We have identified four perspectives that address local/global dynamics in ways that cut across the subdisciplines and which can provide themes for collaborations in research and teaching: ecology and evolution, power and practice, globalization, and landscape and space.
Lemur catta black troup closeup
(Photo/ Michelle Sauther)
The ecology and evolution
of humans and non-human primates examines the complex interactions between organisms and their biophysical environments through time and space. Ecological perspectives are found in all three subdisciplines and examine the strategies through which humans and other primates interact with the environment culturally, behaviorally, and physiologically. Local ecological studies have broader implications for understanding variation in adaptive strategies within species and in the adaptive consequences of different cultural practices and institutional settings in both the past and present. Ecological research also provides input into models that address the evolutionary history of human and non-human primates. Research on evolutionary history includes examining the fossil record to learn how changing selective conditions in past environments accounts for the long-term patterns of biological evolution. Since natural selection acts on individual organisms, evolutionary explanations must move from considering how selective pressures act on individuals to the evolutionary consequences for populations and species. Faculty whose research involves ecology and evolution include Professors Bernstein, Covert, Dufour, Leigh, Sauther, and Sponheimer in biological; Bamforth, Cameron, Gutiérrez, Joyce, Lekson, Ortman, and Sheets in archaeology; and McCabe and Shankman in cultural. Anthropological research on ecology and evolution also involves potential collaborations with the departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Environmental Studies; Geological Sciences; Museum and Field Studies; and Neurosciences and Behavioral Studies as well as the Institute of Behavioral Science and, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.
Power and Practice
River Travel, Colombia
(Photo/ Paul N. Patmore)
refers to research influenced by theories that address the recursivity of social life. By recursivity we mean the dynamic interrelationship of human subjects and their social worlds. Practice theories view society and culture as both the medium and the outcome of social practice. Through their lives people are socially constituted as they internalize cultural rules and meanings in their dispositions. These dispositions are externalized in practice which in turn reproduces and produces society and culture. Practice theories therefore move from the microscale of the lived lives of people and their daily practices to the macroscale of society and history. A focus on practice recognizes the multiple overlapping identities that distinguish people, including those involving gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, occupation, kinship, and community. Identity is both an aspect of structure and practice, and differentially positions actors in relation to bodies of knowledge and relations of power. In understanding social production, power, in particular, is a crucial concept. Power is viewed not just in traditional ways as systems of domination, but as the ways in which bodies of knowledge construct subjectivities. Power as such is therefore implicated in all aspects of social life ranging from the level of discourse and social institutions to the dispositions and everyday practices of social actors. Faculty whose research involves power and practice includes Professors Cameron, Gutiérrez, Joyce, Lekson, Ortman, and Sheets in archaeology and Professors Cool, Goldstein, McGranahan, Roland, and Shannon in cultural. Anthropological research on power and practice also involves potential collaborations with the departments or programs of Asian Languages and Civilizations; Classics; Humanities; Economics; Ethnic Studies; Geography; History; International Affairs; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies; Linguistics; Museum and Field Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Political Science; Religious Studies; Sociology; and Women and Gender Studies.
McDonald’s promoting Thai food in Indonesian shopping mall
or rather, the study of globalization processes, is a specific theme within cultural anthropology, and a bridging theme shared by all three subdisciplinary fields represented in our department. Globalization includes theoretical, methodological, and applied/policy issues, and all present cultural anthropologists, archaeologists, and biological anthropologists deal with it in either their teaching or research. Cultural anthropologists are currently studying the transnational movement of peoples and products, the ecological impacts of the global economy, and the accelerating flow of ideas and ideologies, including modernity around the globe. Examples of contemporary globalization issues would include world markets and development, human impacts of global environmental change, diasporic and refugee populations, world-wide flow of popular media and expressive genres, transnational pharmaceutical products, transnational religious movements, and new patterns of nationalism and identity, just to name a few. Archaeologists share interests with the focus on globalization in studying migrations, core-periphery interactions, ancient imperialism, trade, interpolity competition and conflict, and the diffusion of political and religious ideas. Biological anthropologists are exploring the effects of globalization with regards to changing health and nutritional patterns, how human-induced habitat change affects both human and non-human primate health, disease patterns and general ecology, as well as the interplay of tourism dollars, primate conservation and its subsequent effects on local economies. Anthropological research on globalization also involves potential collaborations with the departments or programs of Asian Languages and Civilizations; Communication; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Environmental Studies; Economics; Ethnic Studies; Geography; History; International Affairs; Museum and Field Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Political Sciences; Sociology; and Women and Gender Studies.
Surveying Gardens, Colombia
(Photo/Paul N. Patmore)
Approaches to landscape and space
have become increasingly important across the subdisciplines. Anthropologists examine both the material and symbolic dimensions of “natural” and “constructed” landscapes. People and non-human primates interact with landscape by the ways in which they move through space, define and exploit material and symbolic resources, and alter the material and symbolic dimensions of the landscape. As people move through and inhabit landscapes they inscribe meaning and memory in place. Landscapes come to embody important symbolic aspects of their worlds; places of origin, sacred places, moral places, gendered places, etc. Landscapes, therefore, provide both material resources, but also, at least for humans, symbolic ones that contribute to the construction of social as well as biological bodies. Landscape studies consider the ways in which people and primates move through, inhabit, and interact with landscapes and how these spatial practices affect and are affected by the large-scale material and symbolic dimensions of landscape. Research on landscape includes topics such as: the political significance of sacred landscapes, the creation of anthropogenic landscapes, and the adaptive significance of the ways in which different human and non-human primate populations utilize landscape. Faculty whose research involves landscape include Professors Bernstein, Covert, Dufour, Sauther, and Sponheimer in biological; Bamforth, Cameron, Gutiérrez, Joyce, Lekson, Ortman, and Sheets in archaeology; and McCabe in cultural. Anthropological research on landscape and space also involves potential collaboration with the departments or programs of Classics; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Environmental Studies; Geography; Geological Sciences; History; Museum and Field Studies; and Sociology as well as the Institute for Behavioral Sciences, and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.