No single culture’s view of the world sums up the nature of reality — including our own.
This central teaching of anthropology is a hard pill for some to swallow. And yet the diversity of human perspectives is real. Effectively confronting the challenges that humanity faces in the 21st century —
- climate change
- population growth
- conflict over resources
— requires us to acknowledge and work with culture rather than against it.
The reason is that these aren’t engineering problems; there are no imminent technological fixes that don’t depend for their success on diverse human groups getting on board and cooperating.
This blog is intended as a space for meditating on and discussing these issues from a perspective that acknowledges the power of culture.
Some of the writings that have most influenced the views taken in this blog are:
Jared Diamond. (1998). Guns, germs, and steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. London: Vintage.
[a classic account of medium-term human history that explains the critical importance of animal and plant domestication]
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. (2009). Mothers and others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
[how our evolutionary heritage affects our propensity to bond, communicate, and cooperate]
Tim Flannery. (2005.) The weather makers: How man is changing the climate, and what it means for life on earth. New York: Grove Press.
[primer on the causes and effects of climate change]
Richard A. Shweder. (2003). Why do men barbecue? Recipes for cultural psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
[essays on the cultural shaping of morality, emotion, and development]
Jed has conducted anthropological fieldwork in Ethiopia and the Republic of Congo.
He also blogs about his family here.