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Sherylyn Briller and Erika Carrillo

Aging is a biological and sociocultural experience that occurs globally. Although aging is universal, ideas about aging and the life course vary widely and influence how aging and quality of life are perceived. Aging occurs both individually and collectively. Individuals have their own life stories and experiences shaped by cultural values, norms, and life course expectations. Anthropology’s attention to both scientific and humanistic ways of exploring what it means to be human is well suited to investigating how people live and age over time and in various locations. Like other anthropological subjects, one can explore aging in terms of human evolution as well as biological and cultural variation in aging experiences. Combining these topics to take a holistic perspective forms the subfield of the anthropology of aging. Given the breadth and scope of the anthropology of aging’s subject matter and global population aging, it is easy to see why this subfield is so fascinating to explore and work in as a career field. Numerous prior reviews cover the subfield’s origins and development and are highlighted. Homage is paid to the subfield’s history, and how to apply what has been learned to understanding a rapidly aging and socially changing world is discussed. As many have indicated, significant challenges and opportunities lie ahead.


Michelle MacCarthy

Indigenous peoples worldwide are affected by, and engage with, tourism in a number of ways. On the one hand, tourism may be oriented to facilitate direct interactions between Indigenous peoples and foreign tourists, often referred to as cultural or even “primitivist” tourism. In such cases, Indigenous people may or may not have much agency in how that interaction transpires and how much profit they directly derive. In other cases, such as ecotourism, reserves or other protected areas may be made more or less inaccessible to Indigenous people who may have ancestral claims to it, with infrastructure built to facilitate tourists’ visits and restrict or prohibit Indigenous use. Tourism behaviors may be disrespectful, intentionally or not, of Indigenous sensibilities. Tourist visits may be embraced by Indigenous people as an opportunity for economic development and cultural expression or rejected as an invasion of privacy, denying people dignity and respect by being objects of the “tourist gaze.” Many scholars from anthropology, sociology, human geography, and other related disciplines have sought to address some of the issues and concerns regarding the relationship between tourism and Indigenous peoples, drawing on examples from around the globe in order to illustrate the multitude of ways in which this relationship operates. Ways that Indigenous peoples’ relationship to tourism may be explored include contexts such as tourism to visit ancient monuments and UNESCO-listed world heritage sites, tourism in search of cultural differences, cruise travel and luxury resorts, and ecotourism. A variety of implications and potential tensions that may arise through tourism involving Indigenous peoples are explored.



Fiona McCormack and Jacinta Forde

The anthropology of fisheries is a core focus of maritime anthropology. Scholarship in this field is multifaceted, exploring fishing ways of life, fishing knowledge, marine tenures and economies, the gendered nature of fishing, how people cope with danger and risk, and the specificities of how this particular watery nature is manifested in social, political, and cultural systems. Fishing can be defined as a productive activity that takes place in a multidimensional space, depending more on natural or wild processes than manufactured processes. The idea of fishing being closer to nature is an analytical thread, giving the anthropology of fisheries a particular edge on the multispecies and more than human ethnographic turn in contemporary anthropology. Research in fisheries anthropology has long held the connections between fisher and fish to be of central concern. Significant too, however, is the thesis that the construction of commodity fisheries as a natural domain, of which fishers are atomistic extractors to be managed, is a highly politicized process involving the bioeconomic creation of fish stock and broader political economies. Anthropological research on fisheries engages critically with neoliberalizations, the extension of privatizations, and the proliferation of industrial aquaculture, thus challenging Blue Economy attempts to reconfigure nature–culture relationships and reposition the marine environment as a locus for the enactment and perpetuation of inequality.


Doug Henry and Lisa Henry

This article details the contributions of applied anthropology to public health, focusing on complementary and divergent interests, orientations, and methods. We emphasize areas where productive collaborations have occurred around convergent topics such as infectious and chronic disease, policy, interventions, and analysis of the social, political, and economic contexts that structure the conditions of health. Public health’s emphasis on community and advocacy provides a natural entry point for anthropology’s ethnographic method that emphasizes spending time with a community and understanding aspects of culture and health from its peoples’ perspectives. When a multidisciplinary team meets on a common interest, such as improving public health, everyone’s interests become better served if each discipline’s perspectives and values are recognized. Anthropologists with careers in public health can expect to engage in formative research to help develop the most appropriate health interventions, evaluate community uptake or rejection of public health initiatives, or critically examine the effects of national or global policies on local populations.


Shaheed Tayob

The anthropology of Muslim food practices is a burgeoning field that promises to shift the focus away from the dominant concern with rules, conformity, and piety. Food offers an embodied and material location through which to explore the way in which religion, economy, technology, ethics, and everyday life intersect. Studying food brings into view an aspect of Muslim religious and social life that is often commented on in popular media but rarely in scholarly debate. Halal consumption, a practice rooted in intra-Muslim trade and trust, is now a global consumer market. The halal certification industry has emerged to both produce and respond to the new discursive and material context of global trade, consumption, and increasingly scientific eating habits. The new terrain of molecular halal presents opportunities and challenges for Muslim consumption. Beyond halal, food is a substance thought to produce and transmit divine grace (barakat). All-night Ramadan markets and the annual festival of sacrifice are events that draw worldwide attention. Novel phenomena include ever increasing spectacles of feasting and consumption during Ramadan and the emergence of welfare intermediaries that cater to the distribution of sacrificial animals and meat across the globe. In each instance, one obtains an insight into how a discursive and material set of practices that link religion and food are inhabited and transformed in different economic, social, and political contexts. Further research calls for further investigation of these crucial global arenas of Muslim everyday life.


Robert Hariman, Shauna LaTosky, Michał Mokrzan, Jamin Pelkey, and Ivo Strecker

Pragmatic linguistics, discourse analysis, and the ethnography of speaking developed rapidly from the middle of the 20th century, when researchers began to be able to take ever smaller and more efficient audiovisual recording equipment to the field, and computers helped them play back, analyze, and discuss these especially rich new data with their interlocutors on location and with their colleagues at home. Part of this newly energized research was the comparative study of rhetoric—that is, of how distinctive speech practices could have persuasive effects. It soon led to the finding that specific forms of culture produce specific forms of rhetoric, as when economic horizons (hunters, herders, cultivators, etc.) provide specific metaphorical repertoires. However, a further finding took longer to emerge. It was first articulated by the rhetoric culture project, which seeks to explore not only how culture structures rhetoric but also how rhetoric structures culture. This fundamental chiasmus was initially discussed at several international conferences in Germany and the United States and has been elaborated in nine volumes of the Berghahn Books series Studies in Rhetoric and Culture (2009–2022). A key premise of Rhetoric Culture Theory (RCT) is that human beings are neither fully free nor fully determined in what they can do, and that this tension is mediated by the continual generation of discourses from the interaction between intention, convention, and performance. Stephen Tyler has provided a model for this complex process which illustrates the open-ended and emergent nature of discourse and explains how cultures, with their diverse customs, conventions, habits, and lifestyles, are self-organizing configurations continually recreated, negotiated, and changed through texts and performances. Cultural explanation is advanced through attention to processes of argument and appeal, dissonance and resonance, variation and feedback, and the like, but the results may not be objectively functional. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de la Mancha was chosen as RCT’s icon and telling example of this rhetorically produced and potentially fantastic nature of culture. RCT is also inspired and supported by understandings of the power of the word in other (and especially non-European) cultures. An example of this is Baldambe (Father of the Dark Brown Cow), an elder from Hamar, southern Ethiopia, who provided “historic” moments where in collaboration with the ethnographer spoken words were transformed into written ones, and texts with their own distinctive features and literary style emerged as documented in a number of publications. RCT is also influenced by the tenor of its time, not least an impending climate collapse and other threats that characterize the Anthropocene. Rhetorical and cultural abundance can be part of the existential crisis and resources for renewal on behalf of equity and sustainability. Reflecting on the relationship between speech practices and deep problems can reveal how all of culture is challenged by vicissitudes that are unanticipated and that scale up disastrously, and that call up inventive answers while testing the limits of human ingenuity.


Emily Mendenhall and Svea Closser

Global health can be understood as part of a larger history of global cooperation that reflects and enacts uneven politics, power, and privilege on an unequal earth. Global health emerged in the early 21st century when the groundswell of money for HIV/AIDS transformed the field, and a global orientation, as opposed to one of international relations or modularity, took hold. It is rooted in a long history of wealthier countries intervening in poorer countries with the stated aim of improving health—often with other goals, including economic power or winning hearts and minds. This history has been told by historians of medicine, as well as anthropologists. The idea of “global health” references the fact that health problems are concentrated not only in poorer countries, but rather around the world in resource-constrained settings, including rural areas and those that have been systematically cut off from services. The infusion of money for HIV, largely from wealthy nations, including the United States, positioned decision-making in global power centers that reflected a holdover from previous epochs of international health and colonial medicine. As in earlier eras, the period of global health was one where the focus was often on short-term, measurable outcomes achieved through top-down programs that sidestepped government infrastructure and development. This lack of sustained attention and support for national governments’ ability to build sustainable, broad-based health systems underlines long-standing concerns around the utility of technical solutions for health problems when long-standing social and economic political and policy problems are overlooked.


Laurie Novak and Joyce Harris

Information technology increasingly figures into the activities of health-care workers, patients, and their informal caregivers. The growing intersection of anthropology and health informatics is reviewed, a field dedicated to the science of using data, information, and knowledge to improve human health and the delivery of health-care services. Health informatics as a discipline wrestles with complex issues of information collection, classification, and presentation to patients and working clinical personnel. Anthropologists are well-suited as collaborators in this work. Topics of collaborative work include the construction of health and illness, patient-focused research, the organization and delivery of health-care services, the design and implementation of electronic health records, and ethics, power, and surveillance. The application of technology to social roles, practices, and power relations that is inherent in health informatics provides a rich source of empirical data to advance anthropological theory and methods.