The Methods and Uses of Anthropological Demography

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1998-12-03
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press

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This volume takes stock of the current status of the comparatively new discipline of 'Anthropological Demography', and discusses its major methods, its main strengths, and its chief limitations. It includes contributions from both mainstream demographers and foremost anthropologists, allstressing the necessity of a shared agenda for each discipline to progress successfully and avoid marginalization. While the unique research and personal satisfaction afforded by 'participant observation' is described, the book also highlights the potential contribution to the understanding of demographic events of much more than the field methods of traditional anthropology. In particular, it stresses theinsights possible from qualitative focus group interviews, from longitudinal studies and from a greater interest in 'armchair' anthropology, in which demographers complement their quantitative findings with qualitative information and understanding gleaned from a careful reading of theanthropological literature, in the form of both ethnographies and anthropological theories. In addition, it stresses the larger world of the ideal anthropological demographer: a world that includes the cultural context of course, but also takes into account the historical and political forces thatcondition so much individual behaviour. But the book is also a critical venture. It includes therefore considerable discussion of the common limits of the purely anthropological approach for understanding demographic events and processes, especially from a larger policy perspective, at the same time as it emphasizes the crucial role ofthe anthropological approach to designing policy that is potentially effective as well as socially and culturally sensitive. It reiterates the often complementary role of anthropological demography and also discusses some specific questions in demographic research which it does not as yet seem tohave the capacity to illuminate. The book is aimed primarily at demographers wishing to broaden their research agenda and deepen their understanding of demographic behaviour, but it also hopes to convert mainstream anthropologists to take a more active interest in demographic issues. Both disciplines, after all, have a commonintense interest in the kind of life and death issues that they can fruitfully explore together or by using one another's research methods.

Author Biography

Alaka Basu is Senior Research Associate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. She has previously held positions at the University of Bombay; The Population Foundation of India; the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi; and the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi.
Peter Aaby is Research Professor in Health Conditions in Developing Countries in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen. He also works as Senior Researcher and Project leader of the Community Studies of Infectious Diseases and Primary Health Care in Guinea-Bisseau.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Approaches to Anthropological Demography
Methodological Advances in Studying the Social Context of AIDS in Africa
Participant Observation in Demographic Research: Fieldwork Experiences in a Ghanaian Community
Using Qualitative Data for Understanding Old-Age Security and Fertility
Anthropological Insights into the Links between Women's Status and Demographic Behaviour, Illustrated with the Notions of Hypergamy and Territorial Exogamy
Kinship Structures, Marriage Systems, and Reproductive Behaviour: The Use of Anthropology and Demography in a Brazilian Case Study
Education, Fertility, and Child Survival: Unravelling the Links
A Rereading of Historical Material: An Alternative Account of the Position of Women in Ancient India
Political Economy and Cultural Processes in the Fertility Decline of Sicilian Artisans
Anthropological Perspectives on Migration in Africa
Are Men Weaker or Do their Sisters Talk Too Much? Sex Differences in Childhood Mortality and the Construction of `Biological' Differences
Cultural Models and Demographic Behaviour
Social Norms, Natural Fertility, and the Resumption of Postpartum `Contact' in The Gambia
The Limits of Diffusionism
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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