Management Science and Engineering
Vol.3 No.4 2009
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Anthropology and the Changing World:
How Can Anthropologists Serve Humanity?
H.M. Ashraf Ali
My principal objective in this paper is to delineate how anthropologists can
understand and help solve human problems emerging from the global change. In this
paper I will focus on three major anthropological domains. Firstly, following a brief
overview on epistemology and foundations of anthropological knowledge (i.e.
scientific methodological tradition), I will discuss contemporary human problems
emerging from global change and assess how sociocultural anthropology can
contribute to understandings of gender and health issues in development. Secondly, I
will assess emerging development problems in Bangladesh with a critical
anthropological lens, considering how anthropological viewpoints can contribute to
solving these problems. In other words, I will contextualize how anthropological
knowledge generated from socially-grounded methodological traditions can be
applied to solve the problems of the contemporary humankind.
changing foci within academic anthropological discussions, I will examine the
prospects of anthropology as an agent in both understanding and serving humanity.
Applied anthropology; development; cultural relativism; changing
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, 13-15 HM Tory Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB,
T6G 2H4, Canada.
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Assistant Professor (On Study Leave), Department of Anthropology. University of Chittagong. Chittagong,
* Received 5 October 2009; accepted 12 November 2009
Change is perhaps the most common aspect of human life experienced in every society of today’s world.
There may be differences in context, pattern, speed, scale, or extent of changes, but peoples across the
globe more or less seem to share experiences of social, cultural and economic alteration in their everyday
lives. Globalization, through the spread of the free market economy, the revolution of information and
communication technologies (e.g., the spread of the Internet, media and entertainment technologies)
rapid urbanization, the spread of consumer culture, and transnational migrations, have interconnected
the world economically, culturally and politically. Even remote communities have been influenced by