Summer Roundup: Bioculturalism by Deanna Day

We continue our set of summer roundups by focusing our attention on a series of interviews conducted by Jeffrey G. Snodgrass. Snodgrass spoke with William Dressler, Emily Mendenhall, Christopher Lynn, and Greg Downey on the subject of bioculturalism, aiming to get anthropologists and closely-related others talking seriously, and thinking practically, about how to synergize biological and social scientific approaches to human health and well-being, and to what positive ends.


Introduction: “Bioculturalism: The Why and How of a Promising Medical Anthropological Future”

“I’m perplexed by cultural anthropology’s antagonism toward biology, with culture and biology more typically treated as providing alternate and competing, rather than complementary and synergistic, explanations for human functioning. This is particularly strange to me—a practicing cultural anthropologist with a background in molecular biology—when even medical anthropologists fail to account for the role biology plays in shaping human health. Wouldn’t such a consideration enrich our comprehension of the interplay between sociocultural milieus and human bodies?… To sketch a blueprint for such a future, I have invited a group of self-professed ‘biocultural anthropologists’ to address the question, ‘How might cultural anthropology gain by taking biology more seriously?’” —Jeffrey G. Snodgrass


Interview: William Dressler

“Anthropological analyses are full of intriguing theoretical and ethnographic models proposing processes that operate at many levels, ranging from the molecular to the symbolic. Very often I find myself reading such analyses, only to get to the end thinking: “and……?” I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, in the sense of what the implications of those processes might be for health or biological outcomes.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.