Currents online, University of California
In an invited lead article in the current issue of the influential journal Human Development, UCSC psychology professor Per Gjerde challenges his colleagues to reconsider popular ideas about the role of culture in human development.
Much of the trouble stems from the use of nations as proxies for cultural units, said Gjerde. Notions of culture are linked to national boundaries and geographical areas, like “East” and “West,” fueling generalizations about “American individualism” and “Asian collectivism,” said Gjerde.
Gjerde is critical of the fieldwork that forms the basis for most notions of culture, saying it has been conducted in “limited and bounded social contexts” and that the fixation on groups has obscured the exploration of variation and complexity within and between human beings.
Gjerde’s model would take a more interdisciplinary approach to the study of culture, incorporating the writings of anthropology and other fields, and it would consider the influence of power, coercion, and class differences on individual psychological development. >>continue
Main theme for the annual meeting is conflict resolution, the UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation) writes.
A report was launched at the meeting in Geneva that states the potential for indigenous people to help curb the destruction of forests is being overlooked by the international community, according to a report, the BBC reports.
- The Guaraní community of Tentayapi, in southern Bolivia, one of the last bastions of the indigenous group's traditional way of life, is fighting to keep a foreign oil company out of its ancestral territory. One of the community's leaders, Saúl Carayury, told the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, meeting this week in Geneva, that Maxus Energy, a subsidiary of the Spanish-Argentine firm Repsol-YPF based in Spain, intends to explore and drill for hydrocarbons on communally-owned indigenous land in Tentayapi according to One World England
Botswana completed a multiyear process of relocating Bushmen outside the reserve. Xuxuri Johannes, a leader of the ragtag Bushmen's rights group First People of the Kalahari claimed the move was designed to "create space" for diamond mining.
When I visited earlier this year, dozens of Bushmen had returned to the Kalahari to take up their old lives as hunter-gatherers in defiance of government edicts. Then, during a media tour orchestrated in March to show off the quality of life in the resettlement areas, reporters say they witnessed widespread hunger and more Bushmen streaming into the reserve. By late spring, the number of returnees was headed into the hundreds. >>continue
Marc Erickson, channels.lockergnome.com
"What is this culture of piracy and what is at stake in trying to change it? In this essay, I take an ethnographic look at music file sharing, and compare the situation in the US with Japan. My findings are based on fieldwork in Tokyo, and surveys and discussions with US college students. By considering the ways social dynamics and cultural orientations guide uses of digital media technology, I argue that a legal and political focus on ‘piracy’ ignores crucial aspects of file sharing, and is misleading in the assumptions it makes for policy.”
"I came from a country that forbade the mixing of culture, through cultural segregation and other enforced laws, so I was immediately attracted to the other side. Anthropology was a natural continuation of an interest I developed at the age of 14, hanging out with street musicians.
"We are at a fascinating moment and different South Africans have different ideas of what it is to be a South African. In all of that, I find myself at a very interesting time in South Africa where there is so much flux, change and movement. Languages are breaking down; languages are bleeding into each other. Indian words are coming into Africa. Afrikaans is coming in and a new hip urban kind of verbal style. All of these things for me as an anthropologist are fascinating. >>continue
CBC North News
A unique anthropology project is under way in Holman – part of a growing trend to try to understand history from an Aboriginal perspective. Anthropologist Don Johnson is studying the adaptations Copper Inuit made after Europeans arrived in the Arctic. He says in some ways his job is to re-write history – in this case, from the Copper Inuit perspective. >>continue
The Christian Science Monitor
In the past five years, Indian schoolchildren of all faiths have learned quite a bit about the culture of the Hindu majority. Last week, the allies of the newly elected Congress government, the Communist Party of India, called for yet another rewrite of Indian history, this time with a broader view of India's many cultures instead of focusing on the religion of the majority. >>continue
Finding out what the customer wants can be a difficult task. A new approach that is becoming more widespread is to treat potential customers as participants in the product development process. This customer research approach is known as ethnographic research and is defined as "the description and study of human culture". For the purposes of new product development, customer research is conducted in a much shorter time scale to fit the needs of industry.
The power of taking such an approach is that it provides real life accounts of customers' everyday activities, needs, desires, beliefs and values; it highlights the differences between what people do and what they say they do, and as a result find needs that have not been directly expressed; and it describes what meanings people place on products and how products are used. It is also cheap as it is purely about observing and listening.
Large multinational companies, including Microsoft, Nokia, Ericsson, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Kimberley Clark, General Mills and Motorola, are using this approach. >>continue