Perspectives from Anthropology

Anthropology as a holistic discipline includes several important concepts in its perspective on disasters, such as (1) diachronicity, adaptation, and evolution (2) the comparative nature of affected units including both micro and macro levels and (3) the vulnerability and resilience of individuals and groups that are affected. Also, it is important to acknowledge that it is the groups' ethos that shapes the ways in which people respond to crises. When under conditions of stress, it is the...

The Body in Distress

Understanding of oneself and one's world begins with the orderly functioning of the body (G. Becker, 1997). This known body has been described by Leder (1990) as the absent body that is taken for granted. But when the body and embodied knowledge become disordered through physical or emotional distress, the body is experienced in its immediacy, whether through pain, physical or emotional discomfort, or even through the absence of expected bodily feeling, such as Sacks (1984) and Murphy (1987)...

Shamanistic Therapeutic Processes

Therapeutic mechanisms of shamanistic healing derive from ASC, community relations, and ritual spirit-world interactions. ASC have physiological effects, including the relaxation response, the elicitation of opioid release, and enhanced serotonergic action. The spirit world plays a role as sacred others, representing personal and community identity models and aspects of the psyche. The spirit world and community's therapeutic roles include models for development, social support, and community...

Historical Development of Bioethics as a Cultural Domain of Inquiry

Bioethics emerged in the 1960s in response to myriad factors including biotechnological developments, namely hemodialysis, organ transplantation, and mechanical ventilation the civil rights movement the backlash against physician paternalism and revelations about abuses in human subjects research (Beecher, 1966 Fox, 1990 Rothman, 1990). Technological developments, for instance, raised questions about allocation of scarce resources and whether quality or quantity of life should figure in...

History of Research on Disasters

An early study in 1915 of two munition ships' collision in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, marks the beginning of disaster research in the United States by Samuel Henry Prince, a sociologist, who studied the process of recovery from the devastation that left 2,000 people dead and another 6,000 injured. When newspapers resumed publication it was used by Prince (1920) as a marker of the process. No attention was given to the pre-existing conditions nor to the cultural patterns surrounding the...

Coparent See compadrazgo

Refers to a diverse class of human-wide sleeping arrangements (e.g., mother-infant, husband-wife-children) wherein at least two or more persons sleep within proximity to permit each to detect, monitor, and exchange sensory stimuli. commercialization. The increasing dependence on buying and selling, with money usually as the medium of exchange. commodification. Turning something into a commodity that can be bought or sold. compadrazgo. A fictive kinship relationship established...

Brief History of Anthropological Health Research

While paradigms from all four fields of anthropology inform the work of medical anthropologists today, the roots of medical anthropology (a term that we later discuss) extend back in basically two directions, reflecting two kinds of anthropological orientations. If we looked back about 100 years, which is about as long as anthropology has existed in an organized fashion within the United States, then we would see a group of biological or physical anthropologists studying human growth and...

The Return of Exorcism

While exorcism had virtually disappeared as a practice in Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism through most of the 20th century, it has made a significant come back in the last 30 years. It received great popular attention with the publication of the book and the film The Exorcist in the 1970s. In the same period, the exorcism of a German girl attracted worldwide attention. When she died, the priests exorcists and the girl's parents were convicted of unintended manslaughter. While the...

Biomedical Recommendations for Home Treatment

For many years, physicians focused on reducing the volume of diarrhea by withholding foods. However, it is now understood that, despite an increase in total quantity of diarrhea, when bland foods and nutritious beverages are consumed, some of the nutrients are absorbed and the patient returns to normal nutritional and health status more rapidly. Maintenance of fluid balance is viewed as the most important home health care measure. Current recommendations for preventing and treating dehydration...

Risks for Children

The pattern of child growth, including dependency on older individuals for food and protection, small body size, slow rate of growth, and delayed reproductive maturation, entails liabilities. Mild-to-moderate energy under-nutrition is, perhaps, the most common risk, with estimates that 28 of all children, equaling 150 million, are undernourished in developing nations (UNICEF, 2001). Undernutrition may be due to food shortages alone, but equally likely it is due to work loads and infectious...

References

Browner, C., & Sargent, C. (1996). Anthropological studies of human reproduction. In C. Sargent & T. Johnson (Eds.), Medical anthropology Contemporary theory and method (Rev. ed., pp. 219-235). Westport, CT Praeger. Cosminsky, S. (1976). Cross-cultural perspectives on midwifery. In F. X. Grollig, S. J. Harold, & B. Haley (Eds.), Medical anthropology (pp. 229-249). The Hague Mouton. Davis-Floyd, R. E. (1992). Birth as an American rite of passage. Berkeley University of California Press....

Circulatory Abnormalities

Changes in the delivery to the tissues of a normal amount of blood containing the proper amount of electrolytes, nutrients, and oxygen at the proper pressure can result in damage. Infarction is necrosis of tissue due to interruption of the blood supply, usually due to atherosclerosis. Myocardial (heart) and pulmonary (lung) infarcts are often immediately fatal, but they may heal, often with scarring and impaired function. There is considerable paleopathologic evidence of atherosclerosis and...

California Holistic New Age Healing Center

English-Lueck (1990) conducted an ethnography of the holistic health New Age movement in Paraiso (pseudonym), a California community consisting largely of white upper-middle- and upper-class residents. Despite its relative ethnic homogeneity, Paraiso's residents adhered to a variety of lifestyles. These included millionaires, university students, and members of unconventional congregations, such as the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Unity School of Christianity, and the Church of Religious...

DoublingUp

Probably the least researched type of adaptation to homelessness is that of living with another family, usually another poor family, on a very temporary basis. This is referred to as doubling-up and is often a precursor to life on the streets, or in encampments and shelters. In Janet Fitchen's pioneering work on rural homelessness in New York state (Fitchen, 1991), she found that the most frequent form of lack of adequate shelter among the rural poor was to squeeze two families into a trailer...

The History of Paleopathology

After an early 19th-century period focusing on the examination of native American skulls, interest shifted to evidence of disease, dominated by activities at the Smithsonian Institution, the Army Medical Museum, and the Peabody Museum at Harvard. In Europe a controversy arose when Rudolf Virchow, the German pathologist, anthropologist, and politician questioned the authenticity of the Neander Valley specimen, suggesting that the Neanderthal remains were those of an abnormal modern man suffering...

Equilibrium and Change

Just as genetic variation and natural selection are key components of evolutionary medicine, models of equilibrium and change are central to medical ecology. Fluctuations among, or disruption of biotic, abiotic, and cultural subsystems are part of normal cycles and can be accommodated to a certain extent through a variety of adaptive mechanisms, both at the individual level and the population level. But when too severe an imbalance occurs, repercussions may include environmental degradation,...

The Cultural Construction of Elderhood and Older Adulthood

Steve Albert and Maria Cattell in Old Age in Global Perspective (1994) make a helpful distinction between elders, old age, and ancients. A notion of elderhood appears to exist in most non-Western societies and is largely based on combining social and functional definitions of one's place in the life cycle. It is used as a marker of social maturity for population cohorts in relation to others in the community. This is contrasted to boundaries of old age which can take some of the criteria of...

Typology of Water Related Diseases

While cholera may be one of the most widely recognized examples of a water-borne disease, the list of illnesses associated with water is extensive. Several of the terms commonly used help clarify the relationships between water and various pathogens follow. Water-borne diseases are those such as cholera which are caused by the ingestion of water contaminated with human or animal feces or urine containing the pathogen. The pathogen may be bacterial or viral. Typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery, as...

Modernization and Medicalization

Commencing in the 17th century, European and North American modernization fostered an engineering mentality, one manifestation of which was a concerted effort to establish increased control over the vagaries of the natural world through the application of science. As a result, by the 18th century, health came to be understood by numerous physicians and by the emerging middle classes alike as a commodity, and the physical body as something that could be improved upon. At the same time,...

Medical Systems Crossculturally

What people do for health depends to a large degree on how they understand the causes of an illness. Etiological concerns have, for a long time, underpinned cross-cultural health research because etiological notions provide an excellent focus for contrasts and comparisons. Much work has focused on categorizing so-called systems of healing and curing (herein, medical systems). One simple model casts illness as either internalizing or externalizing. Internalizing systems focus on proximate...

Background and History Early Accounts of Drug

Before anthropology was a separate discipline, travelers, explorers, and scholars wrote accounts of how people lived in cultural settings different from their own. These chronicles became the first literature on intercultural variation, albeit often riddled with the writers' own prejudices and misinterpretations of what they had observed. Some of the early ethnographic writings contained descriptions of drug use. Besides being the recognized father of the Western approach to recording and...

Aging and Societal Transformation

The dramatic upsurge in the longevity of older citizens in Third World countries is a legacy of the last two decades. This demographic change has been intertwined with powerful modernizing events including alterations in economic production, wealth distribution, an explosion of super-sized cities, and the often violent devolution of large states into smaller successor nations (Lloyd-Sherlock, 2000). Modernization theory is the primary model for considering the impact of major worldwide changes...

Naming the Subject

The designation Biomedicine as the name of the professional medicine of the West emphasizes the fact that this is a preeminently biological medicine. As such, it can be distinguished from the professional medicines of other cultures and, like them, its designation can be considered a proper noun and capitalized. The label Biomedicine was for these reasons conferred by Gaines and Hahn (1982, 1985) (after Engel, 1977) on what had variously been labeled scientific medicine, cosmopolitan medicine,...

Developments in Medicine

Population growth, expressed as natural increase, is dependent upon the differential rate of births and deaths, more births than deaths results in a population increase, and of course, a decrease occurs when deaths overtake births. This section will summarize methods that have been developed to control causes of human mortality and factors that influence fertility. Death Control. As noted above, causes of deaths in pre-industrial peoples likely centered on periodic episodes of starvation and...

Early Studies of Biomedicine

Early studies of what we now call Biomedicine were primarily conducted by sociologists during the 1950s and 1960s (e.g., Goffman, 1961 Merton et al., 1957 Strauss, Schatzman, Bucher, Ehrlich, & Sabzhin, 1964). Sociologists did not question the (cultural) nature of biomedical knowledge nor assess the cultural bases of medical social structures. Both were assumed to be scientific and beyond culture and locality. Rather, their central concerns were the sociological aspects of the profession...

Biomedicine and Medicalization

In the Western context, and in the United States specifically, biomedicine has assumed the role of the dominant health system (Singer & Baer, 1995). By focusing on the modes of biomedical production, anthropologists can look at the ways in which capitalism has been resisted or transformed by the individual participants (Morgan, 1987). Foster and Anderson (1978) define biomedicine as an ethno-medical system which has both its genesis and its sustenance within Western political, economic, and...

Supplementation and Weaning

In the West, medical specialists and lactation consultants recommend that infants who are exclusively breastfed receive iron supplements at six months of age. Human milk is low in iron, so by the time the infant is that age, anemia may occur if breast-feeding is not supplemented. This is the age that is most commonly cited for supplementation in other cultures as well (e.g., Minturn & Hitchcock, 1966). Food supplements may include a gruel made from a common grain such as rice or millet,...

Threats to Health among the Urban Poor

The topic of health among urban poor is a critical global issue since approximately one third of the world's poor live in cities (McDade & Adair, 2001). At least 80 of urban areas are in underdeveloped areas of the world that often lack adequate infrastructures (Kendall et al., 1991), meaning that there are too few or sufficiently developed public health care, sanitation, and transportation systems in these areas to provide people with basic living necessities and consistent health care....

Warfare and Population Control

The controversial nature of this topic seems patently obvious. After all, the killing of our own species seems morally repugnant to most people. Nonetheless, deeply imbedded in human acts of war there exist primal responses that at times characterize the competitive behavior found throughout the animal world. To say that warfare is our evolutionary heritage probably is not truly appropriate, since cooperation must have been at least as important as competition over the long haul of human...

Introduction And Definitions

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. Chronic hyperglycemia results from defects in insulin secretion from the pancreas and or insufficient insulin action in muscle and adipose tissue. Diabetes is characterized by both under- and over-secretion of insulin, the hormone that transports glucose across cell membranes. Diabetes is associated with long-term damage and dysfunction of the pancreas, eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and large...

Our Nutritious Past and Todays Health

The major diseases and health problems affecting people in the modern world, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, are related to diet. This implies that present-day Western dietary habits, characterized by high intakes of fat and low intakes of fiber, may have a role in causing modern health problems. It has been suggested that humans may not be well adapted to eating dairy products and grains because we have lived as hunter-gatherers for...

Local Global Perspectives

Three decades of ethnographic and theoretical work on birthing systems have produced a substantial and empirically grounded anthropological literature. Case studies from North America, Europe, and societies of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have generated the material for anthropological analyses of multiple ways of knowing about birth. Anthropologists have begun to address not only the encounter between low- and high-technology birth systems, but also the diverse paradigms of maternity and...

Anthropologists in Health and Economic Development

During the 1930s, many anthropologists worked in educational and medical welfare programs within colonial administrations (Montgomery & Bennett, 1979, p. 128 see also Asad, 1973) in Africa and Asia. Their express goal was, often enough, to protect the health of English and French colonial administrators. In the 1940s, these early projects were expanded into development assistance programs linked to the idea that technology would solve the economic underdevelopment of poor countries. Public...

Status of the Aged

In many traditional societies studied by anthropologists, older adults commonly function as a storehouse of knowledge about such things as kin ties, health, religious rituals, lore, and myth which explain tribal origins as well as in-depth knowledge about the environment. Among many African tribal peoples, older adults are the gatekeepers for the ritual management of life, from the naming of children to the planting songs chanted by West African village women to assure the younger female...

The Classic Studies Religion Ritual and the Social

Grounded in the work of Tylor, Frazer, and Durkheim on the origins and social function of religion, the anthropology of death developed around the task of describing normative funeral and mourning rituals in pre-literate societies. Analysis aimed to illustrate ways in which particular rites enabled the transfer of the soul from one realm to another and reinforced social solidarity. Durkheim's student, Robert Hertz (1907 1960) in his study of secondary burial rituals, set the standard for...

Anthropological Theory and Urban Poverty Ways of Representing the Urban Poor

Paradigmatic shifts in urban anthropology have influenced representations of the urban poor. Urban anthropology is considered to have its early roots in the Chicago school in the 1920s and 1930s (Merry, 1996). Elijah Anderson's work typifies research done from an urban ecological perspective (Low, 1999). During the 1950s, research on slum clearance was conducted in London and Laos through the Institute of Community Studies (Low, 1999). Drawing on theories of kinship and social networks, Stack's...

Comparing Cultural Knowledge Across Different Settings

In addition to the general comparisons across cultural settings discussed above, a number of studies have taken a closer look at what can be learned through a comparative approach. Three different approaches are examined here. The most ambitious of these is a collaborative, multisite study using a shared methodology to study intra- and inter-cultural variation in beliefs (Weller, Pachter, Trotter, & Baer, 1993, p. 109) for four geographically separated and distinctive Latin American samples....

Sources and Types of Beliefs

Possession beliefs are rooted in conceptions of the human being as consisting of several elements (such as body, mind, personhood, self, name, identity, soul or souls, even part souls), where one or more of these may be replaced, temporarily or permanently, by another entity. More rarely, a second entity may also be thought to enter the body without displacing the first, even though the behavioral manifestations are those of this additional presence. Such an explanation for possession by the...

Critique and Innovation

While Hertz noted that death rituals tapped deep emotions, his study and those that followed emphasized the socially determined nature of emotional responses to death. Indeed, Block and Parry (1982, p. 41) describe emotion only in the service of sociality, stating that mortuary practices anchor the social group, not just by political power, but by some of the deepest emotions, beliefs and fears of people everywhere. An exception is the work of LeVine (1982) in psychological anthropology on...

Ritual as Prophylaxis Funerals Mourning and the Work of Remembering

Not only rituals that are directed to healing illness, but other more general rituals may have a beneficial emotional or psychological effect on participants. Life crisis rituals and rites of passage deal with important crises or transitions in life which necessarily have personal meaning, and can stir up emotional conflict (Herdt, 1981, 1982). Victor Turner (1967) has written extensively on such rituals, and his formulations on ritual symbols are helpful in thinking about the personal issues...

Controversies in Disease Evolution Studies

Physical and biocultural anthropologists have long argued over the issue of indigenous responses to viral and bacterial pathogens of historical import, for example, measles, smallpox, and malaria. Most indigenous populations experience high morbidity and mortality from diseases introduced by explorers and settlers during early contact. The reasons suggested for heightened susceptibility of native peoples range from inability to form antibodies (Black, 1975) to the synergism of malnutrition,...

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Among diabetics heart disease is the primary cause of diabetes-related deaths and is 2-4 times higher in people with diabetes than those without the disease (ADA, 2002a Centers for Disease Control, 2001). A life-threatening consequence of type 1 diabetes is diabetic coma due to ketoacidosis resulting from the exclusive use of fat as an energy source. The most frequent complications of long-term diabetes occur because of...

Diabetes Educational and Community Based Interventions

A number of Native American and Canadian populations have recognized the importance of lifestyle changes in diabetes prevention (Stolarczyk, Gilliland, Lium, & Owen, 1999). Consequently, Native populations are becoming more actively involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of diabetes programs (Gohdes & Acton, 2000 Joe & Young, 1994 Olson, 1999 Wiedman, 2001). Community interventions have developed with the cooperation of tribal and indigenous organizations, public...

What Exactly is Health

Anthropologists generally see health as a broad construct, consisting of physical, psychological, and social well-being, including role functionality. Such a definition works much better cross-culturally than one that links health only to disease, which, technically, means simply a biomedically measurable lesion or anatomical or physiological irregularity. Disease is something that is either cured, or not. But disease itself does not spur people to seek medical treatment illness does. Illness...

Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect has been associated with increased risk of adverse outcomes. Not all abused and neglected children suffer immediate or lasting consequences beyond their immediate injuries. Nevertheless, abused and neglected children are at increased risk for a range of physical, mental emotional, and social behavioral difficulties. The pathways to these outcomes are currently unclear, but involve a combination of compromised brain development and long-term psychological and emotional...

Understanding the Determinants of Water Related Diseases

Understanding the cultural beliefs and behaviors related to water use, as well as the underlying reasons for water scarcity, are central to any attempt to reduce morbidity and mortality due to cholera and other water-borne diseases. Untangling the complex set of relationships between determinants of water supply, personal and household hygiene behaviors, and exposures to waterborne diseases has benefited from the work of medical anthropologists and their application of concepts, skills, and...

Cancer

This class of diseases is among the most important in industrialized societies. Benign tumors grow slowly, remain localized, and cause only cosmetic or, occasionally, pressure effects. Malignant tumors, or cancers, grow rapidly and have the ability to invade locally and to spread throughout the body, metastasize, causing the death of the individual. The progression of such tumors can be erratic, but, if unchecked by medical or surgical intervention, cancers will metastasize to vital organs via...

Descent rules See rules of descent

A group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. A form of diabetes with onset in childhood is often called Type 1 diabetes genetic factors play a major role and insulin deficiency is almost total. Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes is related to obesity. dialect. A variety of a language spoken in a particular area or by a particular social group. diarrheal. Disease characterized by a high number and frequent bowel movements with watery stool....

Cross Cultural Examples of Child Growth

A great deal of data on human physical growth exist in the literature and some of this has been collected into two volumes by Eveleth and Tanner (1976,1990). Also see Ulijaszek, Johnston, and Preece (1998). There is relatively little difference between individuals cross-culturally in growth before birth, as birth length clusters at 50 cm and mean birth weight ranges from 2.4 kg to 3.4 kg. To be sure, infants born to smaller, undernourished, or ill mothers may be shorter and weigh less than...

Applications of Evolutionary Theory to Cultural Variation

In recent decades, medical anthropologists have been searching for evidence of feedback loops between cultural variation, population dynamics, health, and genetics in the controversial field of Darwinian medicine. The theory of evolution itself, and the role of cultural factors in adaptive change, is being re-examined. For example, co-evolution, a theory of evolution by cultural selection (Durham, 1991, p. 38), is believed to parallel organic, molecular evolution. An example illustrating links...

Spaces of Violent Death Normal Pathological Exceptional

The legal sanctioning of violence in state politics and the merging of violence and the law (Agamben, 1998) has become, according to the surge in publications beginning in the 1990s, a growing focus for anthropological work. Prior to this trend, Taussig (1984, 1987) described the ways in which terror and torture became the form of life an organized culture with its systematized rules, imagery, procedures and meanings. (Taussig, 1984, p. 495), in his ethnography of the colonial heart of darkness...

Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common adult onset neurodegenerative disorder and accounts for up to 60 of all age-related cases of dementia in Western societies (Woodruff-Pak & Papka, 1999). The disease is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive abilities, personality, and psychomotor functioning over a period averaging from 8 to 10 years (Filley, 1995 Morris, 1994). Memory impairment is the principal feature of AD and several distinct stages of the disease, often...

Psychoanalytic Understanding of Ritual Cure and Prophylaxis

Psychoanalysis, Freud tells us, is a mode of treatment of mental illness, a method on which that treatment is based, and a theory built on the results of that method. Let us begin with the mode of treatment. If psychoanalysis can provide a treatment that cures neurosis in our own culture, then it must also be possible, using psychoanalytic theory, to understand the successes of native therapies in other cultures. To the extent that shamanic cures (Freeman, 1967 Toffelmeier & Luomala, 1936),...

ASC Bases of Shamanistic Therapies

Therapeutic mechanisms of ASC involve parasympa-thetic dominance, interhemispheric synchronization, and limbic-frontal integration (Winkelman, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2000). These physiological processes facilitate healing through a variety of mechanisms, including inducing physiological relaxation and reducing tension and stress regulation and balance of psychophysiological processes reducing anxiety and phobic reactions and psychosomatic effects accessing normally unconscious information enhancing...

Medicalization

This process entails the absorption of ever-widening social arenas and behaviors into the jurisdiction of biomedical treatment through a constant extension of pathological terminology to cover new conditions and behaviors. Health clinics, health maintenance organizations, and other medical provider organizations now offer classes on managing stress, controlling obesity, overcoming sexual impotence, alcoholism, and drug addiction, and promoting smoking cessation. Even the birth experience, not...

Importance of Understanding Disasters

Disasters, no doubt, have always been part of human history, long before literate societies emerged to record them, yet, in the 21st century they have become increasingly significant in shaping human societies. The ever-increasing global population tends to cluster around points of geophysical niches prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and droughts. And, the ever-increasing industrial use of energy, much of it non-renewable, promotes destruction of...

Anthropologys Contribution to the Understanding of Alcohol

Two major continuing contributions of anthropology to the study of alcohol use are in the areas of qualitative methodologies and cross-cultural and cross-national understanding. Anthropology has already pioneered the use of observation, participant observation, focus groups, in-depth interviews, and life histories as methodologies that seek to understand alcohol use from an insider's point of view and in the broadest cultural context. The qualitative approach is especially useful when...

Fertility Regulation

Cultures differ in their understandings of fertility and the process of conception. For example, work on Sri Lanka (Nichter & Nichter, 1987) has found the first few days immediately following the cessation of menstruation is considered the most fertile, due to perceptions that the womb is most open to conception before and immediately after menstruation. Likewise, women are considered fertile immediately following childbirth due to the open state of the womb. Humoral notions of hot cold and...

Spirit Relations as Role Taking

Shamanism provides therapeutic processes through role-taking (Peters & Price-Williams, 1981). Role-taking is exemplified in spirit world interaction where shamans adopt the personalities of the spirits. Spirit world dynamics are representations of personal and social psychody-namics (emotions, attachments, complexes, and social forces), permitting ritual affects on the psychodynamics of the patient. Manipulation of spirit constructs is therapeutic because they represent fundamental aspects...

Diagnostic Criteria

Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination (polyuria), hunger, thirst (polydipsia), weight loss, blurred vision, and skin itchiness. In children there may be growth impairment. Among type 2 diabetics insulin resistance may be present for a number of years prior to the development of elevated blood glucose levels. When insulin production can no longer compensate for peripheral tissue resistance, blood glucose levels rise, reaching the criteria for a diagnosis of diabetes. The World Health...

Possession Religions as Worship and Tradition

To see Possession Trance only in medical terms would be a mistake. Behavior that might be seen as pathological in the Western or bio-medical system, may be seen in terms of a mythico-religious system in a traditional society. Hollan (2000, pp. 546-547) notes that possession behavior that is culturally normative, no matter how bizarre or irrational it appears from a Western point of view, should never be considered pathological or psychotic It is culturally constituted symbolic behavior As...

Biomedical Knowledge Practice and Worldview

Gaines (1992b) refers to two discursive modes by which Biomedicine is learned, shared, and transmitted embodied and disembodied discourses. Through embodied person-to-person communication and through disembodied texts and images of various kinds, biomedical realities are (re) created over time. Both means have served to (re)produce popular as well as scientific knowledge. But it is noteworthy that science can and does recreate popular knowledge as scientific knowledge. For example, U.S....

Infertility and Fertility Enhancement

The links between the moral order and reproductive health are particularly marked in cases of infertility. The inability to bear a child is understood to reflect moral status, and in particular is usually blamed upon the woman who may suffer abuse and ostracism. In Africa, infertility carries a grave social stigma, and there is an elaborate range of traditional remedies used to address it (Ebin, 1994 Kielmann, 1998). Likewise, Chinese medicine reflects the cultural emphasis placed upon...

Within System Distinctions

One common typology describing complex medical systems is the tripartite scheme of popular, folk, and professional medicine (Kleinman, 1978). The key variables are who provides care and in what context. In the popular sector, non-specialists, such as one's self, mother, friends, or other kin and relations, provide treatment. Treatment is based on shared cultural understandings, and generally occurs in a family or household context. Folk sector healers are specialists their practice is based on...

Medicalized Identities and Conditions

Social science critiques of medicalization, whether associated more closely with labeling theory and the social control of deviance, or with Foucaldian theory and the relationship of power to knowledge, have documented the way in which identities and subjectivity are shaped through this process. When individuals are publicly labeled as schizophrenic, anorexic, infertile, menopausal, a heart transplant, a trauma victim, and so on, transformations of subjectivity are readily apparent (Ablon, 1984...

Introduction

Patterns of diet and activity, and nutritional and health status vary across cultures and historical periods. For example, currently there are populations living as hunter-gatherers and also groups subsisting on diets high in fat and refined carbohydrates. The nutrition and health situations in developing countries have been exemplified by nutrient deficiencies, such as protein-energy malnutrition, iron deficiency anemia, vitamin A deficiency, and iodine deficiency, in addition to periodic...

Anthropology and Alcohol Studies

The ethnographic or cross-cultural perspective was important early in establishing the simple fact that differences in attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes exist and are important among different populations. Interested observers had long been writing some insightful descriptions but they tended to be fragmentary and scattered in recondite sources. The rapidly expanding cadres of social and cultural anthropologists in the 1950s and 1960s brought a sharper focus to what they called drinking...

Controversies in Medical Ecology

Medical ecology has been criticized by cultural anthropologists and by critical medical anthropologists, who argue that adaptation theory, or adaptationism, is politically conservative. Believing that adaptation theory explains poor health as evidence of inferior genes, some equate medical ecology to Social Darwinism. One positive outcome of this dialogue has been steps toward merging medical ecology and the political economy of health into a political ecology of health. This developing...

Contraceptives and Abortion

Indigenous contraceptive knowledge and practices are widely dispersed, and the systematic importation of new contraceptive technologies does not take place in a vacuum. As with pharmaceuticals, it is largely through the mediation of government that contraceptives such as the contraceptive pill (the Pill) and intra-uterine devices (IUDs) are made available to populations and this is carried out, almost without exception, in association with national policies of family planning. The large...

Death and Rebirth

Shamans' training generally includes a death and rebirth experience, an initiatory crisis typically involving illness and suffering from attacks by spirits that lead to the experience of death. This is followed by descent to a lower world where spirits and animals attack and destroy the victim's body. The initiate is then reconstructed with the addition of spirit allies that provide powers. The death and rebirth experience reflects processes of self-transformation that occur under conditions of...

Measuring Variability in a Cultural Setting and Cultural Consensus Theory

Variability in cultural knowledge about illness within an identified setting was first systematically addressed by Fabrega in the Mayan community of Zinacantan, Mexico (Fabrega, 1970 Fabrega & Silver, chapter 7, 1973). A form of term-frame interview was used where a set of 18 illness terms were paired with 24 possible bodily disturbances (symptoms). Two groups one composed of 30 practicing h'iloletik (shamans) and the other 30 laymen were compared. A chi-square analysis found no significant...

Models of Stress

Research on stress and disease in sociology, psychology, and epidemiology paralleled work on modernization and disease in anthropology. By the late 1970s, a rough synthesis had emerged that could be used in the development of research models that would be useful cross-culturally. The term stress can be used to as a shorthand description for a general area of inquiry. Stress research or the stress model takes as subject-matter the direct link of thought, emotion, and behavior to physiologic...

Contents

Theoretical and Applied Issues in Cross-Cultural Health 3 Evolutionary and Ecological Perspectives 31 Paleopathology and the Study of Ancient Remains 49 Atwood D. Gaines and Robbie Davis-Floyd Medical Pluralism 109 Medicalization and the Naturalization of Social 116 Phenomenology of Health and Illness 125 Political, Economic, and Social Issues Health and Economic Development 164 170 Irene Glasser and Rae Bridgman Nutrition and Health 178 Post-Colonial Development and Health 184 Social...

Post Colonial Medicine

Post-colonial health provisions are an admixture of medical practices and perceptions that reflect the colonial experience. These local health care systems continue to include a combination of hospitals, clinics, health posts, pharmacies, nurse paramedical practitioners, and health cadres as well as a multitude of government-sponsored health programs, for example family planning programs, family nutrition improvement programs, village community health development programs, advanced age...

Post Colonial Developments and Health

Post-colonial development met and continues to meet the challenges of high fertility and mortality rates, health environmental issues, poverty and its impact on segments of post-colonial populations, acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, malaria, and other tropical vector-borne diseases. In fact, the persistence of these health issues is considered the bio-historical facts of under-development that are also the targets of development. Any...

Possession and Healing

In recent years there has been a great and continuous increase in the literature dealing with possession, both descriptively and analytically. This corresponds also to the worldwide distribution of the phenomena in question, as well as to greater interest in various aspects of this complex subject by researchers. Beginning in the 1960s, with the development of transcultural psychiatry, Possession Trance religions and shamanism have been considered with regard to their functions as healing...

The Classification of Disease

Cells continuously adapt to internal and environmental stimuli and stresses. If the cell is no longer able to adapt, then cell injury results, either reversible or leading to cell death, necrosis. Injury that cannot be limited at the cellular level calls forth an inflammatory response. If the stimulus is terminated, then the acute reaction subsides and there is usually healing and regeneration of the tissue, although specialized tissue such as the brain is replaced by scar tissue. If stimulus...

Psychobiological Structures of Shamanistic ASC

All cultures have procedures for accessing ASC but differ in their attitudes toward these states and the means for controlled access (Laughlin et al., 1992). These universals of shamanistic practices reflect underlying brain structures and functions that elicit operations of an integrative mode of consciousness (Winkelman, 2000). This integrative mode of consciousness reflects the ubiquitous response of the brain to diverse conditions that induce synchronized limbic system discharge patterns....

Contemporary Shamanic Illness and Healing

The psychobiological basis of the shamanistic paradigm is revealed in its persistence in contemporary religious experiences (Stark, 1997) and psychological crises. Shamanic dynamics are reflected in the DSM-IV category spiritual emergencies, which includes spontaneous shamanic journeys possession the death and rebirth experience mystical experiences with psychotic features and experiences of psychic abilities (Walsh, 1990). The shamanic paradigm provides a useful framework for addressing these...

Alcohol and Alcohol

Several types of alcohol are known, but ethanol is of special interest to anthropologists, having long been an influential component of many beverages among a large portion of the world's population. A relatively simple chemical compound (C2H5OH), it often occurs naturally without human intervention, although the hominid imagination has resulted in manifold elaborations and refinements of the basic processes of fermentation and distillation. In fermentation, it is microorganisms that convert...

An Anthropology of Aging

Despite the early seminal book by Leo Simmons, The Role of the Aged in Primitive Society (1945), and articles by such luminaries as Gregory Bateson (1950), and Margaret Mead (1967), a concern for a worldwide, cross-cultural analysis of aging has developed late in anthropology. It was anthropologists such as Otto von Mering, Jules Henry, Margaret Clark, and Barbara Anderson who first turned the ethnographic approach into a valuable tool for understanding the relationship of aging, local culture,...

Future Directions

Growing interest in the link between globalization and health has stimulated anthropological research on how large-scale social forces and transnational movements produce local cultural forms. Local inadequacies in public health infrastructure, local disease ecologies that explain differences in exposure to pathogens, and local variations in biology have all been identified by medical anthropologists, and other researchers, as factors influencing the emergence of epidemics. Given the...

Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives

The roots of the current emphasis on the phenomenology of health and illness lie in the field of philosophy. Numerous philosophers have addressed questions that are phenomenological in nature, including Dilthey, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, James, Merleau-Ponty, Peirce, Sartre, and Shutz. Central to the phenomenological approach has been an effort to incorporate notions of culture into phenomenological constructs. The term phenomenology refers to the distinction introduced by Kant between...

Primary Goals

Usually, analysis in forensic anthropology is oriented toward two major goals (1) establishing a profile of the individual represented that will assist in positive identification, and (2) the recognition and interpretation of evidence of foul play. As mentioned above, the identification profile can involve determining that the remains are of human origin, estimation of age at death, sex, ancestry, living stature, general robusticity, the presence and treatment of medical conditions, and noting...

Infectious Disease

These disorders are caused by microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, rickettsia, fungi, and single-celled protozoan parasites. Invasion by macroorganisms, those visible to the eye, such as worms and insects, constitutes infestation. Modern treatment has altered many diseases and comparison between ancient and modern diseases must keep this fact in mind. Most infections do not affect the skeleton directly, but the skeleton can be involved indirectly. Childhood infections can result in the...

Why do Anthropologists Study Human Growth1

The study of human growth has been a part of anthropology since the founding of the discipline. European anthropology of the early to mid-19th century was basically anatomy and anthropometry, the science of human body measurements (Tanner, 1981). Early practitioners of American anthropology, especially Franz Boas (1892, 1940) are known as much for their studies of human growth as for work in cultural studies, archeology, or linguistics. Boas was especially interested in the changes in body size...

Definitions and Theories of Homelessness

A widely used conceptualization of homelessness developed by Peter Rossi (Rossi, Wright, Fisher, & Willis, 1987) distinguishes between the literally homeless (persons who obviously have no access to a conventional dwelling and who would be considered homeless by any conceivable definition of the term) and the precariously or marginally housed (persons with tenuous or very temporary claims to a more or less conventional dwelling or housing). This distinction can be used in studies of the...

In Anticipation of Future Resistance

Vaccine administrators fear that with the increased flows of information accompanying globalization, immunization resistance will increase. Such resistance is considered especially problematic when new vaccines are introduced. In contrast, existing vaccines tend to become part of local health cultures and are viewed with less suspicion. Hardon (1998) describes how a global network of women's health organizations successfully opposed experiments with anti-fertility vaccines. The women's health...

Cognitive Ethnographic Studies of Illness Treatment Decisions

Studies of decision-making in real-world settings provide an arena for addressing the question Why do people do what they do For cognitively oriented ethnographic studies, a frequent starting assumption is that in recurring decision situations where alternative courses of possible action exist, members of a group come to have shared understandings, a common set of standards concerning how such choices are made (Goodenough, 1963, pp. 265-270 Quinn, 1978 Young & Garro, 1994)....

Historical Context of Interest in Drugs

Before moving into the chronology of focused anthropological studies of drugs, the general historical context of drugs deserves brief attention. Western European biomedicine and its power to discover palliatives and topical remedies have exercised strong influence on the place of drug use in Western life. By the time anthropology was emerging as a discipline, the European pharma-copia included numerous remedies derived from plants, many of which were not native to Europe. Opium and its...

Culture Bound Syndromes

Every known cultural group has ways of describing things that go wrong in body and mind. Although biological causes can be identified for many sicknesses, the way local groups identify, understand, classify, interpret, and respond to conditions is cultural, not biological (Kleinman, 1980). Differences in how local groups understand normality and abnormality are particularly marked for psychological and behavioral syndromes. The term culture-bound syndrome developed out of the attempts of...

Culture Bound Syndromes and Social Change

Although the term culture-bound refers to a concept of culture that comes from an earlier period in anthropological theory in which culture was seen as relatively unchanging and localized, contemporary anthropologists increasingly see such syndromes as not only characterized by the same historical changes and globalization that affect all cultural phenomena, but as derived from such changes directly. For example, Carr posits that the incidence of amok may have risen under colonialism and with...

Gender and Aging

A global view of aging shows that women age somewhat differently than men (Cattell, 1995). Although there are slightly more males born than females in most populations, almost universally it is the latter gender which on average survives the longest. At age 15, women in the United States have a life expectancy eight years greater than men, and when they reach age 65 they can expect to survive four more years than their male counterparts. For Third World nations, there is typically about half...

Psychoanalysis and Anthropology

Anthropology and psychoanalysis have much in common. The ability to listen, for example, is crucial to both disciplines. The approach psychoanalysis takes to mental illness is to listen to the patient and try to understand the structure of his symptoms and the origin of these symptoms in repressed or disavowed desires. The analyst supports the patient's quest to understand the reason these desires were disavowed, in conflicts between the desires and the person's values in the context of a set...

Geographic Distributions and Sociocultural Correlates

In the study cited above, Bourguignon (1973) found that 90 of sample societies had institutionalized Trance (or altered state of consciousness) and or Possession Trance in a sacred context. That is to say, Trance states interpreted as due to possession, or interpreted in some other way, are here grouped together. For the remaining 10 , evidence on the subject was unavailable or inadequate. There were significant differences among ethnographic regions in the utilization of trance states they...

Anthropology and Biomedicine

Early on, Biomedicine was the reality in terms of which other medical systems, professional or popular, were implicitly compared and evaluated. Like science, Western medicine was assumed to be acultural beyond the influence of culture while all other medical systems were assumed to be so culturally biased that they had little or no scientific relevance (e.g., Foster & Anderson, 1978 Hughes, 1968 Prince, 1964 Simons & Hughes, 1985). Not only did this ideological hegemony devalue local...

Nutrients in the soil in the absence of permanently cultivated fields hotcold health systems See humoral medicine human

A worldwide project to determine the DNA sequences in all human DNA. human variation. The study of how and why contemporary human populations vary biologically. humoral medicine. A variety of medical systems based on the belief that a balanced state assures health, while an excess or deficiency yields illness. The balance needs to be maintained between various humors (see humors) and or between elements such as heat and cold. Deducing the etiology of an illness points the...

Types of Syndromes

Despite controversies over the term culture-bound syndrome the concept remains important in the medical anthropology literature. A number of theorists have attempted to classify syndromes named in the anthropological and psychiatric literature into types. For example, Simons and Hughes (1985) divide culture-bound syndromes into startle matching (as in latah) sleep paralysis (a reference to a number of syndromes in which people experience choking and or paralysis during sleep or while falling...

Phenomenology of the Body

Accompanying the interpretive turn of the last 25 years has been a growing emphasis on the body as a topic of social investigation. The work of Mauss (1935) has been rediscovered in this shift, with his conceptualization of habitus, the way social structure leaves its imprint on individuals through bodily training. Mauss maintained that bodily sensations and movements are affected by culture through acquired habits and somatic tacts. Elias's (1939 1978) work on the social development of bodily...

Korean Chinese and Asian Indian Traditional Medicine

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is known as the rich man's disease in Korea. It was not until after the 1960s that diabetes began a rapid increase at an estimated rate of 3-4 per year, with an estimated 500,000 in the year 2000 (Korean National Federation of Medical Insurance, 1993). Gang (1995) investigated traditional and biomedical practices among diabetic Koreans aged 20-80 years. Fifty patients used primarily Western medicine and 33 used primarily traditional therapies. Western therapies included...