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Global Studies Research Guide

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Topics in Cultures in Contact

"When anthropologists habitually thought of the world as divided into neat, discrete ‘cultures’, ‘societies’ or ‘tribes’, migration presented, if nothing else, something of an embarrassment. As such, it became a marginal topic, often confined to the theoretical dustbin of ‘social change’ or ‘applied anthropology’. When, in the relentlessly postmodern 1980s, it became de rigueur to challenge earlier assumptions about a world of bounded, internally homogeneous cultures, migration suddenly emerged into the limelight of full theoretical fashion. Now spoken of in terms of ‘transnational’ processes and ‘diaspora’ communities, migration became crucial to arguments about identity and hybridity.... Such work is in fact merely the continuation of the trend of the anthropology of migration challenging accepted notions of society and even of change. Though often viewed as peripheral in the past, the anthropological study of migration has now finally been acknowledged as a valuable source of innovation."


Watkins, Francis. "migration." In Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, edited by Alan Barnard, and Jonathan Spencer. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2009.

"An illicitly traded archaeological artifact (illicit antiquity) is one that has at sometime been traded in contravention of national or international legal regulations. Typically, it will have been removed illegally from an archaeological site or monument, and/or exported illegally from its country of origin. Possibly, it will have been stolen from a museum or other cultural institution, or from a private owner. The act of removal is normally unrecorded and probably destructive. Illicit antiquities are often sold by reputable vendors without any public indication of ownership history (provenance).....Over the last 20 years between 65% and 90% of antiquities offered for sale on the market have had no clear published provenance, which suggests that a large, perhaps major, part of the market is comprised of illicit antiquities....The damage caused by the looting of archaeological sites is not just a matter of scholarly concern. There can be serious social and economic consequences. For some communities and states, archaeological objects can function symbolically as material constituents of cultural identity, or they might be imbued with a spiritual significance. Their expropriation can help to weaken group identity and cohesion"

Brodie, Neil. "Illicit Antiquities." In Encyclopedia of Archaeology, edited by Deborah M. Pearsall. Elsevier Science & Technology, 2008.


"Cultural genocide, or ethnocide, is the attempted destruction of a group's culture, religion, and identity. It can take the form of forced religious conversion, the destruction of cultural objects, libraries, museums, and sacred sites, the banning of languages, the prohibition or restriction of cultural events, and the forced relocation of communities from their homelands and traditional livelihoods. It is an act predicated upon the assumption that the target group's culture is inferior to that of the perpetrator, and is a threat to either the perpetrator or the group's own individual members. Cultural genocide can therefore be executed for perceived humanitarian as well as selfish reasons. Irrespective of motivation it is a coercive act, and is imposed upon a weakened community by a dominant power. It does not signify the gradual evolution of a culture over time, nor does it refer to the processes of cultural adaptation made willingly by a community through contact with other cultures. Historically, cultural genocide has been associated with colonial and settler-colonial ventures, notably Spanish imperialist rule in South and Central America, and the policies imposed upon indigenous communities in North America and Australia."

Treglia, Gabriella. "Cultural genocide." In Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by John Mackenzie. Wiley, 2016.


"In an armed conflict or disaster situation, culture is particularly at risk, owing to its inherent vulnerability and tremendous symbolic value. At the same time, culture is as a driver of recovery, strengthening the resilience of a community..... in times of civil strife and warfare, as well as in the wake of disasters caused by natural or human-made hazards."

UNESCO "Cultures in Emergencies" 2021.