Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2012

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Cover:
Jennifer Evans '06 trains Dillon, a capuchin monkey, how to be an assistant and companion to individuals with disabilities. Photo courtesy of Helping Hands.

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Barbie Overload

An anthropologist dissects middle-class clutter

by Phoebe Hall



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“Every good girl should have a whole ton of Barbies,” a Los Angeles mother of two told Anthony Graesch, assistant professor of anthropology, and three colleagues who followed 32 middle-class families to document what they owned and how they used their homes. The result of their multi-year study is the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2012), with statistics, floor plans and photos like this one that illustrate just how much stuff clutters the average American home. The authors tallied more than 100 visible dolls, action figures and other toys in most of the households they studied, noting that many more were concealed under beds and in closets. “We have so much stuff crammed into our houses, and it was interesting to see how this excess creates stress,” Graesch says. “We know we have too much, but we don't have time to deal with it, and we can't seem to part with it.”


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