Induced abortion is considered reprehensible by Akan people in Ghana when it causes medical accidents or becomes publicly known. A secret and successful abortion, on the other hand, is approved of. This paradoxical view proves logical if we see how it is related to shame. Both childbirth and abortion are potentially shameful, but the shame of the latter can be hidden and thus avoided. The shame of an unwanted childbirth, however, will always be visible. A smooth abortion, therefore, takes away the shame of both.
This article examines the changing relationship between religion, secularism, national politics, and identity formation among Lebanese Christians in Senegal. Notre Dame du Liban, the first Lebanese religious institution in West Africa, draws on its Lebanese "national" character to accommodate Lebanese Maronite Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians in Dakar, remaining an icon of "Lebanese" religion, yet departing from religious sectarianism in Lebanon. As such, transnational religion can vary from national religion, gaining new resonances and reinforcing a wider "secular" ethno-national identity.
In the context of the African HIV epidemic, support groups are not simply spaces for discussions of social and health well-being; neither are they institutions functioning solely to cultivate self-responsible and economically empowered patients. HIV-positive women in northern Nigeria have appropriated a support group to facilitate their marriage arrangements. In this group, women negotiate the threats of stigma and the promises of respectable marriage through what I call the management of ambiguity surrounding their HIV status. I further argue that the practice of support group matchmaking reveals the local political economic dynamics that shape social and illness trajectories in resource-poor settings.
Literature on ethical issues in medical research has, for the most part, been limited to technologically advanced western societies. However, as modern medical technology is exported throughout the world, the same bioethical issues that affect western medicine have become increasingly relevant to non-western societies. Ethical questions regarding whether research subjects are fully informed, willing, and autonomous participants, face minimal risk to physical and mental health, and are treated with respect and dignity, become more difficult to answer when markedly divergent worldviews are involved. Using a research project to assess prevalence of intestinal parasitism among a Amerindian population as an example, this article looks at practical and ethical dilemmas in conducting conjointly ethical and scientifically rigorous research in non-western societies.
Anthropological Quarterly 76.2 (2003) 299-320
The Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects or "Common Rule" (1991) has undergone significant revision over the past decade, especially under the supervision of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), whose charter expired in October, 2001, and the Department of Health and Human Services. As a president-appointed committee designed to oversee the ethical dimensions of human subjects research, NBAC (2001) proposed various efforts to strengthen the protection of humans participating in research. While these efforts reflect a laudable goal, they do not necessarily apply or translate well to all kinds of research, particularly ethnographic research. Accordingly, anthropologists and other research investigators commonly perceive the current and proposed human subjects regulations as "impediments to research" (Koski 1999).
Anthropologists and other social scientists typically encounter these impediments at the point of obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. In order to obtain approval, IRBs require that human subjects research studies comply with the Common Rule by ensuring primarily that the benefits of participation in research outweigh the risks to subjects, and that subjects provide informed consent. I argue here that these regulations and interpretations of them are modeled heavily on a biomedical understanding of research, and that the biomedical model does not necessarily conform to anthropological approaches toward research.
Anthropologists and other social scientists and humanities scholars (e.g., historians, journalists) have not sat idly by watching the Common Rule undergo revision. Rather, there is increasing debate over how the regulations affect anthropological and other research, generated by letters and reports from professional organizations to NBAC and other organizations requesting reconsideration of certain issues.
This paper examines some of these perceived impediments and other issues that can emerge in the research enterprise by drawing upon two sources of information. First, I present some of the concerns about the human subjects research regulations that many social scientists and others raise based on a content analysis of some of the letters and reports written by leaders of professional organizations, including the American Anthropological Association and the American Association of University Professors. Second, I illuminate these issues by presenting personal experiences as a Principal Investigator (PI) having submitted, revised, and defended protocols for several research projects to IRBs, and as a member of a medical center IRB. Considerable debate over the Common Rule focuses on the issue of "risk" and questions whether anthropological and other social and behavioral science research actually poses real risks to study participants. Much discussion concentrates on describing just how "risk" is construed in biomedical terms, thereby making it difficult to apply Common Rule regulations to social science research. I frame concerns about risk in ethnographic research by specifically addressing issues relating to: informed consent, the use of audio-tapes, perceptions of risk/benefit ratios, confidentiality, and remuneration for study participation. As will become clear below, a theme woven throughout this discussion is how some of the federal regulations paradoxically seem to protect the interests of research investigators and institutions rather than research subjects or participants.
I have several goals. I identify impediments that anthropologists might encounter in order for others to be able to anticipate and proactively remedy before such problems delay their own research endeavors. In addition, I suggest strategies for anthropologists or other social scientists to address these problems and provide information about relevant policies to support these strategies. Lastly, I explore the implications of the Federal regulations for ethnographic research in the future.
Before examining specific perceived impediments to research it is imperative to first describe some of the NBAC's proposed changes to the Common Rule, responses by social scientists to these proposed changes, as well as how IRBs are organized. While the specific recommendations and social and behavioral scientists' responses to them are beyond the scope of this paper, it is worthwhile briefly noting what both perspectives entail. The following discussion addresses some, but not all, of these important issues.
In order to provide stronger protections to human subjects, NBAC proposed that the Common Rule be revised in a variety of ways. NBAC's recommendations included: expanding the scope of human subject protections...
Anthropological Quarterly 76.2 (2003) 269-285
The protection of human participants involved in scientific research is a fundamental obligation of any investigator. Societal concerns with ethical issues surrounding human experimentation were heightened following World War II during the Nuremberg Trials. These proceedings judged medical experiments conducted by Nazis on concentration camp prisoners and resulted in the Nuremberg Code for ethical conduct in scientific research. The Declaration of Helsinki (World Medical Association 2001 ) reiterated concerns for voluntary and informed consent to research, as have subsequent national and international guidelines for ethical conduct in social, behavioral, and biomedical research.
In the United States, during the 1960's and 1970's, a number of scandals involving the abuse of human subjects in social and medical research were brought to the attention of the public (Beecher 1966; Katz 1972; Faden and Beauchamp 1986; Levine 1986). The Tuskegee experiment, for example, generated public outrage when it was learned that low-income African-American men in Alabama were subjects in a study of the natural course of syphilis and remain untreated even after effective therapy became available (Jones 1981). Concerns over the Tuskegee experiment prompted the appointment of a panel by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to review the study and, in 1974, the National Research Act was passed. This act established the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The widely cited Belmont Report, published in 1978 by the National Commission, described three basic ethical principles regarding research with human subjects: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice.
Currently, throughout the world, institutional ethics committees have been established to provide oversight and approval for proposals to conduct studies involving human subjects (Brody 1998; Vanderpool 1996). In the U.S., in 1966, the Public Health Service required the establishment of ethics committees at research institutions. Final regulations concerning policies governing research on human subjects were issued in 1981 by the Department of Health and Human Service and reissued a decade later (USDHHS 1991). The "Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects" is known as the Common Rule and has been adopted by most federal agencies that conduct or fund research on human populations. The federal mandates were clear: any research involving human subjects funded by a Department agency, with certain exemptions, must be evaluated by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Eight criteria for IRB approval are listed, including minimization of risk, documentation of informed consent, and the protection of privacy and confidentiality. The Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP) plays an important role in the federal regulation of human research subjects' protections, including oversight of Institutional Review Boards. OHRP was established in 2001 when responsibilities were transferred from the National Institute of Health's Office for the Protection of Research Risks (OPRR).
IRBs have had a profound impact on the regulation of all research with human participants. In recent years, the Office for Human Research Protections has shut down research at several US-based institutions because of violations of human subjects' protections (Greenberg 1999, 2001; Holden 1999). In this climate, IRBs may be overly zealous in their interpretation and application of federal guidelines, exacerbating the challenges faced by anthropologists and other professionals in seeking approval for studies. Moreover, in recent years, there has been increased debate in both public and professional arenas about a range of ethical issues involving research with human participants (see e.g., Kass et al. 1996; Kahn, Mastroianni and Sugarman 1998; King, Henderson and Stein 1999; Emmanuel, Wendler and Gray 2000; Killen et al. 2001; Macklin 2001; Beyrer and Kass 2002; Farmer 2002). In the late 1990's, for example, reports on clinical trials conducted in developing countries testing the efficacy of less expensive alternatives to standard antiretroviral therapy for reducing perinatal transmission of HIV, noted inconsistent interpretations and applications of national and international ethical guidelines governing research (Angell 1997,2000; Lurie and Wolf 1997; Varmus and Schacter 2000; Shapiro and Meslin 2000). Anthropologists have not been immune to public scrutiny regarding the ethics of their research. The recent publication of the highly contentious book by Patrick Tierney (2000), Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the...
Anthropological Quarterly 76.2 (2003) 287-297
Institutions in the United States who receive federal funding to engage in research involving human beings must follow the appropriate regulations, known as "The Common Rule". Here is a little quiz on this rule:
b) Graduate student B is about to leave for Africa to conduct her dissertation research on tourist art sold in airports. "I don't require IRB approval since my research is part of my education." Is the student correct?
c) Professor C and his students are frustrated. They are eager to begin their classroom project of ethnographically interviewing exotic dancers at the local nightclub, who are also students, on gender roles and sexuality. The results of the project will be term papers used for the students' grades. But the IRB chair has
d) Professor D is really upset. She is in the third year of her National Science Foundation-supported sociolinguistic research on Japanese children's use of verb tenses for everyday activities, asking questions like "How would you say 'the pencil fell from the desk'". Dr. Parola has just changed universities and her new institution is insisting that she have a Japanese IRB review her research, and that she get signed informed consent from the parents of the children in accordance with Subpart D of the regulations. Neither her old institution nor the funding agency required these things. The consent form suggested by the IRB is full of vague alarms more suitable for biomedical problems, and she is concerned that the form itself will frighten away potential respondents. What should the researcher do?
If you answered "wrong" for A and B, you are correct. While much ethnographic research, like much of social and behavioral research in general can be exempt from the regulations, an independent institutional authority like the IRB must make that determination. The researcher has a clear conflict of interest in excusing himself or herself from IRB oversight. While classroom exercises are normally exempt from federal oversight, the research involved in a dissertation should be reviewed by the institution to make sure it follows official regulations.
Example C is about a course requirement and not about human research intended to advance knowledge through publication. While coursework is not covered by the regulations, many institutions extend their implementation to cover a wider range of research activities than the policy calls for. This review should be reasonable and should follow the principle that oversight of research should be commensurate with real risks of harm to human research participants ("subjects"). People who perform in public, like the respondents in C, expect to be observed. The IRB should make sure that the normal confidentiality of respondents is respected without preventing the research from progressing. In this case the IRB chair was improperly interpreting the regulations by being excessively strict. However, readers should note that their IRB is not bound to follow alternative interpretations, since universities are free to adopt policies over and above the Common Rule. What should you do when you disagree with your IRB's interpretation? This will be discussed below.
How about poor Professor D? This case is more complex, and requires a bit more information to comprehend. Two issues are raised, that of parental consent for research with children, and the requirement for foreign IRB review. The federal government's overall human subjects regulations, the "Common Rule," only refers to "Subpart A" of a total of four parts. Subpart B deals with biomedical research involving fetuses, pregnant women and human in-vitro fertilization; Subpart C involves research with prisoners; and Subpart D pertains to research involving children. The subparts contain additional...
This article looks at the possible negative consequences of anthropologists introducing medicines during their research in communities that lack regular access to clinics and pharmacies. It argues that such communities often feel worse off after seeing efficacious medicines that are not available after the anthropologist departs. An example of snakebite in the Colombian Vaupés in 1970 illustrates this point.
The transition from premarital sexual relationships and courtship to marriage and parenthood in southeastern Nigeria involves particularly dramatic adjustments for young women who have absorbed changing ideas about sexuality, marriage, and gender equality, and who have had active premarital sexual lives. In the eyes of society, these women must transform from being promiscuous girls to good wives. This paper examines these adjustments and, specifically, how young married women's lives are affected by the reality of male infidelity and a persistent gendered double standard regarding the acceptability of extramarital sex.
The ethical dilemmas of amateur doctoring in the field are not limited to those surrounding the provision of medical care by inexperienced and untrained anthropologists. Host communities may ask, even demand that anthropologists play this role, particularly when the signifying practices of local medicine have important social referents. I discuss aspects of the ethical dilemmas presented by such circumstances among the Kulina of western Brazil.
Writing practiced as walking and walking as writing, I explore the spatial phenomenology of urban revitalization, heritage, and cultural tourism through the ways in which a Brazilian community imagines its history and constructs its presence in practices of local constructivism of a heritage site. The site is Providencia, Rio de Janeiro’s oldest favela (shantytown) and the “Open-Air/ Living Museum” that the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro established in the neighborhood, by building an open-air tourist trail. How in the practice of heritage-making do the “locals” imagine the “local” cultural heritage? Do they affirm or modify the institutional (municipality, state, and UNESCO) conceptualizations of tangible and intangible heritage? And how does tourism connect to the conjuring of community cultural revival and economic improvements? I develop the concept of heritage kinaesthetics as the moving bodily practices that set the built environment – to be revitalized - alive and are a counterpart of heritage aesthetics, or the immobile quality usually ascribed to a historic site. The five main heritage kinaesthetics approaches that residents and visitors of Providencia’s Museum apply to mix tangible and intangible heritage for development include: visual (photographing; seeing), ambulatory (walking around as exploration), performative (enacting intangible cultural heritage such as samba, capoeira, football, and music; tour guides’ performances), oral (telling stories/imagining history), and acoustic (creating and listening to place-specific sounds). The kinetic energy of heritage aesthetics is finally placed within the larger context of Brazilian cultural policy around the museum as a cultural center.
Deftly combining archival sources with evocative life histories, Anastasia Karakasidou brings welcome clarity to the contentious debate over ethnic identities and nationalist ideologies in Greek Macedonia. Her vivid and detailed account demonstrates that contrary to official rhetoric, the current people of Greek Macedonia ultimately derive from profoundly diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Throughout the last century, a succession of regional and world conflicts, economic migrations, and shifting state formations has engendered an intricate pattern of population movements and refugee resettlements across the region. Unraveling the complex social, political, and economic processes through which these disparate peoples have become culturally amalgamated within an overarchingly Greek national identity, this book provides an important corrective to the Macedonian picture and an insightful analysis of the often volatile conjunction of ethnicities and nationalisms in the twentieth century. "Combining the thoughtful use of theory with a vivid historical ethnography, this is an important, courageous, and pioneering work which opens up the whole issue of nation-building in northern Greece."âMark Mazower, University of Sussex
Based on extensive participant observation and ethnographic research, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of early conflict between Miskitu Indians and the Sandinista government, and their subsequent partial reconciliation. ---------- A mere eighteen months after the Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua in 1979, Miskitu Indians engaged in a widespread and militant anti-government mobilization. In late 1984, after more than three years of intense conflict, a negotiated transition to peace and autonomy began. This study analyzes these contrasting moments in Nicaraguan ethnic politics, drawing on four years of field research in a remote Miskitu community and in the central town of Bluefields. Fieldwork on both sides of the conflict allows the author to juxtapose Miskitu and Sandinista perspectives, to show how actors on each side understood the same events in radically different ways and how they moved gradually toward reconciliation. Since 1894, Miskitu people have faced an expansionist nation-state and have participated as well in a U.S.-controlled enclave economy and a civil society dominated by U.S. missionaries. The cultural logic of contemporary ethnic conflict, the book argues, can be found in the legacy of Miskitu responses to this dual subordination. While resisting the Nicaraguan state, Miskitu people drew closer to the Anglo-American institutions and worldview. These inherited premises of "Anglo affinity," combined with militant ethnic demands, motivated the post-revolutionary mobilization. Sadinista revolutionary nationalism, in turn, had little tolerance for ethnic militancy, and even less for Anglo affinity. Only with autonomy negotiations did both sides begin to address these underlying causes of the conflict. Though portraying autonomy as a major step toward peaceful conflict resolution and more egalitarian ethnic relations, the nook concludes that this new political arrangement did not, and perhaps could not, fully overcome the contradictions from which it arose. The book offers a critique of existing approaches to ethnic mobilization and to revolutionary nationalism in Central America, putting forward an alternative framework grounded in Gramscian culture theory. This permits a grasp of the combined presence of ethnic militancy and Anglo affinity in the Miskitu peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s consciousness, a previously unexamined key to Miskitu collective action. The same notion of "contradictory consciousness" illuminates the SadinistasÃ¢â¬â¢ thought and practice: They too espoused a determined political militancy fused with assimilationist premises toward Indians, which created contradictions at the core of their egalitarian revolutionary vision. ---------- Ã¢â¬ÅDispensing with the established practice of detached, Ã¢â¬ËobjectiveÃ¢â¬â¢ social science research, Hale consciously assumes a dual role of researcher and political actor in studying ethnic conflict in a revolutionary context. . . . In this innovative work, he significantly advances understanding of the central contradiction in revolutionary Central America.Ã¢â¬?Ã¢â¬âChoice Ã¢â¬ÅResistance and Contradiction is both well researched and intellectually rich, providing original and stimulating insights into Miskitu-state relations prior to and during the period of Sandinista rule. Its contributions to ongoing debates on resistance and hegemony, agency and structure, and the dynamics between states and ethnically subordinate groups mean it deserves a wider readership than Nicaraguan specialists.Ã¢â¬?Ã¢â¬âBulletin of Latin American Research Ã¢â¬ÅIn this fascinating monograph Hale . . . crafts a fine history of a people who have remained obscure and elusive for centuries. . . . At the same time he engages many questions central to contemporary anthropological theory.Ã¢â¬?Ã¢â¬âAmerican Historical Review Ã¢â¬ÅIn this fascinating work Hale crafts a fine history of a people who have remained obscure and elusive for centuries. . . . At the same time he engages many questions central to contemporary anthropological debates.Ã¢â¬?Ã¢â¬âAmerican Historical Review Ã¢â¬ÅWell researched and intellectually rich, providing original and stimulating insights into Miskitu-state relations prior to and during the period of Sandinista rule, . . . It deserves a wider readership than Nicaraguan specialists.Ã¢â¬?Ã¢â¬âBulletin of Latin American Research
The present paper assesses the implications of various observations of war in Sierra Leone¿cross-border operations of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in 1991-2, an RUF attack on Bo in December-January 1994-5, and disruptions by private security companies of the 1995-6 peace process. The material supports the view that a basic mechanism of war is ritual action. But the scope of war-as-ritual must be properly specified. Events involved rites in the air as well as on the ground. The paper draws military agents of private security companies more fully into the picture. The strategic impact of these mercenary elements upon the course of the war was probably less than claimed. On the other hand, impact upon its ritual aspects may have been underestimated. A focus upon ritual dynamics helps make sense of a war that seems inexplicable in terms of its material incentives or ideological motives.
A classic of historical anthropology, First-Time traces the shape of historical thought among peoples who had previously been denied any history at all. The top half of each page presents a direct transcript of oral histories told by living Saramakas about their eighteenth-century ancestors, "Maroons" who had escaped slavery and settled in the rain forests of Suriname. Below these transcripts, Richard Price provides commentaries placing the Saramaka accounts into broader social, intellectual, and historical contexts. First-Time's unique style of presentation preserves the integrity of both its oral and documentary sources, uniting them in a profound meditation on the roles of history and memory. This second edition includes a new preface by the author, discussing First-Time's impact and recounting the continuing struggles of the Saramaka people.
Anthropological Quarterly 79.3 (2006) 483-508
We are accustomed to emphasizing the economic aspects of globalization and it is true that globalization corresponds to a displacement from a primarily industry-based economy to one where working on concepts plays a major role and where trade growth is tied in with financial deregulation and the new approaches this implies in terms of the circulation of capital. It is possible, though, that we have given insufficient weight to the fact that globalization is first and foremost a cultural phenomenon.
We should not see the violence of globalization purely and simply as a process of domination—like some new form of colonialism. The power of its impact is all the greater for the fact that it consists of a profound change in our awareness of time and space. "Globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and the intensification of our consciousness of the world as a whole" (Robertson 1992:8). For Westerners, this notion of a self-contained world expresses itself in a strong feeling of insecurity. It only needs a sector of the economy, for example, to show signs of weakness, for the possibility of relocations to emerge. In the confrontations between staff and bosses that have always punctuated economic life, the outcome used to be that of a solution that took into account local social and economic conditions. Now, we "think globally"—meaning that relocation appears from the outset to be a pertinent alternative. In the face of this prospect, workers are caught in a very simple dilemma: either they accept the "sacrifices" or the company will quite simply disappear. Beyond this recurrent blackmail, what weakens people is the sense of the extraordinary "nearness" of other lands—which are easily identifiable, whether it be a country in Eastern Europe or Asia. There is a sense of temporal "nearness" too, in that in a few weeks or even days one can create a similar company on the other side of the world.
In practice, the compression of time and space can be perceived as a threat, not only because it accentuates the pressure of the invisible hand of the omnipotent market system, but also inasmuch as it makes possible a violent intrusion of alterity into our world. This was the case on September 11, 2001, when a place that represented the quintessence of the market was brutally attacked by a group that incarnated radical exteriority. We realized how easy it was for people we tended to think of as being on the other side of the world to reach the heart of the system by turning peaceful technologies into fatal weapons.
The awareness of globalization, therefore, is more than just the apperception of an ever closer interdependence of economies. It is equally, if not more, a matter of the citizens of the developed countries internalizing a simple, disturbing reality: that they will never again be "safe" from a threatening "elsewhere," hitherto considered marginal and today able to organize itself in a most "modern" manner and burst in. The whole "modernity" position, though, was based on the idea of there being an irreducible difference between all that represents civilization and fits into the scheme of progress and these Others who, while being part of humanity, were nonetheless doomed to the inertia of beings without history. We are part of the same planet, our destinies appear to us to be increasingly intertwined. There too, the evaluation can be interpreted optimistically: the fact that the compressing effect of globalization breaks down certain barriers between societies, overturns prejudices and obliges us to mix is cause for rejoicing. The concepts of cross-fertilization and hybridization have been invoked to describe the possibility finally at hand of a meeting between cultures so long separated and so long isolated by prevailing ideologies. The opposite of this ecumenical vision is an interpretation that highlights the virulence of the tensions generated by another huge present-day reality: that the other side of world unity is that resources and riches have to be shared.
Twenty or so years...
Stephan Feuchtwang & Michael Rowlands London School of Economics & University College, London interviewing Wang Mingming.
Wang Mingming is a Chinese anthropologist, born in 1962 in the city of Quanzhou in southern Fujian, China. He was trained in archaeology and ethnological history at Xiamen University in the same southeastern
province of Fujian. Later he went to study social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and gained his Ph.D.
there. In 1994, he returned to China to teach in Peking University and is committed
to staying there. Since returning, through numerous publications,
books he has written, series he has edited, journals he has founded, and
through his teaching of postgraduate and doctoral students, he has been dedicated
to the re-formation of anthropology in China as an academic discipline,not as an aid to programs of development and of government, nor as simply an import from English-language social and cultural anthropology,
but as an anthropology coming from China that can and does have something
to say to a larger anthropology.
This book is a study of the assimilation process as it applies to Italian Americans. Chapters One and Two provide a contextual framework for the study by discussing the theoretical paradigms that have been advanced to describe ethnic behaviors or the assimilation experience and by reviewing pre-immigration and early immigration experiences of Italians. Chapters Three through Ten present the study itself. Data were collected through interviews with 469 Italian Americans within the framework of seven assimilation subprocesses: cultural, social structural, identification, marital, attitudinal and behavioral, receptional, and civic. Chapters Eleven and Twelve summarize the empirical findings, place them in a theoretical perspective, and discuss the character and prevalence of what has been labeled the "New Ethnicity." Tables of data are included. (Author/MK)
Based on two years of fieldwork in Belau, an Austronesian culture in western Micronesia, The Sacred Remains is an outstanding example of the new approach to ethnographic writing that challenges Western views of the history of non-Western societies. Richard J. Parmentier employs semiotic methods to analyze both linguistic and nonlinguistic signs representing Belauan history, showing that these signs also organize social and political structures. He identifies four pervasive semiotic patterns that appear rhetorically in myths, chants, and historical narratives and graphically in the arrangement of certain classes of stones, including village boundary markers, burial platforms, exchange valuables, and monoliths found at abandoned sites in the islands. While not neglecting historical evidence from Western sources, Parmentier contends that the history of Belau cannot be understood without taking into full account indigenous categories of space, time, and transformation and without recognizing the importance of Belauan social actions that construct, interpret, and transmit historical knowledge. Supporting his analysis of Belauan history with concrete ethnographic demonstration, Parmentier presents a work of central importance for Austronesianists, anthropologists, and historians.
Sabarl islandâcreated, in myth, from the bones of a serpentâis a coral atoll in the Louisiade archipelago of Papua New Guinea. The Sabarl speak of themselves as true "islanders": persons separated from the means of both physical and social survival. The Sabarl struggle for continuityâof the physical and social person and of social relations, of cultureal values, of paternal influence in a matrilineal societyâis the subject of Debbora Battaglia's sensitive ethnography of loss and reconstruction: the first major work on cultural responses to mortality in the southern Massim culture area and an important contribution to studies of personhood in Melanesia. The creative focus of Sabarl cultural life is a series of mortuary feasts and rituals known as segaiya. In assembling and disassembling commemorative food and objects in segaiya exchanges, Sabarl also assemble and disassemble the critical social relations such objects stand for. These commemorative acts create a collective memory yet also a collective experience of forgetting social bonds that are of no future use to the living. Sabarl anticipate this disaggregation in patterns of everyday life, which reveal the importance of categorical distinctions mapped in beliefs about the physical and metaphysical person. Using remembrance and forgetting as an analytic lens, Battaglia is able to ask questions critical to understanding Melanesian social process. One of the "new ethnographies" addressing the limits of ethnographic representation and the fragmented nature of knowledge from an indigenous perspective, her finely wrought study explores the dynamics of cultural practices in which decontruction is integral to construction, allowing a new perspective on the ephermeral nature of sociality in Melanesia and new insight into the efficacy of cultural images more generally.
The papers here examine the global circulation of both ideologies and practices that underlie the notion of "childhood," as well as the circulation or migration of children themselves. We ask what are the implications of the global circulation of constructions and practices of children and childhood, and how does the state involve itself in these processes? Specifically, the papers look at children and childhood in light of what Bock, Gaskins, and Lancy (2008:4) term "disruptive experiences." Collectively, the papers examine the experiences of Romanian street children in Paris (Terrio), trafficked children in the U.S. (Uehling), the unborn and the recently born children of African asylum seekers in Ireland (Shandy), and the children of Mexican migrants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border (Boehm). In these settings children have roles as individual actors, but this agency is tempered by the notion that adult oversight of these youth is frequently a function of the state or a negotiated reality between parents and the state. The articles, social commentary and book reviews therefore provide fodder for recent debates within anthropology that emphasize the role of children as independent actors by highlighting the tension between "structure and agency," and problematizing these terms and their interaction in important ways.
Each year, over 100,000 children are apprehended entering the United States unaccompanied by parents or legal guardians, and without valid immigration documents. As many as 8,000 of these children are placed in an elaborate system of border patrol detention centers, shelter facilities, and courts. While the Department of Health and Human Services (through the Office of Refugee Resettlement) funds programs that care for the undocumented immigrants, the Department of Justice, (through the Department of Homeland Security) sweeps up and deports the very same children (or their parents). Apprehended children therefore bring to light the competing agendas of security and humanitarianism. Based on interviews with policy makers and program officers, visits to the shelters, and interviews with the children, this article explores the politics of compassion surrounding these migrants. In order to provide more humane and egalitarian response to the migration, the tensions and contradictions inherent in current practices need to be made more conscious. Considering migration [End Page 833] from Mexico, Central America, China, and India, the paper challenges the racially and ethnically-coded system that protects some children more than others. Rather than dismantling the politics of compassion, what is needed is a clearer understanding of the children's paths to the United States, and a system without the racial and ethic hierarchies that are currently in place. Otherwise, children will be confined to the space between the war on terror that treats immigrants, even below the age of 18, as security threats, and politics of compassion that emerged from early 21st century immigration reform.
To make an object transparent implies that its internal features become better visible. It also means that the surface of that same object becomes less discernable. I apply this analogy to argue that the current preoccupation with transparency allows certain ideological movements to hide controversial agendas from public scrutiny. Focusing on evangelical Christian aid to Kyrgyzstan, this article traces how post-Soviet liberalization enabled evangelicals to gain a strong footing in this Muslim-majority society. Their emphasis on religious rights served to legitimize their missionary agendas, while the adoption of development rhetoric allowed evangelicals to present themselves as "transparent" civil society players. As such, this empirical case illuminates the ideological workings of "empty" and ostensibly value-free political imageries.
The Mellah Society is a compact yet detailed and fascinating account of Jewish life in precolonial Morocco, based on the voluminous but rarely studied writings of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Judeo-Moroccan sages. Shlomo Deshen, author of several books on North African Jewish immigrants to Israel, here turns his attention to the past. Taking as his focus the tension between individualism and communal authorityâsymbolized by the walls of the mellahs, the Jewish quartersâhe applies to traditional Moroccan Jewish society questions of concern to sociologists everywhere regarding political organization, economic activity, religion, and the family. From such documents as private correspondence, archival photographs, and the legal commentaries of rabbis who served in the Jewish community courts, Deshen draws out details of daily life: disputes between spouses, businessmen, craftsmen, and inheritors; the ramifications of marriage contracts; and claims involving community taxes and extortions by Muslim potentates. Linking this material with recent historical and anthropological studies of the Maghreb, Deshen reconstructs a community about which little has been known and places it squarely within the context of traditional Moroccan society. Individual chapters deal with relations between Muslims and Jews, the material conditions of Jewish life, and the nature of politics within the mellah. Deshen devotes particular attention to the nature of the Moroccan rabbinate, the sociology of the mellah synagogue, lay community leadership, and the historic role of the Sephardic heritage in Morocco after the expulsion from medieval Spain. His close study of the nature of the extended family in traditional Morocco corrects popular misconceptions. Originally published in Israel in 1983, now translated and expanded by its author, The Mellah Society draws upon Middle Eastern and Jewish history, textual Judaic studies, and social anthropology to make an original contribution that will interest scholars of the Middle East and North Africa as well as anyone concerned with Jewish history and ethnicity.
A major problem in ethnographic description may be summed up as the search for ways to disentangle folk from analytical models. Knowledge-based systems have contributed to the development of formal structures for the manipulation of symbols associated with particular physical and conceptual phenomena. Importantly, their output can be interpreted by experts in the domain. This provides evaluation procedures for models elaborated jointly by analysts and informants. This paper describes an interactive system in which knowledge is represented as production rules in a format derived from the theory of formal languages. Modus ponens and modus tollens are explained and compared to derivation schemata in first-order predicate logic. The results of an application to the study of North Indian tabla drumming are assessed. We conclude that (1) knowledge represented at a low theoretical level fails to descriminate between the input from informants and the intuitive assumptions of analysts, (2) experimental procedures can be improved considerably if the system is designed to perform automated knowledge acquisition (using probabilistic grammars and inductive learning).
Sorcery has long been associated with the "dark side" of human development. Along with magic and witchcraft, it is assumed to be irrational and antithetical to modern thought. But in The Feast of the Sorcerer, Bruce Kapferer argues that sorcery practices reveal critical insights into how consciousness is formed and how human beings constitute their social and political realities. Kapferer focuses on sorcery among Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka to explore how the art of sorcery is in fact deeply connected to social practices and lived experiences such as birth, death, sickness, and war. He describes in great detail the central ritual of exorcism, a study which opens up new avenues of thought that challenge anthropological approaches to such topics as the psychological forces of emotion and the dynamics of power. Overcoming both "orientalist" bias and postmodern permissiveness, Kapferer compellingly reframes sorcery as a pragmatic, conscious practice which, through its dynamic of destruction and creation, makes it possible for humans to reconstruct repeatedly their relation to the world.
Anthropological Quarterly 78.4 (2005) 917-950
The need and the necessity to represent the natural process of birth by means of a symbolic action and to organize it ritually as a cultural process of constructing personhood are inherent to all human groups, which have always sought to transmit their collective experience through their cultural system as a whole. The very continuity of the community depends on these events in which social organization and individual existence meet. To mark these important times, all societies have worked out a multitude of different collective representations and symbolic forms.
The beliefs, rites and practices, the many genres and the other symbolic forms and collective representations of the traditions surrounding birth must be considered as a social strategy that serves to confer a symbolic value of recognition to the process of the construction of the person and the socialization of the individual as well as a way to formulate models of behavior for varying groups in society, in this case pregnant women, newborns, new mothers, fathers, and kin. Pregnancy and childbirth, like birth, child development and upbringing, have always been the occasion of such individual "crises," critical periods, whose outcome is constantly invested with a strategic value for the group. These biological processes must be worked out symbolically so as to bring the child, the new mother, sometimes the father too, back into their social, family and kin group.
As a rule, the birth of the child takes place in a special climate of prohibition, prevention and eviction, which demonstrate that these rituals are ways by which individuals construct and constitute identity and gender, ways that inscribe, enact and reproduce social relations and identities in a complex society with a strong basis in patriarchy. They define the positive and negative characteristics of each person's ritual behavior, especially the various behaviors of the child's parents. An abundance of examples in the anthropological literature attest to the universality and the multiplicity of these prohibitions. Yet, in classic ethnography, most accounts of practices and rituals associated with pregnancy and birth, observed by both parents in many different cultures, have been primarily devoted to the active participation of the father in the birth process rather than the variety of maternal restrictions, as if the mother's ritual behaviors were natural and matter-of-fact (Rival 1998:630). By contrast, there is ample ethnographic evidence recorded, in particular, in remote rural areas, that, throughout Albanian communities, these processes included countless different positive or negative rites and ritual practices involving particular restrictions above all to the mother. The taboos an Albanian woman must observe during pregnancy are extremely numerous. And her husband, too, is subjected to taboos. These apply to a large extent to foods, but also to behavior.
During the gestation period, not only the mother but the father, too, must observe a series of obligations and prohibitions. Both must abstain from certain foods, certain activities and certain behaviors traditionally thought of as being detrimental to the survival of their common offspring. In effect the child is not only part of the mother but part of the father also. The father usually shares the prohibitions observed by the mother, or at least he is subjected to others that correspond to those imposed on the mother. These behaviors are now most familiar under the heading of the category known in anthropological literature as the couvade, after Tylor (1865) who first coined the term. The couvade is classically defined as the custom by which "the father, on the birth of his child, makes a ceremonial pretence of being the mother, being nursed and taken care of, and performing other rites such as fasting and abstaining from certain kinds of food or occupations, lest the new-born should suffer thereby" (Tylor 1889:254). In virtue of this custom, it is the father who is supposed to experience the symptoms of fatigue and disability that follow the birth, while the woman goes about her daily occupations.
Even though the couvade, or the way the father adopts the role of the new mother, appears among peoples far distant from each other...
"The ethnography of Japan is currently being reshaped by a new generation of Japanologists, and the present work certainly deserves a place in this body of literature. . . . The combination of utility with beauty makes Kondo's book required reading, for those with an interest not only in Japan but also in reflexive anthropology, women's studies, field methods, the anthropology of work, social psychology, Asian Americans, and even modern literature."âPaul H. Noguchi, American Anthropologist "Kondo's work is significant because she goes beyond disharmony, insisting on complexity. Kondo shows that inequalities are not simply oppressive-they are meaningful ways to establish identities."âNancy Rosenberger, Journal of Asian Studies
One of the most fundamental ways that religious devotion is held to be "antibiotechnology" is in its emphasis on submission to divine will. This article seeks to re-orient discussions of religious "fatalism" through ethnographic analysis of terminally-ill dialysis patients in Egypt who argue that they would rather "accept God's will" than pursue kidney transplantation. I argue against the presumptions that this is a religious constraint on a potentially beneficial treatment, or that this reaction is merely a "comfort mechanism" to appease those without access to treatment. I argue that we should not think of people's perceptions of the amount of control they can exert over their lives in terms that would place analyses of social benefit and religious belief in opposing or even in discretely separate categories. I also demonstrate that, far from being passive, the disposition of accepting God's will must be actively cultivated through work on the self.
The interpretation is offered that the fusion of Deer, Maize, and Peyote, particularly as achieved during the Peyote Hunt resolves a series of contradictions in Huichol life-societal, historical, and ideological. It is suggested that the Peyote Hunt represents a historical and mystical return to the original Huichol homeland and way of life, and a symbolic re-creation of "original times" before the present separation occurred between man, gods, plants, and animals; between life and death, between the natural and supernatural; and between the sexes. On the Peyote Hunt, men become gods and at the most dramatic moment of the event, when the first peyote is "slain" and eaten, the important social distinctions of age, sex, ritual status, regional differences and family affiliations, are eliminated. A state of unity and continuity, which epitomizes the Huichol view of "the good," is reached and this continuity is between man, nature, society, and the supernatural. The "retrieval" of this unity is seen as perhaps the most important function of the ceremony, and of the entire symbol complex.
"To read the book is to appreciate the highly contingent, provisional, oblique, open-ended way in which people try to make "sense" of another culture."âResil B. Mojares, Philippine Graphic "This book is an interestingly complex ethnography that approaches the self-critical dialectical ethnography called for two decades ago....It is a welcome contribution to postmodernist theory and to the ethnography of the Visayas."âRonald Provencher, Journal of Asian Studies
This paper discusses two main claims made about virtual worlds: first, that people become “immersed” in virtual worlds because of their sensorial realism, and second, because virtual worlds appear to be “places” they can be studied without reference to the lives that their inhabitants live in the actual world. This paper argues against both of these claims by using data from an ethnographic study of knowledge production in World of Warcraft. First, these data demonstrate that highly-committed (“immersed”) players of World of Warcraft make their interfaces less sensorially realistic (rather than more so) in order to obtain useable knowledge about the game world. In this case, immersion and sensorial realism may be inversely correlated. Second, their commitment to the game leads them to engage in knowledge-making activities outside of it. Drawing loosely on phenomenology and contemporary theorizations of Oceania, I argue that what makes games truly “real” for players is the extent to which they create collective projects of action that people care about, not their imitation of sensorial qualia. Additionally, I argue that while purely in- game research is methodologically legitimate, a full account of member’s lives must study the articulation of in-game and out-of-game worlds and trace people’s engagement with virtual worlds across multiple domains, some virtual and some actual.
Among Iranian Jews, long deprived of meaningful political power and afraid to conspicuously display material wealth, relative prestige became more valued that authority of opulence. The synagogue provides the traditional public forum where meaningful interaction among its members reinforces rand differences. Through a network of concerns centering upon the apportioning of ritual honors, the synagogue provides mechanisms fro limited social mobility. This paper examines the processes of selecting the recipients of these honors, the strategies of participation and their manipulation by the potential social climber. journal article
This paper focuses on certain aspects of social change, particularly economic development, social classes, leadership and political organization. In one village economic development was found to promote economic differentials and lead to the development of social classes. The newly-arisen "wealthier" class united into a cohesive group and assumed leadership roles. This cohesive group then initiated change projects, mobilized community support and participation, and successfully completed the projects. The group also manifested the ability to deal effectively and cope with external influences seeking to control local decision making. The second village showed few signs of economic development, little social class distinction, no cohesive leadership group and very limited ability to initiate change or deal with outside influences. Inferred from this research is the significant role of economic development and cohesive local leadership in the process of social change. Two temporal (and possibly causal) sequences are proposed.
In this broad-ranging inquiry into ritual and its relation to place, Jonathan Z. Smith prepares the way for a new approach to the comparative study of religion. Smith stresses the importance of placeâin particular, constructed ritual environmentsâto a proper understanding of the ways in which "empty" actions become rituals. He structures his argument around the territories of the Tjilpa aborigines in Australia and two sites in Jerusalemâthe temple envisioned by Ezekiel and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The first of these localesâthe focus of one of the more important contemporary theories of religious ritualâallows Smith to raise questions concerning the enterprise of comparison. His close examination of Eliade's influential interpretation of the Tjilpa tradition leads to a powerful critique of the approach to religion, myth, and ritual that begins with cosmology and the category of "The Sacred." In substance and in method, To Take Place represents a significant advance toward a theory of ritual. It is of great value not only to historians of religion and students of ritual, but to all, whether social scientists or humanists, who are concerned with the nature of place. "This book is extraordinarily stimulating in prompting one to think about the ways in which space, or place, is perceived, marked, and utilized religiously. . . . A provocative example of the application of humanistic geography to our understanding of what takes place in religion."âDale Goldsmith, Interpretation
Anthropological Quarterly 77.4 (2004) 735-746
I want to suggest that there are three key areas of theoretical difficulty: how to theorise children's agency, how to theorise their rights, and how to theorise the nature of the 'child' itself. These are not new theoretical questions. They are all interconnected, and they link to and underpin such diverse domains of enquiry as children and social policy, war trauma and child soldiers, cognitive development, language use, sexuality and labour. Our understanding of what it is to be young is thus rather like Italo Calvino's crystal: formed out of the accretions and sedimentations that this strange fact draws to itself as a function of being part of our narratives. Narratives of what?, you might reasonably ask. Narratives about knowledge, value, risk, and morality, I suggest, and these are all ultimately narratives about culture and the nature of society.
Children provide us with a philosophical and an emotional conundrum, 'how did we come to be as we are'? In asking this question, we recognise that the way we think about children, about being young is at the basis of our vision and theory of society. For an anthropologist this provides an interesting starting point because it suggests that our theories of society and culture are bound up with our theories of the child, their capacities, behaviour and responsibilities.
It was Freud, of course, who provided one of the most cogent expressions of this view. Psychoanalysis set itself up as an alternative to Christianity, an alternative theology, and in doing so provided another account of the unacceptable, replacing sin by desire. Freud made much of this in linking sexuality to knowledge through what he called the 'sexual researches of children.' This seeking after knowledge is of a very particular kind according to Freud—the origins of babies, the nature of the parental relationship and the differences between the sexes—but these sexual researches nonetheless form the basis for, and can be seen as paradigmatic of, a quest to understand the mystery of what it is to be human. Freud thought the sexual theories of children false, but said of them: 'Although they go astray in a grotesque fashion, yet each one of them contains a fragment of real truth; and in this they are analogous to the attempts of adults, which are looked at as strokes of genius, at solving the problems of the universe which are too hard for human comprehension' (Freud , 1977a:193).
Freud's larger point here seems to be that knowledge is a sexually inspired project, and that all forms of knowledge seeking, of curiosity and enquiry, are linked to these early, but subsequently repressed, sexual researches. There are many who find this point difficult to understand and even harder to accept—absolutely indigestible—but if true it leaves us in the rather interesting situation of finding our own investigations into the problem of children, of being young, inspired by our own earliest researches. Freud, of course, would have had absolutely no problem with the idea that what we look for in our work on children, and indeed work with, is the child in all of us.
Children then are the model for adults, and not the other way around. Freud extended this idea into his larger theory of sociology in which he suggested that 'Generally speaking, our civilisation is built up on the suppression of instincts,' specifically sexual instincts (Freud , 1985:38). There were two parts to this theory one connected with the origins of culture, and the other with the origins of society. Freud in using the term civilisation conflated, or interlinked, the two. The relationship of sexuality to culture was based on the idea that each individual must give up something—relinquish some of his or her omnipotence—in order to...