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Pursuits of Happiness
Well-Being in Anthropological Perspective
Edited by Gordon Mathews and Carolina Izquierdo
290 pages, 6 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-84545-448-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2008)
ISBN 978-1-84545-708-2 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (November 2009)
eISBN 978-1-84545-877-5 eBook
“The chapters …are very clearly written…and provide a wealth of materials illuminating diverse understandings of bodily, interpersonal, and existential dimensions of well-being, and how these are fostered and threatened in particular social-cultural settings and in relation to national institutions and global forces.” · Journal of Anthropological Research
Anthropology has long shied away from examining how human beings may lead happy and fulfilling lives. This book, however, shows that the ethnographic examination of well-being—defined as “the optimal state for an individual, a community, and a society”—and the comparison of well-being within and across societies is a new and important area for anthropological inquiry. Distinctly different in different places, but also reflecting our common humanity, well-being is intimately linked to the idea of happiness and its pursuits. Noted anthropological researchers have come together in this volume to examine well-being in a range of diverse ways and to investigate it in a range of settings: from the Peruvian Amazon, the Australian outback, and the Canadian north, to India, China, Indonesia, Japan, and the United States.
Gordon Mathews is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has written What Makes Life Worth Living? How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds (1996) and Global Culture /Individual Identity: Searching for Home in the Cultural Supermarket (2000), and co-written Hong Kong, China: Learning to Belong to a Nation (2007); he has co-edited Consuming Hong Kong (2001) and Japan’s Changing Generations (2004).
Carolina Izquierdo is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for the Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research has centered on health and well-being among the Matsigenka in the Peruvian Amazon, the Mapuche in Chile, and middle-class families in the United States.
Subject: Medical Anthropology Sociology
Introduction: Anthropology, Happiness, and Well-Being
Gordon Mathews and Carolina Izquierdo
PART I: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
Chapter 1. Why Anthropology Can Ill Afford to Ignore Well-Being
Chapter 2. Is a Measure of Cultural Well-Being Possible or Desirable?
Benjamin Nick Colby
PART II: WELL-BEING IN SMALL-SCALE SOCIETIES
Chapter 3. Well-Being Among the Matsigenka of the Peruvian Amazon: Health, Missions, Oil, and “Progress”
Chapter 4. Embodied Selves and Social Selves: Aboriginal Well-Being in Rural New South Wales, Australia
Chapter 5. The Shifting Landscape of Cree Well-Being
PART III: WELL-BEING, CULTURE AND THE STATE
Chapter 6. Well-Being: Lessons from India
Chapter 7. Well-Being, Cultural Pathology, and Personal Rejuvenation in a Chinese City, 1981- 2005
Chapter 8. Finding and Keeping a Purpose in Life: Well-Being and Ikigai in Japan and Elsewhere
PART IV: NEW ANTHROPOLOGICAL DIRECTIONS
Chapter 9. Pleasure Experienced: Well-Being and the Japanese Bath
Chapter 10. Selfscapes of Well-Being in a Rural Indonesian Village
Chapter 11. Well-Being and Sustainability of Daily Routines: Families with Children with Disabilities in the United States
Thomas S. Weisner
Conclusion: Towards an Anthropology of Well-Being
Gordon Mathewsand Carolina Izquierdo
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