News, Events, & Media
Message from the Chair
May 15, 2020
As summer approaches and plans for next semester fall into place, I would like to take a moment to thank you for the patience, courage, compassion, and community that you have displayed during this time of crisis. I'm especially proud of the students set to graduate this year: Class of 2020, we salute you!
A graduation is, of course, a rite of passage. As we are unable to perform this rite
in person this year, we have posted a specially-prepared video ceremony below. Please
share it widely: we are proud of our graduates and hope that each and every one of
them has the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishment with loved ones, even if
And what comes next? This graduating class certainly seems to have been given a clear mandate. As Ahrundanti Roy notes, COVID-19’s emergence "offers us a chance to rethink” the system we’ve created. “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging … our [prejudices, our greed,] our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Remember, as Einstein told us, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
EJ Sobo, Chair
Department of Anthropology
World Anthropology Day
Save the date for World Anthropology Day on February 18, 2021.
Current/Recent News & Media
Dr. EJ Sobo authored a new editorial for Anthropology & Medicine, available as an open-access pdf here: More than a teachable moment: Black lives matter. The editorial explores the intersections of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter uprising. It explains how, due to structural racism, being Black is a ‘pre-existing condition’ when it comes to vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2. After describing how medical anthropology has for many years been addressing the issues BLM raises, the editorial explains some of the key steps we must take moving forward.
The second edition of Prof. EJ Sobo's Dynamics of Human Biocultural Diversity: A Unified Approach has just been published by Routledge. This lively text offers a unique, holistic
approach in which readers learn to conceptualize human biology and culture concurrently—as
an adaptive biocultural capacity that has helped to produce the rich range of human diversity seen today. For this second edition material has been updated to reflect changes in both the scientific and sociocultural landscape, for example in relation to the microbiome, interspecies linkages, and human sex and gender. For more information go to www.routledge.com/
Dr. Ramona Perez began her term as President Elect and Dr. EJ Sobo began her term as Section Assembly Convener at the end of the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association on November 24th in Vancouver, CA. The AAA is the world’s largest organization of anthropologists, with 10,000 members and 40+ 'sections' or units.
Dr. Erin Riley was invited to speak at the New York Academy of Sciences as part of their 2019-2020 Distinguished Lecturer Series (Dec 2, 2019).
Prof. Erika Robb Larkins’ new article, The Bolsonaro Election, Antiblackness, and Changing Race Relations in Brazil, was just published in The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.
Prof. Erin Riley has published her first book, The Promise of Contemporary Primatology, with Routledge. The book recognizes humans as integral components in the ecologies of primates, which must be studied in increasingly anthropogenic contexts. The book also highlights points of intersection and spaces for collaborative exchange across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Dr. EJ Sobo was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Partnership HealthPlan of California. The presentation was titled "Vaccine Selectivity, or: Herd Immunity is for Sheep."
Erika Robb-Larkins has been awarded (with Kathryn Sanchez) a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to lead a three-week seminar for college and university faculty on race and place in contemporary Brazilian history and culture. The seminar will take place at SDSU in June.
Biological anthropologist, Dr. Casey Roulette, was just awarded a research fellowship through SDSU's Social and Economic Vulnerablities
Initiative (SEVI) for his project examining socioecological stress and homeless recidivism
among SDSU students. Dr. Roulette's project will document the biosocial dimensions
of homelessness among SDSU students while also using a life history theory framework
to explore linkages between perceptions of resource security, associated health and
economic behaviors, and transitions out of homelessness. (August 2019)
Dr. Erin Riley has a new publication: "Towards tolerance and coexistence: A comparative analysis of the human–macaque interface in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and Florida, United States." In: Frank, B., Glikman, J.A., and Marchini, S. Editors. Human-Wildlife Interactions: Turning Conflict into Coexistence. pp. 198-215. (Augist 2019)
Congratulations to Dr. Ramona Pérez, who has been elected to serve as president-elect/vice president (2019-2021) for the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Dr. Pérez will begin her term at the AAA’s Annual Meeting in November and will assume the office of president at the 2021 Meeting. The AAA is the world’s largest association for professional anthropologists, with more than 10,000 members. (July 2019)
News from SDSU
From Classroom Instruction to Online Learning. (SDSU Alumni, April 2020 [Sobo])
Finding Creative and Innovative Solutions in the Time of COVID-19. (SDSU NewsCenter, April 2020 [Sobo])
- Visit the SDSU NewsCenter site to see the latest from Anthropology @ SDSU.
News from Outside
- How Belonging Shapes the Vaccination Crisis (sapiens.org/sapiens-podcast/, 2019 [Sobo])
- Worried about measles? Bashing alternative schools won't help (Times of San Diego, 2019 [Sobo])
- The Message of Measles (The New Yorker, 2019 [Sobo])
- Mexico threatens legal action against US after El Paso shooting (ABC Channel 10 News, 2019 [Perez])
- Playing with Conspiracy Theories. Anthropology News, Sobo (July 31, 2019).
- Jessica Biel steps into vaccine debate as other celebrities fear the ‘anti-vax’ label (LA Times, 2019 [Sobo]).
- Here’s how we should talk about vaccines. Hint: No name-calling (Tampa Bay Times, 2019 [Sobo])
- Bastion of Anti-Vaccine Fervor (New York Times, 2019 [Sobo]).
- ¡Momento histórico!, familias invitadas a ser parte del mismo; Adela de la Torre, la primera presidenta latina en SDSU. El Latino, 2019 [Mallios])
- Measles cases are on the rise, but some Tampa Bay parents won’t vaccinate their kids (Tampa Bay Times, 2019 Sobo)
- God knows how I’m alive': how a teen defied his parents to get vaccinated (Guardian, 2019 [Sobo])
- SDSU turns to an old ritual to help it lay out its vision of the future (San Diego Union Tribune, 2019 [Mallios])
- Vaccines, public health and personal choice (MPR, 2019 [Sobo])
- Medical Anthropologist Explores 'Vaccine Hesitancy' (All Things Considered, NPR, February 13, 2019 [Sobo])
- Trump’s new-authoritarian-bromance NACLA, Larkins & Pitts (January 15, 2019)
- Bolsonaro, o novo “bromance” autoritário de Trump El País, Larkins & Pitts (January 22, 2019)
- Professor To Lead Cultural Education Initiative At SDSU. KPBS Midday Edition (December 13, 2018 [Perez]).
- You Can't Kill Marielle. MetroPolitics.org, Stalcup & Larkins (May 29, 2018)
- Cannabis for Children with Intractable Epilepsy: Bypassing Big Pharma. HufingtonPost, Sobo (October 30 2017)
- How will the Power of the Pussyhat Endure? Sapiens.org, Sobo (January 30, 2017)
- Pink Hats, Red Caps: Mending a National Gap. HuffingtonPost, Sobo (January 26, 2017)
- As Faculty, Students Revive Mascot Debate, SDSU Revives Its Aztec Language Course KPBS Midday Edition, December 13, 2017 [Perez])
- Anthropology students use primitive tools funded by Student Success Fee. Daily Aztec (February 27, 2017 [Ullah])
- Bioarchaeologist studies dental remains to explore the ancient people and culture of Oaxacas Lower Rio Verde Valley (Phys.org, 2016 [Mayes])
- Language, Power, and Pot: Speaking of Cannabis as Medicine. SavageMinds.org, Sobo (September 1, 2016).
- Beyond the vaccination rift: How does the human drive for social belonging affect parents’ vaccination decisions? Sapiens.org, Sobo (February 26 2016)
Archives of News, Events, & Media
Dr. Erin Riley has published an article titled “The Maturation of Ethnoprimatology: Theoretical and Methodological Pluralism” in the International Journal of Primatology (October 2018, Volume 35, Issue 5). This article is part of a special issue on “Ethnoprimatology in the 21st Century” guest edited by Dr. Riley and Dr. Sindhu Radhakrishna (National Institute of Advanced Studies, India). The special issue comprises 12 articles that illustrate the conceptual and applied contributions of ethnoprimatology and the value of mixed-methodological approaches to the study of the human-primate interface, including one article that derives from the MA research of KT Hanson (MA Anthropology alum). The primary field site and study subjects (moor macaques) of the SDSU Primatology Lab are also featured on the cover of the issue.
Dr. Erin Riley's new article titled "Ethics of Primate Fieldwork: Toward an Ethically Engaged Primatology" (co-authored with Dr. Michelle Bezanson, Santa Clara University) was just published in the Annual Review of Anthropology (Vol 47, p.493-512). This invited article explores how the key principles of ethical practice in primatology (“responsibility” and “do no harm”) are at play across the overlapping dimensions of primate fieldwork: the responsibilities primatologists have as scientists, in general, and the responsibilities to the animals they study, to the people who are involved in and impacted by the research they do, and to the ecosystems in which these groups live. The article was made possible by a CAL Critical Thinking Grant.
Dr. Elisa (EJ) Sobo has been elected to serve as Section Assembly Convener for the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The AAA has 40 'sections' or societies, each with a distinct focus. Having already served as President of the Society for Medical Anthropology, one of the AAA's largest sections, Sobo will take office as Section Assembly Convener Elect at the end of November.
Congratulations to graduate student Aaron Young for being accepted into the NSF funded, COD-IDEAS (Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences) scholar program through the American Association of Physical Anthropology, and held this year in Austin, Texas. This is a competitive application process including graduate and undergraduate students, as well as recent post-docs.
Congratulations to Anthropology major, Carolina Ponce, who has been awarded the University of Notre Dame's Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship that prepares students for graduate research including grant writing to NSF, NIH, and other entities that support medical anthropology. She will be studying this summer with Dr. Vania Smith-Oka, a medical anthropologist with specialization on access to health care among indigenous women and other marginalized populations in Mexico. Carolina is receiving full funding including housing and a stipend for the summer.
On Sunday, March 11, 2018, from 8:30am-noon, Professor Seth Mallios and 14 of his current and former SDSU students will be presenting conference papers at the Society for California Archaeology's annual meeting in San Diego (Mission Valley's San Diego Crowne Plaza Hotel). Their session consists of 10 papers and a discussant (UC Berkeley's Dr. Kent Lightfoot) and will feature research conducted on the Nate Harrison Historical Archaeology Project. The session is open to the public.
MA Anthropology alum, KT Hanson, and Professor Erin Riley (anthropology) published their article titled "Beyond Neutrality: the Human–Primate Interface During the Habituation Process" in the International Journal of Primatology.
Congratulations to Dr. Seth Mallios, whose image won first place in the Archaeological Photo Festival Competition (for the color archaeological field work in progress division) at the 2018 Society for Historical Archaeology annual meeting in New Orleans. The photo features undergraduates Leah Hails (left) and Melissa Allen (right) who were part of his Nate Harrison Historical Archaeology Project on Palomar Mountain.
Congratulations to Anthropology professor Casey J. Roulette who along with his colleagues, just published their manuscript, "A two-month follow-up evaluation testing interventions to limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria among Maasai of Northern Tanzania", with the journal, BMC Infectious Diseases.
Congratulations to the graduates of 2017! Commencement took place on Friday, May 12th. View the photos from our graduation reception. Photos by Joseph Kendall
Congratulations to graduate student Kristen Morrow who won 2nd place for the Behavioral & Social Sciences Division at the CSU wide SRS competition held at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, April 28th and 29th, 2017. Kristen is advised by Dr. Erin Riley and presented her research: "Risky Business: Causes & Conservation Implications of Human-Moor Macaque (Macaca maura) Interaction in Bantimurung-Bulusaurang National Park, South Sulawesi, Indonesia." For more information, read the SDSU NewsCenter article.
The International Encyclopedia of Primatology is now out! Congrats to Dr. Erin Riley, who is one of the co-editors, AND to the TEN former or current SDSU students who contributed (Amanda Ellwanger, KT Hanson, Alison Zak, Jeff Peterson, Kristen Morrow, Kate Jameson, Josh Trinidad, Jenna Pyle, Christina Pasetta, and Jaima Smith)!
Congratulations to Dr. Casey Roulette who was awarded the Leigh Minturn Memorial Award at the 46th Annual Meeting for the Society for Cross-Cultural Research in New Orleans, LA. The award is given to early career scholars in recognition of outstanding culture-related scholarly productivity and potential.
Dr. Elisa J. Sobo has just published a new article in Human Organization (Spring 2017, Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 38-47) on Framing Childhood Vaccination in the United States: Getting Past Polarization in the Public Discourse. The article was co-written with Emily K. Brunson and examines current public framings of childhood vaccination to better understand how and why parents' vaccination opinions and behaviors are generally polarized into pro- and anti-vaccination camps.
The Association of Anthropology Students (AAS) held a unique workshop in February that gave students a first-hand look at primitive tool use. This experimental archeology workshop was entirely funded by the Student Success Fee. Anthro professor Isaac Ullah along with AAS Vice President Hilary Moore, AAS treasurer Natalia Galeana, and Anthro major Leland Searl were quoted. Read the full story on the Daily Aztec site.
The Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA), with support from a Student
Success Fee award, is hosting a workshop on ground penetrating radar (GPR) with Dr. Peter Nelson from the American Indian Studies Department. The workshop is the first event in the
AGSA's Indigenous Scholar Series. GPR is a highly-rated, non-invasive archaeological technique. The workshop will
take place on Monday, February 10th from 12:30 to 2:30 in AL-420.
World Anthropology Day
Join us on February 20th, in celebration of World Anthropology Day!
- Lecture and Q&A session with biological anthropologist Dr. Keolu Fox: noon to 1 pm in the Montezuma Theatre
Fox is a biological anthropologist specializing in the links between human genetic variation and disease in underrepresented populations, and an advocate of enabling indigenous populations to gather and analyze their own genetic data (view Fox’s recent Ted Talk). Reception to follow lecture. This presentation, part of the Indeigenous Scholar Series, is sponsored by the Association of Anthropology Students (AAS) and the Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA), with support from a Student Success Fee award.
- Anthro Fair (with special guest Gigantopithecus): 1pm -3pm in Montezuma Lounge (adjacent to theatre)
Lunch & Learn with Elsa Sevilla featuring Dr. Seth Mallios
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
11:00am – 1:00pm
The San Diego History Center
Tickets are $20 for Members, 25 for Non-Members
Old Town Founder's Day Event
Science and Technology Lecture Series
This Fall we will host four talks by visiting experts regarding sociocultural aspects of science and technology (perhaps climate change, biotech, surveillance, smart homes, gene splicing, etc.). Talks are slated to occur between October 30th and November 10th.
Friends of Anthropology Mixer
For information please contact Dr. Fred Conway: [email protected]
New Graduate Student Orientation
For information please contact the Graduate Advisor, Dr. Braje: [email protected]
Insights into the Nutritional Strategies of Rainforest Primates
Friday, 4/27/18, 10 am - 11:30 am
Lecture given on primate nutritional ecology by Dr. Jessica Rothman, Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York .
Supported by CAL IRA Fund.
Workshop in Methods in Primate Nutritional Ecology
Friday, 4/27/18, 1pm - 5 pm
Hands-on workshop in methods in primate nutritional ecology held by Dr. Jessica Rothman, Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Workshop is open to all, but registration is required because seating is limited.
Primate Behavioral Ecology & GIS Workshop
The Department of Anthropology is pleased to host Dr. Chris Shaffer (Grand Valley State University) for a workshop on "Primate Behavioral Ecology & GIS."
Friday, 4/28/17 9 am - 12:30 pm
This workshop will provide hands-on training on how to analyze animal movements and the spatial patterning of behavior. The focus will be on primate behavior, but the lessons learned are applicable to other organisms.
Students and faculty from all departments are welcome, but registration is required.
Supported by CAL's Instructionally Related Activities Fund
Nate Harrison Exhibit
The Association of Anthropology Students are putting together an exhibit of the current Nate Harrison excavation/field school that the SDSU undergraduate students are working on this semester. The exhibit will take place on April 18th at the Montezuma Hall, from 4 to 6 p.m.
National Anthropology Day
Thursday, February 16th
The Department of Anthropology will lead SDSU's celebration of National Anthropology Day with various events, including a film screening followed by a Q&A with the film's director, a campus-wide scavenger hunt starting at the George A. Koester Sundial, laboratory open houses, a raffle, and more.
Scavenger hunt instructions/maps as well as other events information will be available at our celebration table, which will be set up outside of Hepner Hall from 10 am until 3 pm.
Feature film screening information:
The film is The Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i: The Walk Experience and will show at 4pm at a location TBA. The film has received the following awards:
- 2016 Documentary and Short International Movie Awards, International Gold Award for Documentary Short
- 2016 World Documentary Awards Festival Award of Merit
- 2015 International Film Festival for Documentary, Short, and Comedy (Jakarta, Indonesia) Award of Merit
- 2015 Las Vegas Latino International Film Festival honoree
- 2015 Georgia Latino Film Festival honoree
About the director: Dr. Mendoza is a Peruvian anthropologist, chair of Native American
Studies at UC Davis, and a Guggenheim Fellow. She also is the author of Shaping Society Through Dance: Mestizo Ritual Performance in the Peruvian Andes (University of Chicago Press, 2000), and Creating Our Own: Folklore, Performance, and Identity in Cuzco, Peru (Duke University Press, 2008).
The Promise of Contemporary Primatology: Toward the Sustainable Coexistence of Human and Nonhuman Primates in the 21st Century
Tuesday, February 21st, 4pm
Join us for the fifty-first San Diego State University Phi Beta Kappa faculty lecture, with Erin P. Riley, Professor of Anthropology.
In the 1950s Earnest Hooton and Sherwood Washburn secured an initial place for primatology within the field of anthropology by arguing for its role in elucidating human origins and the evolution of human behavior. Increasing interest in the anthropogenic context in which many nonhuman primate populations live has since broadened the scope of anthropological primatology beyond this original purpose. Ethnoprimatology, the study of the ecological and cultural interconnections between humans and other primates, represents one such example of an expanded scope. In this talk, I will explore this field of study by discussing my field research in Indonesia and Florida and demonstrate the promise it shows in fostering an integrative anthropology, more pluralistic approaches to scientific inquiry, and the sustainable coexistence of humans and other primates in the 21 st century.
Erin P. Riley joined the SDSU faculty in 2006 and is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is currently Graduate Advisor for Anthropology. Drawing from primatology, conservation ecology, and sociocultural and environmental anthropology, her research focuses on primate behavioral and ecological ﬂexibility in the face of anthropogenic change and the conservation implications of the ecological and cultural interconnections between human and nonhuman primates. With notable publications in American Anthropologist, Evolutionary Anthropology, American Journal of Primatology, and Oryx, her work spearheaded the ﬁeld of “ethnoprimatology”–study of the multifaceted ways the histories, ecologies, lives, and livelihoods of humans and primates intersect. Her field research in Indonesia and Florida has been funded by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Institute for Indonesian Studies. In March 2017, her co- edited volume Ethnoprimatology: A Practical Guide to Research on the Human-Primate Interface will be published by Cambridge University Press. She is currently writing a book manuscript titled The Promise of Contemporary Primatology contracted for publication by Routledge.
Touch in the Classroom: Should Schools Teach Students to Give Each Other Massages? American Anthropological Association Blog, Sobo (March 7, 2013)
Keeping our oceans sustainable is critical. San Diego Union Tribune, Braje & Lauer (August 15, 2013).
Standing up to Big Food's Organic End Run: Who Will, and Why? HuffingtonPost, Sobo (September 21, 2012)
School and Self Esteem, or: Thank You for Making those Socks! HuffingtonPost, Sobo (August 7, 2012)
What can Slow Schools Teach Us? San Diego Union Tribune, Sobo, Cirone, & Holden (November 25, 2011)
Dr. EJ Sobo explored cannabis use in relation to pediatric epilepsy. Her findings fueled a recent HuffingtonPost op-ed (Cannabis for Children with Intractable Epilepsy: Bypassing Big Pharma) in which she and community co-author Allison Ray Benavides highlight the costs of waiting for pharmaceutical corporations to catch up with parents and cannabis pioneers who already have developed useful medicines through means that are legal at the state level.
Dr. Todd Braje is featured in Science! Check out the article on spear tips and the first Americans.
Dr. Todd Braje has a new article just published in Science about Finding the First Americans. A series of related news stories were published about the article on IFLScience!, Inverse, and SDSU NewsCenter.
Listen to Anthro professor Casey Roulette's appearance on the podcast, The Mist with Nate John of KPBS. The topic under discussion was about drugs as performance enhancers.
Read Professor Elisa Sobo’s blog post via the Huffington Post on last weekend’s Women’s March: Pink Hats, Red Caps: Mending a National Gap. See the post. Read the expanded version of the post that appeared on the Sapiens website. See the post.