Chapter 16 Global Challenges, Local Responses, and the Role of Anthropology What Can Anthropologists Tell Us of the Future? Anthropologists can identify certain patterns and trends and foresee some of the consequences these might have if they continue. The ability to consider cultural facts and their underlying structures in a wider context and from a comparative perspective is a recognized anthropological specialty. What Are the Cultural Trends in Our Globalizing World? Globalization is a major cultural trend, including adoption of the products, technologies, ideas, and cultural practices of powerful Western countries. 2. The move toward a global culture is countered by a trend of ethnic and religious groups reasserting their cultural identities. 3. The growing concern that rising populations, spiraling energy use, and expanding consumption are devastating our natural resources. 1. What Problems Must Be Solved for Humans to Have a Viable Future? Solutions need to be found to deal with problems posed by: Demographic shifts Unequal distribution of wealth Vanishing natural resources Environmental destruction More powerful technologies Explosive population growth. Anthropologists Contribution to the Study of the Future of Humanity Anthropologists see things in context. They have a long-term historical perspective and recognize culture bound biases. Anthropologists are concerned with the tendency to treat traditional societies as obsolete when they appear to stand in the way of “development.” World Migrations Migration continues to have a significant effect on world social geography, contributing to culture change, to the diffusion of ideas and innovations, and to the complex mixture of cultures in the world today. Internal migration occurs within the boundaries of a country. External migration is movement from one country or region to another. World Migrations Prior to the mid-20th century, three types of external migration were most important: Voluntary - in search of better opportunities Forced - people who have been driven from their homelands by war, environmental disasters, or transported as slaves Imposed - not entirely forced but made advisable by the circumstances. World Migrations Refugees Almost fifty years ago, when the Chinese communist government in Beijing annexed Tibet and imposed its rule over the Buddhist people in this Himalayan region, tens of thousands of Tibetans were forced to flee to neighboring Nepal and India. Among the refugees is the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader . Traditionalism and Fundamentalism Often resistance to modernization takes the form of cultural traditionalism and religious fundamentalism, as in Afghanistan during recent decades. This reactionary practice is evident in this family’s clothing, the mother’s veil, and the father’s beard. Multiculturalism An policy of mutual respect and tolerance for cultural differences. Ethnic tension, common in pluralistic societies, sometimes turns violent, leading to formal separation. To manage cultural diversity within such societies, some countries have adopted multiculturalism as an official public policy. Multinational Corporations Global Corporations Their power and wealth, often exceeding that of national governments, has increased dramatically through media expansion. Megacorporations have enormous influence on the ideas and behavior of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. States and corporations compete for scarce natural resources, cheap labor, new commercial markets, and ever-larger profits in a political arena that spans the entire globe. Structural power The global forces that direct economic and political institutions and shape public ideas and values. Hard power is backed up by economic and military force. Soft power is ideological persuasion. Soft Power and Mass Media Global mass media corporations like Cable News Network (CNN) possess enormous “soft power.” With bureaus in over thirty countries, its 24-hour news coverage is available to 1.5 billion people all over the world. Structural Violence Physical and/or psychological harm (including repression, environmental destruction, poverty, hunger, illness, and premature death) caused by impersonal, exploitative, and unjust social, political, and economic systems. Overpopulation In 1750, 1 billion people lived on earth. Over the next two centuries our numbers climbed to nearly 2.5 billion. Between 1950 and 2000 the world population soared above 6 billion. Today, India and China have more than 1 billion inhabitants each. Population projections suggest that global population will peak around 2050 at about 9.37 billion people. Pollution and Over Population A direct threat to humanity. Western societies have protected their environment only when a crisis warranted. Many of the world’s developing countries have policies for population growth that conflict with other policies. Even with replacement reproduction, the population would continue to grow for 50 years. Replacement Reproduction When birth rates and death rates are in equilibrium. People produce only enough offspring to replace themselves when they die. Hunger Hunger is caused not only by drought and pests, but also by violent ethnic, religious, or political conflicts that uproot families and by global food production and a distribution system geared to the needs and demands of the world’s most powerful countries. Global pollution Air pollution is potentially one of the most dangerous human modifications in environmental systems. Pollutants such as various oxides of nitrogen or sulfur cause the development of acid precipitation, which damages soil, vegetation, and wildlife. Most atmospheric scientists believe that the greenhouse effect is being enhanced by increased carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases produced by industrial and agricultural activities. Global Pollution The Culture of Discontent For the past several decades, the world’s poor countries have have been sold on the idea they should and actually can enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of the rich countries. The resources necessary to maintain such a luxurious standard of living are limited. This growing gap between expectations and realizations has led to the creation of a culture of discontent. Global Energy Consumption Global Energy Consumption Most of the world’s highest energy consumers are in North America and western Europe where at least 100 gigajoules of commercial energy per year are consumed by each person. In the United States and Canada, the consumption rates are in the 300 gigajoule range. The consumption rate for low-income countries is often less than 1% of those in the United States. Globalization These Nambikwara children in southern Brazil are among the world’s 300 million indigenous people to whom this book is dedicated. With globalization reaching the most remote corners of the world, these Amazonian Indians are severely threatened, as are other small indigenous nations and ethnic minority groups. Globalization During the past five centuries, millions of indigenous peoples have perished due to foreign diseases, habitat destruction, warfare, and genocide. Some 4,000 languages have disappeared due to acculturation, assimilation, or the physical extinction of their speakers. 6,000 languages remain, along with a still vast array of distinct peoples with unique cultures.