The Oxford Handbook of Human Development and Culture

The Oxford Handbook of Human Development and Culture provides a comprehensive synopsis of theory and research on human development, with every chapter drawing together findings from cultures around the world. This includes a focus on cultural diversity within nations, cultural change, and globalization. Expertly edited by Lene Arnett Jensen, the Handbook covers the entire lifespan from the prenatal period to old age. It delves deeply into topics such as the development of emotion, language, cognition, morality, creativity, and religion, as well as developmental contexts such as family, friends, civic institutions, school, media, and work. Written by an international group of eminent and cutting-edge experts, chapters showcase the burgeoning interdisciplinary approach to scholarship that bridges universal and cultural perspectives on human development. This “cultural-developmental approach” is a multifaceted, flexible, and dynamic way to conceptualize theory and research that is in step with the cultural and global realities of human development in the 21st century.


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The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World

The past thirty years have seen an explosion of interest in Greek and Roman social history, particularly studies of women and the family. Until recently these studies did not focus especially on children and childhood, but considered children in the larger context of family continuity and inter-family relationships, or legal issues like legitimacy, adoption and inheritance. Recent publications have examined a variety of aspects related to childhood in ancient Greece and Rome, but until now nothing has attempted to comprehensively survey the state of ancient childhood studies. This handbook does just that, showcasing the work of both established and rising scholars and demonstrating the variety of approaches to the study of childhood in the classical world. In thirty chapters, with a detailed introduction and envoi, The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World presents current research in a wide range of topics on ancient childhood, including sub-disciplines of Classics that rarely appear in collections on the family or childhood such as archaeology and ancient medicine. Contributors include some of the foremost experts in the fieldas well as younger, up-and-coming scholars. Unlike most edited volumes on childhood or the family in antiquity, this collection also gives attention to the late antique period and whether (or how) conceptions of childhood and the life of children changed with Christianity. The chronological spread runs from archaic Greece to the later Roman Empire (fifth century C.E.). Geographical areas covered include not only classical Greece and Roman Italy, but also the eastern Mediterranean. The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World engages with perennially valuable questions about family and education in the ancient world while providing a much-needed touchstone for research in the field.


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The Case Against Civilization – Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better?

In “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States,” James C. Scott, a professor of political science at Yale, presents a plausible contender for the most important piece of technology in the history of man. It is a technology so old that it predates Homo sapiens and instead should be credited to our ancestor Homo erectus. That technology is fire. We have used it in two crucial, defining ways. The first and the most obvious of these is cooking. As Richard Wrangham has argued in his book “Catching Fire,” our ability to cook allows us to extract more energy from the food we eat, and also to eat a far wider range of foods. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a colon three times as large as ours, because its diet of raw food is so much harder to digest. The extra caloric value we get from cooked food allowed us to develop our big brains, which absorb roughly a fifth of the energy we consume, as opposed to less than a tenth for most mammals’ brains. That difference is what has made us the dominant species on the planet.


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Anthropology of Healing: An historical summary of medical anthropology

Throughout this historical tour of medical anthropology, a focus upon theory and practice with specific ethnographic examples demonstrates the variety of approaches that have constituted medical anthropological research over the years. Following the historical narrative, contemporary theoretical trends and controversies are explored in more depth.

This definition covers all the contemporary sites for medical anthropological study, and delineates the sub-field in terms of its current specialization, yet medical anthropology is a topic of study that has only recently, that is, within the last fifty years, become mature. The first half of the twentieth century, moreover, saw an anthropological concern with documenting the natural history of humanity—a preoccupation with ‘salvage ethnography,’ that is, with describing ‘primitive cultures’ in all of their aspects before they became part of an expanding global economy. Many ethnographic accounts aimed at describing a ‘whole culture,’ which entailed some discussion of health beliefs and practices, albeit as a means of elaborating on how the various aspects of the specific culture were functionally interrelated. Following the rapid expansion of a global capitalist economy, anthropologists turned their attention to specific cultural traits rather than striving to describe the ‘whole’ of any specific culture, as that would inevitably entail an ethnography of the whole world.


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Cultural Anthropology of Health and Healing

Three theoretical approaches exist in understanding human health. First, is the epidemiological or the ecological approach. This approach examines the way culture and the natural environment interact to create the patterns of which result in health and disease. The second is the interpretivist approach, which looks at the way cultures use symbolic meaning to describe and understand health and disease. The third is critical medical anthropology, which focuses on how socioeconomic and political factors affect human health.

Epidemiology is the study of factors that affect health and disease among populations and is considered a fundamental aspect of public health research. Epidemiology focuses on identifying disease risk factors based on how, when, and where they occur. By collecting this data, epidemiologists provide data for measuring the occurrence of health phenomena. Anthropologists may use this approach to examine cultural patterns such as food, work location, sexual activity, water, and medical practices that may affect or show a correlation with the prevalence of a particular disease.


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Healing Roots: Anthropology in Life and Medicine

Umhlonyane, also known as Artemisia afra, is one of the oldest and best-documented indigenous medicines in South Africa. This bush, which grows wild throughout the sub-Saharan region, smells and tastes like “medicine,” thus easily making its way into people’s lives and becoming the choice of everyday healing for Xhosa healer-diviners and Rastafarian herbalists. This “natural” remedy has recently sparked curiosity as scientists search for new molecules against a tuberculosis pandemic while hoping to recognize indigenous medicine. Laplante follows umhlonyane on its trails and trials of becoming a biopharmaceutical – from the “open air” to controlled environments – learning from the plant and from the people who use it with hopes in healing.


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The story of music is the story of humans

Where did music come from? Recent article discusses how music arose and developed.

How did music begin? Did our early ancestors first start by beating things together to create rhythm, or use their voices to sing? What types of instruments did they use? Has music always been important in human society, and if so, why? These are some of the questions explored in a new article. The answers reveal that the story of music is, in many ways, the story of humans.


Read also: How Music and Instruments Began – The story of music is the story of humans

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La dominación cultural – Antonio Gramsci y Pierre Bourdieu

En este escrito Michael Burawoy relaciona las teorías sobre la dominación cultural de dos de los principales pensadores sociales del siglo XX, Antonio Gramsci y Pierre Bourdieu. De todos los marxistas Gramsci es el más cercano a Bourdieu. Ambos trataron temas muy similares, a pesar de que hicieron sus obras en momentos históricos diferentes. Una posible explicación de ese paralelismo teórico es el paralelismo que a su vez presentan sus historias de vida. Sin embargo, como nos muestra Burawoy a lo largo de este escrito, en conceptos de ambos autores que pueden parecer paralelos (dominación simbólica y hegemonía, campo de poder y sociedad civil, intelectual e intelectual orgánico, entre otros) existen diferencias importantes. Pero, más allá de esas diferencias, el diálogo entre sus producciones teóricas promete ser muy fructífero.


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La Supervivencia de la Cultura – Pierre Bourdieu

¿Es todavía posible hoy, y por cuánto tiempo todavía, hablar de actividades culturales y de cultura en general? Me parece que la lógica cada vez más empujada por la velocidad y por el beneficio, que se expresa en la lucha por la ganancia máxima en un tiempo mínimo – como en la audiencia en la televisión, las tiradas en librería y en prensa, y las entradas para las nuevas películas – es incompatible con la idea de cultura. Si las condiciones ecológicas del arte de las que hablaba Ernst Gombrich se destruyen, el arte y la cultura las seguirán de cerca.

Recuerdo lo que ocurrió con el cine italiano, hace nada uno de los mejores del mundo y que sobrevive hoy gracias a un puñado de realizadores, del cine alemán o de Europa del este. Recuerdo la larga crisis de la película de autor que desapareció de los circuitos de distribución, así como el destino de la radio cultural, cada vez más sacrificada en nuestros días en nombre de la modernidad, en nombre de la audiencia y en nombre del pacto oculto con el nuevo mundo de los medios de comunicación.


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La sociología de la cultura y música en Max Weber

La Sociología de la Cultura de Weber ha quedado desdibujada ante la enorme pluralidad de áreas de estudio que el sociólogo alemán inició. Desde los estudios de metodología que tratan de conciliar la polémica entre las Ciencias ideográficas y las Ciencias nomológicas, hasta el análisis del surgimiento del capitalismo en la relación entre economía/religión, se puede considerar a Weber como el gran sintetizador y clasificador de la temática sociológica.

Sin embargo, ante esa avalancha de temas, aspectos que renuevan la perspectiva global de un fenómeno quedan minusvalorados ante los análisis sobre la racionalidad, la legitimidad y la dominación social o la aparición de un Estado caracterizado por la administración burocrática. Weber, pues, será el gran erudito por excelencia de la Sociología. Erudición que se extiende desde la Sociología del Estado a la Sociología de la Cultura. Precisamente la Sociología de la Cultura tiene que ser entendida como el laboratorio en el que no sólo la metodología de los “tipos ideales” se va a comprobar, sino también, como la garantía de la efectividad que la comprensión significativa tiene.

Parte I     Parte II

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