In the 1970s, scholar Ina-Maria Greverus was a pioneer in opening German Volkskunde towards international horizons. Her concept of human-environment interaction as “territoriality”, inspired by US-american cultural ecology, is reconsidered as an anthropology of the Anthropocene avant la lettre.
Anthropology and anthropological literature have had an irreversible effect on the practice of contemporary shamanism. In this small-scale study, I look at the complex ways the literature has been recorded, initiated interest, revived and verified the shamanic practices. Over the years, anthropologists have also caused distortions in revived practices as they have left some things unrecorded. On the basis of written responses and interviews from shamanic practitioners and active drumming-group members, I demonstrate that the argument of neo-shamanism as the only form of shamanism still alive is not completely true. Attention is drawn also to the claim about the cycle of learning in contemporary shamanism. My argument is that the main part of learning in the deeper levels of shamanic practices still happens in face-to-face situations.
In an earlier paper (Dressler, 2001), I suggested that medical anthropology as a research enterprise could not ignore either meaning or structure in human social life in the production of health. Rather, drawing on the early work of Bourdieu, I argued that we need to take into account both how the world is configured by the collective meanings we impose upon it, as well as the social structural (and physical) constraints on our behaviour that exist outside those meanings. Human health can be understood, in part, as the intersection of meaning and structure. Here, my aim is to extend this perspective in three ways. Firstly, I present an expanded theoretical framework within which collectivei meaning and social structure can be conceptualised. A useful theoretical framework must take into account paradoxical features of culture, including the seeming contradiction that it is a property both of social aggregates and of individuals, and that, ultimately, social structural constraints external to individuals depend on shared meaning. Secondly, I review recent research employing this perspective conducted in Brazil, the southern United States and Puerto Rico. These studies have all employed a 'structural-constructivist' theoretical orientation, using especially the concept of 'cultural consonance', or the degree to which individuals incorporate shared meaning into their own beliefs and behaviour. Where individual efforts to attain a higher cultural consonance are frustrated by structural constraints, poor health results. Thirdly, I consider some of the policy implications of this perspective. While much work in traditional public health focuses on a highly individualised notion of meaning (as in 'health beliefs'), it seems unlikely that the health of populations can be altered substantially without taking into account the structures that constrain individual action.
George E. Marcus
This article engages the current challenges that the ecology of designing and implementing ethnographic research today presents to the still powerful culture of method in anthropology, especially as it is manifested in the production of apprentice graduate dissertation research by anthropologists in the making. The Anthropology of Public Policy defines a recent and emerging terrain of anthropological research that challenges the culture of fieldwork/ethnographic method at the core of anthropology's practice and identity. Thus, what might emerge, in the author's view, is not a new or adjusted handbook of method, but a more far-reaching discussion of how the very function of ethnographic research shifts in response to this challenge in terms of collaboration and pedagogy.
George E. Marcus
For me, since the 1980s, the distinctive event in the recent history of social and cultural anthropology in the United States has been a profound cutting of the discipline (or rather of this influential component of the four-field disciplinary organisation of general anthropology) from moorings that defined it through much of the twentieth century. Certainly the discipline is still wedded functionally to certain aspects of the institutional model which has shaped the identity of social and cultural anthropologists, as pioneered through the works of such figures as Bronislaw Malinowski in England and Franz Boas in the United States. Most anthropologists still begin their careers with a geographical area specialisation outside the U.S. However, few receive the intensive areas studies education that was available and encouraged in the U.S. during the 1950s through to the 1970s when, in the atmosphere of the Cold War and development studies, there was a huge investment in such interdisciplinary programmes that has since waned.
Time in Physics and Fiji
This article conducts an anthropological analysis of time, beginning with an examination of the Fijian movement Viti Kabani (Fiji Company). The examination is based on an ontological consideration. Although there are exceptions (e.g., Gell 1992
David Henig and Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska
When Tone Bringa published Being Muslim the Bosnian Way in 1995, the book soon became the hallmark of anthropological studies of Islam in Southeast Europe. In the wake of the tragic events in Bosnia-Herzegovina ensuing from the breakdown of Yugoslavia, it provided much needed intimate insights into the complex entanglement of religion, politico-religious symbolism and identitarian politics in the wartorn country. Furthermore, it complicated the immediate proliferation of the ‘quick solution’ paradigms – clash of civilisations, or ‘old’ ethnic hatred – that had been adopted with ease by many international and local politicians, as well as by scholars working in the region, and that soon became the mainstream of academic discourse during and especially in the years after the war.
Michael G. Powell
By considering multiple perspectives on the problem of networking and networks in public policy circles, as well as the wider professional world, this article aims to both draw out and blur boundaries and definitions among multiple levels of networking as an analytic concept, a fieldwork method and a practice observed among policymakers. In making this distinction and explaining it in relation to theorisations of fieldwork rapport and 'complicity,' the article attempts to show that the distance and collegiality that defines professional networking is a viable and potentially quite insightful mode, means and method for conducting fieldwork, particularly for multisited anthropology of public policy projects. To that end, this article offers both conceptual ideas, as well as practical advice for conceiving and conducting fieldwork for an anthropology of public policy project.
The Experience of Case Review Audits in Burkina Faso
Marc-Eric Gruénais, Fatoumata Ouattara, Fabienne Richard, and Vincent De Brouwere
The ratio of maternal morbidity and mortality in developing countries is high. The World Health Organization (WHO) and public health specialists promote case review audits as a means of improving quality of obstetric care. This reflects the need for high reactivity in health personnel's management of obstetric complications. Within an action-research programme in Burkina Faso, a trial of case review audits was implemented in a maternity ward. This was designed to help health personnel better align their practice with clinical standards and to enable more consideration of pregnant women's needs. Social anthropologists were involved in these case review audits in order to collect data about pregnant women's lifestyles and circumstances. They also worked to train health personnel to conduct interviews. Although it is important to take account of women's circumstances within audit sessions, conducting interviews in 'anthropological ways' (at women's homes, with observations) is time consuming and may sometimes be better replaced with interviews in hospital contexts. Anthropologically informed interviews may pinpoint socio-economic situations as key reasons for problems in healthcare, but health personnel are usually powerless to address these. However, anthropology contributes an awareness of the relevance of these issues for broader healthcare planning.
Collaboration and Digital Media in (Re)making Boas’s 1897 Book
Aaron Glass, Judith Berman, and Rainer Hatoum
thought and his formulation of a modern concept of “culture” as learned, locally situated, and divorced from biology (see Boas 1911b , 1928 ). The book was also a landmark in anthropology for its use of multiple media technologies, deploying texts