A Great Day for the Anthropologically Minded

When understanding culture is your abiding interest and passion, everyday is a good day to be an anthropologist, however yesterday supplied us with some particularly exciting media happenings.

First of all, news broke that during his appearance at Columbia University, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had let it be known that there are no gay people in Iran. This is an exciting development for anthropologists wishing to study one of those ever elusive “purely heterosexual” societies. Now, if anyone knows where we can find a matriarchy (or maybe the missing link?) I’ll be ready to retire. This news also prompted giggling around the country as various sassy pundits (including on the local San Francisco dance music radio station – FM 92.7) suggested helpfully some version of the idea “Well, maybe they just keep their gays in public restrooms — you know, like the Republican Party does over here.”

Last night viewers were treated to an indigenous awareness one-two punch on Comedy Central.  First up was Bolivia’s President Evo Morales on The Daily Show. He spoke (through translation) about how his election proves that people of diverse backgrounds (he is of indigenous Native South American descent, specifically Aymara) can become leaders in today’s world. Stewart replied in a stage whisper that it was not so much so here in the U.S..  Regarding our election process: “it’s rigged” he confided to Evo’s amusement.

Those with the stamina to stay awake were able to watch Stephen Colbert interview K. David Harrison, the author of When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. Ever the perfect ethnocentric foil (really, he puts the Cultural Evolutionists of the 19th century to shame with his flawless application of the concept at every turn), Colbert prefaced his introduction of the guest by proclaiming the good news to English speakers all over the world: “We’re winning!”

If you like your culture commentary with an American media infusion and a dash of ironic truthiness, then yesterday was surely a great day to be anthropologically minded.