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Department of Anthropology

News

Chimpanzees can sniff out strangers

Chimpanzees’ sense of smell is more sophisticated than we thought with a new study showing that our closest relatives use their noses to smell danger.

The study shows that chimpanzees can smell who is a stranger and who is part of their family.

It was previously thought that they relied more heavily on their eyes than on their noses.

Knowing who is in their inner circle helps the chimps to not only spot a suitable ally but also avoid mating with close relatives or attacking their own offspring.

Who carried out the research?

Professor Jo Setchell from the Department of Anthropology at Durham University who is an expert in primate behaviour and Dr Stefanie Henkel from the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutional Anthropology in Germany.

Where is the research published?

In the Royal Society Proceedings B. You can also see it in Durham Research Online.

Read more about the research with chimpanzees.

Find out more



(24 Oct 2018)


Life of Breath wins Health Humanities Inspiration Award

Life of Breath has scooped the first ever Health Humanities Medal Inspiration Award in recognition of the work the project has done to engage respiratory patients directly revealing their authentic stories and developing activities and materials aimed at reducing the stigma of breathlessness. 

Life of Breath, currently in its fourth of five years, is a collaboration between Durham and Bristol Universities, led by Professor Havi Carel and Professor Jane Macnaughton. The project, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award, aims to make breathlessness and the associated suffering more visible. An interdisciplinary research team has been exploring the lived experience of breathing and breathlessness through philosophy, literature, anthropology, arts and history. 

A close relationship with the British Lung Foundation and patient support groups has led to the development of various activities and materials aimed at reducing the stigma of breathlessness by exposing the prejudices, as well as making people aware of their breath and how to maintain respiratory health. This has included a ‘patient toolkit’, supporting them to think about their breathlessness in a non-medical way, a ‘Singing for Breathing’ group in Bristol and a pilot project offering a dance programme for respiratory patients in the North East.

The Health Humanities Medal is a new scheme coordinated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in association with the Wellcome Trust, which recognises the very best research, impact and leadership. Life of Breath was just one of 100 entries across the five categories which were assessed by a panel of academics, health practitioners and industry professionals. Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at the AHRC said: “The AHRC has always seen the importance of backing the health humanities. We were struck by the exceptional quality of the applications, which express a more inclusive vision of health and wellbeing and how to achieve it in ways that are not driven by medical science alone.”

(13 Sep 2018)


Men's testosterone levels largely determined by childhood environment

Co-authored by Durham Anthropology's Prof Gillian Bentley, a Durham University-led study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that men who grow up in more challenging conditions where there are lots of infectious diseases, for example, are likely to have lower testosterone levels in later life than those who spend their childhood in healthier environments.

To read the study in full please click the link below:

Childhood ecology influences salivary testosterone, pubertal age and stature of Bangladeshi UK migrant men

And visit the links below for recent press coverage of the study:

Men’s testosterone levels determined by childhood conditions not genetics, study claims (Independent)

Healthier childhoods linked to increased prostate cancer risk (Telegraph)

(26 Jun 2018)


Research that helps parents and babies sleep better gets Royal approval

Research that has helped to shape the way babies sleep and how parents care for them at night-time has been given the Royal seal of approval.

Durham Anthropology's Parent-Infant Sleep Lab has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education - the highest accolade for any academic institution and part of the national honours system in the United Kingdom.

For more details see click here

(26 Jun 2018)


“Our Lives with Electric Things”: Durham anthropologists publish a new collection of writing to extend the energy humanities

Inspired by a Wenner-Gren funded workshop held at Durham in 2016, this new collection has been published in the Cultural Anthropology journal series ‘Theorizing the Contemporary’. The full collection includes 51 contributions, whose authors reflect on our lives with electric things, using electric artefacts to generate novel ethnographic insights.

Editor Professor Simone Abram says, ‘This collection is an inspiration for anthropologists and others to rethink how we live with electricity and reconsider the possibilities and limits of life with electric things’. With three co-editors from Edinburgh and Copenhagen, the collection covers electric fictions, backups, infrastructures, electric sustenance, electric air and more, making up 17 themes.

‘We are excited to bring together anthropologists from around the world to think about such pressing issues and invite readers to enjoy the collection and the inspiration it offers’ adds Prof Abram.

The collection can be read at:

https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1277-our-lives-with-electric-things

(25 Jun 2018)


July 2017

Professor Helen Ball has written an article titled ''Battle lines are being drawn on the best way for babies to sleep''. Read the full article here.

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