[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anthropology combines two quite different enterprises: the ethnographic study of particular people in particular places and the theorizing about the human species. As such, anthropology is part of cognitive science in that it contributes to the unitary theoretical aim of understanding and explaining the behavior of the animal species Homo sapiens. This article draws on our own research experience to illustrate that cooperation between anthropology and the other sub-disciplines of cognitive science is possible and fruitful, but it must proceed from the recognition of anthropology's unique epistemology and methodology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since the nineteenth century, Tamil Brahmans have been very well represented in the educated professions, especially law and administration, medicine, engineering and nowadays, information technology. This is partly a continuation of the Brahmans' role as literate service people, owing to their traditions of education, learning and literacy, but the range of professions shows that any direct continuity is more apparent than real. Genealogical data are particularly used as evidence about changing patterns of employment, education and migration. Caste traditionalism was not a determining constraint, for Tamil Brahmans were predominant in medicine and engineering as well as law and administration in the colonial period, even though medicine is ritually polluting and engineering resembles low-status artisans' work. Crucially though, as modern, English-language, credential-based professions that are wellpaid and prestigious, law, medicine and engineering were and are all deemed eminently suitable for Tamil Brahmans, who typically regard their professional success as a sign of their caste superiority in the modern world. In reality, though, it is mainly a product of how their old social and cultural capital and their economic capital in land were transformed as they seized new educational and employment opportunities by flexibly deploying their traditional, inherited skills and advantages.
Indian Economic & Social History Review 12/2010; 47(4):473-96.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The majority of undocumented Congolese refugee children living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, experience extreme poverty and social exclusion, harassment and discrimination. Their fear of deportation, forcible removal to refugee camps and imprisonment is coupled with a strong feeling that they are unwelcome in Tanzania. These realities require that most children devote a huge amount of their energy to survival, both literally, in terms of physical needs such as food and water, and figuratively, in terms of maintaining their sense of self-worth, dignity and purpose. This article is based on extensive fieldwork with more than 100 young people aged 7–18 years. I explore the ways children cope with the challenges posed by the conditions of everyday life and the strategies they employ in their quest to ‘find a life’, or make a future for themselves. I argue that by imagining a future, they are fighting against not only what war has done to them and their families but also against the very fact of being a refugee.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We welcome the critical appraisal of the database used by the behavioral sciences, but we suggest that the authors' differentiation between variable and universal features is ill conceived and that their categorization of non-WEIRD populations is misleading. We propose a different approach to comparative research, which takes population variability seriously and recognizes the methodological difficulties it engenders.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 06/2010; 33(2-3):83-4.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The association of men and women with birds, as expressed in dance, is a common theme in Melanesian ritual. Often, this is seen as a means by which humans attain some relation with a transcendental reality. But this is only part of the picture. Pigs, in contrast to birds, represent an opposite sort of reality. It is argued here — by an interpretation of the gab — that through such rituals, men and women symbolically situate themselves between the two. The rituals are performed to overcome the precarious nature of human sexuality, appearance and aging associated with the life-cycle process, which contrast with that of both birds and pigs.
The Australian Journal of Anthropology 02/2009; 17(1):1 - 14.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is proposed that explaining religion in evolutionary terms is a misleading enterprise because religion is an indissoluble part of a unique aspect of human social organization. Theoretical and empirical research should focus on what differentiates human sociality from that of other primates, i.e. the fact that members of society often act towards each other in terms of essentialized roles and groups. These have a phenomenological existence that is not based on everyday empirical monitoring but on imagined statuses and communities, such as clans or nations. The neurological basis for this type of social, which includes religion, will therefore depend on the development of imagination. It is suggested that such a development of imagination occurred at about the time of the Upper Palaeolithic 'revolution'.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 07/2008; 363(1499):2055-61.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The efforts of southern African women migrant workers to gain control of resources in the linked spheres of urban workplace and rural base have rarely been characterized —by anthropologists or local communities—as ethnic in nature. This suggests the truth of the southern African Tswana proverb that "women have no tribe." It is puzzling, though, that women are seen in other contexts as quintessentially traditional. I discuss this paradox, referring to the mobilization of a sotho identity centered on the ideas of "family" and "home" by groups of migrant women performers from South Africa's Northern Province. Both ideas are expressed and symbolized in emotive terms that make them appear intrinsic or primordial in nature, but both on closer examination emerge as complex combinations of ascription and achievement. Women migrants' claim to be sotho gives them a right to a voice in the public arena. The right to a voice derives in part from the proximity with male migrants' ethnic identity, but it also speaks of a new and autonomous identity that selects and interweaves elements from the shifting terrains of sotho man- and womanhood. It is through an ideal of moral and musical goodness, played out in the practices of musical performance, that elements of gender and ethnic identity converge and are negotiated, [performance, ethnicity, labor migration, home, family, gender]
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