Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Professor Frances Norwood Receives 2011 Margaret Mead Award

Congratulations to Dr. Frances Norwood, Assistant Research Professor in the GWU Department of Anthropology, who was recently selected to receive the 2011 Margaret Mead Award for her book, The Maintenance of Life: Preventing Social Death through Euthanasia Talk and End-of-Life Care – Lessons from The Netherlands (2009). The Margaret Mead Award is presented to a younger scholar for a particular accomplishment such as a book, film, monograph, or service, which interprets anthropological data and principles in ways that make them meaningful and accessible to a broadly concerned public – skills for which Margaret Mead was admired widely. Past recipients of the Margaret Mead Award have included Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Alex Stepick, Paul Farmer, Susan Scrimshaw, Philippe Bourgois, and Leo Chavez.

The Maintenance of Life is about what has developed in one present-day society to address social death and modern dying. It is based on a 15-month ethnographic study of home death in The Netherlands with general practitioners, end-of-life patients and their family members. The book develops from two important study findings: (1) that euthanasia in practice is predominantly a discussion, which only rarely culminates in a euthanasia death; and (2) that euthanasia talk in many ways serves a palliative function, staving off social death by providing participants with a venue for processing meaning, giving voice to suffering, and reaffirming social bonds and self-identity at the end of Dutch life. Ironically, those who engage in euthanasia talk often choose not to die by euthanasia and instead live longer lives as active participants engaged in Dutch social networks even at the end of life.

Dr. Norwood weaves her story beautifully, with ethnographic excerpts opening each chapter telling the stories that make up end-of-life from the perspective of patients, families, and their physicians. Using theory from Michel Foucault and Clive Seale, Dr. Norwood illuminates concepts of discourse and social death through ethnography yet weaves an ethnographic story that is accessible to scholars, policy makers, and families alike. Her book takes a critical look at Dutch euthanasia policy and broader end-of-life practices from a cultural perspective in comparison with U.S. end-of-life practices and policies. It is a book that offers those on any side of the end-of-life debate and those from around the world valuable lessons for maintaining life at the end of life.

The book was recently translated into French and is now also available as Mourir un Acte de Vie (2010).

Click here to learn more about Professor Norwood's research.

For more information on the Margaret Mead Award and past winners visit http://www.aaanet.org/about/Prizes-Awards/AAA-Margaret-Mead-Award.cfm

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dr. Eric Cline Wins 2011 Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award - Best Popular Book on Archaeology

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Cline, who was chosen to receive the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) 2011 Publication Award - Best Popular Book on Archaeology for Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction. This is the 3rd time that Dr. Cline, Associate Professor of Classics, Anthropology, and History and Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, has been honored with the BAS Publication Award for Best Popular Book on Archaeology. He previously received awards in 2001 and 2009 for, respectively, The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age and From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible.

Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction is published by Oxford University Press. For more information visit http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Archaeology/Biblical/?view=usa&ci=9780195342635

For more information on Dr. Cline's research and publications, visit http://home.gwu.edu/~ehcline/

Monday, August 1, 2011

Research by 2010 Lewis N. Cotlow Fund Awardees Featured in Huffington Post

Research conducted by recent GW alumni and 2010 Lewis N. Cotlow Award recipients Elizabeth Nistico (BA Int'l Affairs, 2011) and Samuel Schall (BA Int'l Affairs, 2011) was highlighted in an article detailing "Sugar Daddy" relationships in the August 1, 2011 Huffington Post.

The article states:

"As two enterprising anthropology undergraduates at George Washington University, Elizabeth Nistico and Samuel Schall tackled the phenomenon of sugar daddy culture for a recent school project. Schall studied young, gay sugar babies, and Nistico explored the straight scene. Of their study's 100 participants, more than half said the money they received financed their education. On average, the relationships lasted between three and four months.

Nistico found that some of the sugar babies used the excuse of the economic downturn for behavior she thinks they would still have otherwise condoned. 'We concluded that people who say they have a sugar daddy to pay off their loans are people who would already contemplate being in that relationship if the economy was doing just fine,' says Nistico, whose subjects frequently mentioned the recession, a bad economy or debt as motivating factors in their decisions."

In 2010, Nistico and Schall received a Lewis N. Cotlow Award to support their project: "Sugar Daddies: The Reality of Affluent Cross-Generational Relationships in New York City"

The project examined how members of the Sugar Daddy culture in New York City view their relationships in a wider cultural context and how they conceptualize love, sex, survival and personal identity in the realm of the relationships.

The full article can be accessed online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/29/seeking-arrangement-college-students_n_913373.html

More information on the Lewis N. Cotlow Fund for Student Research, including past projects, can be found at http://www.gwu.edu/~anth/atgw/cotlow.cfm

Faculty research: Chimp brains don't shrink as they age, unlike humans

Unlike humans, chimpanzees’ brains don’t shrink as they get older. That means that, so far, people seem to be the only lucky species whose brains wither with age, according a report by Prof. Chet Sherwood and his colleagues in the July 25, 2011 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the new study, Sherwood and his colleagues focused on chimpanzees, which have some of the most developed brains and longest life spans among primates. The researchers wondered if chimps experience brain decline in old age similar to that seen in humans.

The researchers scanned the brains of 99 chimpanzees with ages representing the entire adult life span, from 10 to 51 years. For comparison, the team imaged the brains of 87 humans from 22 to 88 years old. The human scans confirmed what other studies had found: All brain regions measured showed shrinkage with age. But chimp brains didn’t get smaller with age.

Sherwood points out that the results don’t answer a fundamental question for human evolution: “Why would we be built in such a faulty way that leads to this degeneration in our brains?” he asks. Perhaps a long life span is worth the drawback. Big brains and long life spans may free up older members of the population to look after the youngsters, he speculates.

The research by Professor Sherwood and colleagues was highlighted by numerous national and international news organizations, including BBC News, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS News, and featured in Discover magazine and Science blogs.

For more information and the original article, go to http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/07/20/1016709108.abstract