The Most Selfish Culture on Earth-Or Maybe Not

Once Considered Unkind, the Ik Turn out to Be Nice When anthropologist Colin Turnbull lived among the Ik people of Uganda between 1964 and 1967, he found a bleak, loveless, unkind society where everyone was only out for themselves. Turnbull wrote about his experience in the best-selling 1972 book The Mountain People, an ethnographic follow up to his highly acclaimed The Forest People about the cooperative and socially entwined Mbuti pygmies of the Republic of Congo. The contrast between the two cultures couldn’t have been more shocking. The Ik were held up as evidence that…

Continue Reading The Most Selfish Culture on Earth-Or Maybe Not

We Desperately Need Culture Brokers to Fix This Country but Where Are They? Where Are the Anthropologists?

Where is Margaret Mead When We Need Her?  We are in the midst of any number of internal culture wars within the United States, and these conflicts are destroying us as a nation. And yet, we have always been a culture of cultures. Since our founding, immigrants have contributed various perspectives and experiences, ethnicities have brought a panoply of beliefs and styles, distinct levels of socioeconomic status and educational experiences also separate people into other kinds of groups with various views. These differences used to be the gloriously complex fabric that made up…

Continue Reading We Desperately Need Culture Brokers to Fix This Country but Where Are They? Where Are the Anthropologists?

The Cultural Revolution of Eating Out

No One Used to Eat Out, but Now It's a National Pastime In the late 1970s, when I and my then-husband were graduate students, we had a special monthly ritual — we’d go to the local grocery store and buy two bear claws, those sugary almond-topped bakery delights. It felt like the greatest culinary treat in the world. We never went to restaurants nor picked up take-out food because we had no money for that, and because such an idea never occurred to us. Ever. We were people who made food at…

Continue Reading The Cultural Revolution of Eating Out