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Lecture 18

AN101 Lecture 18

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Anne- Marie Colpron

Lecture 18 4/10/2013 1:43:00 PM Applied Anthropology:  Anthropology as an ‘action’ social science in the examination of modern issues in a global world made up of a multitude of local traditions. o Human rights o International development o Cross-cultural social workers o Medical anthropology o Urban social planning o Public policy o Business consultants International development:  Many projects of international development have failed for not taking into account the culture in which they were elaborated.  Project of agricultural program: The anthropologists facilitate a constant dialogue between the farmers and agricultural scientists, which had very different perspectives one from another (Cf. textbook p. 352-355).  Projects of humanitarian aid after natural disasters: Dr. Alicia Sliwinski, Global Studies.  Example of failed international development:  Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) milk cows projects in Peru in the 1970s.  International development projects of domesticating wild pigs in hunting societies of the Amazon. Medical anthropology:  The term ‘medical’ does not refer specifically to the field of ‘medicine’ as it is defined in the West.  Medical here points to a wider array of concerns that relate more broadly to human ideas of well-being, health, illness and disease.  We commonly tend to see a binary opposition between medical systems based on traditional knowledge and those based on ‘modern’ Western science.  Contemporary social anthropologists tend to move beyond such ‘either/or’ approaches:  The two systems are not mutually exclusive: Many cultures today incorporate both traditional and Western concepts into their medical systems.  We do not have to forget that biomedical knowledge is also a traditional knowledge rooted in Western history and passed along within Western cultures.  ‘Modern’ is a relative concept. Each culture defines its own ‘modernity’ based on its own interpretations and techniques rooted deep in time and emergent ideas in the now.  Western biomedical approaches can be very effective when it comes to saving lives, but they also have their limitations.  They are asocial and highly technologized, bureaucratized and industrialized.  In this sense, they stand in opposition to the anthropologist’s goals of understanding individuals and their lives as situated in specific contexts.  Medical anthropologists actively seek to remain open to non-Western culturally defined ways of knowing and being.  They understand the need to contextualize all situations, since the traditional and biomedical approaches successfully work together only when cultural context is taken into account.  Medical anthropology takes into account that there are different cultural interpretations of disease and illness.  For example: Some specific symptoms in the Amazon are considered as the sign of witchcraft, while from the biomedical perspective they can be interpreted as parasitic worm infestation.  Using Western medicine alone would not cure the person.  The way a culture collectively interpret their world and their place in the world as an impact on their health an well-being.  The holist approach of medical anthropologists allows them to examine the many human factors – political, economical, social, and cultural – that shape health and well-being.  Being applied requires to be present in the real world and aware of all the factors that shape that world.  Community health and medical education: How to deliver medical care to distinct ethnic groups.  International health: Demographics, epidemiology, planning, environmental health.  Aging and gerontology: Research on aging in different cultures.  Maternal and child health: Prenatal care, nutrition, immunization programs Dying from witchcraft:  Someone who is said to be bewitched knows that he has to see a shaman otherwise he is condemned to die.  The social consensus suggests that death is the only issue:  Members of the community retract, stay away from the bewitched and treat him as a source of danger.  The bewitched falls in terror, loses support of the group, his physic integrity cannot stand the dissolution of his social personality. Business consultants:  Cross-cultural training program for doing business in foreign countries.  Social knowledge or values are based on an underlying taken-for-granted cultural logic.  Coming to understand another cultural logic is of great importance for any cross- cultural business partnership. Business in Japan  The presentation of the business card: meishi.  The business card is considered as an extension of the self.  Mistreating the business card is insulting and ruins any attempt to business partnership. (Textbook, p. 355-356) Urban Social Planning:  Anthropologists can make important contributions in urban policy contexts, in the process of identifying and seeking solutions to problems of particular populations.  For example: The well being of children in the city in relation to poverty, hunger, recreation, education, family, Native and immigrant issues, and substance abuse. Samoan case study:  Traditionally, Samoa has been a land of villages, each of which was governed by a council of matai, or ‘sacred chiefs’.  This system survived colonization until 1962, when New Zealand became independent and set up a parliamentary system of national government.  The Samoan constitution specified that only matai (sacred chiefs) could vote and run for office.  In 1990, the law was changed to allow all citizens to vote, but matai were still the only ones allowed to run for office.  Does this hybrid of a Western parliamentary system and the Samoan chief system represent an undemocratic attempt by Samoan chiefs to maintain power within formally democratic political institutions?  An anthropologist demonstrated that the question was misleading because it rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Samoan chief system functions.  Each matai is the head of an extended family. Each extended family is held together by kinship connections, joint ownership of land and joint participation in rituals.  Members of each extended family choose the person who will be ritually invested with this title.  It is the job of each matai to serve his family and to elevate the reputation of his extended family.  If a matai fails to live up to these expectations, his extended family can strip him of his title and give it to someone else.  The Samoan case study points towards different ideas about democracy:  In the West, we defend the universal suffrage since we favour a view of democracy in whic
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