HRAF News Vol. 2019-12
Season's Greetings from HRAF
HRAF is presently seeking donations to fund scholars who have applied for the HRAF Global Scholarship . This year we have a record number of candidates - more than we can fund with our own resources. In a fascinating new article published in Science , researchers used the eHRAF World Cultures database to uncover universality and diversity in human song. Our recent post on the anthropology of home also addresses questions of cultural universals as they relate to place and family. As the year draws to a close, HRAF has featured an intriguing post on the seasonal topic of the winter solstice . We wish you happy holidays from HRAF and look forward to an exciting year ahead!
In keeping with our mission of promoting cultural diversity, the HRAF Global Scholarship has attracted candidates from around the world.

As one of our top funding priorities, the scholarship provides institutions and individuals in low-income or middle-income countries with free access to our databases,   eHRAF World Cultures   and   eHRAF Archaeology .

HRAF currently has more candidates than we can fund with our own dedicated resources. We are seeking the support of donors to endow one additional institutional scholarship and five additional individual scholarships.

If you are interested in supporting scholars through the HRAF Global Scholarship, please consider a donation in any amount.

H ome for the holidays? Curl up in front of the fire and have a look our post, Home Truths: An Anthropology of House and Home , to learn why one of the most common facets across cultures is the association of the home not with bricks or mortar, but with family. 

Following an inquisitive approach to understanding houses, homes, and households, the post utilizes the ethnographic data contained in the eHRAF World Cultures database to uncover any cultural commonalities or differences regarding what constitutes “home”.

Consider what it means for one to feel “at home”. Does such an ephemeral concept require a permanent physical structure, or can home be made and remade at any time and place in one’s life?

The Winter Solstice is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. Check out our post, Winter Solstice Celebrations Around the World , to explore local festivities, festive treats, and New Year rituals across world cultures.

Marking the longest night and shortest day of the year, the hibernal solstice is an astronomical event that takes place when the Earth reaches its maximum tilt on its axis away from the sun. The calendrical milestone has long shaped human activities and annual cycles. Peoples all over the world have long revered this annual astronomical occurrence as a time to bid farewell to lengthy, dark nights and to welcome the impending return of the sun.

If you’re interested in learning about how different cultures recognize the winter solstice, eHRAF is a great place to find ethnographic examples both ancient and modern.

Does vocal music, or song, exist across all known human cultures? What behaviors are commonly associated with it? Do the musical features of a song predict the behavioral context in which it is performed?

Samuel A. Mehr , a Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, together with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues at various institutions, seeks to answer these questions and others in an article published in Science and featured in a post on our homepage.

As noted by the authors, claims about the universality of music -
while often asserted, assumed, or contested - have never been tested systematically. Attempting to overcome “the methodological difficulty of comparing the music of different societies”, Mehr and his colleagues have constructed The Natural History of Song (NHS) .

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