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Article

Transnational education-driven mobilities produce a particular kind of academic diaspora in global higher education that is often valued by both home and host countries but in ways that vary and serve different interests and aspirations. These interests and aspirations are usually tied up with the contrasting perspectives on brain drain and brain circulation. With the promotion of worldwide globalization-driven internationalization of higher education, brain circulation and the associated discourse of connectivity have increasingly dominated policy and scholarly debates. The discourses of brain circulation and connectivity are furthered supported by technological advancements and numerous education-driven mobility programs introduced at all levels. While evidence of gain, circulation, and connectivity remains limited, there are concerns about capacity, knowledge and intellectual dependency, and academic inequalities between more developed higher education systems and those in developing countries. At the same time, varied privileges attached to academic diasporas and educational mobilities can cause tensions and hierarchies within a higher education system. The academic diaspora politics is located within this complex, hierarchical, and dynamic cultural, political, and economic space. As a way forward, grounded/home-based transnationality and a shift in discourse are discussed as a possible productive counter position to help reduce inequalities. Examples from Vietnam and several African countries as well as their respective transnational academic diasporas are provided to demonstrate the nuanced academic diaspora, brain drain, and brain circulation discourses.

Article

Affective states have a profound influence on how people view the world, yet the cognitive consequences of feelings for thinking have received relatively little attention until recently. There is growing evidence that people’s affective reactions have been shaped by evolutionary processes and have an adaptive influence on the way information is processed. There is now extensive evidence for the adaptive benefits of positive and negative affect for the way people think and process social information. Based on recent experimental research, there are two kinds of affective influences: affect congruence, in which an affective state influences the content and valence of thinking, and processing effects, where an affective state has a regulatory influence on the kind of processing strategy adopted. The evidence shows a broad spectrum of affective influences on memory, attention, inferences, associations, and judgments, as well as the way more complex social behaviors are planned and executed. All affective states, including the negative ones, confer significant adaptive benefits, serving as useful inputs to information processing strategies. These experimental findings, and recent theories linking affect and cognition have important practical implications for understanding how affective states influence everyday thinking and behavior.

Article

Archaeological examination of the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa largely began with investigations of European trade posts and forts on the coast and on major West African rivers. The predominant focus of subsequent work has been on African states and societies affected by or involved in Atlantic commerce and the slave trade. Major themes of research include African–European interactions and trade, political and economic effects in African societies, and the integration and consumption of Atlantic goods in daily life. Work has also expanded geographically beyond West African towns and states into hinterland and frontier landscapes far from the coast. Archaeological investigations of Atlantic era slavery developed in dialogue with the archaeology of the African diaspora in the Americas, yet their foci and objectives have not always been completely aligned. Slavery is more of a central theme in African diaspora archaeology—being the primary formative historical force in the creation of the diaspora—than it is in West African archaeology, where it is more often examined as a major feature of social, political, and economic life with uneven regional and societal effects. Archaeologists are also involved in the study, interpretation, and politics of African diaspora heritage tourism. Emerging approaches to the archaeology of Atlantic era slavery in West Africa include maritime archaeology and the archaeology of the formerly enslaved that returned to West Africa.

Article

Understanding of the various types of plasticity that occur in the spinal cord, as well as understanding of spinal cord functions, has vastly improved over the past 50 years, mainly due to an increase in the number of research studies and review articles on the subject. It is now understood that the spinal cord is not merely a passive conduit of neural impulses. Instead, the spinal cord can independently execute complex functions. Numerous experimental approaches have been utilized for more targeted exploration of spinal cord functions. For example, isolating the spinal cord from supraspinal influences has been used to demonstrate that simple forms of learning can be performed by spinal neuronal networks. Moreover, reduced preparations, such as acute spinal cord slices, have been used to show that spinal neurons undergo different types of modulation, including activity-dependent synaptic modification. Most spinal cord processes, ranging from integration of incoming sensory input to execution of locomotor outputs, involve plasticity. Nociceptive processing that leads to pain and spinal learning is an example of plasticity that is well-studied in the spinal cord. At the neural level, both processes involve an interplay of cellular mediators, which include glutamate receptors, protein kinases, and growth factors. The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has also been implicated in these processes, specifically as a promoter of both pro-nociception and spinal learning mechanisms. Interestingly, the role of BDNF in mediating spinal plasticity can be altered by injury. The literature spanning approximately 5 decades is reviewed and the role of BDNF is discussed in mediating cellular plasticity underlying pain processing and learning within the spinal cord.

Article

Karla Hoff and Allison Demeritt

Economics, like all behavioral sciences, incorporates premises about how people think. Behavioral economics emerged in reaction to the extreme assumption in neoclassical economics that agents have unbounded cognitive capacity and exogenous, fixed preferences. There have been two waves of behavioral economics, and both have enriched development economics. The first wave takes into account that cognitive capacity is bounded and that individuals in many situations act predictably irrationally: there are universal human biases. Behavioral development economics in this first wave has shown that low-cost interventions can be “small miracles” that increase productivity and well-being by making it easier for people to make the rational choice. The second wave of behavioral economics explicitly takes into account that humans are products of culture as well as nature. From their experience and exposure to communities, humans adopt beliefs that shape their perception, construals, and behavior. This second wave helps explain why long-run paths of economic development may diverge across countries with different histories. The second wave also suggests a new kind of intervention: Policies that give individuals new experiences or new role models may change their perceptions and preferences. New perceptions and preferences change behavior. This is a very different perspective than that of neoclassical economics, in which changing behavior requires ongoing interventions.

Article

Jenail H. Marshall and Michele Buzon

Bioarchaeology is the study of human remains within their archaeological and mortuary contexts. Bioarchaeologists use skeletal biology, mortuary practices, and the archaeological record to answer questions about past populations’ lives and lifestyles. The term Nile Valley defines a geographic region of Egypt and Nubia, the latter encompassing the region between the First Cataract at Aswan, Egypt, and the Sixth Cataract just north of Khartoum, Sudan. Spanning the Nile River area, it is sometimes referred to in its two parts, according to the river’s flow, from south to north, Lower Nubia in the north and Upper Nubia in the south. In Egypt, that is Upper Egypt in the south and Lower Egypt in the north. For over a century, the region has had many campaigns and salvage projects that have led to the excavation of thousands of skeletal remains from ancient Nile Valley sites. Analyses of these collections have provided important information about the people and their health, patterning disease and trauma, diet, and biological relationships. Early morphological research on the skeletal remains of the people who once lived in ancient Nubia was dominated by biased interpretations stemming from racist paradigms in the early 19th century that included racial typologies. Moving beyond these perspectives, contemporary research on the ancient Nile Valley has expanded methodological and theoretical advancements in bioarchaeology more broadly. The integration of bioarchaeology in the larger context of archaeological projects provides a wealth of information that includes but is not limited to health, disease, identity, nutrition, life experiences, and demographic patterns. Likewise, how archaeology is conducted in the region is shifting and highlights a move toward decolonial and ethical practices within the discipline, including involvement with the local communities.

Article

Lay Catholic brotherhoods constituted important religious, social, and civic associations among African-origin and African-descended people in Portugal, West Central Africa, and Portuguese America in the early modern period (1450–1850). Lay Catholic brotherhoods (irmandades), also known as confraternities (confrarias) and sodalities, functioned as spaces of devotion oriented around one or more patron saints. In the Portuguese Atlantic world, free and enslaved people of African origin and descent utilized the associations to prioritize collective devotion, mutual aid, and burial rites for members. Mutual aid could include small payments during illness, assistance with manumission process completion, and internment of deceased members under the auspices of the sodality. Lay Catholic brotherhoods functioned as critical sites of transculturation and belonging for people of African origin and descent in the 1490s in Portugal, by the early 1500s in areas of West Central Africa with an entrenched Portuguese presence, and in Brazil beginning in the colonial period (1500–1822). Confraternities became a common facet of lived experience and religiosity for African and African-descended Catholic devotees across the Portuguese-speaking Atlantic world. Associations were governed by organizational charters generated by founding or elected directorate members that required approval from Catholic Church leaders, the Crown, and provincial-level state authorities. Confraternities had juridical personality and recognition from ecclesial and state officials as semi-autonomous entities or corporate bodies. Members could exercise and experience limited levels of autonomy, even in slave-holding colonial environments. Within brotherhoods in Portugal and in its overseas imperial territories, ethnic and racial stratification was predominant, but not absolute. Confraternities acted as institutional sites where West, West Central, and Southeastern African ethnic group identities held importance and deep social meaning across several centuries. Confraternity participants engaged baroque Catholicism, which emphasized collective action including celebration of the saints and related rites relying on music, movement, and festivities. Brotherhoods functioned as critical sites of proselytization, but also came to serve as spaces for local member imperatives that incorporated African cultural expression, esthetics, and worldviews.

Article

The legacies of slavery and exploitation continue to shape the opportunities and experiences of contemporary Black women in the United States. While college access and attainment has increased over the past few decades, Black women contend with negative stereotypes, experiences, and inequitable outcomes associated with the intersectionality of their race and gender. Feminist standpoint theory and Black feminist thought can be used as lenses to centralize Black women’s experiences and thoughts when aiming to understand how their interactions with faculty and other institutional agents can function as barriers to and facilitators of their educational persistence. When Black women feel acknowledged by faculty as competent individuals rather than stereotypes, their engagement, sense of belonging, and persistence are positively affected. Listening to and valuing the stories of Black women students is an essential step to bringing about necessary changes for educational equity on historically White campuses across the country.

Article

Pottery has been part of daily life in southern Africa for the last two millennia. The frequent occurrence at settlement sites and its resistance to decay makes pottery the most common proxy for past food-producing communities (farmers and livestock herders), who made containers for cooking, serving, and storing foods and liquids. Provided that pots and sherds have enough diagnostic features to indicate décor patterns and vessel shape, trained eyes can get an instant and literally cost-free peek into past movement and interaction. Various material sciences offer high-precision dating and insights into less visible characteristics, and ethnographic insights are helpful for understanding more intangible aspects, such as the organization of production, pots’ roles in social practices and belief systems, and the transmission of knowledge and skills through apprenticeship. Potting has been a highly gendered activity, and attention to social identity is instrumental in widening the range of lenses through which archaeologists view past material culture. In this manner, by focusing on skilled craft networks dominated by women, ceramic research can provide a critical corrective alternative to more traditional top-down narratives that trace the evolution and interaction of (male) elites. However, the European and North American legacy of archaeological classification in southern Africa cannot be overlooked. Ceramic classification may still unwillingly project a Western-centered understanding of the human condition, mobility, and social change. While unacceptable labels that refer to outmoded notions of tribalism have long been replaced by more neutral terms, this does not mean that ceramics provide archaeology with a neutral “tracking device.” A continual key challenge for practitioners in southern Africa is to situate ceramic analysis within a wider thematic and disciplinary nexus in order to construct convincing deep time narratives while also exploring new pathways to insights that can give voices to otherwise silent or subaltern members of past societies.

Article

The aging population, also referred to as elderly or seniors, represents a demographic of growing significance for disaster management. The population pyramid, an important indicator of population growth, stability, and decline, has shifted from the typical pyramid shape into more of a dome shape when viewing trends globally. While these demographic shifts in age structure are unique to individual countries, adjustments in disaster management are needed to reduce the risk of aging populations increasingly affected by hazards. Risk is especially evident when considering where aging populations live, as proximity to environmental hazards such as flooding, tropical storm surge, fires, and extreme weather resulting in heat and cold increase their risk. Aging populations may live alone or together in retirement communities and senior living facilities where the respective isolation or high density of older adults present specific risks. There is a concern in areas with high economic productivity, also considered post-industrial areas, where the population consists more of those who are aging and less of those who are younger to support the labor needs of the market and more specifically to support and engage aging populations. This disparity becomes even more prominent in specific sectors such as healthcare, including senior living assistance. In developing economies, the young are increasingly leaving traditionally intergenerational households to seek greater economic opportunities in cities, leaving many seniors on their own. Thus, risk reduction strategies must be conscious of the needs and contributions of seniors as well as the capacity of the workforce to implement them. The integration of aging populations within disaster management through accommodation and consultation varies across the globe. Provision of services for and personal agency among senior populations can mitigate vulnerabilities associated with age, as well as compounding factors such as medical fragility, societal interaction, and income. Experience, mobility, and socioeconomic capabilities affect decision making and outcomes of aging populations in hazardous settings. Therefore, the means of involvement in disaster planning should be adapted to accommodate the sociocultural, economic, and environmental realities of aging populations.