I finally got to another letter where I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about! At first, “v” was a challenge but then I had three ideas that I could run with and no clue which one to choose…
Violence? Anthropology hasn’t really focused too much on violence until the past couple of decades. All I know off-hand is that, in bioarchaeology, if you see a large percentage of graves filled by teens and young adults, it indicates a disaster–usually war or plague.
Viruses? Anthropologists have investigated virus outbreaks like the most recent ebola virus that affected Sierra Leone and several other countries, including the U.S. Anthropologists at the CDC were instrumental in understanding the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how cultural norms impact the spread of the disease. Anthropologists study the history of viruses to track how diseases change through time–and viruses are especially helpful because they mutate so quickly.
Vaccines? Scientists around the world develop, test, and reject or approve vaccines used to prevent disease but anthropologists are specially poised to study what goes wrong when vaccine use wanes. When the MMR vaccine use declined in Nigeria and a huge outbreak threatened the lives of hundreds of children, anthropological training could be a key factor in identifying why vaccine use declined (a recent political campaign saying American aid workers were trying to poison children via vaccines) and how the issue could be remedied (possibly finding vaccine-friendly Nigerians to improve use). Anthropologists interact with the culture and the science to marry the two together and find solutions to larger problems.
I could figure out which topic I really wanted to flesh out, so I just briefly covered all three. See you tomorrow! 😉