MIT Anthropology Spotlight Archives

Kuna photo

The Kuna Celebrations: James Howe's photographs of celebratory rituals among the Kuna

In an audio slideshow, James Howe, Professor of Anthropology, tells the story of how a Kuna village prepares for and conducts a great communal celebration, an event that can last up to four days, and embodies many of the Kuna's important values, beliefs, and ways of life. More

MIT Anthropology Mola

The MIT Anthropology Mola: MIT Anthropology represented through Kuna craft

During his more than 40 years working with the Kuna people of Panama, Professor James Howe established a close, collegial relationship with the subjects of his research, people who became agents as well as subjects of their own ethnography. Some years ago, Howe commissioned from a Kuna woman a special tapestry called a mola for the MIT Anthropology Program. More


The Art and Craft of Cheese Making: Heather Paxson explores the world of artisanal food

As a kid, Heather Paxson wouldn't eat American cheese. "I thought it was not real food and it was an insult," she says of her youthful disdain for the processed stuff. As an elementary school student growing up in southern Illinois, Paxson insisted on cheddar or Swiss for her sandwiches instead. More

Deep Sea Exploration

Alien Ocean: Stefan Helmreich examines the world of deep sea marine microbiologists

When Professor Stefan Helmreich set out to examine the world of marine microbiologists, his research took an unexpected twist. Helmreich, who has been recognized for his innovative work in cultural anthropology, had decided to study scientists who chase some of the world's smallest creatures in some of the world's most forbidding places. So he spent long hours interviewing microbial biologists. But during the years of Helmreich's research, the entire field shifted gears. More

Monogolian Horses

Tragic Spirits: Manduhai Buyandelger rides the steppes with nomadic shamans in post-Soviet Mongolia

Buyandelger's research links contemporary developments in Mongolian nationalism and culture with Buryat family experiences to document the revival of shamanism in the post-Soviet transformation of Mongolia. She takes up questions concerning the role of historical memory in forming political economy and culture, specifically looking at the case of the post-Soviet transformation in Mongolia. More


Trade of the Tricks: Graham Jones explores the secretive world of professional magic

Magicians can make cards appear and people disappear. But the greatest trick any magician pulls off may be acquiring the knowledge needed to perform such acts in the first place. After all, magic tricks are largely secrets; they wouldn't entertain audiences half as much otherwise. Thus magicians closely guard their trade's knowledge. And yet the craft would die if the techniques of magic did not transfer to promising practitioners. More

Gender in engineering

Gender in Engineering: A Tough Calculation

Why don't more women enter the male-dominated profession of engineering? Some observers have speculated it may be due to the difficulties of balancing a demanding career with family life. Others have suggested that women may not rate their own technical skills highly enough. However, a recent paper co-authored by MIT social scientist Susan Silbey, based on a four-year study of engineering students at four schools, offers a different story. More

Erica James

Political Economies of Trauma and Compassion

Professor Erica James's research examines how individuals, organizations, and states contain and redress psychosocial trauma by means of economies of compassion. Compassion economies include charity, corporate philanthropy, humanitarian and development aid circulating within and across territorial and other socio-political borders. More

Exit 0

Exit 0

Exit Zero refers to the highway exit ramp number for the former steel mill neighborhoods of Southeast Chicago in the Calumet region, once one of the largest steel-producing areas in the world. Exit Zero is also the name of a book written by anthropologist Christine Walley, who grew up in the region as a fourth generation member of a steelworking family, as well as a documentary film made by Chris Boebel and Chris Walley. More

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