The India-based career planning site Careers360 interviewed SMU professor Caroline Brettell for an article about a professional career as an anthropologist.

An anthropologist, Brettell most recently reported that Indian and Vietnamese immigrants in North Texas develop their American identity by participating in ethnic community activities, then branching out to broader civic and political life.

She and co-author Deborah Reed-Danahay in their book, “Civic Engagements: The Citizenship Practices of Indian & Vietnamese Immigrants” (Stanford University Press, 2012) found that American Indians and Vietnamese Americans in North Texas develop and embrace their American identity over time — without shedding their culture of origin, as some say they should.

The research found that, for these groups, becoming a U.S. citizen is distinctly different from becoming American, say the immigration experts.

For new Vietnamese and Indian immigrants, whether naturalized citizens or not, American identity deepens as they participate in activities, festivals and banquets at their churches, schools, temples, business and civic associations, and their social and cultural organizations, say Brettell and Reed-Danahay.

From their research, Brettell and Reed-Danahay conclude that policymakers should be cautious with any attempts to integrate, assimilate or incorporate immigrants. They recommend against imposing top-down standards on how citizenship should be expressed — such as requiring full English proficiency or focusing exclusively on formal political participation.

Read the full article.

By Urmila Rao

If you think dark-skinned people are dusky because they live near equatorial or hot tropical regions, reflect again. Tasmania, an island, 240 km south of Australia, far away from the equator, had natives with dark complexions. Prior to colonial invasion, they had inhabited the island for 10,000 years, but despite the gargantuan time period, their skin colors didn’t change.

At one glance, all Chinese may appear similar to you, but the fact is, a Chinese of northern China is physically and genetically different from a southern Chinese. The former is taller, heavier with paler complexion and a pointed nose and share similarity to a Tibetan or a Nepalese, whereas Southern Chinese people look more like Vietnamese and Filipinos with their smaller and slanted eyes.

Interesting facts, aren’t they? Do biological variations of “others” baffle you? Evolution and variation of humans intrigue you as much as cultural changes stump you? If they do, then chuck your drab financial management course and head for an anthropology class.

[ … ] [ … ] So what is Anthropology?
Anthropology is science of man. Some institutions slot it under social sciences, some under science stream. According to Caroline B. Brettell, Professor, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, “It is a study of humans — both past and present.” The past is studied through anthropology sub-fields of archaeology and physical (or biological) anthropology. The present is studied through its socio-cultural branch.

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