Managing the Unknown
Essays on Environmental Ignorance
Uekötter, F. & Lübken, U. (eds)
Information is crucial when it comes to the management of resources. But what if knowledge is incomplete, or biased, or otherwise deficient? How did people define patterns of proper use in the absence of cognitive certainty? Discussing this challenge for a diverse set of resources from fish to rubber, these essays show that deficient knowledge is a far more pervasive challenge in resource history than conventional readings suggest. Furthermore, environmental ignorance does not inevitably shrink with the march of scientific progress: these essays suggest more of a dialectical relationship between knowledge and ignorance that has different shapes and trajectories. With its combination of empirical case studies and theoretical reflection, the essays make a significant contribution to the interdisciplinary debate on the production and resilience of ignorance. At the same time, this volume combines insights from different continents as well as the seas in between and thus sketches outlines of an emerging global resource history.
Subjects: Environmental Studies General History
Population, Reproduction and Fertility in Melanesia
Ulijaszek, S.J. (ed)
Human biological fertility was considered a important issue to anthropologists and colonial administrators in the first part of the 20th century, as a dramatic decline in population was observed in many regions. However, the total demise of Melanesian populations predicted by some never happened; on the contrary, a rapid population increase took place for the second part of the 20th century. This volume explores relationships between human fertility and reproduction, subsistence systems, the symbolic use of ideas of fertility and reproduction in linking landscape to individuals and populations, in Melanesian societies, past and present. It thus offers an important contribution to our understanding of the implications of social and economic change for reproduction and fertility in the broadest sense.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Gender Studies
Narrating the Future in Siberia
Childhood, Adolescence and Autobiography among the Eveny
The wider cultural universe of contemporary Eveny is a specific and revealing subset of post-Soviet society. From an anthropological perspective, the author seeks to reveal not only the Eveny cultural universe but also the universe of the children and adolescents within this universe. The first full-length ethnographic study among the adolescence of Siberian indigenous peoples, it presents the young people’s narratives about their own future and shows how they form constructs of time, space, agency and personhood through the process of growing up and experiencing their social world. The study brings a new perspective to the anthropology of childhood and uncovers a quite unexpected dynamic in narrating and foreshadowing the future while relating it to cultural patterns of prediction and fulfillment in nomadic cosmology.
Subject: General Anthropology
Water for People – Water for Life
The world's freshwater resources are coming under growing pressure through such environmental hazards as human waste, urbanization, industrialization, and pesticides. The problems are exacerbated through drought in many parts of the world. The improvement of the water quality itself and access to it have been major concerns for politicians and development agencies for over a decade. First officially formulated at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, they have been restated or expanded since then.
The UN Millennium Declaration of 2000 transformed general guidelines into specific targets. The international community pledged "to halve by 2015 the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water" and "to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources, by developing water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies." Thus, ten years after Rio it is time to take stock.
Based on the collective inputs of 23 United Nations agencies and convention secretariats, this Report offers a global overview of the state of the world's freshwater resources. It is part of an on-going assessment process to develop policies and help with their implementation as well as to measure any progress towards achieving sustainable use of water resources.
Generously illustrated with more than 25 full-color global maps and numerous figures, the report reviews progress and trends and presents seven pilot case studies of river basins representing various social, economic and environmental settings: Lake Titicaca (Bolivia, Peru); Senegal river basin (Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea); Seine Normandy (France); Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe (Estonia, Russia); Ruhuna basin (Sri Lanka); Greater Tokyo region (Japan); and Chao Phraya (Thailand). It assesses progress in 11 challenge areas, including health, food, environment, shared water resources, cities, industry, energy, risk management, knowledge, valuing water and governance. Proposing methodologies and indicators for measuring sustainability, it lays the foundations for regular, system-wide monitoring and reporting by the UN, together with the development of standardized methodologies and data.
With its comprehensive maps, glossary, references and coverage of a broad range of themes and examples of real-world river basins, the UN World Water Development Report will no doubt prove to be a most valuable reference work.
Visit the United Nation's Water Portal for more information on the report and on the International Year of Freshwater 2003.
Subjects: Environmental Studies Development Studies
Water - A Shared Responsibility
A joint undertaking of the 24 UN agencies comprising UN-Water, and in partnership with governments and other entities concerned with freshwater issues, this volume, covering as it does all regions and most countries of the world, provides an up-to-date global overview of the state and uses of freshwater, critical water-related problems, and societies’ coping mechanisms. Drawing on an extensive database, expert analysis, case studies, and hundreds of graphic elements, it is the most comprehensive undertaking to date of freshwater assessment, providing a mechanism for monitoring changes in the resource and its management and progress towards achieving development targets, particularly the Millennium Development Goals.
Building on the conclusions of the first United Nations World Water Development Report, Water for People, Water for Life (2003), the 2006 Report confirms the ongoing, serious and growing water crisis–essentially a crisis of governance–and points to a prevalent lack of capacity and knowledge base as today’s primary obstacles to achieving the necessary levels of water governance. This volume proposes a more integrated vision of water resources management to respond to changing environmental and socio-economic conditions.
Subjects: Environmental Studies Development Studies
Identity, Gender and Poverty
New Perspectives on Caste and Tribe in Rajasthan
Most studies of the so-called tribal communities in India stress their social, economic, and political differences from communities that are organized on the basis of caste. It was this apparent contrast between tribal and caste lifestyle and, moreover, the paucity of material on tribal groups, that motivated the author to undertake this study of a poor "tribal" community, the Girasia, in northwestern India.
While carrying out her fieldwork, the author soon became aware that the traditional tribe-caste categories needed to be revised; in fact, she found them more often than not to be constructs by outsiders, mostly academic. Of greater importance for an understanding of the Girasia was the wider and more complex issue of self-perception and identification by others that must be seen in the context of their poverty as well as in the strategic and shifting use of kinship, gender and class relations in the region.
Reproductive Agency, Medicine and the State
Cultural Transformations in Childbearing
Unnithan-Kumar, M. (ed)
Recent years have seen many changes in human reproduction resulting from state and medical interventions in childbearing processes. Based on empirical work in a variety of societies and countries, this volume considers the relationship between reproductive processes (of fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period) on the one hand and attitudes, medical technologies and state health policies in diverse cultural contexts on the other.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Gender Studies
The Cultural Politics of Reproduction
Migration, Health and Family Making
Unnithan-Kumar, M. & Khanna, S. K. (eds)
Charting the experiences of internally or externally migrant communities, the volume examines social transformation through the dynamic relationship between movement, reproduction, and health. The chapters examine how healthcare experiences of migrants are not only embedded in their own unique health worldviews, but also influenced by the history, policy, and politics of the wider state systems. The research among migrant communities an understanding of how ideas of reproduction and “cultures of health” travel, how healing, birth and care practices become a result of movement, and how health-related perceptions and reproductive experiences can define migrant belonging and identity.
Fatness and the Maternal Body
Women's Experiences of Corporeality and the Shaping of Social Policy
Unnithan-Kumar, M. & Tremayne, S. (eds)
Obesity is a rising global health problem. On the one hand a clearly defined medical condition, it is at the same time a corporeal state embedded in the social and cultural perception of fatness, body shape and size. Focusing specifically on the maternal body, contributors to the volume examine how the language and notions of obesity connect with, or stand apart from, wider societal values and moralities to do with the body, fatness, reproduction and what is considered ‘natural’. A focus on fatness in the context of human reproduction and motherhood offers instructive insights into the global circulation and authority of biomedical facts on fatness (as ‘risky’ anti-fit, for example). As with other social and cultural studies critical of health policy discourse, this volume challenges the spontaneous connection being made in scientific and popular understanding between fatness and ill health.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Gender Studies
The Experience of Neoliberal Education
Urciuoli, B. (ed)
The college experience is increasingly positioned to demonstrate its value as a worthwhile return on investment. Specific, definable activities, such as research experience, first-year experience, and experiential learning, are marketed as delivering precise skill sets in the form of an individual educational package.
Through ethnography-based analysis, the contributors to this volume explore how these commodified ‘experiences’ have turned students into consumers and given them the illusion that they are in control of their investment. They further reveal how the pressure to plan every move with a constant eye on a demonstrable return has supplanted traditional approaches to classroom education and profoundly altered the student experience.
Subjects: Educational Studies General Anthropology
The Image of Native Americans, National Identity, and Nazi Ideology in Germany
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Germans exhibited a widespread cultural passion for tales and representations of Native Americans. This book explores the evolution of German national identity and its relationship with the ideas and cultural practices around “Indianthusiasm.” Pervasive and adaptable, imagery of Native Americans was appropriated by Nazi propaganda and merged with exceptionalist notions of German tribalism, oxymoronically promoting the Nazis’ racial ideology. This book combines cultural and intellectual history to scrutinize the motifs of Native American imagery in German literature, media, and scholarship, and analyzes how these motifs facilitated the propaganda effort to nurture national pride, racial thought, militarism, and hatred against the Allied powers among the German populace.
Cultures of Abortion in Weimar Germany
Abortion in the Weimar Republic is a compelling subject since it provoked public debates and campaigns of an intensity rarely matched elsewhere. It proved so explosive because populationist, ecclesiastical and political concerns were heightened by cultural anxieties of a modernity in crisis. Based on an exceptionally rich source material (e.g., criminal court cases, doctors’ case books, personal diaries, feature films, plays and literary works), this study explores different attitudes and experiences of those women who sought to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and those who helped or hindered them. It analyzes the dichotomy between medical theory and practice, and questions common assumptions, i.e. that abortion was “a necessary evil,” which needed strict regulation and medical control; or that all back-street abortions were dangerous and bad. Above all, the book reveals women’s own voices, frequently contradictory and ambiguous: having internalized medical ideas they often also adhered to older notions of reproduction which opposed scientific approaches.
Subjects: 20th Century History Gender Studies
Remembering and Forgetting Nazism
Education, National Identity, and the Victim Myth in Postwar Austria
The Myth of Austrian victimization at the hands of both Nazi Germany and the Allies became the unifying theme of Austrian official memory and a key component of national identity as a new Austria emerged from the ruins. In the 1980s, Austria's myth of victimization came under intense scrutiny in the wake of the Waldheim scandal that marked the beginning of its erosion. The fiftieth anniversary of the Anschluß in 1988 accelerated this process and resulted in a collective shift away from the victim myth. Important themes examined include the rebirth of Austria, the Anschluß, the war and the Holocaust, the Austrian resistance, and the Allied occupation. The fragmentation of Austrian official memory since the late 1980s coincided with the dismantling of the Conservative and Social Democratic coalition, which had defined Austrian politics in the postwar period. Through the eyes of the Austrian school system, this book examines how postwar Austria came to terms with the Second World War.
Subjects: Educational Studies Postwar History