Contrary to ingrained academic and public assumptions, wherein indigenous lowland South American societies are viewed as the product of historical emplacement and spatial stasis, there is widespread evidence to suggest that migration and displacement have been the norm, and not the exception. This original and thought-provoking collection of case studies examines some of the ways in which migration, and the concomitant processes of ecological and social change, have shaped and continue to shape human-environment relations in Amazonia. Drawing on a wide range of historical time frames (from pre-conquest times to the present) and ethnographic contexts, different chapters examine the complex and important links between migration and the classification, management, and domestication of plants and landscapes, as well as the incorporation and transformation of environmental knowledge, practices, ideologies and identities.
In recent years, the field of study variously called local, indigenous or traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) has experienced a crisis brought about by the questioning of some of its basic assumptions. This has included reassessing notions that scientific methods can accurately elicit and describe TEK or that incorporating it into development projects will improve the physical, social or economic well-being of marginalized peoples. The contributors to this volume argue that to accurately and appropriately describe TEK, the historical and political forces that have shaped it, as well as people’s day-to-day engagement with the landscape around them must be taken into account. TEK thus emerges, not as an easily translatable tool for development experts, but as a rich and complex element of contemporary lives that should be defined and managed by indigenous and local peoples themselves.
Bringing together original, contemporary ethnographic research on the Northeast African state of Eritrea, this book shows how biopolitics – the state-led deployment of disciplinary technologies on individuals and population groups – is assuming particular forms in the twenty-first century. Once hailed as the “African country that works,” Eritrea’s apparently successful post-independence development has since lapsed into economic crisis and severe human rights violations. This is due not only to the border war with Ethiopia that began in 1998, but is also the result of discernible tendencies in the “high modernist” style of social mobilization for development first adopted by the Eritrean government during the liberation struggle (1961–1991) and later carried into the post-independence era. The contributions to this volume reveal and interpret the links between development and developmentalist ideologies, intensifying militarism, and the controlling and disciplining of human lives and bodies by state institutions, policies, and discourses. Also assessed are the multiple consequences of these policies for the Eritrean people and the ways in which such policies are resisted or subverted. This insightful, comparative volume places the Eritrean case in a broader global and transnational context.
A proliferation of press headlines, social science texts and “ethical” concerns about the social implications of recent developments in human genetics and biomedicine have created a sense that, at least in European and American contexts, both the way we treat the human body and our attitudes towards it have changed. This volume asks what really happens to social relations in the face of new types of transaction – such as organ donation, forensic identification and other new medical and reproductive technologies – that involve the use of corporeal material. Drawing on comparative insights into how human biological material is treated, it aims to consider how far human bodies and their components are themselves inherently “social.” The case studies – ranging from animal-human transformations in Amazonia to forensic reconstruction in post-conflict Serbia and the treatment of Native American specimens in English museums – all underline that, without social relations, there are no bodies but only “human remains.” The volume gives us new and striking ethnographic insights into bodies as sociality, as well as a potentially powerful analytical reconsideration of notions of embodiment. It makes a novel contribution, too, to “science and society” debates.
The genealogical model has a long-standing history in Western thought. The contributors to this volume consider the ways in which assumptions about the genealogical model—in particular, ideas concerning sequence, essence, and transmission—structure other modes of practice and knowledge-making in domains well beyond what is normally labeled “kinship.” The detailed ethnographic work and analysis included in this text explores how these assumptions have been built into our understandings of race, personhood, ethnicity, property relations, and the relationship between human beings and non-human species. The authors explore the influences of the genealogical model of kinship in wider social theory and examine anthropology’s ability to provide a unique framework capable of bridging the “social” and “natural” sciences. In doing so, this volume brings fresh new perspectives to bear on contemporary theories concerning biotechnology and its effect upon social life.
Interest in the study of kinship, a key area of anthropological enquiry, has recently reemerged. Dubbed ‘the new kinship’, this interest was stimulated by the ‘new genetics’ and revived interest in kinship and family patterns. This volume investigates the impact of biotechnology on contemporary understandings of kinship, of family and ‘belonging’ in a variety of European settings and reveals similarities and differences in how kinship is conceived. What constitutes kinship for different publics? How significant are biogenetic links? What does family resemblance tell us? Why is genetically modified food an issue? Are ‘genes’ and ‘blood’ interchangeable? It has been argued that the recent prominence of genetic science and genetic technologies has resulted in a ‘geneticization’ of social life; the ethnographic examples presented here do show shifts occurring in notions of ‘nature’ and of what is ‘natural’. But, they also illustrate the complexity of contemporary kinship thinking in Europe and the continued interconnectedness of biological and sociological understandings of relatedness and the relationship between nature and nurture.
Sex is often regarded as a dangerous business that must be rigorously controlled, regulated, and subjected to rules. Sexual acts that defy acceptable practices may be seen as variously defiling, immoral, and even unnatural. They may challenge and subvert both cultural preconceptions and the social order in a politics of sexual transgression that threatens to transform permissible boundaries and restructure bodily engagements. This collection of essays explores acts of sexual transgression that have the power to reconfigure perceptions of bodily intimacy and the social norms of interaction. Considering issues such as domestic violence, child prostitution, health and sex, teenage sex, and sex with animals across a range of settings from contemporary Oceania, the Pacific, South Africa, and southeast Asia to Euro-America, this book should interest all those who question the «naturalness» of sex, including public health workers, clinical practitioners and students of sex, sexuality, and gender in the humanities and social sciences.
Louis Dumont's concept of hierarchy continues to inspire social scientists. Using it as their starting point, the contributors to this volume introduce both fresh empirical material and new theoretical considerations. On the basis of diverse ethnographic contexts in Oceania, Asia, and the Middle East they challenge some current conceptions of hierarchical formations and reassess former debates – of post-colonial and neo-colonial agendas, ideas of «democratization» and «globalization,» and expanding market economies – both with regard to new theoretical issues and the new world situation.
Some of the most exciting and innovative work in the humanities currently takes place at the intersection of intellectual history and critical theory. Just as critical theorists are becoming more aware of the historicity of theory, contemporary practitioners of modern intellectual history are recognizing their potential contributions to theoretical discourse. No one has done more than Martin Jay to realize the possibilities for mutual enrichment between intellectual history and critical theory. This carefully selected collection of essays addresses central questions and current practices of intellectual history and asks how the legacy of critical theory has influenced scholarship across a wide range of scholarly disciplines. In honor of Martin Jay's unparalleled achievements, this volume includes work from some of the most prominent contemporary scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
Anthropology has long shied away from examining how human beings may lead happy and fulfilling lives. This book, however, shows that the ethnographic examination of well-being—defined as “the optimal state for an individual, a community, and a society”—and the comparison of well-being within and across societies is a new and important area for anthropological inquiry. Distinctly different in different places, but also reflecting our common humanity, well-being is intimately linked to the idea of happiness and its pursuits. Noted anthropological researchers have come together in this volume to examine well-being in a range of diverse ways and to investigate it in a range of settings: from the Peruvian Amazon, the Australian outback, and the Canadian north, to India, China, Indonesia, Japan, and the United States.