anthropology

Waxing Poetic: New Tech Revives Sounds from Past Treasures

In a corner of the Digital Imaging Lab in the basement of UC Berkeley’s Moffitt Library, recent graduate Olivia Dill is checking on the latest shipment of fragile wax recordings from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. These hard wax tubes, invented by Thomas Edison in the 1880s, are one of the earliest sound recording media. Read more about Waxing Poetic: New Tech Revives Sounds from Past Treasures »

Who Is Kennewick Man? Study Determines Racial ID of 8,500-Year-Old Skeleton

An archaeological mystery that called into question the racial history of the Americas has finally been solved. After consecutively assigning him Caucasian, Japanese, and Native American ancestry, a team of scientists including some at UC Berkeley say they have finally determined the geographic origins of the Kennewick Man. Read more about Who Is Kennewick Man? Study Determines Racial ID of 8,500-Year-Old Skeleton »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

To Hear History: High-Tech Project Will Restore Recorded Native Americans Voices

Decades of wear and tear haven’t been kind to the 2,713 wax cylinders in UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which linguists and anthropologists have used for over a century to study the languages and cultural practices of Native California. But a new project promises to revitalize these old, fragile recordings — the first of which was recorded by famed anthropologist Alfred Kroeber in 1901 — with cutting-edge optical scanning technology. Read more about To Hear History: High-Tech Project Will Restore Recorded Native Americans Voices »

Lord of Lores: Papers of Famed Folklorist Alan Dundes Open to the Public

What do a light bulb joke, your great aunt’s cold remedy, and a poem scribbled on the door of a bathroom stall have in common? If you know the answer, you may have taken a class from the late UC Berkeley professor Alan Dundes. Each of these, Dundes would have said, is an example of folklore—a category of knowledge that many people associate with the legends, old-wives tales and superstitions passed along by preliterate societies in the times of yore. Read more about Lord of Lores: Papers of Famed Folklorist Alan Dundes Open to the Public »

From Six Feet Under to Sixty Miles High: Honoring Pets in the Afterlife

Professor Stanley Brandes spends a great deal of time in pet cemeteries—a habit that might be worrisome, were it not integral to his research. The UC Berkeley anthropologist says that changes in pet tombstone inscriptions over the last century reveal that Americans increasingly humanize their furry companions, and in many cases, even consider them members of the family. As this emotional connection grows, so too does the extent to which owners honor their pets in the afterlife.
From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Cari Borja’s Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers

Racks of gowns, manikins, and sewing machines crowd the edges of Cari Borja’s design studio, but a huge dining table occupies the center. It’s where she holds the dinners that resemble the fieldwork of an anthropologist outside the Ivory Tower. For a series of 52 meals—44 already served—she has transformed her studio into a salon where guests, from the famous to the unknown, discover connections and savor a slow meal. Read more about Cari Borja's Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers »

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