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Anthropology and Environmental Policy: What Counts

As mentioned in our April 25th blog post in honor of  World Malaria Day, AAA recognized this important day with a special virtual issue of Medical Anthropology Quarterly. This special edition re-released articles which demonstrate ways that ethnography and human behavior studies help to change care management and public health policy.

Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO calculates that every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. By joining the global movement to roll back these staggering statics on malaria, anthropologists serve as catalyst around the world to research the medical and cultural impacts of this disease and share their findings to help count malaria out.

Over the coming weeks, each article will be featured here on the AAA blog. Here is the third of seven highlighted articles:

Anthropology and Environmental Policy: What Counts
Susan Charnley and William H. Durham
American Anthropologist, September 2010

In this article, we call for enhanced quantitative and environmental analysis in the work of environmental anthropologists who wish to influence policy. Using a database of 77 leading monographs published between 1967 and 2006, 147 articles by the same authors, and a separate sample of 137 articles from the journal Human Organization, we document a sharp decline over the last ten years in the collection and use of quantitative and environmental data within environmental anthropology. These declines come at the same time that environmental anthropologists are aiming at greater policy relevance. We use the case of the Polonoroeste Project in the Brazilian Amazon and its impact on World Bank policy as a concrete example of the advantages of fortifying the quantitative and environmental side of our work. We conclude by discussing ways to strengthen environmental anthropology to further enhance its policy relevance and impact.

To read entire article, click here.


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