HRAF News Vol. 2018-3
Cross-cultural beauty norms, crow-human relationships, and more.
At HRAF, we love getting the chance to use the ethnographic archives to answer our own cross-cultural questions! (And hopefully inspire you on the ways you can use them too.) Often, we see something on the news or a blog and we think: how have people from other cultures approached that topic? This month, our ponderings are about perceptions of crow intelligence and beauty norms.

Also read about researcher Emily Pitek, who is collaborating with the Database of Religious History to incorporate ethnographic information from eHRAF. And finally, don't forget to check out our open-access resources!
While the world of Western science has noted the intelligence of crows since the 19th century , we are still continually surprised by their abilities as we discover them. Recent work by Dr. Sarah Jelbert et al. suggests that crows can remember the design of tools and re-make them from scratch using "mental templates." Since crows are not known to demonstrate mimicking behavior, this finding is important; mental templates may be a means for crows to have cumulative culture (like us!), in which they pass down and build upon knowledge.

But is our surprise warranted? People from other societies have long recognized the advanced intelligence of the crow (and crow family of birds) in their myths, beliefs, and lifestyles.   Read a cross-cultural survey of crow-human relationships.
After a year as our Melvin Ember Intern, Emily Pitek has taken on a new role as a grant-supported HRAF researcher.

This past year, HRAF was asked to collaborate on an exciting digital humanities project housed at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver–the  Database of Religious History (DRH) . This work is supported by the John Templeton Foundation. The Database of Religious History’s  goal  is to create a standardized, searchable, and visualizable knowledge database about world religions (past and present) complete with expert commentary and primary-source citations.

Body-positivity is an increasingly popular discussion topic and moral stance in the West, addressing very real concerns about negative self-image and unrealistic, exclusive beauty standards.

It makes us wonder, though, are beauty norms so stringent elsewhere? Are there societies in which "attractiveness" is available to everyone? What variation exists for male and female beauty norms, and how do they change over time? We try to answer those questions here.
Explaining Human Culture: a database with standardized summaries for every cross-cultural (meaning 10 or more societies) research article and book we can find.

Teaching eHRAF: a library of teaching exercises and syllabi that use eHRAF to explore cultural diversity-- sortable by level, assignment type, and more.

Introducing Cross-Cultural Research: a series of beautifully designed PDFs constituting a "crash course" in cross-cultural methods.
HRAF at Yale University|