September 22, 2023

UMW Anthropology Professor Featured on With Good Reason

University of Mary Washington Assistant Professor of Anthropology Laura Mentore will be featured on the With Good Reason public radio program that airs beginning Saturday, August 15.   Laura Mentore, Assistant Professor of Anthropology In the show, “It’s a Jungle Out There,” Mentore discusses her research with the Waiwai, an indigenous people of Guyana, and how she discovered the path of a special songbird from the rainforest to New York City. Mentore has been conducting ethnographic research with the Waiwai and Makushi people of Guyana since 2002, focusing on their perceptions of the environment and emerging relations with urban Guyanese as well as conservation and development NGOs in the region. One thread in her research began upon observing the Waiwai trapping and selling a particular species of seed-finch, which she discovered was being transported to urban areas in coastal Guyana and smuggled into Guyanese diasporic communities in New York. She found that they are key players in a favorite pastime among coastal Guyanese men, a singing competition between birds known as ‘birdsport. “Birdsport is far more than recreational,” said Mentore, whose research sheds light on the complex economic and environmental connections between indigenous communities and urban centers in 21st century Amazonia. “For the men of all backgrounds who participate, it provides an alternative means of social achievement in one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere.” With Good Reason is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The show airs weekly in Fredericksburg on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. To listen from outside of the Fredericksburg area, a complete list of air times and links to corresponding radio stations can be found at  Audio files of the full program and its companion news feature will be available online at Mentore is an expert in environmental transitions and critical development theory, with regional specializations in  Amazonia and the Caribbean. Since joining UMW in 2010, Mentore has launched a summer study abroad course in Guyana called Ethnographic Field Methods. She also teaches anthropology courses relating to economics, food, medicine and gender, in addition to classes on Amazonian societies, environment and development narratives and ethnography. Mentore has been published in The Social Life of Achievement, Anthropology and Humanism and the Journal of Cultural Geography. She is currently waiting publication for her paper titled “The Force of the Imaginary: At Play in the Field of Conservation Economics and Amerindian Sociality.” Mentore is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America Society and the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. She is also a board member for the journal Environment and Society. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and her doctoral degree from Cambridge University.

Scrutinizing Solidarity

Senior Kristen Powell adds a new perspective to the cultural influence of solidarity.

Eric Gable to Lecture on Jefferson at Sweet Briar

Eric Gable, professor of anthropology, will present the lecture “Jefferson’s Ardor: Sex, Race, and the Invention of Cultural Relativism” at Sweet Briar College on Thursday, March 1. While at Sweet Briar, Gable will attend classes and meet with anthropology and archaeology students.

According to an article in the New Era Progress (Amherst, Va.), “the lecture will explore Jefferson’s ideas about race and culture, and how these relate to American ideals of egalitarianism and present forms of inequality.”

Eric Gable to Present a Lecture at Bucknell University

Eric Gable, professor of anthropology, will present a lecture at Bucknell University on Wednesday, March 21 as part of the university’s spring lecture series, “Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: An American Origin Story, Interdisciplinarily Considered.”

Gable’s lecture, “What Heritage Does and Does Not Do to Identity: The Case of Hemings and Jefferson,” will use material from his fieldwork in Indonesia, West Africa and Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson.

Eric Gable

Anthropology professor Eric Gable’s book Anthropology and Egalitarianism was published recently by Indiana University Press (IUP). Below is a description that appears on the IUP website:
Anthropology and Egalitarianism is an artful and accessible introduction to key themes in cultural anthropology. Writing in a deeply personal style and using material from his fieldwork in three dramatically different locales—Indonesia, West Africa, and Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson—Eric Gable shows why the ethnographic encounter is the core of the discipline’s method and the basis of its unique contribution to understanding the human condition. Gable weaves together vignettes from the field and discussion of major works as he explores the development of the idea of culture through the experience of cultural contrast, anthropology’s fraught relationship to racism and colonialism, and other enduring themes.
“A major work of scholarship, with the potential to become a classic work of anthropology that will be read and debated for years to come.” —Paul Stoller, author of The Power of the Between: An Anthropological Odyssey
“Among the most eloquent and deeply reflexive works I have read in some time. . . . Accessible, conversational, and at times disarmingly colloquial, it is precisely the kind of work that should be taught at the undergraduate level.” —Liam D. Murphy, co-author of A History of Anthropological Theory