Anthropology and Contemporary Human Problems / Edition 6

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We live in a time of global mega-problems of unsustainable growth and consumption, resource depletion, ecosystem degradation, global warming, escalating energy costs, poverty, and conflict. Cultural anthropologist John H. Bodley trenchantly critiques these most pressing issues and shows how anthropology makes it possible to find solutions. The focus on culture scale suggests that many solutions may be found by developing local communities supported by regional markets and ecosystems, rather than by making the continuous accumulation of financial capital the dominant cultural process throughout the world.

Now in its sixth edition, this classic textbook continues to have tremendous relevance and is more timely than ever in light of the recent global economic crisis. It exposes readers to the problems of a world out of balance with misdirected growth by the elite. Bodley offers examples from prehistoric and modern tribal societies along side of ancient imperial and contemporary commercial societies. Students will find this to be the trusted source to build a world view. Anthropology and Contemporary Human Problems is ideal for adoption in anthropology and sociology courses on globalization, cultural ecology, social class and inequality, the environment, sustainability, and development.

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Editorial Reviews

Deward Walker
Praise for the fifth edition: [A] refreshing assessment of many of the contemporary problems that continue to challenge human beings in all sectors of the globe. It is a real tour-de-force. . . . I'm particularly impressed by the manner in which Bodley places anthropology at the forefront in the search for solutions to the many problems facing humanity, including affluence and poverty, the environmental crisis, natural resource depletion versus sustainability, malnutrition, the evolution of food systems, problems of the factory food system, population problems, conflict, and the future.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759121584
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 4/12/2012
  • Edition description: 6th Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John H. Bodley is Regents Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University. He is the author of Cultural Anthropology, 5th edition (AltaMira Press, 2011), and Victims of Progress, 5th edition (AltaMira Press, 2008).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

Chapter 1
Anthropological Perspectives on Contemporary Human Problems
Nature and Scope of the Problems
World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, 1992
UN Millennium Goals
Crisis Awareness and Response
Significance of Culture Scale
Uniqueness of Tribal Societies and Cultures
“Original Affluent Society”
Elite-Directed Growth: The Human Problem
Distribution of Wealth and Power
The World’s Elite-Directors: View from the Top
Elite-Direction and the Global Media: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation
Too Big and Failing: Elite-Direction and the Global Financial Crisis

Chapter 2
Scale, Adaptation, and the Environmental Crisis
Cultural Transmission and Maladaptation
Scale and Cultural Evolution
Cultural Evolution and Adaptation
Nature and Scope of the Environmental Crisis
Biodiversity and the Death of the Tropical Rain Forests
Ecocide, Soviet Style
Environmental Crisis and Cultural Change
Beyond “The Limits to Growth”
Environmental Commissions: Global 2000 and Our Common Future
Roots of the Environmental Crisis
Capitalism and Ideological Roots
Unregulated Self-Interest and the Tragedy of the Commons
Land Degradation in the Mediterranean Region
Planetary Boundaries: Beyond the Earth’s Limits in the Anthropocene
Extinctions and Biodiversity: Human Nature or Culture Scale Crisis?
Tribal and Small-Scale Domestic Economies
Wealth in Tribal and Commercial Worlds
Biological Potential and Cultural Demand in the Pacific Northwest
Sociocultural Scale and the Environment
Ecological Footprints

Chapter 3
Natural Resources and the Culture of Consumption
Energy and Culture: Basic Considerations
Elite-Directors of the Energy Sector: The Power and Influence of Big Oil
Capitalism and the Culture of Consumption
History of Capitalism
European Origins of Capitalism
Culture of Overconsumption
Resource Consumption in America
Taking Stock
America’s Forests as Resources
Economics of Resource Depletion
Sustainable Development and the Steady-State Economy
Consumption Culture’s Environmental Cost: Western Coal
Elite Decision Makers and the Consumption Culture

Chapter 4
Malnutrition and the Evolution of Food Systems
Malthusian Dilemma
Evolution of Food Systems
Foraging and Subsistence Security
Shift to Farms and Gardens
Domestic Mode of Food Production
Technological Advances in Food Production
Politically Directed Food Systems
Commercialization of Grain: England, 1500–1700
Famine in the Modern World
Global Malnutrition
Persistence of Food Insecurity
Global Food Price Crisis of 2007–2008: Hunger and Land Grabs
Food Overconsumption
Political Economy of Hunger: Bangladesh

Chapter 5
Commercial Factory-Food Systems
Factory-Food Production
Factory Potatoes versus Swidden Sweet Potatoes
Commercialization of the American Food System, 1850–1890
Social Costs of the Food-Production System
Energy Costs of the Distribution System
Food Marketing
Food Quality and Market Scale
Factory-Processed Potato Chips versus Manioc Cakes
Fishing, Global Trade, and “Ghost Acres”
Limits of Food Production
Food Chain Clusters: ABCD Four and the Great Turkey Recall

Chapter 6
Population Problem
Maximum Global Population Estimates
Great Waves of Population Growth
Population Pressure, Carrying Capacity, and Optimum Population
Population Control among Foragers
Population Equilibrium in Aboriginal Australia
Neolithic Population Explosion
Population Control among Tribal Village Farmers
Island Population Problems
Case of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) “Collapse”
State Intervention and Population-Control Mechanisms
Policy Implications

Chapter 7
Poverty and Conflict
Violence and Insecurity in America
Social Order in the Tribal World
Importance of Social Equality
Conflict and Conflict Resolution
Internal Order in Politically Centralized Societies
Cross-Cultural Perspectives on War
Scale of War and Violence in the Imperial and Commercial Worlds
Fiscal-Military State and Military-Industrial Complexes
Deadly Arsenals: The Nuclear Weapons Threat
Failing States and Social Disorder
Roots of the Security Crisis: Culture, Overpopulation, or Inequality?
Financialization Process and the Debt Crisis
Export Sugar, Starvation, and Infant Mortality in Brazil
State Terrorism and Investment Risk in Guatemala
Opulence and Deindustrialization in America
Los Angeles’s Informal Economy: The Costs of American Poverty and Homelessness

Chapter 8
The Future
Dilemma of Scale
Imagining the Global Future
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
American Intelligence Community Futures
Global Trends 2025: An American View of a Transformed World
Shell Oil’s Perspective on the Future
Shell Oil’s 2050 Scenario: Emissions-Trading Blueprints
Zero Carbon Britain 2030
Bolivia: A Plurinational Communitary State Solving Human Problems
Sustainable Global Futures
TERRA-2000 and Information Society
UN Global Environment Outlook 3 Global Futures
The Great Transition Initiative
Transforming the Corporation
Mondragón Cooperatives
Bhutan’s Middle Path
Toward a Sustainable Planetary Society
Scaling Down: The Small Nations Alternative
The United States, Happy Planets, and Billionaires
Transforming America

About the Author

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