Four years ago, photographer Jimmy Nelson set off on a quest to visit and photograph 31 of the world’s unique tribes. He became enamored with learning about cultures so unlike his own — cultures he fears will soon die out — with traditions, rituals, and customs he believes all the world should know.
"I wanted to witness their time-honoured traditions, join in their rituals and discover how the rest of the world is threatening to change their way of life forever," he says in a mission statement for his project, Before They Pass Away. “Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.”
In a high-energy, captivating talk at TEDxAmsterdam, Jimmy tells stories from this years-long project that has had him travel to the “edges of the world,” and taught him how to better understand the world, and the people, around him. Above, some of his work showcased in his talk, including his photos of the Samburu people, the Kazakhs, the Mursi, and the Rabari.
The Strange Sarcophagi of the Chachapoya
By the time the Spanish arrived in Peru at the beginning of the 16th Century the Chachapoya people had already been subsumed in to the great Inca Empire. Although they had resisted the Incas fiercely, the lands of these Warriors of the Clouds as they were known had been annexed and had been forced to adopt the customs and culture of their conquerors. Yet they left one thing behind – the strange sarcophagi in which they would bury their dead.
Yay! Feminist Anthropology time!
Prehistoric Cave Prints Show Most Early Artists Were Women
Alongside drawings of bison and horses, the first painters left clues to their identity on the stone walls of caves, blowing red-brown paint through rough tubes and stenciling outlines of their palms. New analysis of ancient handprints in France and Spain suggests that most of those early artists were women.
This is a surprise, since most archaeologists have assumed it was men who had been making the cave art. One interpretation is that early humans painted animals to influence the presence and fate of real animals that they’d find on their hunt, and it’s widely accepted that it was the men who found and killed dinner.
But a new study indicates that the majority of handprints found near cave art were made by women, based on their overall size and relative lengths of their fingers.
"The assumption that most people made was it had something to do with hunting magic," Penn State archaeologist Dean Snow, who has been scrutinizing hand prints for a decade, told NBC News. The new work challenges the theory that it was mostly men, who hunted, that made those first creative marks.
Another reason we thought it was men all along? Male archeologists from modern society where gender roles are rigid and well-defined — they found the art. "[M]ale archaeologists were doing the work," Snow said, and it’s possible that ”had something to do with it.”
I added the emphasis in bold, but the “that” was already italicized in the article, and it’s probably my favorite part. I love this article, although I’m not a huge fan of the fact that it’s considered so incredibly shocking and radical to imagine that women possibly participated in society 40,000 years ago.
In other awesome feminist anthropology news: it is now somewhat accepted that the venus sculptures, rather than being depictions of female beauty by male artists, were self-portraits by women looking down at their own bodies. The paleolithic figurines lose their distorted proportions and acquire representational realism if we understand that they are self-portraits created by women looking down at their own bodies. [UPDATE 10/21: Please see here for apology]
See also: This quote by Sandy Toksvig
When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. ‘This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar’ she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’
It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions? How often had I sped past them as I learned of male achievement and men’s place in the history books? Then I read Rosalind Miles’s book The Women’s History of the World (recently republished as Who Cooked the Last Supper?) and I knew I needed to look again. History is full of fabulous females who have been systematically ignored, forgotten or simply written out of the records. They’re not all saints, they’re not all geniuses, but they do deserve remembering.
It’s an arresting thought: “he was already our lord, our executioner, and our enemy.” (Clendinnen comments on the “desolate cadence” of these words). The ruler is not understood by the Mexica as normally benevolent though potentially dangerous; he is the enemy, and yet as the enemy he is indispensable. There is something profoundly alien in this thought, with its unsettling understanding of “legitimacy,” something I do not find anywhere in the classical Western tradition of political thought.
Abandoned Footnotes: Aztec Political Thought
So who was throwing spears before humans? The discovery of 280,000-year-old stone-tipped spear remains in Ethiopia has two possible implications: that our species is much older than previously thought or, more likely, that a predecessor species was making tools long before Homo sapiens.
Read more: http://bit.ly/1hIOC77 via Discovery News
"…and the past had all withdrawn somewhere into the distance, the mist, as if it had been a dream.."
Anton Chekhov, The Bishop
; trans. by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (via weil-weil
When Kim Novak questioned Alfred Hitchcock about her motivation in a particular scene, the director is said to have answered, “Let’s not probe too deeply into these matters, Kim. It’s only a movie.”
"How ironic that most people who think that they are free rarely ever need to make decisions beyond what product is best marketed to suit their socio-economic status? What a pathetic fate the capitalist consumer masses have accepted as their own."