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Photo Friday

The 2011 AAA Photo Contest is a showcase of anthropology at its best. Of the 93 photos submitted, AAA members selected their favorites in each of the four categories: Practice, People, Place and Process. You can view the top 20 photos in Anthropology News. Here on the AAA blog, we will feature several of the photos in a blog series, Photo Friday.

Title: Behind the Masks, Qoyllur Rit’i Pilgrimage
Photo Courtesy of Andrea M Heckman
Contest Category: Practice
Caption: Dancers spend a year preparing by sewing sequins and adornment on their costumes to catch the sun’s light, and are judged by the quality, weight, and cost of their costumes as well as the symbolic significance of the designs. As these unmasked supporters walk side by side with the dancers, it is clear how the masked dancers take on another persona, an identity linked to myth and tradition. The stories are lived anew each year by the dancers and for that period of ritual time and space, they become the mythical beings by staying in costume and masked for the duration of the pilgrimage. Many dancers learn to dance when children and participate for long periods of their lives.

Find your best photos from the last two years…the 2012 AAA Photo Contest is now open. Winning photographs will be displayed at the 111th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. View contest details.

Missed last week’s photo? Click here.

Photo Friday

The 2011 AAA Photo Contest is a showcase of anthropology at its best. Of the 93 photos submitted, AAA members selected their favorites in each of the four categories: Practice, People, Place and Process. You can view the top 20 photos in Anthropology News. Here on the AAA blog, we will feature several of the photos in a blog series, Photo Friday.

Title: Capac Qolla Dancer, Qoyllur Rit’i Pilgrimage
Photo Courtesy of Andrea M Heckman
Contest Category: Practice
Caption: The annual pilgrimage of Qoyllur Rit’i is sacred for people living around 20,800′ Ausangate peak in Southern Peru. Groups of supporters, called a comparsa, hike 3,000′ with the dancers carrying huge candles, costumes, food, musical instruments, and large crosses among other ritual objects. The dancers perform for up to one week in frigid alpine temperatures where they become the mythical characters they portray. Capac Qolla means “rich merchants” and these dancers have ornate costumes they prepare for one year. Ukukus, or the mythical bear characters stand all night on the glacier to have the honor to bring down a large chunk of ice to melt and drink with their dance groups.

Find your best photos from the last two years…the 2012 AAA Photo Contest is now open. Winning photographs will be displayed at the 111th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. View contest details.

Missed last week’s photo? Click here.

New Podcast! Ordinary Anthropologists Doing Extraordinary Things – Matt Piscitelli

Listen to the new podcast in the series Ordinary Anthropologists Doing Extraordinary Things featuring AAA member, Matthew Piscitelli. Matthew has gotten creative with funding his next project.


Through my years of work as an archaeologist, I’ve always been amazed whenever I can hold something in my hand that no one has touched in the last 5,000 years.  Well, now I am asking your help to provide more such opportunities, and in the process, help preserve part of our global heritage.

I am currently applying for funding to support my archaeological dig in Peru this summer.  The results of the project will form the basis of my Ph.D. dissertation and eventually help me accomplish my goal of becoming a university professor.  I have had some success already applying to the National Geographic, my university (University of Illinois-Chicago), as well as my place of employment (The Field Museum).  I also have applications pending through the National Science Foundation and Wenner-Gren Foundation.

During this process of application, however, I had an idea that definitely falls outside of the box.  In general, scientific projects in any field are funded through the government, private organizations or through a network of wealthy donors that are somehow already connected to those scientists.  The general public hardly ever hears of these projects, let alone gets the opportunity to support these important scientific endeavors.  With the popularity of social networking, a recently developed fundraising tactic known as “crowdfunding” is beginning to be used to back small-scale inventions, innovators, entrepreneurs, etc.  So I thought, “why can’t that work for scientific projects like my own?”

I have signed up through Peerbackers, a well-known and trusted website (Google it) in order to test run this strategy.  I ask you all to check out my project, offer words of encouragement, contribute (always well-appreciated), and most importantly, spread the word.  Please Tweet, post a link to my project on Facebook, forward this post to friends and family, etc.  Don’t hesitate to respond with questions and comments.  As with any Ph.D. student, I would be more than happy to talk to you about my research!

Are you interested in sharing your extraordinary in an upcoming podcast? Click here to learn how.

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