Department of Anthropology
PublicationVisualizing Native People in Philadelphia's Museums: Public Views and Student Reviews(2018-01-17) Bruchac, MargaretMaterial representations of Indigenous history in public museums do more than merely present the past. Exhibitions are always incomplete and idiosyncratic, revealing only a small window into the social worlds of diverse human communities. Museums create, in essence, staged assemblages: compositions of objects, documents, portraits, and other material things that have been filtered through an array of influences. These influences—museological missions, collection processses, curatorial choices, loan possibilities, design concepts, research specialties, funding options, consultant opinions, space limitations, time limits, logistical challenges, etc.—will be unique for each museum and each collection. Taken together, they will inevitably determine which objects are selected for display, what events will take precedence, how cultural interactions will be re-conceptualized, and whose stories will be told. PublicationA Study Of The Effect Of Altitude And Local Biologies Upon Nunoan Breast Milk Content(2019-01-01) Schafrank, Lauren AAs a readily available substance and primary source of nutrition for infants, breast milk serves as a reasonable window into adaptive human physiology and human growth differences in physiologically stressed environments. Prior studies in Tibet show a considerable buffering of breast milk composition at high altitude but imply that economic status and cultural differences in breastfeeding practices influence milkfat content significantly. With an elevation of over 4000 meters above sea level, relatively low levels of socioeconomic status, and variability in women’s schedules resulting in high variability of breastfeeding patterns, Nunoa, Peru provides an excellent location for investigating altitudinal and sociocultural impact on the nutritional value of breast milk. A mid-feed, self-expressed collection of breast milk was completed for 23 mothers. The samples were aliquoted into sterile vials within 30 minutes of collection and then frozen prior to analysis, ensuring maximum preservation of the macromolecules. Participants completed a detailed survey assessing sociodemographic characteristics, diet, and infant feeding practices. For some mothers, observations of breastfeeding behavior occurred, providing additional evidence for feeding variability. Significant variability in breastfeeding patterns and composition was observed. Primarily, in comparison to prior observations in highland Tibet, Nunoan mothers fed more frequently and for shorter bursts, impacting total volume and overall feeding time. Furthermore, Nunoan mothers produced milk with lower lactose levels (6.01 ± .89 g/100mL compared with 7.25 ± 0.35 g/100mL in Tibetan High Nubris). Nevertheless, breast milk fat composition in high-altitude populations of Nunoa (4.56.78 g/100mL) was similar to that observed previously in the Tibetan highlands, and represented higher breast milk fat content than that seen in other comparative milk composition studies at lower altitudes. Our results suggest that individual anatomical indices of lower trunk fat are not the strongest predictors of milk fat levels. Instead, the Nunoan data suggests that relative distribution of anatomical fat is a more reliable predictor of milk fat concentrations. Specifically, maternal waist-to-hip ratio may in fact be a more reliable measurement to predict milk fat rather than the general measurements of adiposity currently used. This indicator provides a new method for predicting breast milk composition and opens the door for future studies of breast milk content in physiologically stressed populations and elsewhere. PublicationStock Spam Emails: Proliferation and Impact(2008-04-01) Baskin, Ernest PublicationCharacterization of Genomic Variation Related to Hair and Skin Phenotypes in the Khoesan Speakers of Southern Africa(2023-04-26) Da Costa, Nicole G.The Khoesan speakers are indigenous peoples in southern Africa, consisting of many different ethnic groups that do not speak Bantu languages. They are foragers with a complex history: they descended from the earliest diversification event for Homo sapiens, interacted with neighboring populations through migrations, and grappled with colonization. To investigate the Khoesan’s adaptation to their local environment, we analyzed genomic variations of Khoesan individuals with scans of natural selection, and identified variants that may be targets of selection in the Keratin (KRT) gene family. We examined a potential regulatory variant in KRT78, rs7307165, and conducted a dual luciferase reporter assay to determine if rs7307165 influenced gene expression. Results showed rs7307165 significantly affected enhancer activity in keratinocytes for KRT78. Missense mutations in KRT74 and KRT71 were also identified and appear to be compelling candidates for a mouse model experiment. Studying genetic variation in the Khoesan and other African populations can help us better understand human health, adaptation to local environments, and human history. PublicationPerceptions of and Receptivity to Dance/Movement Therapy(2009-04-01) Cuccaro, Julia PublicationNeolithic Mitochondrial Haplogroup H Genomes and the Genetic Origins of Europeans(2013-04-23) Dulik, Matthew; Gaieski, Jill Bennett; Schurr, Theodore G; Genographic Consortium
Haplogroup H dominates present-day Western European mitochondrial DNA variability (>40%), yet was less common (~19%) among Early Neolithic farmers (~5450 BC) and virtually absent in Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Here we investigate this major component of the maternal population history of modern Europeans and sequence 39 complete haplogroup H mitochondrial genomes from ancient human remains. We then compare this â real-timeâ genetic data with cultural changes taking place between the Early Neolithic (~5450 BC) and Bronze Age (~2200 BC) in Central Europe. Our results reveal that the current diversity and distribution of haplogroup H were largely established by the Mid Neolithic (~4000 BC), but with substantial genetic contributions from subsequent pan-European cultures such as the Bell Beakers expanding out of Iberia in the Late Neolithic (~2800 BC). Dated haplogroup H genomes allow us to reconstruct the recent evolutionary history of haplogroup H and reveal a mutation rate 45% higher than current estimates for human mitochondria.
PublicationParallel Evolution of Genes and Languages in the Caucasus Region(2011-05-13) Schurr, Theodore G; Genographic Consortium
We analyzed 40 single nucleotide polymorphism and 19 short tandem repeat Y-chromosomal markers in a large sample of 1,525 indigenous individuals from 14 populations in the Caucasus and 254 additional individuals representing potential source populations. We also employed a lexicostatistical approach to reconstruct the history of the languages of the North Caucasian family spoken by the Caucasus populations. We found a different major haplogroup to be prevalent in each of four sets of populations that occupy distinct geographic regions and belong to different linguistic branches. The haplogroup frequencies correlated with geography and, even more strongly, with language. Within haplogroups, a number of haplotype clusters were shown to be specific to individual populations and languages. The data suggested a direct origin of Caucasus male lineages from the Near East, followed by high levels of isolation, differentiation, and genetic drift in situ. Comparison of genetic and linguistic reconstructions covering the last few millennia showed striking correspondences between the topology and dates of the respective gene and language trees and with documented historical events. Overall, in the Caucasus region, unmatched levels of geneâ language coevolution occurred within geographically isolated populations, probably due to its mountainous terrain.
PublicationDevelopment, "Culture," and the Promise of Modern Progress(2005-09-01) Thomas, Deborah AThis essay investigates the key tensions that arise within Jamaica's new cultural policy "Toward Jamaica the Cultural Superstate." The argument presented in the paper is that "culture" is a tricky and potentially dangerous site upon which to hinge national development goals, even though the expansion of cultural industries may well represent a viable and potentially lucrative strategy for economic development. This is because invariably, "culture" cannot do the work policy makers would like it to do, and its invocation within policy spheres usually already signals a kind of developmental distress, a perceived need for retooling through a form of social engineering. In other words, "culture" (in the anthropological sense) reflects and shapes, yet cannot in and of itself solve the most pressing challenges facing Jamaica today. PublicationCollaborative Legacy of the First Ceramics Laboratories at the Penn Museum: The WPA and Beyond(2023-04-21) Ortner, Vaughn AFor decades, scientific approaches have acted as a cornerstone to the processes used by archaeologists to answer questions about past societies. However, just under a century ago, highly innovative research efforts first contributed to the integration of archaeological science into the wider discipline. One such series of research projects were those undertaken by the WPA ceramics laboratories, a joint effort between the Works Progress Administration and the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania (now called the Penn Museum), which employed federally funded workers and the burgeoning methods of ceramic technological analysis to reveal more information on the Museum’s various ceramic collections than previously possible. The present thesis project is the result of extensive archival research into the history and legacy of these original Museum laboratories as a catalyst for the subsequent proliferation and continued development of ceramic analysis techniques, especially that of ceramic petrography, and archaeological science as a whole. In other words, this project aims to tell the story of the WPA laboratories, with particular attention to their impacts on the development of archaeological science and the roles of the interdisciplinary and inter-institutional connections of the Penn Museum and its personnel in this development. Archival evidence proves that the scholarly networks formed by those involved in the WPA projects enabled the principles and methods of archaeological science to spread throughout the archaeological community, with the Museum laboratories serving as the nexus and exemplar of the great possibilities held by these new approaches. PublicationA Novel 154-bp Deletion in the Human Mitochondrial DNA Control Region in Healthy Individuals(2008-12-01) Behar, Doron M; Blue-Smith, Jason; Soria-Hernanz, David F; Tzur, Shay; Hadid, Yarin; Bormans, Concetta; Moen, Alexander; Tyler-Smith, Chris; Quintana-Murci, Lluis; Wells, R. Spencer; Schurr, Theodore GThe biological role of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region in mtDNA replication remains unclear. In a worldwide survey of mtDNA variation in the general population, we have identified a novel large control region deletion spanning positions 16154 to 16307 (m.16154_16307del154). The population prevalence of this deletion is low, since it was only observed in 1 out of over 120,000 mtDNA genomes studied. The deletion is present in a nonheteroplasmic state, and was transmitted by a mother to her two sons with no apparent past or present disease conditions. The identification of this large deletion in healthy individuals challenges the current view of the control region as playing a crucial role in the regulation of mtDNA replication, and supports the existence of a more complex system of multiple or epigenetically-determined replication origins.