Oxford Biocultural Anthropology Bibliography

Biocultural Nature CultureOxford Bibliographies has just published my entry Biocultural Anthropology into their excellent series on Anthropology.

The bibliographies are expert guides to the literature, with introductions to each section of the bibliography as well as short summaries of each citation. Biocultural Anthropology opens:

Biocultural anthropology exists at the intersection of cultural and biological approaches. Given how concepts, methods, and institutions have changed with regard to “biology” and “culture” since the early 1900s, the biocultural intersection has proven a dynamic space. It is also a contested space, where claims about human nature and culture and about science and ethnography have often come into stark contrast.

It contains 180+ citations that cover a broad spectrum of biocultural anthropology, from introductory pieces and overviews to the foundations of biocultural anthropology, divisions and controversies, methods, applied approaches, and two relevant examples drawing on my own expertise in neuroanthropology and addiction.

One thing I aimed to do with the bibliography was provide historical coverage of biocultural approaches in anthropology in relation to the field’s holistic tradition. I was inspired here by George Armelagos, both by his recent publications and conversations we had while I worked on the bibliography.

Another goal I had was to pick out good orienting texts for people coming from different sides of the biology/culture divide in anthropology. Here Kate Clancy provided some key inspiration:

We also need to identify the essential reading for biocultural anthropology. What is the canon? What do biological anthropologists need to read to become conversant in cultural anthro? What do cultural anthropologists need to read to become conversant in bio anthro? I can probably identify most of the biological readings, but certainly not the cultural, and hope my readers do.

Certainly I don’t think I’ve laid out “the canon.” But I did try my best to provide readings that will help people interested in biocultural approaches become conversant with core biological and cultural approaches.

I also didn’t shy away from controversies, because I believe it’s important to recognize the tensions – both intellectual and political – that fracture attempts at synthesis within anthropology. As the recent flare-up around Napoleon Chagnon and his book Noble Savages shows, such tensions remain a vibrant part of this middle ground in anthropology.

It’s safe to say that the selections represent my own take on biocultural approaches, and that has a lot to do with my graduate training at Emory University, my subsequent work at Notre Dame, and my present job at the University of South Florida. All three places have their own integrative approaches, and I hope I’ve at least been able to bring to the table some of what each place has offered me.

I know there are readings I left out, and more that I missed (including one I just found this morning!). The Oxford Bibliographies can be updated, so feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if there is some key article, book, or chapter that might help improve the overall entry.

The entire Oxford Anthropology Bibliography is edited by John Jackson Jr.. It’s getting close to 90 entries already, so it is a robust resource. However, it’s closed-access, so you need an institutional subscription to access the full bibliography.

Still, each entry does include have a substantive taste online. And if you want to read something more, consider going back to Kate’s post I Can Out-Interdiscipline You: Anthropology and the Biocultural Approach, the one I wrote On Biocultural Anthropology, and the Anthropology Report round-up Interdisciplinary Anthropology and Biocultural Approaches.

Link to the Biocultural Anthropology bibliography.

Photocredit: “Biocultural Diversity” at Natural Justice; original found here.

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