4 Stone Hearth 54: marriage and Japanese toys
Anthro-bloggers this fortnight have written countless posts celebrating the 100th birthday of Claude Lévi-Strauss ( here's a review at anthropology.info, and another here at Savage Minds). Lévi-Strauss, I have been told, is not much of a webbie, but if he had been surfing the web this month, his absolute favourite piece on the web would have been this one. The author combines kinship systems theory, classification systems theory, database engineering and Graph Theory, to ask how one could cram a gay married couple into an official database. The answers are hilarious – and utterly Lévi-Straussian. (Here, via Savage Minds)…
"Marriage is binary. (Or, at the very least, not unary. Mathematically, "irreflexive".). So, after removing the "husband and wife" limitation, you would actually have to add in a check constraint or some new application logic to ensure that people didn't marry themselves. It would almost never be called upon but it would have to be in there, somewhere. This minor programming challenge is actually our largest obstacle."
Which brings us to the discovery of the most ancient nuclear family ever found (at A very remote period indeed). As Julien Riel-Salvatore points out, what's exciting about it is not so much the fact of finding a couple and their children together, as the evidence, derived from strontium isotope analysis, that the men of Eulau imported their wives from other places (other settlements?), an exogamous and patrilocal system. See also John Hawks – here.
To conclude on family matters, when the French are not busy celebrating Lévi-Strauss, they are having rows at the kitchen table over the case of the cancelled marriage (described at Culture Matters, here): a young Muslim couple's husband asked for his marriage to be cancelled on the ground that his spouse had lost her virginity before the wedding – the beginning of a juridical feuilleton that had French legal scholars pitted against pretty much everyone else. Now anthropologists abroad can also start fighting over their own kitchen table.
Also in this edition:
Hot cup of Joe celebrates archeologist Larry Zimmerman (here), who uses archeological tools to investigate the material culture of homeless people.
At Chart Porn, a funny study that tries to show a correlation between the production of zombie movies and traumatic events such as American wars and the AIDS epidemics. Thousans of possible biases of course, but a very entertaining graph – here.
Neuroanthropology dwells at some lenght on a paper published by Andy Clark and William Wheeler in the latest PTRS special issue. It is basically a celebration of neuroconstructivism – here.
Digital Cuttlefish explains the birth of religion here, and in verse.
The cases for and againt cloning the Whooly Mammoth have been made, now comes the turn of Homo Neanderthalensis. John Hawks suspects that some gaps in the genome would have to be filled with human DNA… here.
And, last but not least, Visual Anthropology of Japan features a new puzzling Nippon toy by Bandai (of Power Rangers action figure fame). along with an absolutely flippant demonstration vid :