William & Mary anthropologist begins blogging for NPR

  • Barbara KingWilliam & Mary anthropologist Barbara King has begun a guest-blogging stint on 13.7: Cosmos and Culture, a web-based feature of National Public Radio.

    Barbara King

William & Mary anthropologist Barbara King has begun a guest-blogging stint on 13.7: Cosmos and Culture, a web-based feature of National Public Radio.

“I was asked to blog for an unspecified time as a mutual trial period,” said King, Chancellor Professor of Anthropology. The title of the blog, 13.7, refers to the age of the universe in billions of years. NPR describes the feature as the “intersection of science and culture.”

King’s introduced herself to 13.7 readers in a Sept. 15 post titled “Humans and Animals, A Voice from Anthropology.” Her posts will appear every Thursday on 13.7.

“Often defined as the comprehensive study of humankind, anthropology increasingly embraces the natural world,” King writes in her initial post. She says her 13.7 posts often will draw from the same topical areas as her books. She is the author of the Being With Animals (Doubleday 2010), Evolving God (Doubleday 2007), The Dynamic Dance (Harvard University Press 2004), and a number of other books.

“I’m going to lead with my strengths,” King says. “My beat, as far as I’m concerned is animal cognition, animal emotion, human evolution and things that relate to those topics.”

She said one topic she wants to explore centers on how nonhuman primates think and feel. “For instance, chimpanzees are so clever at communication and tool-using, but science is also finding out that they are capable of empathy and feeling deep grief,” King said. “What are chimpanzees really doing? And what does it mean for ourselves?”

Another topic she intends to explore is how humans treat animals. “There’s a big sea change underway in how we think of animals,” she said. “We’re coming to think that they’re not just for entertainment, not just for food, but we’re coming to think of them as valuable beings in their own right.”

The 13.7 blog has an active comments section and King has responded to several posters already.

“NPR listeners—and I guess I mean readers, too!—are a very fun audience to engage with,” she said.