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:
And visit the links below for recent press coverage of the study:
(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:
(25 Jun 2018)
Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet Oct 28-29 2017
A hundred and forty two people from twenty countries attended this two day symposium at Durham. It was the fifth such symposium to be organised on behalf of the Energy Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists Participants were drawn from a range of academic disciplines engaged in energy research as well as representatives from industry and third sector organisations. The Saturday programme for the first day of speakers and discussion panel is now available online (see below). The first day also featured twelve organisations with stands and publicity materials. These included two anthropology consultancies from Scandinavia; the EASA Energy Ethics Network; Low Carbon Energy for Development; Mygrid; Energethics and Access for Women in Energy. Sunday featured five well attended workshops located across the Durham campus, covering energy and development, corporate responsibility, local history and careers for anthropologists beyond the academy.
Thanks to all those at Durham who helped make the event such a success and to our several sponsors see http://www.applied-anthropology.com/organisers/
PEOPLE project chosen as exemplar to spotlight 30 years of Erasmus funding
The Erasmus Plus PEOPLE Project, which is running within Durham Energy Institute’s MSc Energy and Society programme (2016-19), has been selected to be one of a range of projects to feature in the Erasmus+ 30th anniversary campaign: In the spotlight: Quality in teaching and learning as an example of quality in teaching and training in Europe.
“It is a great honour to be chosen as one of 10 projects showcasing a European programme that has been running for 30 years and through its projects has enriched the lives of more than 9 million direct participants, “ said Professor Simone Abram, and we are proud to represent Durham University at the heart of a European collaborative educational programme’.
PEOple-centred development approaches in Practical and Learning Environments /
This exciting new project, funded through the Erasmus+ Programme, brings together Higher Education Institutions from the social sciences with Industries from the sustainable living and energy sector to develop people-centred development approaches to the design of products and services. At the core of the project is the idea that understanding people should become an indispensable part of industrial development processes as well as new categories of products, services, or business strategies that truly address people’s needs and lead to sustainable innovation. At the same time, this approach offers a means to achieve practical-based education in the social sciences and humanities.
The project has teams in four different countries across Europe consisting of an industry partner and a higher education partner:
- United Kingdom: Durham University (Led by Professors Sandra Bell and Simone Abram) and company Kemuri ;
- Slovenia: Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, company Metronik and IRI UL (the coordinator);
- The Netherlands: VU Amsterdam and company Alliander;
- Czech Republic: Charles University in Prague and company VUPS.
The PEOPLE project addresses the needs of both graduates and companies: Energy industries benefit through improved products, services and processes and developing innovation in rapidly evolving technology. Graduates apply the skills learned through their training primarily in sociology, psychology and anthropology to real-life and work situations, enhancing their skills and employability prospects. The project will have long-lasting impact on Higher Education Institutions and society at large by improving the relevance of social science teaching and research.
According to PEOPLE project coordinator Gregor Cerinsek, ‘We think that meaningful products and services in the sustainable living and energy sectors can only be developed with the people who use them.’ Read the rest of the Erasmus Campaign spotlight article on the PEOPLE project.
Energy Masters students at Durham have the opportunity to take part in the project as a module of the MSc Energy and Society course. The selected students are working in collaboration with a UK company, Kemuri Ltd to help develop user the company’s current products and services in the field of telecare. Students also take part in project workshop events and exchange visits in one of the participating countries outside the UK.
The project held a two-day workshop in September in collaboration with ‘CESI’ (Centre for Energy Systems Integration)offering practical advice and guidance on developing collaborations between Higher Education and companies or third sector organisations. The in-depth training had a particular focus on bringing social science research into product design. It addressed how entrepreneurs can be trained, and what kind of collaboration is needed for defining R&D goals, mentoring students, locating expert knowledge, or evaluating outcomes?
Further information about the project and activities can be found at http://people-project.net/
Professors Sandra Bell and Simone Abram from Durham’s Anthropology department are leading the project from Durham University.
(23 Nov 2017)
(14 Dec 2016) » More about Breasts Unbound
Increase in C-Sections - how is this changing human selection?
Art Among the People Exhibition
Art Among the People Exhibition on show in the Bill Bryson Library until 21 November
(14 Nov 2016) » More about Art Among the People Exhibition
Rapid Growth of the Cerebellum
Students from the University of Sidney have produced a YouTube video on 'The Rapid Growth of the Cerebellum' which discusses the research of Prof Robert Barton. Check out the video.
(2 Sep 2016)
Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth Annual Conference
4-7 July 2016
The opportunity to host the Association of Social Anthropology conference in 2016 is an important event for us all in Durham Anthropology. During the year 2016-17 it will be 50 years since a Board of Studies for Anthropology was established in Durham and 70 years since the subject was first taught at Durham University (at what was then King’s College, Durham in Newcastle). We are therefore delighted to welcome the international anthropological community to Durham to the event which begins our 70/50 celebrations. We hope that the theme - Footprints and Futures: The Time of Anthropology - will provide a forum for critical reflection on time, temporality and chronicity as these play out in different settings. To find out more click here
(20 Jun 2016)
Durham University Announces two new PGT Scholarship Schemes
Durham University has announced two new PGT Scholarship Schemes.
Postgraduate Student Support Scholarship 2016
Durham University is delighted to announce the introduction of 100 Postgraduate Taught Scholarships worth £3,000. The scholarships are open to applicants from currently under-represented groups within the postgraduate taught population.
The scholarships are intended to support students who may not have otherwise considered postgraduate education. This could be because of financial barriers, personal caring commitments or because an applicant is domiciled in an area where progression to postgraduate education is less common.
The majority of taught master’s programmes are eligible, except postgraduate diplomas, postgraduate certificates, MRes programmes, integrated masters and courses funded by other public bodies (e.g. PGCE).
Applicants must submit an academic application to the University along with a separate scholarship application. Key dates and deadlines are available here.
Durham University is delighted to announce the introduction of three Postgraduate Taught Scholarships worth £6,000 for applicants commencing with the University in 2016. The scholarships are aimed at supporting applicants from under-represented groups at the University and are being provided due to the generous support of donation income.
The majority of taught master’s programmes are eligible, except postgraduate diplomas, postgraduate certificates, MRes programmes, MBA, integrated masters and courses funded by other public bodies (e.g. PGCE).
Applicants for the Vice-Chancellor's Scholarships will automatically be considered for the Postgraduate Taught Scholarships, there is no need to submit a separate application form, however please note that it is not possible to hold more than one University award.
Applicants must submit an academic application to the Unviersity along with a separate scholarship application. Key dates and deadlines are available here.
(25 May 2016)
Jewish-Muslim relations explored in lecture
The currently sensitive topic of Jewish-Muslim relations in the UK and elsewhere was discussed by a leading academic expert in the field.
Dr Yulia Egorova, Reader in Anthropology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society & Politics at Durham University, gave the annual Sherman Lecture at the Manchester Jewish Museum on Cheetham Hill Road (today a centre of South Asian settlement, historically the Jewish Quarter) on Sunday, 8 May.
Dr Egorova, a specialist in the history of the Jewish Diaspora in countries such as India discussed the history, context and personal experience of Jews and Muslims interacting with each other.
She pointed out that the relationship between the British Jewish and Muslim communities provides an important example of two sizeable groups of Jews and Muslims often living side by side and successfully negotiating the boundaries of their co-existence, despite the tensions stemming from the conflict in the Middle East.
Dr Egorova praised the inter-faith work being done by the Muslim-Jewish Forums in the UK and suggested that much more needed to be done to educate the public about both the experiences of European Muslims and about the history of the many centuries old, Jewish communities in Europe and their slow journey to acceptance and respect by the various Christian populations.
(17 May 2016)
Durham researchers part of new £20m EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration
A new centre, involving researchers at Durham University, that will allow experts to test the entire energy system in real time has been announced today.
Bridging a pivotal gap in our drive towards a fully integrated, smart energy network, the centre is crucial to improving energy efficiency, driving down customer bills and reducing carbon emissions.
Providing us with robust messages about the real world, the aim is to understand how we can optimise the energy network and inform future government policy.
The £20m EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Siemens and Newcastle University, will bring together energy experts from around the world to help unravel the energy network and understand future supply and demand.
Looking for the first time at the energy system as a whole; gas, power, renewables, heating and cooling, the centre will pave the way to a flexible smart infrastructure, empowering customers and giving them greater control of their energy use while allowing industry to meet the tough new low carbon targets.
Using Newcastle University’s unique full-scale testing facilities at Science Central - a demonstrator site which houses a geothermal borehole, grid scale energy storage test bed and smart grid, and a combined heat and power system - the aim will be to understand the co-evolution of supply and demand across the UK’s energy network.
Announced today by Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson,the Centre will draw on the expertise of leading academics from Durham and the universities of Newcastle, Heriot-Watt, Sussex, Edinburgh.
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:
“From powering our businesses, to monitoring our health and connecting us with friends and family around the world, we all rely on the generation and supply of electricity. This £20 million Centre will help us with the next challenge of storing new sources of energy to meet future demand and secure the UK’s leading position in low carbon technologies.”
Centre lead Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Institute for Sustainability at Newcastle University, said:
“Electricity generation is undergoing fundamental change. Many existing fossil fuel power stations will be decommissioned in the coming 15 years and new sources of generation are coming on stream.
“This new National Centre will provide us with robust information about energy usage in the real world, enabling us to develop methods to deal with the inherent risk and uncertainty so we can confidently inform government policy.
“It gives us an opportunity here in the UK to really drive forward the smart energy revolution and become international leaders in this space. We are delighted here in Newcastle to be leading such an exciting project.”
Durham University lead Jon Gluyas, Professor in Geoenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage, said:
“Durham University is delighted to share this substantial award of funds to develop the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, which will directly address the risks associated with securing and delivering the future energy system for the UK.
“There are many challenges that need to be addressed in order to secure future supply, for example adequate energy storage, effective roll-out of smart electricity and gas systems, adapting energy networks for the bi-directional power flows needed for distributed generation and better use of waste heat and heat networks.
“Durham University’s contribution to the project will include the development of new holistic statistical models for energy networks which are required for this radically different approach to energy; assessing the ethical implications of how these models are developed for future system-users; evaluation of the economic implications of future energy systems; and comprehensively mapping the current and future UK sources of energy supply, including sources of heat.
“We look forward to the challenges that this project offers and to contributing to delivering back to the nation a secure and lower-carbon energy future.”
A National Centre for Energy Systems Integration
According to the National Infrastructure Commission Report released earlier this year, two-thirds of our existing power stations are expected to close by 2030 as our coal, nuclear, and oldest gas fired power stations reach the end of their lives.
The Commission’s central finding is that Smart Power – principally built around three innovations, Interconnection, Storage, and Demand Flexibility – could save consumers up to £8 billion a year by 2030, help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets, and secure the UK’s energy supply for generations.
The National Centre for Energy Systems Integration brings together engineers, computing scientists, geologists, economists, mathematicians and anthropologists together with leading industry experts.
Led by Newcastle University and Siemens, in collaboration with the UK Energy Research Centre, the Centre will be guided by its Industrial Innovation Board involving over 30 companies and an International Science Advisory Board, drawing expertise from the likes of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Skoltech, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, in Russia.
Focussing in the early days on the UK’s energy infrastructure, the aim is to look at how the findings can be used to inform the continental grid and ultimately be applied elsewhere in the world.
(11 May 2016)
Building Indigenous Knowledge
Building Indigenous Knowledge - What is it?
A fieldwork and project-based student development opportunity co-developed by the University of Western Australia and Otago University open to Durham Geography and Anthropology students who show an interest in other cultures and a willingness to consider alternative views of the world. Interested students were required to develop their own research project, that was in line with the remit of the course, on topics such as indigenous issues, indigenous economies, and cultural/social/environmental sustainability. Three fully funded places were available to students, two of those highly competitive places were awarded to Durham Anthropology students, Vanessa Bradbury and Elizabeth Bradley.
Vanessa’s project, developed with the help of Dr Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti, will be looking at what values indigenous cultures have towards well-being, specifically focusing on the cultural-natural reciprocal relationship, and how this may be of use to Western development systems in order to transition towards an active and engaged understanding of the world in which we live. Vanessa will use this project to great a foundation of work which she can then build upon for her third year dissertation thesis.
Elizabeth’s project, developed with the help of Dr Kate Hampshire, will be looking at well-being within the Maori people; specifically within their physical, home and social/emotional environments. Elizabeth will use this framework to develop on understanding of how the Maori understand their place in the world, specifically whether they feel the negative impact of the world’s poor environmental state. Elizabeth will use this project as a basis for her third year dissertation thesis which will centre on how people in the UK view the environment is terms of their own well-being.
Congratulations to Vanessa and Elizabeth, and their respective supervisors, on this fantastic achievement.
(4 May 2016)
Visit to Natural History Museum
Anthropology students from Durham participated in a field trip to the Natural History Museum in London on Saturday, April 30th, to see first hand how human evolution and biological anthropology are communicated to the public. After an intense six hour drive, second and third year students toured the museum as to see how this world leading museum presents the natural world to the public before joining Durham Anthropology staff in the Human Evolution gallery. Recently renovated, and following on from a national exhibition on human evolution, the gallery details key events and interpretations of human evolution from the original of bipedalism to Neanderthal burials to the emergence and diversity of our own species, Homo sapiens. Students were encouraged to walk around the gallery, compare it to others within the museum, and reflect on how the exhibits and curators communicate some of the core concepts of Human Evolution that they have encountered in their lectures and seminars. Before preparing ourselves for the six hour commute back to Durham, and over ice-cream, Durham Anthropology staff and students discussed how well the gallery communicated its ideas and concepts to the general public, what they would have liked to have seen added, and even managed to critique aspects of the gallery for being too basic (a reflection of the knowledge they’ve acquired whilst studying at Durham Anthropology).
The 12 hour coach commute aside, the trip was enjoyed by both students and staff and offered the former a new perspective on Anthropology and how it is disseminated to various audiences; whilst also offering insights into the various career trajectories open to them upon graduation. Everyone was happy that they got to see the famous ‘Dippy’ and newly mounted Stegosaurus.
(4 May 2016)
Van Mildert College Trust Postgraduate Research Scholarship
Applications for October 2016
Van Mildert College Trust invites applications for the 2016 Van Mildert College Trust Research Scholarship. One scholarship is available, which covers tuition fees, complimentary accommodation and meals within Van Mildert College and a stipend of £5500 per annum for three years, commencing in October 2016.
Applications are welcomed from all subject areas and candidates must possess, or be expecting to obtain, a first class honours degree or equivalent. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding potential to undertake research at the highest level. Applications in the form of a curriculum vitae and a 1500 word statement of the research project to be undertaken should be submitted FAO Professor David Harper, c/o The Development Officer, Van Mildert College, Durham University, Mill Hill Lane, Durham, DH1 3LH, UK or electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org before 17.00 on 1 May 2016.
Candidates must provide the contact details of two academic referees and are encouraged to make contact with potential supervisors to discuss their research project statement prior to submission. Short-listed candidates will be required to apply online for acceptance onto a PhD programme at Durham University prior to the Trustees making their decision on the award.
Please note: Durham University students who are currently registered for a PhD are not eligible to apply for these scholarships.
Informal enquiries about the scheme should be directed to the Development Officer, Dr Martin Brader, in the first instance (email@example.com).
(22 Apr 2016)
Durham Anthropologist Speaking at the BHA Annual Conference
Dr Thom Scott-Phillips is Senior Research Fellow in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University will be speaking at this year's BHA Annual Conference. Other speakers include Shappi Khorsandi, Alice Roberts and Polly Toynbee.
Thom researches evolutionary and cognitive approaches to the human mind and culture, and in particular to communication and language. His first book, Speaking Our Minds, was published in November 2014. Among his major prizes and awards are the British Psychological Society’s prize for Outstanding Doctoral Research (2010). Thom delivered the Darwin Day Lecture 2016 in Newcastle.
For more information on the BHA Annual Conference click here
(19 Apr 2016)
The Spectral Wound Shortlisted for Best Ethnography Award
(13 Apr 2016)
Sexual Violence and Rape as a Weapon
Dr Nayanika Mookherjee (Social Anthropologist from Durham University) will be speaking in a panel discussion about sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war/in conflict zones on Al Jazeera International’s The Stream – an award-winning, social media-driven current affairs program in the light of the recent verdict on the sexual violence case in Guatemala. It will be shown on TVs worldwide live at 7:30 PM UK and streamed online - at www.stream.aljazeera.com It also replays at 12:30 AM 4:30 AM and 9:30 And YouTube links will be available after the show. One can follow and participate in the discussion on Twitter using either @AJStream or #AJStream. The hosts for today are Femi Oke (@femioke) and Malika Bilal (@mmbilal).
(9 Mar 2016)
Sleeping with a baby boosts breast-feeding: Mothers are twice as likely to continue after six months if they share their bed for at least an hour a week
New mothers who bring their babies into their bed are more likely to carry on breastfeeding for longer, a new study found.
But those who go to the baby’s cot are more likely to stop breastfeeding before six months.
Breast milk is the healthiest way to feed a baby and the NHS recommends exclusive breastfeeding for around the first six months.
Thereafter giving the baby breast milk alongside other food help the babies continue to grow and develop healthily.
It said breastfed babies have less chance of diarrhoea and vomiting, fewer chest and ear infections, less likelihood of becoming obese and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses later in life.
They have fewer hospital visits and the longer breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits.
The Durham University study found those mothers who bed shared with their infant for at least an hour a week were more likely to carry on breast feeding past six months.
And those who expressed a desire to breast feed during pregnancy were more likely to bed share too.
Professor Helen Ball of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab in the, Department of Anthropology said: “”We previously found that mothers who bed-share were twice as likely to breastfeed their baby for at least six months than mothers who began breastfeeding but didn’t bed-share.
“In this paper we show that mothers with the strongest intent to breastfeed are the ones who sleep with their babies the most.
“These mothers therefore need information on how to make bed-sharing while breastfeeding as safe as possible.
“Women with strong motivation to breastfeed frequently bed-share.
“Given the complex relationship between bed-sharing and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) appropriate guidance balancing risk minimisation with support for breastfeeding mothers is crucial.”
The study published in Acta Paediatrica followed 678 women recruited at mid-pregnancy.
They were asked whether recommendations to avoid bed-sharing due to concerns such as SIDS may stop them from achieving their breastfeeding goals
The women provided weekly snapshots of breastfeeding and bed-sharing behaviour for 26 weeks following birth.
Bed-sharing at home was defined for at least one hour per week.
It found 299 women or 44 per cent “rarely” or “never” bed-shared, 192 or 28 per cent did so “intermittently” and 187 or 28 per cent did so “often.”
These three groups did not differ significantly in marital status, income, infant gestational age, maternal age or delivery mode.
Significantly more participants who bed-shared “often” reported strong prenatal breastfeeding intent at 70 per cent compared to 57 per cent and 56 per cent of women in the “intermittent” and “rare” bed-share groups.
They also attached high prenatal importance to breastfeeding at 95 per cent compared to 87 per cent and 82 per cent respectively.
Significantly more women who bed-shared frequently were breastfeeding at six months than those who intermittently or rarely bed-shared.
(19 Feb 2016)
Childhood environment and fertility
The environment girls grow up in could affect their fertility as adults, according to new research by the Department of Anthropology. Lead researcher, Professor Gillian Bentley explains more.
What did you find in your research?
We show that Bangladeshi migrant women who moved to London when they were children as well as women of European origin living in London have a much larger ovarian reserve (effectively the size of a woman’s egg bank) than migrant Bangladeshi women who only moved to London as adults, or women still living in Bangladesh.
These findings challenge the theory that the quality of women’s ovarian reserve is determined by genetics or race and suggests instead that it is heavily influenced by our environment.
In the study, we looked at reproductive hormone levels among different groups of migrant Bangladeshi women who moved to the UK at varying points across the life course and compared them to women still living in Bangladesh and white women of European origin who lived in the same neighbourhood as the migrants.
The hormones can tell us about the process of reproductive ageing as well as indicate the number of eggs left in the ovary at a given age - called the “ovarian reserve”. Similar investigations are routinely used in fertility clinics to assess how well a woman might respond to assisted reproductive technologies like IVF.
We found that age-related hormone levels differed significantly across groups. Bangladeshi women who spent their childhoods in the UK had levels that matched those of the European women, and reached the menopause at later ages compared to women who grew up in Bangladesh. This suggests that the pace of reproductive ageing partly depends on developmental factors.
The differences between Bangladesh and the UK, we believe, lie in a greater exposure to diseases and lack of good health care in Bangladesh. Growing up in more challenging conditions where your body may need to use energy to fight off infections can compromise reproductive development.
How did you carry out your research?
We collected blood samples and examined plasma levels of anti-Müllerian hormone, inhibin B, follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol. Women were also weighed and measured and answered questionnaires about their reproductive and demographic histories, including migration factors, lifestyle and health.
Why is this research important?
Few have considered whether the childhood period is important in influencing reproductive function during adulthood. Our research group has focused on this issue since 2001, using migrant Bangladeshis as a model for how a changing environment might affect fertility in later life. Our data consistently show that the environment is more important than genes in determining potential fertility levels.
Findings from our previous studies illustrate that Bangladeshi women in their prime reproductive years, aged 18-34, who grew up in the UK, either as a child migrant or a second-generation British Bangladeshi, had significantly higher levels of progesterone and rates of ovulation compared to women who grew up in Bangladesh (including women who migrated to the UK as adults).
Bangladeshi men, aged 18-80, who had similarly grown up in the UK had significantly higher levels of salivary testosterone compared to Bangladeshi men who had grown up in Bangladesh. Finally, girls who came to the UK as young children reached a developmental milestone called adrenarche, or pre-puberty, two years earlier than other girls whether of Bangladeshi or European origin.
What are the next steps?
So far, we know little about how the apparent plasticity in reproductive function is brought about on a biological level as we have been measuring outcomes rather than the mechanisms. However, we have been awarded a joint ESRC-BBSRC grant to study how genes that control hormonal pathways might be switched on or off during development. This is achieved through the action of chemical markers on the outside of genes that are added or removed as a consequence of early life experiences. In this sense, genes are indeed important, but it is the environment that determines whether they are effectively operating or not. This new research is in conjunction with Dr Philippa Melamed from The Technion in Israel and Dr Reinhard Stoger from the University of Nottingham.
Who funded the research and who did you collaborate with?
The study was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (USA), with additional support provided by the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing (Durham) and the Institute for Advanced Study (Durham).
The principle investigators were Professor Gillian Bentley (Durham) and Professor Lynnette Sievert (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), assisted by Dr Osul Chowdhury at the Osmani Medical College, Syhlet, Bangladesh. All of the hormonal work was carried out by co-investigator, Dr Shanthi Muttukrishna, formerly of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College Cork, together with Dr Khurshida Begum and Richard Gunu (MSc). Data collection and analyses were conducted by all of the researchers and included MSc student Lorna Murphy. Dr Adetayo Kasim (Durham University) conducted the statistical analyses. Several research assistants helped in Bangladesh. The research was published in Fertility and Sterility.
Who do people contact if they want to know more?
Professor Gillian Bentley, co-Principal Investigator, or Dr Khurshida Begum, on + 44 (0)191 334 1114; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(18 Feb 2016)
Evidence of Animal Minds: An Interdisciplinary Symposium
As contribution to Durham IAS's 2015-16 exploration of the theme of Evidence, this three-day workshop will examine the problem of evidence in accounting for the phenomenon of ‘animal minds’ – the existence and character of (broadly conceived) mental phenomena in non-human animals. This controversial question offers a rich case for exploring the meanings of ‘evidence’ from a range of disciplinary perspectives. The meeting will assemble philosophers of mind and of knowledge, neuroscientists, experimental psychologists and ethologists, evolutionary biologists and biological anthropologists, social anthropologists and historians of science, as well as humanities scholars with expertise in visual culture. For more detail see the project website.
This event is sponsored by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association, Durham University’s Seedcorn Research Fund and Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study.
Registration is now open. The final deadline for registering is 31 March 2016. However, registration will close earlier once all the places are filled. You are advised to register sooner in order to guarantee a place.
(16 Feb 2016)
Anthropology: Celebration of Anthropology's women researchers and discussion of gender: Defining Women, Constructing Gender
8th March 2016, 11:00 to 14:00, Dawson Building, First floor Birley Room
Defining Women, Constructing Gender
Anthropology will host a networking coffee and cake break for all anthropology researchers with a talk on "Anthropology's Foremothers and Daughters' celebrating the women, often sidelined, who have shaped our discipline.
This will be followed by a roundtable discussion on gender: "Defining women, constructing gender"
Drs Claudia Merli, Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, Nayanika Mookherjee and Steve Lyon will be discussing the effects of rigid gender classifications and whether or not those categories bear any resemblance to more fluid gendered practices. Students and staff are warmly welcomed to take part in the discussion after initial talks by our roundtable presenters.
Durham Anthropology will also be honouring its own women researchers through a webpage celebrating their many achievements.
Contact email@example.com for more information about this event.
(5 Feb 2016)
Tale as old as time
Many folktales can be traced back to prehistoric populations that existed thousands of years ago, according to research which has attracted media attention across the globe. Co-author of the study, Dr Jamie Tehrani from the Department of Anthropology explains more.
What did you find in your research?
When looking at the strong similarities among traditional stories told by many different cultures, particularly those speaking Indo-European languages, we found that some shared folktales can be traced back to ancestral populations that lived thousands of years ago. These include several stories that remain popular to this day, like Beauty and the Beast, Rumplestiltskin and Jack and the Beanstalk (aka The Boy Steals the Ogre's Treasure). We even managed to trace one tale, The Smith and the Devil, back to the Bronze Age.
Our findings suggest that these tales were passed down from generation to generation long before they were first written down, showing the remarkable stability of oral transmission and enduring appeal of these stories.
The link between languages and stories is something we focused on in our research. Indo-European is one of the largest language families on Earth and includes most populations in Europe as well as many in Asia. These languages are all derived from a prehistoric common ancestral population, called "Proto-Indo-European", that probably existed 5,000 – 9,000 years ago. As its descendants spread across Eurasia, their languages began to diverge, giving rise to distinct lineages like the Romance languages of the Mediterranean, the Germanic languages of northern and western Europe, the Celtic languages of Britain, the Balto-Slavic languages of eastern Europe and the Indo-Iranian languages of western and southern Asia.
We found signatures of these massive ancient migrations in the oral traditions of modern day Indo-European-speaking populations, and discovered that, like shared features of language, some fairytales go back thousands of years.
How did you carry out your research?
Researching the origins and development of oral traditions is tricky because, by definition, they aren't usually written down, so there's not much of a record to work with.
We drew on methods that were developed by biologists to tackle a similar problem in reconstructing the evolution of biological traits that can't be studied in the patchy fossil record. Although there are obviously important differences between the transmission of genes and of stories, it's still possible to recover information about the past that's been preserved through the mechanism of inheritance. In biology, that involves mapping shared traits on a genetic tree and establishing which ancestral species they were inherited from. We used the cultural equivalent of genetic trees – language trees. We investigated whether the distribution of folktales among populations correlated with how closely related their languages are, and traced lineages of common inheritance in language and storytelling on different branches of the Indo-European family tree back to their shared roots.
What do the findings tell us about cultures and societies of the past?
A key ingredient in the success of fairy tales is the juxtaposition of the ordinary and the extraordinary, putting humble farm boys and servant girls in the company of giants and fairy godmothers. Although these stories are frequently updated to suit different times and places, many elements - both magical and mundane - can survive for generations. This makes them a potentially useful source of information about not only our enduring fears and fantasies, but also the kinds of societies in which they originated.
For example, one of the folktales we studied, The Smith and the Devil, appears to have been present in the ancestor of Indo-European languages, "Proto-Indo-European". It tells of a smith who sells his soul to an evil supernatural being in return for the ability to weld any materials together. He then uses that power to stick the creature to a tree until it releases him from his side of the bargain.
The apparent antiquity of this tale is significant for wider debates about the origins of the Indo-European family since it implies the existence of metallurgy in Proto-Indo-European society. This supports the theory that the Indo-European family emerged in the Bronze Age, but conflicts with the alternative idea that suggests a much older Neolithic origin (prior to the invention of pyrotechnic metallurgy).
We believe that the kinds of information preserved in oral traditions provide exciting new lines of research into our prehistoric past that complement evidence from archaeology, linguistics and genetics.
What are the next steps?
We're pursuing several questions that emerge from our findings. First, what is it about some stories that makes them so stable, and enables them to remain relevant in so many diverse cultures and historical periods? Second, is it possible to trace similarly deep roots for other narrative genres, such as myths and legends? Third, what else can we learn about ancestral societies from the kinds of stories they told – for example, their religious beliefs, ethics, family and social structure?
Who funded the research and who did you collaborate with?
I carried out the research with Sara Graça da Silva from the Institute for the Study of Literature and Tradition at the New University of Lisbon, who was supported by a research grant from the Portuguese research council, FCT.
(4 Feb 2016)
Dr Thom Scott-Phillips delivers Newcastle Darwin Day Lecture
Dr Jo Setchell appears in BBC 4 Series Colour: The Spectrum of Science
We live in a world ablaze with colour. Rainbows and rainforests, oceans and humanity, earth is the most colourful place we know of. But the colours we see are far more complex and fascinating than they appear.
In the BBC 4 series, Helen Czerski goes in search of colour. She reveals what it is, what it does, and why colour doesn't exist outside of our perception. In the second episode of the series being aired on at 9pm on 11 November our own Dr Jo Setchell discusses Colour and Mandrills. To find out more click here.
(10 Nov 2015)
ASA 2016 Durham
Footprints and Futures – call for panels goes live’. For more information click here!!
(21 Oct 2015)
Anthropology PhD students initiate 'Unpredictable Research' Workshop
Visit to Thackray Medical Museum
Some of our MSC Medical Anthropology/Evolutionary Medicine students attended a trip on the 8th October to the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds as part of their induction to the Programme. The trip was also attended by an MAnth student and Visiting Research Students and was enjoyed by all attending.
(12 Oct 2015)
Anthropology Durham REF2014 Impact Case Study makes the Top 20!!
Congratulations to Gina Porter and Kate Hampshire whose REF2014 Impact Case Study is in the top 20 most impressive examples of UK research contributing to development. These were selected from the 6,975 case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and re-written into shorter, more engaging stories.
(25 Sep 2015)
UNGA Resolution on Conflict Ivory
Kate Nowak, Research Fellow in Anthropology has written an open to the UN General Assembly which has gone live on the National Geographic website.
Kate is proposing a UNGA resolution on "conflict ivory" analogous to the one on conflict diamonds given accumulated evidence that the sale of ivory from poached elephants is helping finance violence and armed conflicts in Africa.
To read the letter click here
(23 Sep 2015)
Have We Become Too Ethical? -- Managing vulnerability in human subject research
Monday 9 November
9:00 until 18:00
University of Sussex Conference Centre, Bramber House
Over the last two decades ethical review by committee has become compulsory for all UK-funded research involving human subjects. It aims to prevent harm from biomedical research.
Concern: When is ethics review too constrictive and when too permissive?
Aim: To formulate the basis for feasible, fair and effective ethical review at home and in transnational collaborative research
Well-known experts in the field of social science research ethics and research funderswill debate:
- Contextual factors in ethical review
- Competence of reviewers of human subject research
- Informed consent
Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner (firstname.lastname@example.org), Department of Anthropology in Sussex and Bob Simpson (email@example.com), Department of Anthropology, Durham. For administrative information: Linda Allan (Linda.Allan@sussex.ac.uk)
Registration and Programme TO BE ANNOUNCED!!! For more information click here
(22 Sep 2015)
Social Science and Zoonotic Disease
A two-day workshop on the ethnography of emerging diseases 17th and 18th September 2015, Durham University
Emergence is a resonant term for our times. Linked to ‘emergency’, emergent processes tend to be characterized by increasingly dense linkages between socio‐political, economic, and biological phenomena. Emergence points to the impossibility of predicting or containing the complexity of multispecies and multisystem interactions across space and scale. As a frontier of resistance and transformation, ‘mergence’ can be linked to discourses of political change and possibility, unfolding new orders even in the wake of the chaotic reordering of social worlds. Discourses of emergence can also be problematic in their capacity to hide and obscure awareness of persistence and endurance.
Social scientific engagements with zoonotic and vector borne diseases provide a critical entry point to engage with contemporary discourses of emergence. Most emerging and re‐emerging infectious diseases are animal diseases, which ‘pill over’ into human populations, threatening explosive pandemics and precipitating crises in global health security. As the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa attests, studying such diseases not only offers insights into the transformation of emergence into emergency, but also the different ways in which proximity, interpersonal and interspecies relations become configured as problems for containment and contagion. The complex material, environmental and social conditions that create the conditions for disease emergence and control have created new frontiers of interdisciplinary engagement and collaboration. Social scientists are increasingly drawing upon conceptual resources offered by environmental and disease ecology to challenge conventional notions of scale, relationality and change. These frontier‐sites are enlivened by the challenge of how to re‐function ethnographic methods and representations to better engage with concerns of global health, and the corroborative potential of their data for epidemiological and animal behaviour scientists.
This two‐day workshop will bring together anthropologists and specialists from other disciplines who have engaged with ethnographic perspectives to extend their study of emerging and re(emerging) diseases. It seeks to answer three overarching questions. (1) How should social scientists engage with the question of emergence in the context of global health? (2) What are the theoretical potentials of working as social scientists on zoonotic and vector borne diseases? and (3) What are the ethnographic challenges and possibilities of working in this area?
For more information or to book a place contact firstname.lastname@example.org
(11 Sep 2015)
Durham Anthropology Student's 'Ultimate Hell Week'
3rd year Anthropology undergraduate Michael Miller is currently starring in BBC2’s 'Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week’. He was given a concession to sit his exams in August so that he could take part in the filming during the summer. Episode 3 is on Sunday 13th September. Catch up with his progress on BBC iPlayer
(8 Sep 2015)
Got a great relationship? You may want to thank your prehistoric grandmother
In her latest article in The Conversation, Dr Jo Setchell, Durham Anthropologist, discusses a new study which finally gives grandparents the credit they deserve by arguing that long-term relationships actually evolved thanks to grandmothers helping out with kids in prehistoric times.
To read Jo's article click here
(8 Sep 2015)
Postgraduate Scholarship now available!
In partnership with Haringey Council, a student bursary is available for the MSc in Energy and Society. The bursary covers UK/EU fees plus an amount to cover expenses for dissertation research towards Haringey’s carbon reduction and inequality goals. Dissertation topics should be developed in dialogue with Haringey and their local partners. The actual project undertaken will be developed with guidance from course tutors and in dialogue with Haringey council.
Applicants for the bursary should hold an offer of a place on the MSc Energy and Society, for October 2015. If you do not already have an offer, please apply via the university’s online application website at https://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/
For further information about Haringey Carbon Commission, see: www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/the-haringey-carbon-commission and www.haringey4020.org.uk
Priority will be given to applicants resident in the borough of Haringey.
(7 Sep 2015)
Contemporary Anthropologies of Art
One day international workshop
9 September 2015 | Department of Anthropology, Durham University
Keynote: Professor Arnd Schneider (University of Oslo)
Building on established anthropological approaches to art such as those of Alfred Gell or Pierre Bourdieu, this workshop seeks to map out contemporary anthropological approaches to art. Furthermore, by asking what distinct views on artistic practices are offered by such new theoretical perspectives as ethnographic conceptualism (Ssorin-Chaikov 2013) or relational aesthetics (Sansi 2014), we hope to propose new pathways of anthropological inquiry. A key proposition behind this workshop is the idea that contemporary art theory and practice are increasingly in dialogue with theories of sociality – how we relate to other people to create meaning – and therefore connected to core anthropological interests. The objective of this workshop is therefore not just to apply existing anthropological theory to potentially new ethnographic situations characterized by the production of art, but to develop anthropological theory through an engagement with the conceptual approaches that underpin the contemporary production of art today.
As an Anthropologies of Art [A/A] Network research event, the conference also seeks to map out a range of contemporary approaches to the study of art. Contributors from Oslo, Berlin, Moscow, Barcelona, and the UK will discuss case studies that impact on the production of contemporary anthropological theory.
Convenors and contact
Alex Flynn (email@example.com) and Jonas Tinius (firstname.lastname@example.org)
http://www.anthropologies-of-art.net/aa-research/workshop | @Anth_Art
Funded by the Department of Anthropology, Durham University, and the Department of Anthropology's Social Anthropology research group
(21 Aug 2015)
ISIS is using 'Dreamology' to justify its nightmarish vision for the World
Robert Fisk's article in the Voices Section of The Independent website looks to the dream world to try to comprehend what motivates ISIS.
The article draws on research conducted by Dr Iain Edgar, Emeritus Reader in Anthropology at Durham University who has been exploring how ISIS uses dreams to justify decisions and claim authority.
To read the article click here.
(21 Aug 2015)
This year’s graduates say that Anthropology at Durham University has enthusiastic staff and is intellectually stimulating
Nearly all of this year’s Anthropology graduates at Durham University who responded to the National Student Survey (NSS) think that teaching staff are good at explaining things and are enthusiastic about their subject. This year’s graduates also said that their Anthropology degrees at Durham were intellectually stimulating and were satisfied with the quality of their course overall. Most Durham Anthropology graduates who completed the NSS also felt that they had received sufficient support and advice from staff. Personal development, particularly improvement in communication skills, and access to learning resources (library and IT) also scored highly.
77% of third year students responded
Staff are good at explaining things – 97% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement
Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching – 96% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement
The course is intellectually stimulating – 95% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of my course – 90% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement
My communication skills have improved – 85% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement
The library resources and services are good enough for my needs - 89% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement
I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to - 90% of respondents said they 'definitely agreed' or 'mostly agreed' with the statement.
Thanks very much to our graduates, students and staff for all their hard work. We look forward to teaching in the new Academic year.
(12 Aug 2015)
Kids Company: the sad truth about why charities suddenly collapse
Dr S Abram, Reader in Anthropology at Durham University has published an article in The Conversation. In the wake of the collapse of Kids Company the article discusses the difficulties faced by charitable organisations who are increasingly being used to replace the state as providers of public services.
To read the article click here
(11 Aug 2015)
Professor Gillian Bentley secures collaborative award on Epigenetics
Durham Anthropologist Wins Award
The Durham Students' Union Annual Awards 2015 took place on 17 June, where Durham Anthropology Teaching Fellow, Dr Trudi Buck was winner of the Outstanding Academic (Social Sciences) award.
The winners were nominated and voted for by Durham University Students. Well done Trudi!!
(29 Jul 2015)
The University Awards for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision
The University Awards for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision promote, recognise and reward excellence in doctoral supervision. Jo was nominated by her completed PhD students and academic colleagues with a knowledge and understanding of her contribution to doctoral supervision in the department. The award will be presented at the Winter Graduation Ceremonies and includes £3,000 which Jo has chosen to use to support academic activities.
(29 Jul 2015)
Prof Michael Carrithers elected Fellow of the British Academy
Durham Anthropologist, Prof Michael Carrithers has been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy, in recognition of his outstanding research. Fellowships are awarded to outstanding UK-based scholars who have achieved academic distinction as reflected in scholarly research activity and publication.
The British Academy has elected 42 highly distinguished UK academics from 18 universities as Fellows, taking the total number of living Fellows to over one thousand for the first time. At its Annual General Meeting (16 July 2015), the Academy welcomed the new Fellows whose research areas span the full range of the subject areas across the humanities and social sciences, from history to psychology, economics to law, literature to philosophy and languages to anthropology.
The Anthropology Department congratulates Michael on this outstanding achievement.
(21 Jul 2015)
Animal Minds Symposium
This three-day workshop, sponsored by Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study as part of its 2015-16 Evidence theme, will examine the problem of evidence in accounting for the phenomenon of ‘animal minds’ – the existence and character of (broadly conceived) mental phenomena in non-human animals. This controversial question offers a rich case for exploring the meanings of ‘evidence’ from a range of disciplinary perspectives. For more detail click here.
(23 Jun 2015) » More about Animal Minds Symposium
Do you think like a typical Brit? Test how you compare with other nationalities
Have you ever wondered whether all people think the same way, or whether cultural differences across the world mean people's minds work differently? A new app, 'Global Village: Discover Your Thinking Style', lets you compare your own thinking style with the rest of the world. Devised by Dr Alex Mesoudi, Anthropologist at Durham University, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the free app lets users discover which nationality they most think like.
Previous research has shown that people from Western societies like the US and UK often think differently to 'non-Westerners' from countries like Japan and China. For example, they tend to group objects according to formal categories, while non-Westerners instead group according to the relationships between objects. When asked whether a cow should be paired with grass or a chicken, people from the US tend to choose the chicken because cows and chickens are both farmyard animals. People from China tend to choose the grass, because cows eat grass.
In social relationships, Westerners tend to be more individualistic, which means that they see themselves as separate from others and are motivated more by personal goals and achievements. Non-Westerners, on the other hand, are more collectivistic; they see themselves as part of larger social groups and are motivated more by the success of their family or social group.
The Global Village app works out thinking styles through a mixture of games and quizzes. After completing the tasks the app gives users a score and allows them to compare this to the average score recorded in different countries, to reveal which nationality they most think like.
The app has been devised by a team led by Dr Alex Mesoudi from Durham University as a way of expanding the small sample sizes of previous studies. It will provide more information about the thinking styles of people who don’t fit into simple notions of East and West, such as people living in countries other than the US, Western Europe or East Asia, or immigrants who grew up in one place and later moved to another. The app is part of Dr Mesoudi's wider Thinking Styles project, which aims to unpick the reasons why people from different cultures think differently.
In a previous study, Dr Mesoudi and his colleagues measured the thinking styles of British Bangladeshi immigrants living in East London to see how exposure to Western culture affects the way migrants see the world.
"We have found that first-generation British Bangladeshi migrants, that is people who were born in Bangladesh but have since moved to Britain, often tend to think in a 'non-Western' way, as expected," says Dr Mesoudi.
"However, second generation British Bangladeshis who were born in Britain to Bangladeshi-born parents are largely indistinguishable from native Londoners' Western thinking styles, showing that variation in thinking patterns is certainly not genetic, but more likely a product of cultural factors such as schooling or exposure to Western media. One of the aims of our Global Village App is to see whether similar cultural factors shape variation in thinking styles in other migrant communities, too."
The Global Village app, compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, is available as a free download from the iTunes store.
(19 Jun 2015)
Durham Anthropology Students Visit Creswell Crags
At the edge of the northern ice sheets which were a constant feature during Ice Age lies the site of Creswell Crags; home of mammoth, bison, horse, woolly rhinoceros, reindeer and two species of human: the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. Between 55,000 and 10,000 years ago different human groups called Creswell home. As a reminder of their occupation these groups left behind tools from the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, bones of the animals they ate, and Britain’s oldest known cave art: depictions of birds, horse and bison dated to 13,000 years ago which links prehistoric English groups to the wider culture observed throughout Palaeolithic Europe. Creswell Crags represents one of the most diverse and consistently occupied Palaeolithic site in Britain.
As part of their studies, second and third year Durham Anthropology students visited Creswell and its associated museum to experience first hand how the caves at Creswell were utilised by both the Neanderthals and Modern Humans, took the opportunity to handle tools and artefacts from these distinct human groups and see first hand the cave art that Creswell is renowned for. Students not only got to experience the site and the caves first hand, but also had a behind the scenes look at the Creswell Crags Museum Collections where they got a rare opportunity to observe how artefacts are classified and stored by museum researchers. The fieldtrip to Creswell allowed students to personally connect with the prehistoric material they had come into contact with through their lectures and research, bringing the Palaeolithic into context for our students and highlighting the importance Anthropology has in protecting and preserving our cultural heritage from the prehistoric to the present.
“A wonderful day…”
Margot Abbott, 2nd Year BA Anthropology.
(1 Jun 2015)
Durham Anthropology Ranked 3rd in Guardian’s University League Table 2016
Durham University Anthropology Department has been ranked 3rd in the Guardian’s University League Table, up 5 places from 8th in 2015.
The methodology focuses on subject-level league tables, ranking institutions that provide each subject. Measures relate to both input, eg expenditure by the university on its students, and output, eg a graduate’s probability of finding a graduate-level job. The measures are knitted together to get a Guardian score, against which institutions are ranked. Durham Anthropology’s score was 89.6 and only surpassed by UCL with a score of 90.2 and Oxford with a score of 100.
Durham University as a whole improved to 6th in the rankings up from 8th in the previous year. To view the League Table click here.
(27 May 2015)
Dr Jo Setchell Publishes article in The Conversation
Durham Anthropologist, Dr Jo Setchell has published an article in The Conversation. "Why men are not biologically useless afterall..." discusses new research that suggests the reason that we need two sexes is because it improves the overall genetic quality of a species and reduces the risk of population extinction.
To read the article click here.
(26 May 2015)
Durham Undergraduate publishes dissertation project
Laura Attwell, who focussed on anthropology as part of her Natural Sciences degree at Durham between 2010-2012, has recently first-authored a publication with supervisor Dr. Fire Kovarovic and Dr. Jeremy Kendal. “Fire in the Plio-Pleistocene: the functions of hominin fire use, and the mechanistic, developmental and evolutionary consequences” is now available from the Journal of Anthropological Sciences website: http://www.isita-org.com/jass/Contents/2015vol93/Attwell/25794155.pdf
The paper explores the history of our ancestors’ experience with fire in the context of niche construction theory, detailing phases in our increasing use and control of fire and the effect this may have had on biological, behavioural and cultural evolution. Says Dr. Kovarovic, “When we sat down to discuss how we had marked her dissertation, both Jeremy and I realised that she had pulled together information in a way that it had never been presented before. We were impressed and excited by what she had written and asked if she would consider publishing it. Fortunately for the scientific community, she said yes!”
Laura’s dissertation demonstrates the quality of research and insightfulness that undergraduates are capable of; the subsequent publication is a testament to her hard work. Transforming the dissertation into a publishable manuscript required significant dedication and had to weather not only Laura’s entry into the non-academic workforce, but periods of both co-authors’ parental leave! “It’s great to see that undergraduate dissertations can end up being published in academic journals” says Dr. Kendal, “and equally great that Fire has written a paper about fire.”
(26 May 2015)
Durham Anthropology Study takes the World by storm
A recent study from Durham University's Professor Robert Barton has been featured in media outlets totalling a circulation of 2.75 billion people worldwide.
Dressing in red around the office might have your colleagues seeing you in a different light! The new study has found that when the same person is shown wearing a red-coloured top, rather than a blue one, they tend to be rated as dominant, aggressive, and even more anger-prone by others.
(21 May 2015)
Wearing red can make you appear angry and dominant
Men who wear red clothes send out a signal that they are angry and aggressive, in much the same way as if their face had reddened, suggests research published today.
When 50 male and 50 female volunteers were shown images of men in different coloured t-shirts, they rated those wearing red as more aggressive and angry than those in blue or grey.
However, while the male volunteers also tended to consider men wearing red as ‘dominant’, the female volunteers did not.
The results of the research may have parallels in nature and could provide insights into whether it is advisable to wear red in certain social situations, said Rob Barton, Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University, who led the study.
Red often signals aggression in animals - and the tendency for men to turn red-faced when they are angry is believed to be inherited from our ancient ancestors as a warning sign. In some animal species, red may be displayed by competing males trying to dominate each other to win the right to mate with females, he said.
Ms Wiedemann, who conducted the experiments, said: “We know that the colour red has an effect on the human brain. This is embedded in our culture, for example the idea of wearing a red tie – known as a ‘power tie’ - for business, or issuing a red alert.
“The implications of our research are that people may wish to think carefully about wearing red in social situations and perhaps important meetings, such as job interviews. Being perceived as aggressive or dominant may be an advantage in some circumstances but a disadvantage in others, for example where teamwork or trustworthiness is important.”
Durham University researchers have previously shown that wearing red can have effects in sport, promoting aggression and competitiveness within teams and intimidating opponents. Professor Barton and his team are currently talking to organisers of combat sports about the possibility of introducing new rules on competitors wearing red, to avoid the colour being used to unfair advantage.
However, the study published today, in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, is believed to be the first into the effects of colour on social perceptions of dominance and aggression in neutral settings.
To carry out the research, images of men were digitally manipulated, so they appeared to wear a variety of differently coloured t-shirts. These were shown to the volunteers, who rated them on a scale of 1-7 for both aggression and dominance.
The volunteers were also asked to decide on the emotional state of the man in each image. They tended to choose ‘angry’ for those wearing red, in preference to the other choices of happy, frightened and neutral.
Professor Barton said: “Taken together, our findings suggest a clear association between the colour red and perceptions of anger, possibly related to the role of facial reddening as a natural sign of anger.”
The Durham research team studied only the effects of men wearing red to limit the number of variables - the results would have been much harder to analyse if they had presented the volunteers with images of both sexes. However, the perceptions of women wearing red may be a topic for future research.
(14 May 2015)
Durham Anthropology at The British Academy Literature Week
Dr. Jamie Tehrani will moonlight at ‘Other Worlds… After Dark’ as part of the British Academy’s Literature Week, a feast of free public events exploring the magic of folk and fairy tales (11th-15th May). For details of Dr. Tehrani’s talk, as well as the rest of the program, please visit the British Academy’s website: http://www.britac.ac.uk/events/2015/Literature_Week_2015.cfm
(8 May 2015)
London Anthrology Day 2015
Durham University is taking part in London Anthropology Day 2015 – a free university taster day for Year 12, 13 and FE students, teachers, careers advisors and parents. Join us on 2nd July 2015 at the British Museum to discover what anthropology is all about through interactive workshops, find out about careers and university admissions and meet anthropologists from 25 British universities. For more information and to book go to www.londonanthropologyday.co.uk .
(8 May 2015)
Undergaduate Applicant Online Chat
On Friday 8th May we will be holding an online live chat to provide you an opportunity to ask any remaining questions you might have about Anthropology at Durham, and to aid those who have not yet replied via UCAS in arriving at a decision on firm and insurance choices.
(6 May 2015) » More about Undergaduate Applicant Online Chat
Managing Health Crises after Ebola
The outbreak of Ebola that has affected West Africa since December 2013 is the largest to date, with enormous human and economic costs. It has also exposed weaknesses in the global response system, including the handling of communication and complex social responses. What can we learn from this to better manage future health emergencies?
Durham Anthropologist, Dr Hannah Brown has contributed to the scidev.net Spotlight on Managing Health Crises after Ebola. To access the article click here.
(1 May 2015)
ASAB Easter Conference 2015
The Association of the Study of Animal Behaviour Easter Conference was hosted by the Behaviour Ecology and Evolution Research Centre (BEER) in March. The Conference was held over 3 days and plenary speakers included Dr Paula Stockley from University of Liverpool and Dr Tristram Wyatt from University of Oxford.
The event was well attended with lots of positive feedback and presentations included findings from the Vulture Enrichment research conducted by the Hawk Conservancy Trust. To see more conference feedback see @asabeaster2015
(28 Apr 2015)
Footprint analyses may be confounded by load-carrying behaviours
Durham MSc Evolutionary Medicine student, Janelle Wagnild, co-authored a paper recently published in PLoS ONE titled “Human footprint variation during load bearing tasks.” The paper investigates the ways in which human footprints change when individuals walk while carrying loads, and its findings have implications for the way in which fossilised hominin footprints are interpreted. To read more, visit http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118619.
(10 Apr 2015)
Gibbon calls 'could shed light on human speech'
The secret communication of gibbons has been interpreted for the first time in a study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.
The research reveals the likely meaning of a number of distinct gibbon whispers, or “hoo” calls, responding to particular events and types of predator.
In a BBC4 Radio Interview Dr Esther Clarke, lead author of the research and a Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, said a male and a female will sing together in the morning time - in what can be both a territorial and a sexual duet.
She said the “hoos” were distinct from each-other in significant ways, to the extent that they may provide clues on the evolution of human speech.
“It gives us clues to the evolutionary roots of complex communication-like language,” she said.
To see the full interview click here
(9 Apr 2015)
MSc/MA Bursary awards
Eaga Charitable Trust makes a small number of £1,000 Masters bursary awards each year. The deadlines for the receipt of applications for Masters bursary awards in 2015 are: 2 February and 7 April. For further information, follow this link: Masters bursary awards.
(24 Mar 2015)
Scholarship for MSc Energy & Society now available!
DONG Energy (Danish Oil and Natural Gas) are offering one scholarship for an outstanding UK student who will be starting the course in September 2015. The scholarship will have a value of up to £6,000. DONG Energy is one of the leading energy groups in northern Europe with almost 7000 employees. Headquartered in Denmark, their business is based on procuring, producing, distributing and trading in energy and related products in northern Europe. DONG Energy is one of the leading offshore wind farm developers in the world, with more than 20 years' experience in the wind power industry. The UK is one of DONG's primary markets for developing offshore wind and DONG invested £4 billion in UK renewables since 2004, helping develop the secure, low carbon energy supplies the UK needs. This is a unique opportunity as these scholarships are only available to UK students who wish to study on the MSc Energy and Society at Durham University.
The deadline for DONG scholarship applications is 30th June 2015. By the deadline, you must have completed your Durham University MSc application and have sent a 400-500 word supporting statement of why you should be considered for a scholarship to email@example.com
(19 Mar 2015)
Durham anthropologist Dr Thom Scott-Phillips has published a new article, in Current Anthropology, on primate communication and the origins of human language. The article bridges the gap between theoretical concepts used in animal communication literature and the corresponding literature on human communication. To read more click here.
(6 Mar 2015)
Post Graduate Taught Scholarship Scheme
Durham University is pleased to announce scholarships worth £10,000 for taught Masters students for 2015-16. Please see https://www.dur.ac.uk/scholarships/postgraduate/university/pss2/
for further details, and contact us if you have any queries.
(18 Feb 2015)
THE DURHAM PRIDE LECTURES
REFLECTIONS ON QUEERING LAW AND SEX(UALITY), CHRIS ASHFORD
Monday 23rd February, 2015: 7.30pm, Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College, Durham, DH1 3LJ
Following on from the success of last month’s lecture, Durham Pride is pleased to announce a public talk delivered by Prof. Chris Asfhord of Northumbria University.
Chris has published widely on the area of law and sexuality and legal education. A queer theorist; his research explores the intersection of law, sexuality and technology and has focused upon the phenomena of public sex, male for male sex work and more recently, barebacking. He has advised LGBT community and health groups, the NHS, Police and UK Parliament. Pink News – the most read British gay news service – named Chris as 26th in the top 50 Twitter users who influenced LGBT lives the most in 2011. His legal education research has explored and documented the rise of the apprenticeship route to qualification, and the impact upon Law Schools, whilst his pedagogic research has focused upon the use of technology and media.
Chris is currently Professor of Law and Society at Northumbria University, where he convenes the Gender Sexuality and Law Research Interest Group. He is also on the editorial board of the recently founded journal “Porn Studies”.
The talk will last approximately 50 minutes with a Q&A to close.
Click here for more information on travel to St Aidan’s college. Limited parking is available nearby: https://www.dur.ac.uk/st-aidans.college/
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(18 Feb 2015)
Sutton Trust Summer School
Applications for the Durham University Sutton Trust Summer School are Open! For more information and to apply please visit: http://bit.ly/1CMdJOX
(13 Feb 2015)
A further episode of the South African Documentary series 5050 features the work of Durham Anthropology's Primate and Predator Project The Project studies large carnivores and mitigating human wildlife conflict and is based at the Anthropology Field Station in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa. Watch it here.
(30 Jan 2015)
BBC Ask Durham Anthropologist 'What Makes an Urban Legend?'
In an article just published on the BBC website, Dr. Jamie Tehrani explains what makes some stories go viral, drawing on his research into folktales and urban legends (carried out with Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a recent PhD graduate of the department, and Dr. Emma Flynn from the Institute of Education). Read the full article here.
(26 Jan 2015)
Annual Anthropology Postgraduate Conference 2015
Where Will Your Research Take Us?
29th April 2015, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College, Durham University
This year's Postgraduate Conference endeavours to illustrate the diversity within anthropology and its relevance to the wider world. With an increasing number of researchers around the globe and in the media interested in understanding human behaviours, practices and repertoires, the conference will challenge you to ask yourself how your work engages with the public. The annual Anthropology Postgraduate Conference is an excellent opportunity to practice presenting your work in front of an academic body and get feedback on it in a relaxed encouraging environment.
Deadline for papers is 30 January 2015. For more information please contact email@example.com
(14 Jan 2015)
Primate and Predator Project featured in South African nature documentary
The work of Durham Anthropology's Primate and Predator Project, which studies large carnivores and mitigating human wildlife conflict was recently featured on 5050, a South African nature documentary. It has now been uploaded to YouTube – watch it at youtube
The Project's primate work, which is based at the Anthropology Field Station in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa, will also feature on 5050 this Sunday (the 18th of January) at 7:30 pm on SABC3. If you are in South Africa check it out.
(14 Jan 2015)
Legalising Rhino Horn Trade won't save species
Durham Anthropologist, Dr Kate Nowak, discusses in National Geographic "What can South Africa's rhino horn trade proponents learn from experiences with the South American vicuña?" To read more visit National Geographic.
(13 Jan 2015)
Excellent REF2014 results for Durham Anthropology
(18 Dec 2014) » More about Excellent REF2014 results for Durham Anthropology
ASAB Conference 2015
We are delighted to be hosting the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour’s Postgraduate Workshop and Easter Conference from 18th to 20th March 2015. Please see http://asabeaster2015.tk/
(12 Dec 2014)
The Economic and the Political: Locating the Greek Crisis within History and Anthropology
Durham Anthropologists, Dr Elisabeth Kirtsoglou and Dr Daniel M Knight are hosting a workshop that will bring together leading scholars from history and anthropology working on numerous aspects of Greek crises, past and present. The workshop will open a dialogue between the disciplines to demonstrate the fruitful combination of ethnographic and historical research, delocalising the current crisis and placing it within a complex historical context of power asymmetries. To find out more or get involved please visit the website
(5 Dec 2014)
How Citizens lead the Search for Mexico's Missing
Relatives of the disappeared in Mexico create the first independent forensic and DNA database to search for their loved. Durham Anthropologist, Ernesto Schwartz-Marin and Durham Geographer, Arely Cruz-Santiago write about the work of Letty, one of the sixteen members of Citizen-Led Forensics, an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, UK) sponsored project based at Durham University that aims to transform the relationship between science and its "publics" as we know it.
To read more visit the website.
(2 Dec 2014)
Human Sciences Programmes Memorial
This week has seen our graduates of the Human Sciences/Anthropology programmes at Queen’s Campus (92 – 14) invited to take part in a special project. We plan to create an electronic display to be located in Dawson building which will scroll through the names and year of graduation of the students who completed one of our programmes at Queen’s Campus. We are hoping to contact as many of 1,475 graduates as possible.
To find out more please click here
(28 Nov 2014)
Sex and the size effect – why reporting on gender is often hyped
Evolutionary psychology, the field that uses the process of natural selection to provide a theoretical framework to explain human behaviour, gets in the press a lot. And if there’s one thing that gets web hits, it’s stories about sex. But just how relevant are such sexy facts to the reader? How does a scientific truth relate to an individual life? The answer is not as simple as it might seem at first.
Durham Anthropologist, Dr Ian Rickard discusses reporting on gender in an article in The Conversation. To read the article please click here.
(27 Nov 2014)
Code of Best Practices for Field Primatology now available
Durham Primatologist, Jo Setchell, was part of an international team behind the 'Code of Best Practices for Field Primatology'.
The code is designed to help field primatologists navigate the contemporary ethical landscape and is available here
(24 Nov 2014)
Communicating Across the Cosmos: Summary of a Workshop on Interstellar Message Design
For over a half century, astronomers involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have scanned the skies for signals from distant civilizations. Would humans be able to decode information-rich signals from another planet? Could we create a “universal language” that would be meaningful to an independently evolved civilization? To help answer these questions, on November 10-11 the SETI Institute will convene a multidisciplinary, international workshop at its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Speakers from six countries including Durham Anthropologist Klara Anna Capova, will draw on disciplines ranging from astronomy and mathematics, to anthropology and linguistics, as they debate the best ways to create meaningful messages. While the two-day workshop is closed to the public, all talks will later be posted on the SETI Institute’s Youtube channel. On the day following the workshop, several of the speakers will summarize the key ideas discussed as part of the SETI Institute’s public weekly colloquium series, held on November 12, at 12:00 noon. For more information please visit the website. or click here
(17 Nov 2014)
Copying varies cross-culturally: People from China rely more on other people’s solutions to complex tasks than people from the UK
Ebola in Focus: Rapid Response Roundtable
In light of the recent and continuing outbreak the University of Edinburgh's Global Development Academy is hosting a Rapid Response Roundtable on Ebola.
This event will be streamed live from 4pm on 10 November 2014, with the live video stream being played on the event website.
You can also find out information about the other speakers on the website.
(10 Nov 2014)
Evolutionary Analysis Beyond the Gene
Jamie Tehrani, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, is co-organising a Royal Society international scientific meeting on 17th – 18th November with Professor Christopher Howe (Biochemistry, Cambridge) on ‘Evolutionary Analysis Beyond the Gene’. The meeting will examine how principles of phylogenetic analysis can be applied to datasets other than DNA or protein, including linguistics, archaeology, behaviour, anthropology and literature, bringing together a number of world leading experts in these fields. Further details are available from the Royal Society’s website
(10 Nov 2014)
Speaking our Minds
Language is an essential part of what makes us human. Where did it come from? How did it develop into the complex system we know today? And what can an evolutionary perspective tell us about the nature of language and communication?
In his new book, Durham Research Fellow, Dr Thom Scott-Phillips draws on a range of disciplines including cognitive science, linguistics, anthropology and evolutionary biology. Speaking Our Minds explains how language evolved and why we are the only species to communicate in this way.
To find out more please click here.
(31 Oct 2014)
Indigenous Legal Mentoring and Understanding
Dr Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti will lecture in a course on Indigenous Legal Mentoring and Understanding (1st-2nd November 2014). The course is aimed at legal practitioners representing or intending to represent the rights of individuals or groups belonging to indigenous societies. The course is also intended to assist legal practitioners engaged in pro bono work to form a professional support and knowledge-sharing network, including collaborative research relationships with law students. This event organised by the UCL Science, Medicine and Society Network in conjunction with UCL Faculty of Laws.
(27 Oct 2014)
World Disaster Report 2014
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies World Disasters Report 2014, takes on a challenging theme as it questions why culture is not a central consideration in disaster risk reduction efforts, and how disasters and risk influence culture. Durham Anthropologist, Dr Claudia Merli has co-authored a Chapter of the report entitled ‘How religion and belief influence attitudes to risk’ which describes how people’s perceptions and attitudes towards risk are shaped by religion, custom and social norms. To read the report in full click here.
(23 Oct 2014)
Dr Hannah Brown blogs on Ebola
The work on Ebola of Durham Anthropologist, Dr Hannah Brown and others has been posted on the Medical Anthropology blog Somatosphere. The opening post is part of an ongoing series called Ebola Fieldnotes and makes the case for an anthropological contribution to understanding and managing the outbreak. The work of Hannah and her collaborators has attracted an ESRC Urgency Award to conduct the research on Ebola.
To view the blog click here
(20 Oct 2014)
International award for Durham University expert
DurhamUniversity academic and social anthropologist Dr Nayanika Mookherjee has won a prestigious international award for her work in the area of gendered violence during wars.
Dr Mookherjee will be presented with the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Samman 2014 Award for outstanding services, achievements and contributions, at a ceremony in the House of Lords, London on 9th October.
The event, chaired by Rt. Honourable Baroness Verma, will see 30 honours being awarded by the Non Resident Indians Welfare Society of India.
Nayanika Mookherjee, who works in Durham University’s Department of Anthropology said: “It means a lot for my work on gendered violence during wars to be recognised by the Indian and British authorities. By examining wartime rape during the Bangladesh war of 1971, I have been able to ethnographically, historically and theoretically draw out lessons from it for other conflicts. As an invited expert and delegate to the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Summit held in June 2014 in UK, I was able to engage critically with this phenomenon at the international level and suggest ways of ameliorating the conditions of those raped during conflict.
Professor Helen Ball, Head of Anthropology at DurhamUniversity said: “Our academics conduct work with tremendous impact for society in the UK and abroad. Nayanika’s work is one example where careful anthropological research sheds new light on issues with far-reaching public significance. We are very pleased to receive national and international recognition for this work.”
(20 Oct 2014)
Durham Anthropologist interviewed about brain research on BBC Radio 5 Live
The cerebellum was more important for the evolution of humans' cognitive skills than previously thought. This is the conclusion of a new study of the way the brain expanded in humans and apes conducted by Robert Barton of Durham University and Chris Venditti of the University of Reading.
Professor Barton was interviewed about the findings for 'The Naked Scientist' programme on BBC Radio 5 Live.
(9 Oct 2014)
Durham Anthropologist’s Research revealed on BBC Documentary
BBC 4 Documentary ‘Great Apes’ explores the evolution of the great ape's brain to reveal how different parts have been adapted over time by its anatomy, ingenuity and sociability, culminating in one of the most complex brains on the planet. New research, conducted by Durham University Anthropologist Prof Rob Barton, reveals that ape intelligence is based on unique features of their brains.
The documentary airs on BBC 4 at 8.30pm on 24 September. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04j8ttk
(24 Sep 2014)
Anthropology Professor launches book
Paul Sillitoe, Professor of Anthropology at Durham University launches Sustainable Development: An Appraisal from the Gulf Region, an encyclopedic book he has painstakingly edited, at Qatar University’s Centre for Humanities and Social Science Research. Paul, speaking to the Gulf Times said ‘Sustainable development does not mean building high rise buildings only, but involves planning for the years ahead when oil and gas reserves are no longer available or become redundant because of new technology’. To read more about Paul’s work in Qatar please visit http://www.gulf-times.com/mobile//qatar/178/details/408379/book-on-sustainable-development-looks-at-qatar-centric-issues and http://www.gulf-times.com/mobile//culture/238/details/408440/needed:-sustained-interest
(23 Sep 2014)
Dr Kate Nowak blogs about Zambia's Hunting 'Bans'
Durham Anthropologist, Dr K Nowak discusses Hunting Bans in Zambia on the National Geographic Website.
Kate writes that on 21 August Zambia was reported to have 'Lifted its hunting ban' and goes on to ask "Was there ever a hunting ban in Zambia, has Zambia resumed hunting, and will elephants be hunted?" To read the blog in full please visit http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/09/16/zambias-hunting-bans-shedding-light-on-a-complicated-history/
(23 Sep 2014)
Professor Helen Ball featured in TAMBA Video Series
TAMBA (The Twins and Multiple Birth Association) have announced the release of a series of videos featuring Professor Helen Ball discussing Durham University's Parent-Infant Sleep Lab's findings into the sleeping habits of multiples. The videos answer parents questions about the safest way to sleep multiples and what to expect from multiples' sleep patterns. The videos are available at http://www.tamba.org.uk/Parenting/First-Year/Sleep
(22 Sep 2014)
Ben Kasstan wins the Margaret Clark Award 2014
Ben Kasstan, PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Durham has won the 2014 Margaret Clark award competition sponsored by the Association for Anthropology and Gerontology. This award supports the continued pursuit of work following the example of Margaret Clark, a pioneer in the multidisciplinary study of socio-cultural gerontology and medical anthropology, and a scholar committed to mentoring younger colleagues. Ben submitted his Wellcome-funded MSc Medical Anthropology dissertation which was based on research with a community of Shoah survivors. Further information is available at http://anthropologyandgerontology.com/?p=647
Congratulations to Ben on winning this prestigious award!
(21 Sep 2014)
Durham Anthropology Student 'Highly Commended' in The Undergraduate Awards 2014
Julia Galway-Witham's Palaeoanthropology essay 'Consider the overall pattern of hominin evolution, using examples from at least two distinct time periods. What major patterns of diversity are evident in the hominin fossil record, and how can they be illustrated using examples from your chosen period? What do you consider to be the likely evolutionary and adaptive processes underlying them?', has been Highly Commended in the Classical Studies & Archaeology category of The Undergraduate Awards 2014.
Julia ranks in the top 10% of submissions to this year’s programme, which received 4,792 submissions from undergraduate students around the world. She is now in the running to be named a final winner of the prize. As a Highly Commended entrant, she has also been invited to the UA Global Summit, which brings together Winners and Highly Commended entrants from all over the world to Dublin, Ireland in November 2014. Julia graduated in June 2014 and is soon headed to UCL for a Masters programme. Well done, Julia!
(20 Sep 2014)
Durham University recognised for advancing gender equality
Durham anthropologist Dr Kate Nowak warns about private hunting companies' impact on elephants
Durham anthropologist Dr Kate Nowak has written on the National Geographic's website about the dangers that private hunting companies pose for elephant populations.
She writes that while governments are making increasing efforts to protect elephants and their ecosystems, this effort is threatened by companies that allow trophy hunting and the shooting of wild game for sport.
She recommends that governments impose top-down bans on trophy hunting, lest previous efforts to curb elephant hunting be undone.
(1 Sep 2014)
Durham MAnth graduate is awarded PhD studentship at Cardiff University
Harriet Quinn-Scoggins, a recent graduate of Durham's MAnth Medical Anthropology degree, has been awarded a fully-funded PhD studentship at Cardiff University sponsored by The Healing Foundation, and based in the School of Medicine and the Cochrane Institute of Primary Care and Public Health.
The MAnth programmes are four-year integrated masters programmes which combine three years of undergraduate study with an additional fourth year of masters-level study.
Harriet's MAnth thesis was conducted within the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab and supervised by Prof Helen Ball. She examined paternal-infant nighttime interactions and how the ideology of the 'new-father' shapes current paternal personal experiences, understanding and knowledge of infant sleep. Harriet says "Although I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate years and masters research at Durham University I am happy to have a change of direction and combine my academic studies with my personal interest in the teaching of first aid."
The Healing Foundation is a national charity championing those living with disfigurement through the funding of holistic research for physical and psychological healing treatments and rehabilitation techniques, alongside raising awareness and preventative measures. Harriet's PhD studentship, titled 'A school based intervention for childhood burns and scalds', will work towards raising awareness and preventative measures. She will be designing and testing a program of teaching for primary school aged children on the topic of burns, scalds and first aid. Childhood burns and scalds are a significant problem and have the potential for life long scarring and psycosocial consequences. While preschool children predominate, there is another peak prevalence in older children as they become involved in food preparation,domestic chores, and high risk behaviours outside the home. Most prevention programs address parents, thus effective prevention and first aid knowledge is limited amongst this age group. Thus there is a perfect gap for a school based intervention to reduce avoidable burns and increase effective first aid. Hopefully the message, if successful, will help to inform the next generation of parents.
Read more about the range of degrees offered by the Department of Anthropology at Durham, and the work of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab.
(1 Sep 2014)
Durham anthropology teaching rated highly in the National Student Survey (NSS)
Durham anthropology undergraduate students have reported high levels of satisfaction with teaching on their course, according to this year’s National Student Survey (NSS).
From a sample of 96 third-year Durham anthropology undergraduates, 94% agreed with the statement “Staff are good at explaining things”, 93% agreed that “Staff have made the subject interesting”, 96% agreed that “Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching”, and 95% agreed that “The course is intellectually stimulating”.
Overall, 91% of Durham anthropology respondents agreed that “Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course”. This is higher than the average of 87% for all UK anthropology departments.
Durham University as a whole achieved a top ten position among Higher Education Institutions, maintaining its position as one of the highest ranked mainstream UK universities for student satisfaction.
The National Student Survey (NSS) is an independent annual survey that evaluates how satisfied students are with the overall quality of their higher education experience. University-level data can be found on the NSS website, while subject-level data will be published in September on the Unistats website.
(12 Aug 2014)
Durham primatologist features on BBC's Talk To The Animals
Durham anthropology PhD student Andrea Donaldson features in BBC One's "Talk To The Animals" this Thursday, 10th July at 20.00
Andrea will be talking about her work with vervet monkeys in Kenya, and how they use alarm calls to communicate with each other about predators.
(10 Jul 2014)
Anthropology PhD graduates attend graduation ceremony
Anthropology PhD graduates Martyn Hurst, Emilio Berrocal, Lyn Robinson, Carolyn O'Connor and Denise Crane attended their graduation ceremony earlier this month at Durham Cathedral.
The photo shows the PhD graduates with present and past Heads of Department Profs Helen Ball and Bob Simpson.
(7 Jul 2014)
Haringey Bursary for Durham's MSc Energy and Society - deadline extended to July 21st
In partnership with Haringey Council, a student bursary is available for Durham University's MSc in Energy and Society. The deadline for applications has now been extended to July 21st
The bursary covers UK/EU fees plus an amount to cover expenses for dissertation research towards Haringey’s carbon reduction and inequality goals. Dissertation topics should be developed in dialogue with Haringey and their local partners within the following theme:
Changing households and improving domestic energy efficiency? The role of the Green Deal Communities Funding programme.
Applications will be considered on the quality of a research proposal put forward in relation to the above theme. The actual project undertaken will be developed with guidance from course tutors and in dialogue with Haringey council.
Applicants for the bursary should hold an offer of a place on the MSc Energy and Society. If you do not already have an offer, please apply via the university’s online application website.
Bursary applications should use the attached outline and be submitted by 21st July 2014 as email attachments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Durham's MSc Energy and Society
For further information about Haringey Carbon Commission, see: www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/the-haringey-carbon-commission
Priority will be given to applicants resident in the borough of Haringey.
(7 Jul 2014)
Dr Paolo Fortis organises Art & Anthropology Workshop
Five speakers, including Paolo, will address the past and future contributions that anthropology can make to the study of art. Paolo's talk is entitled "The aesthetics of power and alterity among Kuna people".
(2 Jul 2014)
Durham anthropologist Frances Thirlway appears on BBC Newcastle radio to discuss smoking in the NE
PhD researcher Frances Thirlway appeared on BBC Newcastle's Breakfast Show on 24th March to contribute to a discussion on smoking in the North-East of England.
Frances' research is a multi-generational ethnography of a former mining village in County Durham, with a specific application to smoking as cultural practice. Her work relates to identity, class and culture, and is strongly rooted in local history.
(19 Jun 2014)
Dr Nayanika Mookherjee participates in Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict
Dr. Nayanika Mookherjee from the Department of Anthropology at Durham was invited as an expert and delegate to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in London from 10-13th June, which was co-chaired by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy and actor Angelina Jolie.
The summit brought together government representatives including 79 Ministers from 129 countries; 1,700 delegates in total including 8 UN Agency Heads, as well as presidents and prosecutors from the ICC and international tribunals, and over 300 delegates from conflict affected countries.
There were more than 20 expert sessions looking at every aspect of ending sexual violence in conflict from children affected by conflict to investigating and prosecuting these crimes, to the role of faith leaders, military and peace-keeping reforms and how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies.
Dr. Mookherjee is currently on a British Academy mid career fellowship examining 'war babies.'
(18 Jun 2014)
Anthropology success in the Durham Student Union Staff Awards
Two members of the anthropology department have been honoured in the 2014 Durham Student Union "Staff Awards". These awards are voted for by students across the entire university.
(19 May 2014)
Dr Katarzyna Nowak blogs about the US domestic ivory ban
Durham anthropologist Dr Kate Nowak has blogged for National Geographic about the forthcoming blanket ban in the U.S. on domestic ivory use imposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Contrary to other commentators who have questioned the effectiveness of such a blanket ban, Dr Nowak argues that the USFWS's strategy will be effective in driving down illegal trade within U.S. national borders, and make the U.S. better positioned to engage in constructive diplomatic dialogue with other nations facing the problem of high illegal ivory flows.
(16 May 2014)
Durham Anthropology: A top-10 department at a top-10 university
According to the 2015 Complete University Guide, Durham is the only university to rank in the top-10 for every single course offered, including Anthropology. Durham ranks 5th overall, and is placed 4th in the UK for graduate prospects.
(13 May 2014)
Anthropology staff win teaching awards
Two members of the Department of Anthropology have won teaching awards, as publicised in the latest edition of the Quality Enahncement at Durham (QED) newsletter.
Dr Sandra Bell won the Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Award, given to PhD supervisors who exhibit outstanding interest and enthusiasm in training PhD students.
Dr Fire Kovarovic won an award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, for her undergraduate and masters level teaching of palaeoanthropology.
(28 Apr 2014)
New podcast on lung disease by Dr Megan Wainwright
Dr Megan Wainwright, Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Durham, has started a podcast reporting on her research into lung disease.
The first podcast includes illness-narrative interviews with seven research participants.
(22 Apr 2014)
Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin wins ESRC Transformative Research grant
Congratulations to Durham anthropologist Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin, whose proposal ‘Citizen Led Forensics: DNA & data-banking as technologies of disruption-a novel way to learn and intervene in the search for the disappeared in Mexico’ has been recommended for funding of £196k through the ESRC's Transformative Research call.
(10 Apr 2014)
Dr Simone Abram wins Durham's first University of the Arctic grant
Congratulations to Durham anthropologist Dr Simone Abram who has received Durham's first ever Universtiy of the Arctic (UArctic) grant.
UArctic is a cooperative network of universities, colleges, and other organizations committed to higher education and research in the North.
(10 Apr 2014)
Durham Anthropology Department hosts conference on 'Rhythms of Infant Life'
Durham Anthropology Department hosted researchers from Japan, Australia, Taiwan and USA last week (31st March to 2nd April) for a conference and workshop on the Rhythms of Infant Life, proposed as part of the IAS ’Light’ theme by Dr Alanna Rudzik (International JRF) and Professor Helen Ball (Head of Anthropology).
Over 200 UK health professionals and infant sleep researchers attended the public conference, while at the workshop the researchers mapped out a proposal for a multi-country study on infant circadian development, family functioning and parental postnatal depression.
(10 Apr 2014)
PhD student Ben Kasstan wins award for 'Interfaith Project of the Year'
Durham Anthropology PhD student Ben Kasstan has won the 'Interfaith Project of the Year' at the 6th Annual Union of Jewish Students awards.
Ben was awarded this prize for setting up the Muslim-Jewish Forum in Durham. The forum focuses on unity and cohesion, whilst simultaneously celebrating differences. Along with the Durham Islamic Society, Ben has organised many events including a discussion of Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism, the former in relation to the hijab (headscarf) and the latter concerning the Y-word football debate. Ben initiated an interfaith Shabbat meal, hosting Jews, Muslims and Christians.
(10 Apr 2014)
Workshop on Ethnographic Filmmaking
Durham University’s Residential Workshop on Ethnographic Filmmaking will take place in the Lake District from 30 May to 2 June 2014. Organised by the Department of Anthropology and financially supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council, the workshop aims to introduce the history, theory and practice of ethnographic film to Durham University-based postgraduate researchers of anthropology and AHRC-related disciplines who are interested in ethnographic research and audio-visual media.
In an intensive 4-day practical and theoretical training, participants will get acquainted with key concepts of ethnographic film language. They will gain understanding and basic skills in various audio-visual techniques for ethnographic filmmaking and develop confidence in using the medium of film for research purposes regardless of limited financial and technical resources.
The main emphasis of the training will be placed on creating short ethnographic films in a small group setting following established practices of film production. The practical challenge will be preceded by a series of introductory sessions that will focus on the history and theory of ethnographic film language as well as the basics of handling audio-visual equipment and journalism.
Meals, accommodation and transportation will be covered for all selected participants.
(4 Apr 2014)
Durham Anthropology photo competition winners
In February 2014 the Department of Anthropology held a competition amongst current undergraduates and postgraduates to find the best photographs showing anthropological learning or research in action. We had a large number of entries, showcasing our students' activities in Stockton, Durham, South Africa, The Philippines and many other parts of the world.
The judges were impressed by the high quality of the photographs and choosing winners was a difficult task. As a consequence there are four winners in the undergraduate category. Congratulations to all those who entered!
Prizes were awarded to:
- Rosie Gilbert and Zivarna Murphy
- Lisa Meyering and Charlotte Cook (runners up, to share a prize)
- Dalia Iskander, Katy Williams and Andrea Donaldson
One of the winning photographs is shown below, and you can see the rest here.
(17 Mar 2014)
Durham Anthropology researchers participate in Nature Night to promote wildlife conservation in South Africa
Drs Sam and Katy Williams, coordinators of Durham Anthropology's Primate and Predator Project, took part in a 'Nature Night' to promote wildlife conservation in the Soutpansberg area of South Africa, where the researchers work.
The event was reported in the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror newspapers. Download a reprint of the article here: Nature Night puts focus on local conservation.
(12 Mar 2014)
Postgraduate Conference 2014
On Friday, 9 May 2014, Durham University's Department of Anthropology will hold its annual Postgraduate Conference. Part of a discipline with a myriad of sub-disciplines, we aim to explore the wholeness of anthropology and also celebrate its ubiquity. Crossing boundaries, embracing the other and thinking holistically, is it possible to speak with one voice from multiple places?
Please join us for this Postgraduate Conference hosted by the Department of Anthropology and share in this vital and vivid discussion.
(13 Feb 2014)
Leopard populations larger than expected, find Durham anthropologists
An inaccessible, rugged mountain region in northeast South Africa is home to the densest leopard population outside a state-protected area anywhere in Africa, according to a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE by Durham anthropologists Dr Julia Chase Grey, Dr Vivian Kent and Dr Russell Hill.
(30 Jan 2014)
Applying to do Anthropology? Take part in our online chat session.
Applying to do Anthropology? To find out more about our degrees and what the Department has to offer, take part in our online chat session on Tuesday 4th February 2014 from 2.30 to 4.30 p.m.
Available to answer any questions you may have about studying Anthropology here at Durham will be Professor Rob Barton, Director of Admissions, Rosie Legg, Admissions Secretary, and one of our current 3rd-year students.
(26 Jan 2014)
Stockpiling seized ivory lends it undeserved legitimacy, argues Durham anthropologist Dr Katarzyna Nowak
Countries should be encouraged to destroy, rather than stockpile, confiscated ivory, argues Durham anthropologist Dr Katarzyna Nowak in The Conversation today (23rd Jan 2014).
Dr Nowak writes ahead of a decision by Hong Kong's Endangered Species Advisory Committee about whether to follow China's lead and destroy its own 33-tonne stockpile of contraband ivory.
Stockpiling ivory, Dr Nowak argues, wastes time, money and contributes to ambiguity over the legal status of contraband ivory. Destruction of ivory, on the other hand, sends an unambiguous message to poachers that their trade is unprofitable.
(23 Jan 2014)
Durham Anthropology research features in BBC 'Wild Brazil' series
Research conducted by Durham anthropologists Camila Coelho and Dr Rachel Kendal and their collaborator Prof Edu Ottoni of Sao Paulo University on the spread of novel foraging information through groups of capuchin monkeys (shown right) is featured in the BBC's new "Wild Brazil" television series.
The programme airs on BBC2 in the UK at 9pm on 14 - 16th January 2014.
(12 Jan 2014)
Dr Katarzyna Nowak reports on declining elephant numbers
Dr Katarzyna Nowak, a Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Durham, has written a guest blog for National Geographic on the declining numbers of wild elephants in Africa.
Dr Nowak and her co-author Trevor Jones argue that the estimate from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that “one-fifth of Africa’s elephants could be wiped out in the next ten years, at current poaching levels” is a huge underestimate given the widespread killing of elephants for their tusks over the last five to ten years.
(18 Dec 2013)
Intercalated MSc Degrees in Medical Anthropology and Evolutionary Medicine
Final year medical student Emily Rankin (right) spoke to a packed hall of Newcastle University medics about her positive experiences studying for a taught intercalated MSc with dissertation at Durham University’s Anthropology Department at an intercalated degree opportunities event on November 6th 2013.
Intercalated Masters degrees are taken by medical students who want to explore particular subject areas in more depth, normally between their 4th/5th years at medical school, and are increasingly important for careers in medicine. The Anthropology Department at Durham offers MSc degrees in Evolutionary Medicine and Medical Anthropology.
For further information about intercalated masters’ opportunities at Durham please contact Dr Andrew Russell and Prof Gillian Bentley, or the Anthropology Department’s Director of Taught Postgraduate programmes, Dr Tessa Pollard.
(12 Dec 2013)
Jamie Tehrani’s research featured in “Top 100 Academic Papers That Captured the Public’s Imagination in 2013”
Durham Anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani’s cross-cultural study of the evolution of the story Little Red Riding Hood, published in the journal PLOS ONE, has been included in a list of the Top 100 Papers That Captured the Public’s Imagination in 2013 (at number 61), compiled by Altmetric.com.
Altmetric uses quantitative data on social media and blogging activity – such as facebook shares and tweets – to measure the popularity and impact of academic research articles among the general public.
(11 Dec 2013)
Dr Thomas Yarrow reports on conservation work consultation
Dr Thomas Yarrow from the Department of Anthropology gave a talk at the Science and Heritage Programme Conference “Sustaining the Impact of Heritage Research” in London last week.
Dr Yarrow reported the results of a survey of visitors to one of Scotland’s best known architectural landmarks, the Hill House in Helensburgh, designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh in 1904, as well as interviews with people involved in conservation of the house.
Dr Yarrow told the conference that the survey and interviews reveal how conservation science is not something that happens in a vacuum and that it needs to be framed within the context of philosophical issues, minimum intervention, ideas about authenticity.
Read more on the Heritage Portal website
(15 Nov 2013)
Dr Jamie Tehrani's new research explores the origins of Little Red Riding Hood
New research by Durham anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani explores the cultural evolution of folk tales Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf and the Kids, finding that the two stories share a common but ancient root.
Dr Tehrani subjected 58 variants of the folk tales to phylogenetic analysis, a method more commonly used by biologists for grouping together closely-related organisms to form a tree of life diagram, but more recently used by Dr Tehrani and others to reconstruct cultural evolutionary patterns.
Read more Science on the trail of The Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood and read the original study, published in the journal PLOS ONE.
(14 Nov 2013)
Prof Bob Layton appointed to the Chinese National Academy of Arts as their first Chinese government funded 'High-End Foreign Expert'
Prof Bob Layton from the Department of Anthropology at Durham has been appointed to the Chinese National Academy of Arts as their first Chinese government funded 'High-End Foreign Expert'.
Prof Layton's role will be to lecture postgraduates on research methods with particular reference to the Anthropology of Art, and to work with research students in the field. He will spend a minimum of two months a year in China for the next three years.
This appointment follows previous exchanges and research collaborations between Durham Anthropology and Chinese universities, spearheaded by Prof Layton.
(14 Nov 2013)
Durham Anthropology participates in gender equality trial
The Department of Anthropology has been chosen to participate in the Equality Challenge Unit’s gender equality charter mark trial.
The gender equality charter mark aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in the arts, humanities and social sciences, in particular the underrepresentation of women in senior roles. The charter mark covers academic staff, professional and support staff, men, women and gender identity.
The Department of Anthropology was selected to participate in a trial awards round and are working towards submitting to the trial award round by 30 April 2014. The formal launch of the charter mark is expected to be around October 2014.
See more at Gender equality charter mark project page.
(5 Nov 2013)
Parent-Infant Sleep Lab participates in Durham University 'Celebrate Science' Festival
Members of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab from the Department of Anthropology participated in the Durham University 'Celebrate Science' Festival on Palace Green during half-term week, 29th-31st October 2013.
On the left are just a few of several thousand visitors who came and learned about science, including sleep!
(3 Nov 2013)
Anthropology Department BSc and MAnth Programme Alterations
We are pleased to announce that the Anthropology Department’s three and four-year programmes currently offered at Queen’s Campus will be consolidated in Durham from the 2014/15 academic year onwards.
This will allow us to focus our facilities, staff and students in a single location and thereby offer a wider choice of module and degree choice to current and prospective students than has previously been available in either location.
Students who apply to study our three-year BA or BSc degrees, or four-year integrated MAnth degrees for October 2014 entry should anticipate that all teaching will take place in Durham. Entry requirements remain as advertised for 2014 entry. We are committed to ensuring that student contact hours and experience will be enhanced through this consolidation.
More information is available from the Changes in 2014 page.
(28 Oct 2013)
Symposium: The Changing Landscape of Tobacco Use in Lowland South America
A group of ten anthropologists met in Durham for two days at the end of July for a symposium ‘The changing landscape of tobacco use in lowland South America’, funded by the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing and a Santander mobility grant.
The aim of the symposium was to explore how traditional modes of tobacco use in lowland South America, arguably its historical ‘source’ region, contrast with the ways in which tobacco has been appropriated for commercial exploitation by the transnational tobacco industry around the world, and the ways in which tobacco is viewed by those in the field of tobacco control who seek global solutions to this worldwide problem.
The symposium was hosted by Dr Andrew Russell (Durham) and Elizabeth Rahman (Oxford). It brought in distinguished scholars and newcomers alike, including Prof Juan Alvaro Echeverri from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Prof Peter Gow (St Andrew’s), Alejandro Reig (Oxford), Paolo Fortis (Durham), Juan Pablo Barletti (St Andrew’s), Renzo S. Duin (Leiden). The symposium participants reflected on new and customary forms of tobacco cultivation in lowland South America (or the absence of such forms in some cases), its exchange and consumption. Contemporary indigenous and anthropological knowledge and practice was compared with that contained in Johannes Wilbert’s seminal publication Tobacco and Shamanism in South America (Yale University Press, 1987). All participants agreed that the time was right to revisit this important topic, to record the changing landscapes of indigenous tobacco use and the likely significance of these trends in terms of human health and well-being.
An edited book volume will be produced from the Symposium containing contributions from the symposium participants and other experts in the field. For more information please contact Dr Andrew Russell in the Department of Anthropology.
(10 Oct 2013)
Alex Flynn's article on UK immigration in the New Internationalist
Alex Flynn, a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Durham, has put forward an anthropological take on the rise of Ukip and the politics of immigration.
As pressure mounts to force illegal immigrants to ‘go home’, Alex's article argues that like all processes of exclusion, what is happening right now in the UK says as much about those making the rules as those being arrested. The article argues that through a racialised politics of alterity, the Conservative party and Ukip are forcing us into an entire rethinking of who we can imagine as being a British citizen.
Contact Alex on @auxmarquises and read more at:
(26 Sep 2013)
Durham Anthropology Student Wins Prestigious Undergraduate Award
Recent Durham anthropology graduate James Lyndon-Skeggs has won the prestigious Undergraduate Award 2013 in the Life Sciences category for his third-year dissertation entitled "Non-Kin Cooperation: A Prerequisite to Efficient Cumulative Culture".
The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s only pan-discipline academic awards programme that identifies the leading creative thinkers and problem solvers through their undergraduate coursework.
James was selected from over 2,000 submissions representing 26 countries and 184 institutions. He will receive his award at the awards' Global Summit in Dublin in November.
His dissertation project, supervised by Dr Rachel Kendal, involved testing the learning abilities of 120 children at the Centre for Life in Newcastle, addressing the question of how cooperation allows human culture to increase in complexity over time.
(24 Sep 2013)
Durham Anthropologist Dr Ian Rickard Debates Sir David Attenborough in The Guardian
In the article, entitled "Sir David Attenborough is wrong – humans are still evolving", Dr Rickard argues that natural selection is still very much affecting our species. He argues that many populations around the world are still impacted by diseases and lack of health care that impacts on survival, and even in societies that have high survival there may still be differences in fertility.
Dr Rickard's comments followed from a panel discussion at the British Science Festival that he organised, where a group of evolutionary scientists addressed this very issue.
Dr Rickard is one of several members of Durham's Department of Anthropology exploring human evolution past and present.
(13 Sep 2013)
Prof Helen Ball on ITV Lunchtime News Tomorrow (Aug 21st)
Prof Helen Ball will be interviewed on ITV lunchtime news tomorrow (Oct 21st) about the latest statistics from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) on the UK SIDS rates (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome / cot death) and the research conducted at Durham Anthropology Sleep Lab into factors affecting SIDS.
(20 Aug 2013)
Dr Knight's and Dr Bell's Anthropological Analysis Hightlighted in the News
Anthropological analysis by Dr Sandra Bell (Durham University) and Dr Daniel Knight (LSE) was recently published in Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. The analysis puts perspective on renewable energy programs in Greece and solar sector's potential role in recovery and has generated a significant amount of media interest. To read full articles go to:
For more about the new masters programme in Energy and Society launched by Durham Energy Institute and Durham University Anthropology Department go to Energy and Society MSc.
(16 Aug 2013)
Poor nutrition in infancy has major life impacts, finds Durham anthropologist Dr Ian Rickard
In new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Ian Rickard and colleagues have found that people who received poor nutrition in infancy are later less resilient to food deprivation in adulthood.
Using a unique historical dataset of Finnish births and deaths from the 1800s, Dr Rickard and colleagues from the University of Sheffield found that children who were underfed were later less likely to survive and less likely to reproduce during famines than children who were well fed.
This finding contradicts a popular theory that malnourishment in infancy makes people more resilient to later food deprivation, and has major implications for how we view childhood deprivation.
Media coverage of this research:
- ABC Science: No silver lining for malnourished babes
- Yorkshire Post: Babies are what they eat, say scientists
- Nature: If hunger doesn't kill you, it doesn't make you stronger
(6 Aug 2013)
Generating Dialogue Across Disciplines and Continents: Researchers meet in Durham to discuss the experience of violence, forced disappearance and peace-building in Latin America
A Mexican newspaper, ZonaFranca, recently published an article on a conference which took place in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University entitled "Rebuilding national imaginaries, reasserting torn social fabrics: Reactions to violence and disappearance in Latin America, an interdisciplinary approach".
The two-day conference brought together researchers from across Europe and Latin America, including universities and Human Rights Foundations in the UK, Spain, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Brazil. During the event, participants discussed experiences of violence and peace-building from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including anthropology, sociology, geography, history, law, literature, forensics, genetics science, journalism, music, art and human rights activism. The article, written in Spanish, features an interview with Jamie-Leigh Ruse, a PhD student in the department of Anthropology, who organised the conference along with Sergio Luis Ramirez Mendoza (PhD student in Law), Arely Cruz Santiago (MA student in Geography and Sociology), and Ernesto Schwartz Marin (Junior Research Fellow in Anthropology).
(26 Jul 2013)
Two Bursaries in Partnership with Haringey Council Announced for MSc in Energy and Society - Deadline Extended to 2 September 2013
Two funded studentships are available for the MSc in Energy and Society. The bursaries will cover UK/EU fees and research expenses. The scope of research will be developed with Haringey Council and their local partner organizations with the aim of supporting activity to reduce their carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 while tackling inequality in the borough.
Applications will be open to anyone who has been offered a place on the MSc. Applications will be open to anyone who has been offered a place on the MSc. The deadline for bursary applications has been extended to 2 September 2013. Applications should be made on the attached form and sent to the email address indicated.
If you have not already made an application for a place on the MSc, please apply through the university’s online application process.
(26 Jul 2013)
Jamie Tehrani's article in BBC News Magazine
Jamie Tehrani's article "Viewpoint: Did our brains evolve to foolishly follow celebrities?" is now available on the BBC News Magazine.
(26 Jun 2013)
Jamie Tehrani on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought
Jamie Tehrani, Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Durham, will talk on the BBC Radio 4's 'Four Thought', hosted by David Baddiel. The theme of this episode is our obsession with celebrity culture as a result of our maladapted brains.
The program will broadcast on Wednesday 26 June at 20:45 and can be played on BBC Radio 4 website.
(24 Jun 2013)
Anthropology Department Strengthens Links with China
Bob Simpson (Head of Department) and Bob Layton visited Beijing from March 23rd to 29th to build on the department’s existing bilateral exchange agreement with Shandong University of Art and Design, through meetings with senior staff at the China Academies of Arts and Social Science. On our arrival in Beijing we were met at the airport by Joanna Kwan (Guan Yi) a member of staff at the China Society for Anthropologies of Art / Chinese National Academy of Arts who is fluent in English and acted as our indispensable guide and interpreter throughout the week.
During the visit we held a formal meeting with the President and Dean of the Chinese National Academy of Arts and other colleagues. Together with Professor Fang, Director of the Art Anthropology Research Centre (a unit within the CNAA), we presented the case for establishing a formal staff-student exchange agreement with the Institute. We also met with senior staff at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, including Liu Zhen, Programme Officer, and Xudong Zhao, Director of the Institute of Anthropology at Renmin University.
We gave a number of lectures to staff and students at the Graduate School of the Chinese National Academy of Arts, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Art Anthropology Research Centre, and Minzu University (the national university for China’s minority peoples).
At Minzu University we were introduced to Zhang Mingxin, director of Minzu University’s Museum of Ethnic Cultures, and Ma Xiaohua, the deputy director, who showed us around the museum’s impressive collections of clothing and material culture from minority peoples, and a new gallery devoted to the history of writing in China. We also met Prof Jiao Pan, director of Minzu University’s Institute of Anthropology, and Zou Yuling, a PhD student in anthropology at Minzu University, who will be spending six months in the Durham Anthropology Department during 2013-4, where she will be supervised on her PhD research.
Prof Fang and Joanna Kwan took us to 798 Art Zone in north Beijing, one of the most famous contemporary art centres in China, at which are assembled a number of museums, galleries, artists’ studios and commercial stores, forming a community which the Art Anthropology Research Centre is currently studying. During the day of our evening departure Prof Fang drove us to the Great Wall, where we walked on the wall as snow was falling.
We are now following up the agreement in principle to formalise co-operation between the Department and the Art Anthropology Research Centre, and will be meeting again with senior staff from the Academy of Social Sciences during the August IUAES conference at the University of Manchester.
Report by Bob Layton
(20 Jun 2013)
Durham Anthropology Pre-application Open Day 2013
Come and see what Durham University is all about - we look forward to meeting you!
If you are thinking about applying to Durham University, a great way to explore the wealth of opportunities on offer is to come and visit us. We host a number of campus-wide open days and visit options throughout the year.
(11 Jun 2013)
Temporary Vacancy for Lecturer in Social Anthropology
The Anthropology Department, Durham University, seeks to appoint a fixed term lecturer in socio-cultural anthropology [10 months, from Sept 1st] The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to specialist courses in political anthropology as well as deliver introductory lectures in social anthropology. The appointment will provide cover for Dr Nayanika Mookherjee during her British Academy fellowship.
The appointee will be expected to enhance the Department's excellent teaching profile and contribute to student support as well as make a significant contribution to the research profile of the Department of Anthropology.
Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.
Go to Durham University vacancies website for job details or to make an application.
(30 May 2013)
Helen Ball discusses SIDS on BBC Radio 4
Helen Ball, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Durham, debated Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and bedsharing with author of controversial new report.
The program was originally broadcast on Tuesday 21 May and can be played on BBC Radio 4 website.
(23 May 2013)
MSc Energy and Society: Bursaries Available
(20 May 2013) » More about MSc Energy and Society: Bursaries Available
Durham Anthropologist Received ESRC Award for Outstanding Impact in Society
Durham Anthropology Research on Brain Evolution
(15 May 2013) » More about Durham Anthropology Research on Brain Evolution
Durham Anthropologist's Paper Attracts Significant Media Interest
A recent paper by Dr. Ian Rickard has generated a significant amount of media interest. The paper, entitled “The demographic transition influence in variance in fitness and selection in height and BMI in rural Gambia” was published in the prestigious journal Current Biology. The study demonstrates how rapidly changing human culture can alter the evolutionary forces affecting human body size. It found that as mortality and fertility rates declined, natural selection progressively favours taller individuals with lower body mass.
The paper received write-ups in three daily newspapers:
These reports illustrate an interesting relationship between scientific research and the public’s consumption of science via media interpretations. Says Dr. Rickard: “ As The Guardian piece points out, it was interesting that editors chose to attract attention to the story by using revealing pictures of tall female celebrities. This unfortunately detracts attention from our far more exciting main message (which some article authors understood), that human cultural changes don't exempt us from the effects of evolution - they influence how evolution affects us. We don't override the forces of nature; we change those forces!"
(3 May 2013)
Durham Anthropology Undergraduate Wins National Award
On Friday 19th April, at East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, one of our undergraduates, Tessa Fowler won an award for Commercial Excellence in the prestigious TARGET jobs Awards for Undergraduates in the UK.
Tessa won the award after a series of on-line tests, applications and assessment exercises.
(3 May 2013)
Sign Up for Our Anthropology E-Newsletter
The Anthropology eNewsletter is designed to support and advise colleagues who work in schools and sixth form colleges and have an interest in Anthropology.
(26 Apr 2013)
Durham Anthropologist Writes Editorial for the British Medical Journal
Durham anthropologist, Professor Helen L. Ball, writes important editorial for the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concerning newborn sleeping patterns and how clinicians might better support concerned parents.
For more information see the British Medical Journal website.
(16 Apr 2013)
Anthropology Department PhD students Vicki McGowan and Erika McClure will give talks at the FUSE event in Sunderland
The FUSE Quarterly Research Meeting entitled: 'Can I have some more please Sir?' School meals: the potential to impact on inequalities and obesity' will be held in in Sunderland on Tuesday 9th April 2013; from 9:30am to 3:30pm
(8 Mar 2013)
We have places for 2013 available through UCAS Extra
UCAS Extra is a system allowing you to apply for an additional course if you are in UCAS but holding no offers. We have places for 2013 available through UCAS Extra on the following courses:
- BSc (Hons) Anthropology L601
- BA (Hons) Anthropology L602
- MAnth Master of Anthropology L622
- BSc (Hons) Health and Human Sciences (formerly Medical Anthropology) B991
- BA (Hons) Anthropology & Archaeology LF64
- BA (Hons) Anthropology & Sociology LL36
- MAnth(H&W) Master of Anthropology (Health and Well-Being) L693
To apply, please go to the UCAS website
(5 Mar 2013)
PhD Studentship Available
PhD studentship available at Durham on “Stress, life history and dental development in primates”, in collaboration with Newcastle Dental School. For more information download the Post Advert
(11 Feb 2013)
Durham Anthropologists Dr Jo Setchell and Dr Wendy Dirks of the School of Dental Sciences awarded a grant from the Leverhulme Trust
Read the full article "Anthropology meets Oral Biology in Collaboration Funded by the Leverhulme Trust" at the School of Dental Sciences website
(24 Jan 2013)
Durham Energy Institute and Durham University Anthropology Department are launching a new Masters called 'Energy and Society'
Unique among Masters programmes, the new MSc in Energy and Society emphasizes the insights that the social sciences can offer to energy and development, and vice versa.
Energy is the key driver of both ecological change and international politics. Whether it is competition for oil or the search for new energy-sources, there is now no doubt that the future development of humanity will be driven by energy resource questions. As energy becomes a political issue, it is increasingly clear that we can only understand our energy practices from a broad interdisciplinary basis that incorporates both technology and society. It is here that the greatest challenges and opportunities lie, and Durham is in prime position to train appropriately qualified graduates with its leading research in Smart Grids and Energy for Development. Promoting energy efficiency, sustainability and innovation in social and technological terms, graduates of the Masters will be in demand from industry, community organizations and governments around the world.
New core modules will be delivered as intensive 4-day workshops, with preparation and assessments supported by University tutors. Core modules will be complemented by a range of optional modules, offering three main pathways through the programme: renewables, energy and development, energy research. We plan in future years to make modules available as free standing activities, that can also be built up towards a Diploma or Masters qualification.
Where and when?
The programme will be delivered by and at Durham University. It will be led by the Anthropology Department, in association with the Durham Energy Institute and its partner departments (including Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities). It will start in Autumn 2013, with one core module in the autumn and one in the spring. Additional optional modules will be available for registered full-time Masters students. Off-site and/or distance learning options may be available later.
(17 Jan 2013)
Conference Announcement: 'Rebuilding national imaginaries, reasserting torn social fabrics: Reactions to violence and disappearance in Latin America'
We are pleased to announce that the conference “Rebuilding national imaginaries, reasserting torn social fabrics: Reactions to violence and disappearance in Latin America, an interdisciplinary approach” will be held in the anthropology department of Durham University over the 3rd and 4th July 2013. The conference seeks to take an interdisciplinary approach to the topic and combine multiple perspectives from various academic and activist experiences.
(15 Jan 2013)
Durham Anthropologist Speaks to Melvyn Bragg About 'The Value of Culture'
Dr. Jamie Tehrani, a Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology at Durham, discusses the contribution that anthropologists have made to developing and popularising the notion of "culture" over the last 150 years with Melvyn Bragg and other anthropologists in the BBC Radio 4 series 'The Value of Culture' (episode 2). The program was originally broadcast on New Year’s Day and can be downloaded on BBC iPlayer or BBC Radio 4 website.
(1 Jan 2013)
Durham social anthropologist gives plenary talk to 400 biomedical researchers and policy makers at conference in Sri Lanka
Durham social anthropologist, Professor Bob Simpson, recently gave plenary talk "What's culture got to do with biomedical research?" to 400 doctors, researchers and policy makers in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the 12th conference of the Forum for Ethical Review Committees in Asia and the Western Pacific (FERCAP). The theme of the conference was "Development, Ethnicity, Culture and Ethical Health Research". The conference initiated wide ranging debate on the ways in which the ethical review of biomedical research might incorporate different traditions of ethics, medicine and healing.
Read transcript of Bob Simpson's address at Global Health Reviewers website.
(14 Dec 2012)
Postgraduate Anthropology Open Day: 28 November 2012
28 November 2012 from 12.30pm
The Postgraduate Open Day is open to all students interested in either a taught postgraduate degree or a research degree in Anthropology at Durham University. You will have the opportunity to meet staff and students currently in the department, discuss course options and research topics.
If you would like to find out more or you are planning to attend the open day please contact our admissions secretary Paula Furness who will be able to put you in touch with an appropriate member of staff.
(20 Nov 2012)
Anthropology Sleep Exhibit a hit at Celebrate Science Festival
The Anthropology Dept’s Sleep Lab exhibit was a hit with children and their parents/grandparents visiting the Durham Celebrate Science Festival on Palace Green over 3 days of the October half term, attended by over 5,500 visitors.
Equipped with a big bed with lots of story books, Sleep Lab volunteers read bed-time stories, engaged children in producing a big chart of the age and bed-times of children visiting the exhibit, and used this to engage older children in discussion of the importance of sleep, and how to avoid sleep disruptors. Younger children took part in a competition to draw their bedrooms and played games about how long different animals sleep.
We hope to take this exhibit to the British Festival of Science in Newcastle in September 2013.
(13 Nov 2012)
Dr Sarah Elton's new book, Evolving Human Nutrition: implications for public health has just been published by Cambridge University Press.
Stanley Ulijaszek, Neil Mann and Sarah Elton, Evolving Human Nutrition: implications for public health. Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
While most of us live our lives according to the working week, we did not evolve to be bound by industrial schedules, nor did the food we eat. Despite this, we eat the products of industrialization and often suffer as a consequence.
This book considers aspects of changing human nutrition from evolutionary and social perspectives. It considers what a 'natural' human diet might be, how it has been shaped across evolutionary time and how we have adapted to changing food availability. The transition from hunter-gatherer and the rise of agriculture through to the industrialisation and globalisation of diet are explored.
Far from being adapted to a 'Stone Age' diet, humans can consume a vast range of foodstuffs. However, being able to eat anything does not mean that we should eat everything, and therefore engagement with the evolutionary underpinnings of diet and factors influencing it are key to better public health practice.
(9 Nov 2012)
Dr Iain Edgar's research featured in 'Morgenbladet'
(5 Nov 2012)
Undergraduate Fieldcourse: South Africa 2012
During September the department launched an overseas field course - the only one of its kind in the UK. Fourteen students, accompanied by Russell Hill and Matt Candea, spent 10 days in South Africa based at the Lajuma Research Centre high up within the beautiful Soutpansberg Mountains. Lajuma is the site of ongoing long-term research by the department and the field course offered a unique opportunity to reflect on fieldwork at the intersection of biological and social anthropology.
The biological aspect of the field course thus provided first-hand experience in collecting and analysing field data relating to primate behaviour and ecology, with the social anthropological elements prompting an ethnographic, reflexive view of the biological field site within its local South African context. The course opened up opportunities for new friendships and new experiences, including the practicalities of driving a minibus up a mountain pass, and we look forward to repeating the module next year!
(14 Oct 2012)
Congratulations to Prof Robert Layton
(27 Jul 2012)
Lectureship Opportunities in Medical Anthropology
(9 Jun 2012) » More about Lectureship Opportunities in Medical Anthropology
Anthropology Open Days 2012
(24 May 2012) » More about Anthropology Open Days 2012
We have 2012 places available through UCAS Extra
'Challenging embodied perceptions: Anthropology in practice' Workshop - 30th April &1st May 2012
New Lectureship at Durham Anthropology
(3 Nov 2011) » More about New Lectureship at Durham Anthropology
EHBEA Conference in Durham, 25th-28th March 2012
(1 Nov 2011) » More about EHBEA Conference in Durham, 25th-28th March 2012
Durham Anthropology launches new MSc in Evolutionary Medicine programme
Durham Anthropology TV now live
(20 Apr 2011) » More about Durham Anthropology TV now live
Anthropology research profiled in 'Science'
(14 Mar 2011) » More about Anthropology research profiled in 'Science'
Funded PhD studentship available
(11 Mar 2011) » More about Funded PhD studentship available
Jeremy Kendal, Jamie Tehrani and John Odling-Smee edit special issue of Royal Society Journal on Human Niche construction
Workshop on Religion & Catastrophes
(30 Nov 2010) » More about Workshop on Religion & Catastrophes
Anthropology research in the news
(23 Nov 2010) » More about Anthropology research in the news
South Asia Documentary Film Festival
(11 Nov 2010) » More about South Asia Documentary Film Festival
Innovative new programmes for 2011
(11 Oct 2010) » More about Innovative new programmes for 2011
Modern Muslims use dreams to make major life decisions
BMA Medical Book Awards Prize
(15 Sep 2010) » More about BMA Medical Book Awards Prize
Society for Endocrinology grant success
(30 Jul 2010) » More about Society for Endocrinology grant success
Durham Anthropology 7th in national league table
(20 May 2010) » More about Durham Anthropology 7th in national league table
Nepal Study Day
(30 Mar 2010) » More about Nepal Study Day
ESRC/DFID Grant Success
(12 Mar 2010) » More about ESRC/DFID Grant Success
Durham Doctoral Studentship Scheme Announced
(12 Dec 2009) » More about Durham Doctoral Studentship Scheme Announced
Durham Invades York
(12 Dec 2009) » More about Durham Invades York
Monkeys Choose Mating Partners with Different Genes
(25 Nov 2009) » More about Monkeys Choose Mating Partners with Different Genes
Fear of Discrimination saw Paddys and Biddys Decline
(21 Oct 2009) » More about Fear of Discrimination saw Paddys and Biddys Decline
NERC Funding Award
(12 Oct 2009) » More about NERC Funding Award
Frances Larson's New Book Published to Wide Acclaim
Young Afghans suffer violence and stress, not just related to war
New Centre for the Coevolution of Biology and Culture
(12 Aug 2009) » More about New Centre for the Coevolution of Biology and Culture
Four Interdisciplinary PhD Studentships Announced
(12 Jul 2009) » More about Four Interdisciplinary PhD Studentships Announced
Common Fish Species Has 'Human-Like' Ability to Learn
(12 Jun 2009) » More about Common Fish Species Has 'Human-Like' Ability to Learn
Anthropology Research Profiled in Science
(12 May 2009) » More about Anthropology Research Profiled in Science
Business Anthropology Article Receives Management Award
Durham's Interdisciplinary Research Ambitions Highlighted in Times Higher
Durham University - Anthropology Hits the Road
Read full article on Times Higher Education website.
(12 Sep 2008)
Use Buzzwords to be Cited, Study Suggests
Read full article on Times Higher Education website
(12 Aug 2008)
Night Dreams Inspire al-Qaeda and Taliban Towards Jehad
Read full article on Malaysia Sun website
(12 Jun 2008)
Iranian archives at Durham: A personal reflection on people, places and the public record
Durham University is now home to three important archives containing materials relating to Iranian History, Culture and Politics. The archives originate in the work of three British scholars who worked extensively in Iran in the last century. The collection combines the work of the late Anne Lambton, the late David Brooks and Sue Wright. In future years the collection will mark Durham out as an important destination for researchers interested to know more about Iran in the 20th century. In this lecture Professor Sue Wright herself will give a personal reflection on the content and significance of these three collections.
Contact email@example.com for more information
(31 Jan 2017)
Scaling the Body - workshop
With recent advances in transplant medicine, there is now not much that isn’t of potential secondary use when we die. The heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and small intestines, corneas, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, ligaments and bones that functioned in one body might all now find themselves functioning in another. From an ethical perspective this is both complex and challenging. It brings within a single frame questions of biomedical need and the relief of suffering on the one hand and ideas about the body, death and what happens beyond on the other. The workshop will consider the way the body as a resource for biomedicine is thought of at different scales and what it means when there is a shift between scales. This will entail reflection upon the body as partible and made up of entities that are physically isolatable, hierarchically ordered and yet dynamically interlinked; the re-constitution of recipient bodies as healthy and whole; and, finally, the larger scale social and moral imaginaries into which these entities pass. The visual and participatory elements of this event will be led by the acclaimed artist, Barrie Ormsby.
(28 Feb 2017) » More about Scaling the Body - workshop
Red is the Colour of Success
Want to know the hidden impact colour has on your life? Dr Russell Hill appeared on the BBC2 programme Horizion to explain the amazing effects of the colour red.
Mandrill makes 'pedicure' tool
Watch Dr Jan De Ruiter dicuss how monkeys may be more intelligent than previously thought on ITV Tyne Tees.
Modern Muslims Use Dream to Make Major Life Decisions
Dr Iain Edgar's research showed "Dream interpretation in Islam is a spiritual way of divining the future and submitting oneself to the personal unconscious and the will of Allah".
Mothers’ Hard Work Pays Off with Big Brains for Their Babies
Brain growth in babies is linked to the amount of time and energy mothers 'invest', according to new research by the Anthropology department.
Monkeys Choose Mating Partners with Different Genes
This research led by Dr Jo Setchell supports the disputed theory that humans are attracted to those with a dissimilar genetic make up to maintain genetic diversity.
How Does Anthropology Apply to the Real World?
Want to know more about how Anthropology applies to the real world? Watch this short video.