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
 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
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
World Migrations
 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
 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.
 An policy of mutual respect and tolerance for cultural
 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
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
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.
 In 1750, 1 billion people lived on earth.
 Over the next two centuries our numbers climbed to nearly 2.5
 Between 1950 and 2000 the world population soared above 6
 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 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.
 These Nambikwara children in
southern Brazil are among the
world’s 300 million indigenous
people to whom this book is
 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.
 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.

Chapter 27, Anthropology and the Future