Get Caught

Art-heavy personal blog of mostly Watchmen and Homestuck. Also bones, cats, the human body, SCIENCE!, politics, and Star Trek. Occasionally NSFW but everything's tagged.

Anthropologists Don't Dig Up Dinosaurs ›




Remember that time I did a thing?  I’m still proud of this dorky song.  I plan to play it for the undergrads I will teach in the future.  

This is perfect.

Scientists are multifaceted! 

ne-revez-pas asked: Hello, I saw you comment on a post about how missionaries in developing countries are ruining the cultures/societies of their people, and it really intrigued me. You see, I am about to go on a trip to Nairobi this coming June with the organization Me To We. Me To We is not religious and I'm not a religious person. But, while there I will help build a school and learn about Maasai culture. Do you feel that service trips without the intention of converting/teaching people are still alienating?



I am radically against service trips where people go to “build schools” (or other facilities) in a developing countries, and I find them to be incredibly disempowering and paternalistic at their core. It all boils down to stroking the (usually white) egos of the volunteers to make them feel like “good people” and does NO longterm good for the community.

I just wish people thought more critically about international development and saw through the smoke screen of “aid” that many of these “development” organizations put up as part of the white savior industrial complex. Like it just seems so obvious to me that an organization that goes through all of the logistical and human effort needed to bring “volunteers” to build schools in ~*aFriCa*~ has values that are fundamentally not aligned with those of their communities. They do not have the best interest of locals at heart, at all. 

If they cared about the community, they would be building out local capabilities and talents rather than trying to make a quick buck from western volunteers. They wouldn’t be bringing in untrained (usually) white people from the West without any language skills or understanding of local cultural intricacies to a community that is most at need. Rather than siphoning resources toward making white people “feel good” about themselves and aligning their values with white supremacy and white savior-dom, instead they would be working to give that exact same business to local carpenters and construction workers. Or, worst case, they would bring in people using those same dollars to train community members so that they develop these critical skillsets for themselves and their community at large. Why not actually work in solidarity with a community and build together to improve and develop local capabilities in the longterm? Why must we instead center the white gaze and destructive paternalism, which is disempowering and harmful and only has one longterm impact: making the Western volunteers “feel good” about themselves for “saving the Africans”

It makes me sick.

I also think it’s just so indicative of the deepset narcissism that lies in white supremacy and Western global hegemony that somehow we think that we can “build a school” better than people who are actually from that community. You know the ones who intimately know their needs and those of their communities, far better than the volunteers swooping in for 2 weeks to “save” them. How sick is it that we presume that “expanding our global horizons” can come at any cost, including undermining the fabric of a community, breeding dependency, and pulling resources away from actually building out the longterm capabilities of the people in these communities? I discussed these topics at length with someone who worked in international NGOs for 7 years in Africa and who left incredibly jaded because she saw how the values of so many of these organization was focused on “more NGO, now” rather than doing the more important work of creating communities where the presence of NGOs fades progressively with time as these communities are empowered. 

The structure of the white savior industrial complex is one of disempowerment, damage and harm. Participating in it furthers this destruction and hurts these communities in the long run.

The vast majority of these international aid and development NGOs do not have our best interests at heart, and are simply there to make white people (and other Westerners) feel better for the “good deed” they did once in ~the third world~

It’s horrible.

This post is very important, and while it mentions this, it needs to be stressed that in many cases these charity construction projects are harmful to local economies. Many countries which are destitute are destitute because they are labor-rich and capital-poor, often times because local and national political structures horde capital at the top (and no, this is nothing like WIRD countries having income inequality, and the equation of the two is disguising.)

When you come in and build a school for free, what you’re doing is depriving the people’s largest resource, labor, from being able to turn a profit, and thus, you’re preventing poor people from getting work. If you really care about people AND build schools (where they cannot afford to build their own), then organize a community locally and provide the capital to build that school AND THEN MAINTAIN IT, rather than doing it yourself. That way they can tailor their institutions to their needs, provide work for their workers, and you provide a constant source of employment for teachers, education for children, and a healthier economy. There are also movements to help develop local technologies that can then be produced locally to free up the time of women, who usually bear the brunt of time-intensive tasks which pay poorly.


Skulls in Print: Scientific Racism in the Transatlantic World

  • from Past Horizons

mummified corpse. An embalmed head. A neat bullet hole in the side of a skull. These are just some of the 78 disturbing illustrations which make up Samuel George Morton’s Crania Americana, undoubtedly the most important work in the history of scientific racism.

Published in Philadelphia in 1839, Morton divided mankind into five races before linking the character of each race to skull configuration. In a claim typical of the developing racial sciences, Morton wrote of Native Americans that “the structure of his mind appears to be different from that of the white man”. Within a few years Crania Americana had been read in Britain, France, Germany, Russia and India. James Cowles Prichard, the founding father of British anthropology, described it as “exemplary” whilst Charles Darwin considered Morton an “authority” on the subject of race. Later in the nineteenth century, other European scholars produced imitations with titles including Crania Britannica and Crania Germanica.

James Poskett, from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, is working to uncover how Crania Americana became so influential, not only in the United States, but in Europe and beyond. He has also curated a new exhibition for readers at the Whipple Library charting this history. The showpiece is undoubtedly a copy of Crania Americana itself. The book is extremely rare. Only 500 copies were ever printed with no more than 60 being sent outside of the United States. “This research is crucial for understanding how racist theories gain credibility,” said Poskett. “Particularly in the early nineteenth century, European scholars tended to treat American science with suspicion. Morton had to work hard to convince his peers across the Atlantic that Crania Americana should be taken seriously.”

Establishing a reputation

The illustrations, now on display at the Whipple Library helped Morton establish his reputation in Europe. Reviewers in Britain were astounded by the eerie, life-like quality of the skulls. To create such an effect, Morton’s artist, John Collins, used a new technique called lithography. He first drew each image onto a limestone block in wax before fixing, inking and printing. The limestone allowed Collins to create fine-grained textures, reproducing the subtle contours of each skull in Morton’s collection” (read more).

(Source: Past Horizons)

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Ancestry, Race, and Forensic Anthropology ›


The difficulty in forensic anthropology of using biological variation to figure out a social category is explained really well in this article, and it’s what I really try to drive home to my Intro to Bioanth students.

tl;dr read this and understand why I need to smack the shit out of something every time I hear “race is a social construct except in forensic anthropology.” IT’S A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT ALWAYS.

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graveyards are very important and extremely educational, a graveyard can learn u many things about the past! for example, in the past, people used to be alive, but now they are dead

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i only care about inner beauty

like bone structure

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accept death. befriend death. take death out for dinner. marry death. marry a death who reads

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First post on tumblr. It has to be hip. it has to be humerus.image


Nailed it.

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Friend: My mom is a fan of your tumblr lol we died over the crystal skull vodka face!!

Me: Are you serious? Hahaha!

Friend: Haha I always go through your posts with her. My mom loves archaeology.

Me: I plan on trying to convince my supervisors to let me put it (Crystal Head Vodka Skull) into the forensic FORDISC program to see what race/ethnicity it spews out.


1) This made my day.
2) I think I need to make this happen. Cross your fingers my supervisors let me do it! 

The post:

FORDISCFORDISC 3.0 is an interactive computer program, running under Windows, for classifying adults by ancestry and sex using any combination of standard measurements. New features of FORDISC 3.0 are: larger number of variables, including postcranial variables; larger numbers of groups, including Howells’ world wide cranial data; improved pictorial guide to measurements, and improved file management and printer control.

Using ForDisc, a decedent’s biological profile can be created based on measurements from various areas of bones, along with information about the person’s age, height, race, and illnesses. ForDisc uses standard anthropometric measurements including maximum length, maximum breadth, bi-zygomatic breadth, orbital breadth and height, maximum alveolar breadth and width, minimum frontal breadth, basion-bregma, basion-prosthion, cranial base length, bi-auricular breadth, upper facial height and breadth, foramen magnum breadth and length, frontal chord, parietal chord, occipital chord, nasal height and breadth, bi-orbital breadth, interorbital breadth, and mastoid length.


I love stuff like this because as useful a tool as FORDISC can be, it’s super-important when using it to take it in its full social context and to emphasize how the program is just as subject to human foibles and misuses as any other program and not to just blindly accept whatever results it spits out. 

See also:  the time they asked FORDISC to assign a likely racial identity to a soccer ball and it happily complied. 

Freid DL, Jantz RL, Ousley SD (2005) The truth is out there: how NOT to use FORDISC. Poster presented at the 74th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists,Milwaukee, WI April 6

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