Biocultural And Cross-Cultural Analysis

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Health is determined by several factors, some of these including genetic inheritance, personal behaviors, access to quality healthcare, and our general external environment. In a growing variety of research, we have documented associations between social and cultural factors and health. Many Anthropologist measure these factors using two forms of analysis. Biocultural and cross-cultural. The biocultural approach: defined as, “Perspective that considers the social, ecological, and biological aspects of health and how they interact within and across populations” (Wiley & Allen p. 9). While a cross-cultural approach compares “sociocultural situation to illuminate the underlying causes of variation or similarity.” (Wiley &Allen, p. 5). The purpose…show more content…
A culture is, “Patterns or behaviors that are common to a group,” (Wiley &Allen p. 7). Western industrialized societies such as the United States, see disease as a result of natural scientific phenomena, promote medical treatments that battle microorganisms or use complex technology to diagnose and treat these diseases. Other societies believe that illness is because of spiritual interventions that counter the disfavor of powerful forces. These thought differences are what separates cultures, and the reason behind the lack of ability to achieve health. An example of these types of “spiritual intervention method” is the world practice of the indigenous healing systems. “Although the practice of healing may appear different across cultures, healing traditions have elements in common and all have theories of etiology, diagnostic criteria, and therapeutic measures formalizing the interactions between patients and healer,” (Wiley &Allen, pg.31). In these small-scale societies, these healing traditions are cultural products that produce models of health that can be explained. The openness to these forms of medicine suggests that beliefs are related to the behavior of health and are aspects of culture that “make sense” to the given group. In comparison to the Western civilizations such as the United States, the biomedical approach…show more content…
For example, the practice of cannibalism in a tribe in Papua New Guinea led to the spread of a fatal brain disease within this tribe. The tribe known as the Fore people used to conduct a funeral ritual that involved consuming the human brain. As a result of this, tribe members began to develop Kuru; a neurological disorder caused by infectious prions, which are proteins that fold abnormally and from lesions on the brain. (CDC). This started an epidemic of Kuru among the Fore people, which at its peak killed up to 2% of the tribe each year (LiveScience). Although, the tribe stopped practicing this funeral cannibalism in the late 1950's which led to the decline of Kuru. Due to the latent disease symptoms, it took many years for the disease to show up, causing cases to show up for decades after the stop of this ritual. In recent research, it was discovered that some of the tribe members who survived the Kuru carry a genetic mutation called the VI27, whereas those who developed the disease did not have this mutation. (Live Science). According to this very research, they note that the practice of cannibalism did not directly lead to the development of resistance of the Kuru. Instead, this mutation was likely present in the population before the Kuru epidemic, but it became much more common when it provided
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