Jarita C. Holbrook
Near Eastern Studies
The University of Arizona

French Translation: http://www.namosi.org/~holbrook/
Romanian Translation:http://webhostinggeeks.com/science/jarita-holbrook-ro (by Web Geek Science)
Current CV EMAIL ME!


Donations Report 2008
Hubble's Diverse Universe Trailer

Request a Speaker: I am on the American Physical Society's Minority and Women Speakers List. If you are part of a physics department in North America and would like me to give a lecture, you can apply for a 500.00 travel grant through APS. See their website: http://www.aps.org/programs/minorities/speakers/travel-grants-faq.cfm. There is also an equivalent program specifically for astronomers: The Las Cumbres Speakers Program. I believe they cover more than $500 per speaker.

International Speaker Requests: I was a Fulbright Senior Specialist until 2007. This is a great program that encourages short term international exchanges for specific projects, workshops, or teaching. For more information click here . A short report on my trip to Nigeria in 2004 is found at http://www.cies.org/specialists/stories/ss_jholbrook.htm.

Profiles: Stars in Her Eyes and Physicist of the African Diaspora .

Graduate Degrees in Cultural Astronomy: There are two degree programs available for students interested in the intersection of people and the sky, both in the United Kingdom. Master's Degree in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, at the University of Wales, Lampeter (formerly at Bath Spa). The Ph.D. program is being negotiated. The other program offers Master's Degrees and Ph.D. in Archaeoastronomy at The University of Leicester. A new Ph.D. program is being established in the Republic of Georgia by Irakli Simonia. Email: simon_ir@ACCESS.SANET.GE.

The book "African Cultural Astronomy" is published! It can be purchased on Amazon or directly through Springer (www.springer.com).


For more History of Astronomy events see the Society for the History of Astronomy and the History of Astronomy Workshops at Notre Dame.

Big Event in 2006:

The Total Solar Eclipse Conference on African Cultural Astronomy for the week of March 26 - April 2, 2006. Cape Coast, Ghana.

Current Projects:

Image of the constellation Orion and part of Canis Major setting on the western horizon on April 22, 2004. Taken with a Nikon Coolpix 5700, 25 seconds without any image processing. [Please cite me as photographer if you use this picture]

Research Interests:  I study the relationship between humans and the sky. The night sky continues to fascinate people all over the world. How people think about the sky, use the sky, and depict the sky is immensely varied. Assuming that these variations reflect cultural and environmental differences, I use sky lore and sky knowledge as a way to probe cultures other than my own. There are four thematic areas to my research:
  1. The functional relationship between humans and the sky, i.e. how people use the sky. "Following the Stars" described below and "Astronomers and Observing" are two projects under this theme. The latter examines the changing relationship of astronomers to the practice of observing.

  2. Change - how sky knowledge and related practices are undergoing change. "Following the Stars", "Astronomers and Observing", and "Ethnoastronomy Rising". "Ethnoastronomy Rising" is a group of cultural astronomy researchers studying contemporary sky knowledge worldwide but also the effects of the globalization of astronomy.

  3. Sky Knowledge Today. Little is known about what people worldwide know about the sky, "Ethnoastronomy Rising" and "The Sky in Our Lives" are two projects under this theme. "The Sky in Our Lives" surveys the public on their sky knowledge.

  4. Minorities and Astronomy. "Hubble's Diverse Universe", "Women and Minority Astronomers' Networks", and "Astronomers and Observing" are active projects under this theme. I am also part of the APS Gender Equity Task Force.

I'm currently editing a manuscript on my recently completed study of celestial navigation in three cultures.  The communities were located on Moce Island in Fiji, on the Kerkennah Islands in Tunisia, and at the United States Naval Academy.  All these communities continue to navigate at night on the ocean using the stars.  However, the way they use the stars and which stars they use reflects their physical location on the Earth as well as their navigation needs.  The book "Following the Stars" details the importance of navigation by the stars in this age of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Teaching Mission: The classes I have designed and taught often include the intersection between Africans/African Americans and the physical sciences, such as "African American Scientists" which I taught at UCLA, and "African Philosophical Worlds", which I taught at UA and touched on philosophy of science. Since joining the faculty of the University of Arizona, I have exclusively taught classes focused on Cultural Astronomy: One class on Africa, another on the Pacific, and a graduate cultural astronomy class. I am working with video production teams to create new resources for my classes like the Ghana Eclipse video and Hubble's Diverse Universe. I often wonder if a cultural astronomy program is needed to train students in the United States, or if cultural astronomy should remain under anthropology, astronomy, or the history of science. For now, I teach classes crosslisted in astronomy and anthropology. In addition to those courses I have given lectures on African American scientists' assimulation strategies, representations of African American scientists in films, and about my education and career as an African American woman astrophysicist. I give several outreach talks a year for young people interested in studying the sciences. My talk given to young women at the Space Telescope Institute is online linked to my Web projects page.

ASTR/ANTH/AIS 447A/557A Anthropology of Astronomy
ASTR/ANTH 345: Cultural Astronomy: Pacific.
Anthropological Case Studies in Navigation - Summer 2007 grad course at the Institut fur Ethnologie, Heidelberg, Germany.
ANTH_493-1: Ghana Internship Class
ASTR/ANTH_345: Cultural Astronomy: Africa

Though the terms archaeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy, and cultural astronomy are relatively new, the study of astronomy in diverse cultures has been an emerging field for about 100 years. Books that touch on this field tend to be sensational with very little scientific research. In response, I have made a reading list on Amazon that should help beginners: The Cultural Astronomy Reader .

Web Projects: As part of my research in astronomy and culture, I spend a lot of time in museums searching for artifacts.  What I find is art, instruments, and tools relevant to astronomy.  I have been toying with what to do with this information but for now I want to make it available to the public. If you do use any of this information for your classes or publications please cite this website. 

Linked Publications (Updated 5/2012): A few of my papers and my students' papers are available on the internet. These have already been published so you can cite and refer to them as you would a normal paper article. There are also links to African Cultural Astronomy resources and syllabi on the WEB.

Web Projects and Publications.

This WEB page created by J. C. Holbrook. Last updated in 2012.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0003234 and No. 0233967. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author( s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.