Global Challenges and Local Response and Role of Anthropology


Global challenges, local response and role of anthropology

William Havilland defines anthropology as the study involving human beings in all places and at all times. According to Marianne Gullestad, there is need to “decolonize anthropological knowledge.” She outlines some of the challenges that this discipline has faced. One of the problems in anthropology includes ethnocentrism. Some of the anthropologists are unable to do away with the feeling that their cultures are the superior ones. In such instances, the field becomes filled with biased research and ideologies. However, anthropology must be inclusive and diverse to serve its purpose. In some cases, anthropologists work with assumptions which compromise the study done.

Anthropology has emerged to be essential in several fields such as education, commerce and business and social policies. In economics, the discipline explores operations and culture of businesses. The study is essential to the understanding of the clients of a corporation. Sometimes, it assists in the development of a company’s culture which is productive. The study of anthropology also helps in the understanding and development of governmental policies. The establishment of social services and other public amenities such as housing programs is mainly dependent on the discipline. In education, most of the students are made to understand the occurrences that take place in their various communities. The understanding of diversity and evolution of human beings is vital in creating self-awareness and cultural acceptability among the people.

The utilization of anthropology is widely appreciated. Local application of the discipline is in gender-based violence. Research has been done with the aim of establishing the roots of gender-based violence and its manifestation. Anthropology also looks into the issue of races and the traditional wisdom that surrounds racial thinking.

Process of cultural change

While there are things that encourage the action of accepting new ideas, others promote the existence of a changeless stability. The factors responsible for resistance and change include actual contact within among societies, natural environmental changes and forces within a community. There also exists some processes that happen because of the connection that occurs between societies such as acculturation, diffusion, and transculturation. Diffusion refers to the process where ideas and things move from one community or culture to another. Acculturation involves the replacement of a traditional pattern of culture with a new one. However, transcultural is a form of acculturation where only one individual is assimilated completely.

Five steps are considered for a cultural change to occur.

1-Committing to change

Any form of change has to start from a longing. Therefore, for change to take place, there must be a commitment. Acceptance of the eminent evolution and sticking to it is crucial to its success.

2-Define success

The ability of a society or a person to define the desired culture shows high chances of its achievement.

3-Assessment of the reality

The process involves determination of the wellbeing of the ideal culture and its organizational health. The person must determine the advantages of the new culture and the other underlying impacts it will have on him or her.

4-Focus on the adjustment of one habit

There is always a challenge in trying to change everything at once. Therefore, a sufficient cultural change must be stepwise. The most critical behavior must be prioritized, and the first in such a case is trust.

5-Reflection and learning

Determine the progress made. In between the process, a person must assign some time to ask some questions regarding the effect of the change.

Spirituality, religion and shamanism

Shamanism involves a collection of practices and beliefs claiming the aptitude of traveling in the pathway existing between the earth and heaven. The purpose of the travel is for spiritual contacts. A shaman is a person with the ability to communicate with the malevolent and benevolent spirits. Therefore, in shamanism, the person reaches an altered consciousness state to make contact with the spirit world. He or she then directs the mystical energies to the earth. Scholars have classified some practices and beliefs from various disciplines as shamanic. The ideas include philosophies, anthropology, history, psychology, and archeology. Shamanism deals with the ability of a practitioner to have the power and knowledge to enter the spiritual world and heal people. Shamanism has been associated with occults.

Spirituality mainly focuses on the supernatural existence of beings. Spirituality requires no organization and is regarded on an individual basis, unlike religion which is seen as collective. In spirituality, there is a recognized lineage. In such cases, the authority is passed from generation to generation. The divine responsibility is passed from the founding person to a chain of successors. People in this category may include prophets.

In anthropology, religion is described as a system of recognized ideas. The system mainly focuses on the supernatural and spiritual sphere. In most cases, religion has been linked to ritual practices. In these acts, individuals try to influence or interpret the aspects of the universe. Religion involves the services of full-time specialists. These people have official recognition to perform various duties and guide the religious activities of the other members. These spiritual leaders are inducted ceremonially and initiated socially as members of the religion. They include priests, imams, and rabbi.

Grouping by gender, age, common interest and social status

Several principles are considered in the organization of people in the society. Apart from marriage and kinship, people also organize themselves based on interests, class, age, and gender. The categorization based on age involves the formation of groups regarding the age brackets. The system has been acknowledged worldwide. Moreover, age set is used in most cases. The age set system refers to a formal organization of groups based on the time span in which a particular group of people were born. Age grade system is mostly composed of people of similar ages, and in most cases, a person has to pass through a series of such groups in her or his lifetime.

Categorization can also be done based on the common interests. A similar unifying factor binds the people in these group. In other terms, these groups or associations may be formed to look into specific sets of opportunities and challenges. Just as the name suggests, this categorization is done according to the ideas and actions of people. The membership of such groups can either be compulsory or voluntary based on the issue to be tackled. Common interest groups are mainly formed when the need arises.  Upon the completion of the task outlined for them, these people may part ways. There are several situations where these civil groups are composed of professionals especially when it involves finding solutions to a critical problem in the society.

Grouping by gender is done based on whether an individual is a male or female. Under this categorization, women and men are separated centered on varying degrees in the different communities they live in. In some societies, these groups of people may be together on some occasions. In others, the various gender groups are compelled to spend most of their time apart. The restrictions may be extended to sleeping and eating separately.


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