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Chapter 18

Week 12 - Harris Chapter 18, Course Reader Patten.doc

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ANTH 1150
Satsuki Kawano

Harris Chapter 18 – Applied Anthropology What is Applied Anthropology? • Problem-oriented research in which anthropologists use their skills and knowledge to discover and explain factors that influence human behaviour and to solve practical problems • Research commissioned by public and private organizations in the hope of achieving practical goals of interest to them o E.g. of public organizations: federal, state, local, international government bureaus and agencies e.g. World Health Organization (WHO), drug abuse agencies, municipal hospitals, etc. o E.g. of private organizations: major industrial corporations, research foundations e.g. Planned Parenthood Research, Theory, and Action • Research aimed at achieving a special practical results • Extent to which the applied anthropologist actually participates in bringing about the desired result varies from one assignment to another o E.g. may just need to gather information, evaluate feasibility of a program, or draw up a set of plans for achieving a desired goal o It is rare to plan, implement, and evaluate a whole program from beginning to end o Action anthropology: anthropologists help implement a program • Difficult to distinguish between applied and nonapplied research o Nonapplied research can be construed as applied if it provides a general set of principles to which any action program must confirm if it is to achieve success  Doesn’t necessarily have to be funded by an organization which an expressed goal o “misapplied anthropology”: applied anthropology premised on blatantly incorrect theory What Do Applied Anthropologists Have to Offer? • Effectiveness of applied anthropology depends on three attributes of general anthropology: o 1. Relative freedom from ethnocentrism and Western biases o 2. Concern with holistic sociocultural systems o 3. Concern with both ordinary etic behavioural events and the emics of mental life Detecting and Controlling Ethnocentrism • Anthropologist can help organization by exposing ethnocentric and culture-bound assumptions that often characterize cross-cultural contacts and that prevent change-oriented programs from achieving their goals • Use cultural relativism to understand the cultural barriers that may affect change- oriented programs • Reserve judgment about a traditional practice e.g. peasant forms of agriculture o Narrowly trained specialists might automatically wish to shift to the “modern” way • E.g. imposing Western health care system on another nation may not make sense o The culture may not possess the funds necessary for the expensive hospitals, staff and latest technology o The culture may be using techniques that work for them A Holistic View • Industrial society is dominated by narrowly trained experts who have mastered techniques and machines others do not understand (technocratic) o Therefore, a holistic view of social life is more necessary (anthropologists!) • Standardized tests are increasingly used in fields such as education, health, and economic development, but are losing validity (“meaningfulness”) – i.e. may not be measuring what we want it to measure • Holism: the various components of a sociocultural system are linked; a change in one part of the system leads to changes in other parts of the system • Be aware of the short term and long-term, the distant and the near, parts other than the one being studied, the whole as well as the parts • Understand the needs and attitudes of local communities Etic and Emic View of Organizations • In most sociocultural systems, the etic behavioural aspects of organizations and situations differ substantially from the mental emics of the bureaucratic plan • Anthropologists can provide a view of organizations that bureaucracy lacks o Provide both emic and etic viewpoints o Look at what is meaningful and relevant to students, workers, managers, etc. in the organizations and also what is happening in terms of everyday events as they unfold Applied Anthropology and Development • Important subfield of anthropology is focused on the problem of agricultural development in peasant and small farmer communities o Anthropologists are useful consultants in raising Third World standards of living • Domains of Applied Anthropology (See Box 18.1 on page 313) – A few examples: o Appropriate and affordable housing o Criminal justice and law enforcement o Depletions and sustainable production o Economic development o Environmental protection o Health and medicine o Nutrition and diet o Poverty o Etc……(See box 18.1 for more examples) Without Holism: Merino Sheep Fiasco • International experts failed at getting the peasant Indians of Chimborazo Province in Ecuador to substitute high-yield Australian merino sheep for the scrawny sheep the Indians owned • The Indians could have them free of charge if they used them to breed new flocks • Finally, one Indian decided to accept the offer • But, the Chimborazo people compete with other ethnic and racial groups for scarce resources – and they feared the Indians would press for additional economic and social gains which could jeopardize their positions- the merino sheep from the one Indian were stolen and he had no sheep • Awareness of ethnic and class antagonisms, opportunities for theft, political subservience of peasants may be essential to achieving their goals The Haitian Agroforestry Project • Planned and directed by Gerald Murray • Received $4 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) • Funds were given to local community groups (private volunteer organizations) interested in peasant welfare o Assembled and instructed local farmers and distributed the seedlings free of charge if the farmers agreed to plant 500 • Induced Haitian peasants to plant millions of fast-growing trees in steep hillside farmlands threatened by erosion • Depletion of soil as a result of rapid runoff from treeless hillsides is one of Haiti’s greatest problems • Trees are also needed as a source of charcoal and building materials • Other programs had no success because of funds or problems with protecting seedlings o Haiti peasants are market oriented and produce crops for cash sale o Earlier projects had presented the fast-growing seedlings as national treasures that could not be harvested, therefore it made no sense for the peasants to grow the trees if they could not use the resources… therefore they let their goats eat the seedlings • This is why Murray distributed the trees as cash crop which the peasants would have complete control • Peasants were educated on tree growing practices, how fast the trees would grow, when they could harvest the trees as resources • Over 20 years, ~50% of Haiti’s farm households have participated in the project o Conservation o Good cash-earning for peasants o Erosion has been curtailed o Trees can be used for charcoal and building purposes Box 18.2 The Theory behind the Haitian Reforestation Project • Murray predicts that cash-oriented agroforestry will be a major feature of peasant agriculture throughout the Third World o Because of widespread depletion of a natural resources and population pressure • Peasants have depleted the trees on which they depend for soil regeneration, fuel, and building material, and now find it advantageous to plant trees as one of their basic crops Box 18.3 Coopting the Demon behind Deforestation • Manning said the below points, but it was from Murray’s book (?) • The demon is the market which currently exists for charcoal and construction materials • But this market can restore the tree growth to the hills of Haiti • Accomplished through creative programming, use cash-generating energy in Haitian society which plans trees in the ground faster than they are being cut down • The peasant must do it and he will only do it when planting trees makes money for him • Cash-oriented agroforestry is the solution Archeological Knowledge and Agricultural Development • Archeological knowledge from the past can contribute directly to technological improvements in the present • E.g. in Bolivia on the marshy and barren shores of Lake Titicaca, archeologists discovered potatoes and grain called quinoa and evidence of criss-crossed canals o They tried an experimental field using these ancient techniques, and produced crop yields that were double of others and survived the frosts Medical Anthropology • Studies the interaction among culture, disease, and health care • Hospitals offer discrepancies between the emics of various staff specialists and the etics of patient care • The hospital bureaucracy has designed its various rules and regulations to promote the health and well-being of patients • However, studies have shown that these rules and regulations aim to shock and depersonalize the patients and create great apprehension • Discovering what is wrong in hospitals is easier than figuring out how to change it • Physicians are required to practice “defensive medicine” aimed at protecting themselves against lawsuits than at caring for their patients and must rely excessively on technology • But not all the fault of physicians – society lacks compassion for the ill poor • Western medical training emphasizes technology and an assembly-line approach to efficient medical treatment o E.g. U.S. women giving birth are hooked up to electronic fetal monitor and an IV, encouraged to take pain-relieving drugs, and made to give birth lying on their backs (while the doctor stands in control) • Many practitioners recognize the way people think and experience illness is influenced by their culture • Biomedicine: medicine based on the application of the principles of the natural sciences, especially biology and biochemistry • Medical anthropologists focus on how sickness is culturally constructed – how sickness is understood, what causes ill health and misfortune, practices of cultural groups • Ethnomedicine: aims to understand the health-related beliefs, knowledge, and practices of cultural groups • Applied medical anthropologists use ethnomedical knowledge to improve medical treatment and health care o Examples  International health – institute health services and prevent programs on a worldwide basis, act as consultants  American hospitals – serve ethnically diverse communities  Medical schools – modify the curriculum to provide training to facilitate better communication between physicians and patients  International programs – promote the cooperation of traditional practitioners within international health programs The Humoral Theory of Medicine • Humoral medicine: conceives the universe as made of opposing qualities – hot and cold, wet and dry – and sees health as a matter of balance between these opposites • These systems are found in Islamic and popular Hispanic traditions, Ayurveda and Chinese medicine • Gender, age, individual temperament, type of illness are all taken into consideration when selecting a remedy or providing food for someone who is ill • E.g. if illness is cool, provide with hot foods Treatment Choice in Medically Pluralistic Settings • Plural medical systems: characterized by alternative systems of care and multiple usage patterns o People are likely to pursue several treatment alternatives simultaneously (“dual use”) or use a sequence of treatments • Health-seeking behaviour may involve self-care, asking a relative, going to a pharmacy, going to a health care center o People may go back and forth between resources or use several simultaneously • Many forms of illnesses are subjective in their content o With the exception of pathogenic diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi • Medical anthropologists use an emic interpretative approach to study the meaning that illnesses or symptoms have for individuals in given cultural contexts o E.g. personal trauma, life stresses, fears and expectations about the illness, social reactions of friends and authorities, how people feel about the therapeutic experience o An etic approach would look at behavioural factors commonly associated with treatment choice e.g. the quality and severity of symptoms, insurance status Profile 18.1 Why the Machiguenga Prefer Native Curers to Biomedical Health Care  Providers • Machiguenga community of Kamisea • A health post staffed by a Peruvian doctor and nurses who provide virtually free government subsidized biomedical health care o But it is greatly underutilized because they don’t have confidence in the health care providers
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