Shifting Local Ecologies: Biocultural Interactions and Ecuadorian Public Health

Bradford, Sabrina (2013) Shifting Local Ecologies: Biocultural Interactions and Ecuadorian Public Health. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Kate Centellas from Anthropology, University of Mississippi.


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Though biology is considered universal, this thesis argues against the assumption of the universal applications of biomedicine in favor of a biocultural approach, emphasizing shifting local ecologies in an increasingly globalized world. This research investigated Ecuadorian health within an ecological context in coordination with an international public health internship that was completed through the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the Ecuadorian Ministerio de Salud Pública. Throughout this thesis, examples are provided demonstrating that globalization, though appearing as a homogenous process on the international level, creates heterogeneous effects on the local scale. To explain the mechanisms and implications of these heterogeneous effects, I conceptualize health relativities and local ecologies. The term health relativities I define as the different cultural norms for defining health and illness. Local ecologies I conceptualize as a community level contextualization of biocultural interactions. The choice of Ecuador as a research location provided the opportunity to observe different health relativities in relation to local ecologies. In other words, the differing local ecologies produced certain health relativities. Ecuador’s high ethnic diversity also provided examples of how different groups may be impacted in relation to shifting local ecologies. Global processes today, ranging from the globalization of Western dietary practices to foreign-driven resource extraction and global climate disruption, require an in-depth understanding of how biocultural interactions occur on a local level within the context of the global processes. It is only through thick description that many variables may be extracted that would otherwise be ignored by statistical analysis. In addition, the evidence presented by this thesis demonstrates the inadequacy of a global solution to global problems. Though global processes may be the catalyst, differing local ecologies create the necessity for contextually based solutions.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Bradford, Sabrina
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in Anthropology
Thesis Advisor: Kate Centellas
Thesis Advisor's Department: Anthropology
Institution: University of Mississippi
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RV Botanic, Thomsonian, and eclectic medicine
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Depositing User: Sabrina Bradford
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2015 19:30
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2015 20:13

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