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Universal Biology, Local Society? Notes from Anthropology

  • Patrick Bieler
  • Jörg Niewöhner

Abstract

We outline four perspectives on the body that have emerged from ethnographic research on (bio)medicine. We describe these with particular attention to the way they relate ‘nature’ and ‘culture.’ All four approaches engage the human body through ‘culture’ as meaning or practice. The material body is either implicitly treated as universal or particularized through discourse, experience or practice. Trying to stake out a middle ground between material universality and cultural particularity, we discuss the potential within these approaches for an anthropological engagement with the evolution of human bodies over time. In concluding, we use the case of the entanglement of mental illness and urban environments to underscore four modes of engaging the situated body-in-action through long-term, co-laborative ethnographic research.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Bieler
    • 1
  • Jörg Niewöhner
    • 1
  1. 1.Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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