article entitled “Archaeologists and Metal Detectorists Find Common Ground”.