Recent Graduates Discuss The Theft of Mayan Culture

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 10:59 PM

Sunna Juhn ’18 and Emily Ratté ’18 recently wrote about businesses engaged in appropriating, unpaid, images, products and knowledge of indigenous communities, for a piece in Intercontinental Cry, a non-profit newsroom underwritten by the Center for World Indigenous Studies.

“With $1400, you could buy an iMac or a trip to Europe. You could also buy a designer jacket … inspired by designs stolen from indigenous Maya communities,” they wrote in “Intellectual Extractivism: The Dispossession of Maya Weaving,” based on a talk given at Amherst in the spring by Angelina Aspuac and her colleagues at the Guatemalan Association of Maya Weavers.

“The stealing and appropriation of Maya textiles and designs contributes to the slow erasure of indigenous peoples from the cultural map of the world,” they wrote.

Conservation Incentives Pay Off: Sims

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 12:03 PM

Katharine Sims, associate professor of economics, continues to get attention for her research into how land conservation incentives get results.

“New research finds that a national payments for ecosystem services (PES) program in Mexico not only benefits the environment but supports social relationships in local communities, as well,” wrote Mongabay’s Mike Gaworecki in a recent article about the team of researchers —lead by Sims and Oregon State University’s Jennifer Alix-Garcia— who looked at how participation in PES programs, which pay landowners directly to conserve their land, affected agrarian communities in Mexico.

“Sims and co-authors found that enrollment in the PES program increased land management activities like patrolling for illegal loggers and poachers, building fire breaks, conserving soil, and controlling pests by approximately 50 percent in participating communities,” he wrote.

The researchers wrote a detailed report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pawan Dhingra on Gains in the Face of Racism

Submitted on Thursday, 8/2/2018, at 5:06 PM

In a recent opinion piece by Boston Globe culture writer Jeneé Osterheldt, the author quotes Pawan Dhingra, professor of American Studies at Amherst, who sounds a note of hope even while discussing the dire status of the current national discussions about race.

“These are scary times,” he said. “There’s no question. You feel it in the way people vocalize resentments and racist views. But the reason I don’t curl up in a ball and get depressed is part of what they are resisting and responding to are gains being made by traditionally marginalized groups.”

Draucker: Climate Change is an Immigration Issue

Submitted on Thursday, 8/2/2018, at 1:54 PM

An administration that claims to be concerned about the refugee crisis would be better served by not minimizing the importance of climate change, Laura Draucker, Amherst College’s Director of Sustainability, wrote in a recent opinion column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“While the Trump administration claims it wants to ‘solve’ immigration, almost all its actions fly in the face of root-cause solutions to the refugee crisis,” including, significantly, “withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, the first (and a long time coming) global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,” she wrote.

“Climate change is not a ‘nice to solve’ problem that we deal with when our own borders are secure — it’s actively contributing to disruption and devastation around the world,” she wrote.

“The science is clear — climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. These include the heat waves, droughts and intense flooding that are impacting food production and water availability around the world,” she wrote, noting that famine factors into violence and displacement in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela, and rising sea levels will result in many more people seeking new homes.

Jacobson on Trump's Visit to Europe

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 4:39 PM

As President Trump arrived in Brussels, CBSN spoke with Mark Jacobson, John J. McCloy '16 Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy, for perspective. He spoke about Trump putting pressure on his fellow NATO partners, and their worries about his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hopes and Fears for Kavanaugh: Douglas

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 4:37 PM

Could Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court be everything that progressives fear and Trump desires? Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought explored the nuances of the situation for an editorial in The Guardian:

“While it is true that Kavanaugh published an article nearly a decade ago arguing that presidents should be exempt from ‘time-consuming and distracting’ lawsuits, he has likewise argued for dramatically narrowing the scope of executive privilege,” Douglas wrote. “Indeed, the very track record that makes Kavanaugh profoundly distasteful to Democrats – his years devoted to the impeachment of President Clinton – suggests that he might have limited tolerance for Trump’s efforts to denigrate and defeat constitutional processes.”

The Last of the Tiger Parents

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 4:35 PM

In “The Last of the Tiger Parents,” Ryan Park ’05 wrote in the New York Times about his decision to step away from “tiger parenting” adopted in traditional Asian families.

“The research shows that children tend to do best, across the board, when parents command loving respect, not fearful obedience — when they are both strict and supportive, directive and kindhearted,” he wrote. “The childhood I devise for my two young daughters will look nothing like mine. They will feel valued and supported. They will know home as a place of joy and fun. They will never wonder whether their father’s love is conditioned on an unblemished report card.”

“I’ve assumed this means my daughters might someday bring home grades or make life choices that my father would have regarded as failures. If so, I embrace the decline.”

The Quirky Comedy of Aparna Nancherla ’05E

Submitted on Wednesday, 7/11/2018, at 3:57 PM

Aparna Nancherla ’05E “is unassuming, soft-spoken, reflective. Character traits that might not make it easy for one to rise in the testosterone-charged comedy world,” wrote the Washington Post in a recent profile of the comedian.

“But perhaps because of that, she caught audiences by surprise, offering up observations she’d been filing away throughout her lifetime of quietude,” the Post wrote, describing her success despite, or because of, her shyness:

“If you had told Ananth Nancherla that his painfully shy second daughter would some day make a living performing hilarious 30-minute monologues in front of hundreds of people, that she would star in her own television specials and have half a million online followers devouring her insights, he would have said, ‘Keep dreaming.’ A future in intergalactic space travel might have seemed more likely. Except . . . There were flashes. Not of humor, always, but persistence.”

“Fame is so weird. Any small inkling that I’ve gotten, I’m like, this is a nightmare,” Nancherla told Vulture in another profile.

Sarat on the Executioner's Fentanyl

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2018, at 4:35 PM

For an article on how the state of Nevada is trying out the painkiller fentanyl for use in state executions, Mother Jones turned to Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, to note the irony.

“[A]t the same time these state governments are trying to figure out how to stop so many from dying from opioids, they now want to turn and use them to deliberately kill someone,” he said.

Amherst Tops in Creative Writing, Says Chee

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2018, at 4:32 PM

Promoting his latest book How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, author Alexander Chee spoke with the Daily Hampshire Gazette about his days at Amherst College as a visiting writer between 2006 and 2010.

In particular, he told the Gazette that “Amherst College’s creative writing program and community remains the standard against which I’ve judged all others since.”

Chee elaborated, “Too often I think that people are made to feel like maybe they don’t belong in this or that conversation, and that was really not something that I felt when I was in Amherst. You could be at a reception for a particular writer, and maybe you’d be standing next to a junior who had just started getting into fiction writing classes, and some hot new novelist who just happened to be in town that night, and somebody who had retired from teaching maybe like two years ago and was around for the dinner and hanging out — and they would all be talking together … it’s a certain quality of openness that’s hard to explain, but when you experience it, you experience all of these possibilities inside of it.”