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Not a relic of the past

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Not a relic of the past

by Alex Noble, Staff Writer

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Thursday, Feb. 16 marked San Diego State’s first participation in National Anthropology Day.

Congress recently declared the third Thursday of February a day for annual celebration of the field.

The team behind the event was composed of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students alike.

The Association of Anthropology Students, the Anthropology Graduate Student Association, the Department of Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association sponsored the event.

“Anthropology is such a diverse discipline,” Frederick Conway, associate professor and department chair, said. “With this event, we wanted to bring these various subfields together as well as engage the community.”

Anthropology Day proved to be a full day of equal parts education and socializing. It began with a campus-wide scavenger hunt that was followed by a raffle.

“We figured that we could kill two birds with one stone by getting everyone acquainted with SDSU and also teaching some archaeological facts.” James Turner, president of the Anthropology Graduate Student Organization and a key organizer of the event said. “All while having fun too!” 

Much of the day included valuable time spent in laboratory open houses. The labs provided a look into an average day in each subfield and a platform for students to promote their hard-earned accomplishments. AGSA vice president Shelby Jenkins’ believes that prospective students can greatly benefit from this opportunity.

“It’s one-on-one interaction between the students within and outside the major, ” Jenkins said, “These could one day be your future colleagues so it’s important to get to know them and understand their research interests.”

A mixer was held for social networking as well as a Q&A with current students.

The organizers said they felt a sense of rapport was essential in order for both the department and community at large to learn something from one another.

“We want to get everyone together,” Jenkins said. “Get everyone talking.” 

Various films focused on cultural anthropology were also screened throughout the day.

Notably, the film Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’l played in conjunction with a Q&A with its director, Zoila Mendoza.

Anthropology Day wasn’t only a celebration but a clarification of the purpose of what is often a misunderstood subject.

The Department of Anthropology enables students to better understand human biological and cultural diversity through the lenses of physiology, culture, archaeology and linguistics. 

“Mere exposure can clear up the misconceptions about what anthropology even is,” Turner said. “For instance there’s always that old misconception that we dig up dinosaurs when that’s not remotely what we do.”

In fact, anthropology isn’t so much a relic of the past but a window into the future.

“Anthropology is always relevant to the world,” Dr. Conway said. “A lot of it is using our knowledge of the past to help solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

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