Friday, November 6, 2015

CASHP professor, Dr. Sergio Almécija, aids in discovery of new genus and species of ape

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Sergio Almécija and a team of researchers from GW have partnered with the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont to publish evidence in Science Magazine of a new genus and species of ape that is an unlikely ancestor of both apes and humans. (source)
According to Science News, the partial skeleton of an 11.6-million-year-old primitive ape, dubbed Pliobates cataloniae and found near Barcelona, Spain, may force scientists to re-imagine the ancestor of all living apes and humans. With a muzzle like a gibbon but a large brain for its body size, the ancient primate has traits that link it to all apes and humans—yet it weighed only 4 kg to 5 kg.
“This is the first small ape in the fossil record that shows clear features present in all living apes,” says Almécija. “Before this discovery, we had assumed that the living small apes, the gibbons and siamangs, had evolved from larger apes of a size similar to that of a chimpanzee,”
Almécija said he was invited to analyze the fossilized remains by IPC back in 2011, when they were discovered during the construction of a landfill near Barcelona. He said he and his teammates were “stunned” to find a number of similarities between the new species and living apes.
“All scholars in the field of anthropology will start paying more attention to the small primates that lived alongside larger fossil apes in the past,” Almécija said. “Some of them could be also small apes. They just look slightly different that what we would expect, that’s why it’s difficult to identify them for what they are.” (source)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

GW Anthropology Professor Stephen Lubkemann, Slave Wrecks Project on 60 Minutes

The Department of Anthropology's own Dr. Stephen Lubkemann was featured on CBS's 60 Minutes this past Sunday, November 1st. Dr. Lubkemann discussed his involvement with the recovery of the slaving vessel the Sao Jose, which foundered off the coast of Mozambique and South Africa in 1794. 

The excavation of the ship was a collaborative effort undertaken by members of the international Slave Wrecks Project including Dr. Lubkemann, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Dr. Paul Gardullo, IZIKO (Museums of South Africa), and the U.S. Park Service. In an exciting partnership, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will showcase select artifacts from the site in its inaugural exhibit on the history of the slave trade upon opening in 2016.

The Slave Wrecks Project grew out of research initiated here at GW and incorporates a variety of different GW departments and programs including Anthropology, the Capitol Archaeological Institute, Africana Studies, the Diaspora Research Program, and the GW Institute for International Tourism Studies.

According to Dr. Lubkemann, the project has in turn been able to offer opportunities for research and various other types of involvement to over twenty undergraduate and graduate GW students since 2010. It has also spearheaded the development of in-depth GW partnerships with the newest of the Smithsonian museums, as well as with other national and international partners—now in at least 9 different countries including Mozambique, South Africa, Senegal, Portugal, Brazil, and Cuba.

View the 60 Minutes segment on the Sao Jose project here!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GW Anthropology Professor Chet Sherwood to Help Establish National Chimpanzee Brain Resource for Neuroscience Research

Chet Sherwood--Department of Anthropology professor, along with his research team, has recently been awarded a $1 million grant from the NIH. The grant will support the creation of the first National Chimpanzee Brain Resource that will be based at GW, Georgia State and Emory universities.
GW will serve as a brain repository, from which scientists can request tissue samples from the university’s collection to be sent to their own labs. The project team also will make available their assemblage of high-resolution MRI scans of chimpanzee brains along with observational data collected from studies on chimpanzees’ motor, social and cognitive skills.
Additionally, Sherwood's latest project—funded by a $1 million INSPIRE award from the National Science Foundation—will use post-mortem MRI images, brain tissue, behavioral observations and studies of genetic variation to examine differences in vocal learning and sound-symbol associations among chimpanzees.
“Right now there is a very small community of people who are focused on chimpanzee neuroscience research,” Dr. Sherwood said. “We are trying to catalyze the use of what we view to be incredibly valuable, scientifically interesting materials that are underutilized.”
source: GWtoday

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Anthropology Professor Brenda Bradley Helps Unravel the Mystery of Machu Picchu

"Breathtaking"--GW Department of Anthropology professor Brenda Bradley's description of Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca ruins perched on an Andes mountain ridge some 8,000 feet above sea level in Peru.

Dr. Bradley and a team of researchers will be the first to analyze the genomes of the skeletal remains from more than 170 individuals buried at the site.

“There is a longstanding debate about what the function of Machu Picchu was because it is so unique and unusual as an Inca site,” Dr. Bradley said. “It is too big to be a local settlement. And it’s too small and not the right structure to have been an administrative center for the Inca Empire.”

By sequencing the skeletons’ ancient DNA, the researchers hope to better understand the functional role of Machu Picchu and its residents, as well as patterns of diversity, migration and labor diaspora in the Inca Empire—the largest in pre-Columbian America.

To discover Dr. Bradley's predictions about Machu Picchu & learn more about the team's research methods follow the link to GW Today,GW's Official Online News Source.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

GW Students, Alumna to present at American University Public Anthropology Conference Oct. 3-4

This weekend, Oct. 3-4, American University will host its 12th annual Public Anthropology Conference at the University's Mary Graydon Center. This year's theme, Shifting Climates: Dialogues of the Urgent and Emergent, has allowed for diversity in both panel topics and presenters. The Conference's featured keynote speakers are Denis Provencher, Judith Goode, and Laurie Krieger.

Current students Jorge Benavides (PhD) and Emma Louise Backe (MA) will be participating in the session titled "The Intersections of Anthropology and Public Health" scheduled for Oct. 3rd at 12:30 pm. The panel will be moderated by current MA student Beth Moretzsky.

Additionally, Department of Anthropology Alumna Kaitlin Carson (MA 2015) will be presenting as part of the session titled "Innovations and Reconsiderations of Aid in Africa" scheduled for Oct. 3rd from 9:00-10:50 AM.

In addition to current and former students, two former Department of Anthropology faculty members will be participating. Lauren Carruth will be joining Kaitlin for the "Aid in Africa" session and Scott Freeman will be participating in the session titled "Public Anthropology in the Peace Corps" scheduled for Oct. 4th from 9:00-10:50 AM.

For more information, visit the conference web page here and review the conference schedule after the jump.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Roboprocesses Workshop hosted On Campus, Sept. 24th-25th

This Thursday, September 24th and Friday, September 25th, George Washington University's Elliott School for International Affairs will play host to a workshop bringing together contributors to an edited volume on "roboprocesses". Co-organizer and Chair of the workshop Hugh Gusterson describes roboprocesses as "...the kinds of scripted algorithms banks use to decide whether you get a mortgage, governments use to decide whether you're a security risk, etc".

Fresh from an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton where he studied the use of polygraphs in the national security state and in popular culture, Dr. Gusterson officially joins the faculty of the GW Department of the Anthropology this fall. His areas of expertise include militarism, nuclear culture, the anthropology of science, ethics, international security, public anthropology, and methods.

View the Roboprocesses Workshop schedule, including participants and discussants, after the jump.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Alumna Shanyn Ronis (BA 2009) Launches Indiegogo Campaign to Raise $50k for Education in Latin America

On December 1, GW Anthropology alumna and nonprofit executive Shanyn Ronis (B.A. 2009) launched a crowdsourcing campaign via Indiegogo to raise funds for a unique approach to education in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Her nonprofit organization, the Education Global Access Program (E-Gap), has developed a unique approach to educational programs in developing countries, blending grassroots efforts with anthropological and cultural studies to make their programs more effective and sustainable. Anthropologists work with educators to conduct assessments and then co-develop programs that work with a community’s cultural patterns and structures.

“Real and long-lasting change occurs when communities are able to take ownership of development initiatives,” says Ronis. “At E-Gap we are committed to partnerships, both with established non-profits and more importantly, with local communities.” Learn more at
The Indiegogo campaign will directly benefit over 300 people in 12 communities. The campaign will run from December 1 through January 10, and funds will be used to pay for teachers’ salaries and trainings, as well as for transportation stipends and meals for students. Make your contribution and receive a gift at