Online Journal of Anthropology

Volume 17, Number 1, 2021

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 Leshoma, the visionary plant of southern Africa


The bulbaceous plant Boophone disticha – known mainly by the term leshoma given by the Sotho ethnic group – is characterized by powerful hallucinogenic properties and is used as initiatory and divinatory plant among many southern African ethynes. Once known as the main compound of San arrow poisons, its psychoactive properties have been recognized by Western scholars only in the last 50 years, since its ritual use was and follow to be strictly kept secret. Through the analysis of the few ancient and modern ethnographic observations that have been able to bypass the wall of secrecy that envelop the use of this plant, the Sotho male initiation rite (lebollô la banna) and the use of the plant as divinatory “bioscope ” among the South African sangoma (healers) are described. As evidenced by archaeological findings, man’s relationship with this plant has lasted for at least 2000 years.

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Essere Cacciatori. Analisi del significato della pratica venatoria e della relazione ambientale tra i cacciatori del Piemonte meridionale

This article explores contemporary hunting in Italy and the meanings associated with this practice among hunters in southern Piedmont. Based on case-study research, the article analyzes the value system of the hunters and highlights competition between different ways of understanding the hunting practice. The hunter is understood at the same time as a user of the environment and its keeper. Considering the current debate and legal framework concerning hunting this article suggests a possible path may be identified for the re-interpretation and revival of the hunting practice in the contemporary context.

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Sesso, gender ed etnia: la razzializzazione della società postmoderna ovvero come cancellare le donne

Platform capitalism in its own way adopts tools used at the end of the last century by powerless people to make their critical voices heard by means of boycotting as well as alternative cultural proposals, and turns gender issues into ethnic ones. It destroys class solidarity (typical of manufacturing capitalism) by transforming people into social users where ‘one is worth one’ and the important ‘commodity’ they produce are personal data. It also creates communities essentialized as ethnic groups: i.e. the queer and the transgender communities, who are no longer individuals with a sexual preference, but groups that claim rights and protections superior to and different from those of others. We propose here to demonstrate how the process of ethnicization in the Anglo-Saxon countries, and in particular in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, is spreading to other advanced countries by the way of the culture of the politically correct and is ethnicizing them through the cancel culture. In the LGBT+ area this ethnicization has extended to reach a legal and linguistic occupation of territories that tends to the cancellation of (biological) women not only from the public sphere but, in perspective, even physically.
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Reflections of resilience

In these COVID-19 agitated times the term resilience has gained widespread resonance in scientific texts and in the media. This widely used analogy in the psychological lexicon was borrowed from metallurgy (a metallic beam under stress returns to normal in a short period of time when the stressor is removed). It reflects, in hindsight, a conception of the world based on competition. But, as cooperation is another powerful force driving human evolution, it must be reconsidered and improved. Using this frame, the resilience concept is narrow and functional, so it should be more critically used, especially in the psychological domain.
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Mouriddiyya, lan la? Esquisse sullo sviluppo di un transnazionalismo del lavoro fra Senegal e Italia

Muridiyya is one of the most important and powerful Sufi brotherhood in Senegal and has internationally taken the shape of a widespread transnational labour association. Indeed, work plays a strategic role within Mouride contexts, in which marabouts (the spiritual guides) and disciples are interdependent. This article develops a brief historical analysis of this Islamic brotherhood through three sections. The first, in which the author traces the origin and organisation of Muridiyya in Senegal. The second section analyses the first, structural change of the brotherhood from a rural to an urban reality, highlighting differences and similarities with its previous organization. In the last part, the author looks at how the brotherhood, in its transnational development, has been structured and adapted to the Italian context.

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The Second Half of Leonia. Waste, Morality, Power and Reputation in a highland alpine valley

This paper is the outcome of three weeks of fieldwork in an alpine highland valley, conducted within the framework of the master’s degree in social and cultural anthropology at the University of Vienna. Adopting a political ecology perspective grounded in the notions of waste regime (Gille 2007) and mass waste (Reno 2014) the paper analyses the disposal system of the valley focussing on two groups of workers that were primarily engaged with waste: dustmen and municipality workers. The findings show how morality, surveillance and reputation were features that both groups had to deal with, despite occasionally adopting different strategies with different outcomes, that also shaped the disposal system and waste conceptualisation within the valley. In the conclusion it is eventually proposed to reformulate Gille’s notion of waste regime, especially considering not only how waste is perceived but also how it is enacted and to extend the political aspect of garbage to encompass all dimensions of everyday life.

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Anthropology of Bhagavad Gītā: Death, Rebirth and Liberation

Vedānta philosophy is popular for its discussions on ideal action, ethics and self-realisation. Like life on earth, Vedānta gives importance to death and the transmigration of the soul. The much sought after text by aspirants of Vedānta, the Bhagavad Gītā encapsulates all these concepts. The problems that warrior Arjuna poses in Bhagavad Gītā represents the experiences that any individual may face in this world. Solution provided by Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna’s queries are suitable for people of various walks of life. Vedānta puts forward Self-realisation or liberation as the chief goal of human life. Albeit undergoing spiritual practise and understanding Vedāntic scriptures, aspirants may not achieve liberation. They pass through the inevitable cycle of death and rebirth. This article discusses the Vedāntic perspective of death, rebirth and liberation in the light of Bhagavad Gītā. Bhagavad Gītā discusses about the path traversed by a transmigrating soul. It proposes methods for individuals to purify oneself and attain a better birth that takes one closer to liberation. Finally, using Karma-yoga and Bhakti-yoga one can transcend various limitations and attain liberation.

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Assessment of functional disability among a group of slum-dwelling elderly women in Kolkata, West Bengal

The world population has been greying rapidly over the decades that increases the proportion of individuals with deteriorating functional health. It poses greater old-age dependency; and affect quality of life and overall well-being of elderly people. With this backdrop, the present study attempts to understand the burden of aging and associated risk factors on slum-dwelling elderly women of Kolkata. This study included a total of 511 women of age 60 years and above living in slum areas under Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Self-designed schedules were used to obtain the information regarding socio-economic condition, physical activity level and social engagement. Bengali version of General Health Questionnaire-28 was canvassed to evaluate level of psychological distress. Katz and Lawton Activities of Daily Living scales were used to assess functional disabilities in study population.  Results depicts that the prevalence of both basic and instrumental functional disability was higher among the study population, 60.7 and 60.7%, respectively. The prevalence remains high among the elders of age above 80 years. The other potential risk factors related to functional limitations are non-involvement in gainful works, lower level of daily activities and distressed psychological health. The risk of disabilities increases several times due to the combined effect of working status and daily activities for bADL, and psychological health status and age for iADL. Therefore, the study suggests that involvement in daily works and psychological health status helps to mitigate deteriorating functional capabilities in old age.

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Reproductive behavior among the Tani tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, India

Controlling Fertility is important to check the growth of the population. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the reproductive behavior and factors associated with it to control fertility. The present study aims to understand the reproductive behavior among four major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh – Nyishi, Adi, Galo, and Apatani collectively known as Tani Tribes. Reproductive profiles of 1560 ever-married women were interviewed using pretested schedule from different parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The study validates some of the social and biological determinants of fertility among Nyishi, Adi, Galo, and Apatani. The study also reveals the practice of polygamy in all the study populations.

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Sexual dimorphism of Socio-economic status, Nutritional status and hypertension among the Oraon tribe of Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal, India

The nutritional status and socio-economic profile of tribal people is an important issue in India due to their marginalization from main stream population with respect to various facilities. This paper deals with the assessment of socio-economic status and health status among adult males and females of Oraon tribes. A community based cross sectional study was conducted among Oraon tribal people (N=100) from Oraon Para of Tantigeria, Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal, India. The overall prevalence of under nutrition (BMI < 18.5) was very high (56%). The prevalence was significantly higher in male than the female (72.0% vs. 40.0%; p <0.001). Sex wise mean differences was found in all anthropometric indicators (p= <0.001 & P= <0.01) except weight. The mean SBP, DBP and MAP increased with increasing BMI level. BMI category wise differences found between SBP, DBP& MAP among male and female (p=<0.001). Pearson correlation coefficient shows that very high significant association between all anthropometric and physiological variables (p= <0.01) except height wise SBP, DBP & MAP. This population was facing severe nutritional stress.

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Knowledge And Practice Of Family Planning: A Study Among Two Less Known Tribes Singphos And Wanchos Of Arunachal Pradesh, India

Family planning plays a pivotal role in population control, poverty reduction and human development. There is a great need and necessity for family planning, particularly among the developing countries like India because of the massive population explosion. This paper reports the knowledge and practice of family planning in the two tribal communities of Arunachal Pradesh viz. Singphos and Wanchos. Data were collected using a pretested structured questionnaire containing questions on reproductive history, knowledge and use of contraceptives.  It is found that only 76.2% Singpho women have the knowledge of family planning which is higher than that of the Wanchos (50.6%). Interestingly, no male Wanchos are found to go for sterilization. Like the Singphos, quite a good number of the Wancho women use oral pill and condom up to 35-39 years. IUCD is used by them in 25-29 years to 35-39 years. A good 92.8% Singpho women of the age of 50 years and above have their knowledge of family planning. The number of users is found to increase with the increase of age. The practice of family planning measures is found to be more popular among the Singphos than the Wanchos. Lack of knowledge regarding family planning is the ultimate reason for its less practice.

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Indigenous Form of Terrace Cultivation among the Mao Nagas

The interesting question of mankind is the ascertainment of the place which man occupies on earth. In order to survive, man has to co-exist with nature and culture. They depend on nature for everything from food to shelter. However, nature does not in itself specify how resources are to be exploited or to what degree of intensity, that is for man to decide. Thus, the interaction with nature by man has varied depending upon their adaptation potentiality and the availability of resources. This paper deals with the indigenous form of terrace cultivation by the Mao Nagas as the important means of adaptation for their livelihood. The paper also highlights how the indigenous form of terrace cultivation is tied to their socio-cultural life apart from providing food requirement for their living. Data for this study are collected through anthropological techniques like participant observation, interview, focused group discussion and case studies.

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Anthropometric characteristics of rural Bengali adolescent girls from North Bengal, India

Adolescence is the developmental period through which children grow into adults. Adolescents are the future generations of any country and their physical growth and nutritional needs are important for overall development of a society. The present cross-sectional investigation was undertaken to determine anthropometric characteristics of rural Bengali adolescent girls residing in North Bengal, India. The present investigation has observed that the adolescent girls exhibited low rates of physical growth when compared with the standard growth reference population but higher than those reported for other rural adolescent girls from India.

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Assessment of the Nutritional Status among the School-going Children aged 6-8 Years from Port Blair, South Andaman, India: A Cross-sectional Study

Regular nutritional monitoring is imperative specifically among the children for formulating more effective nutritional policies at the national level. Keeping this view, the present cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine the nutritional status by using four commonly used anthropometric indicators: stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age), and thinness (using body mass index-BMI) among 200 children between 6-8 years of age from Port Blair, South Andaman district of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In conclusion, it can be said that the overall health condition of these children was better in comparison to other studies from India in recent years. Though the sample size is small but similar kinds of studies from other islands with more sample sizes are required for better understanding, evaluation, and implementation of more effective nutritional programs.

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Neck circumference as an alternative measure of central obesity among pre-hypertensive adults

There is a dearth of cut-offs of neck circumference (NC) to define central obesity among pre-hypertensive adults. Primary aim is to find the association of NC and waist circumference (WC) among pre-hypertensive adults and to find optimal cut-offs of NC to predict central obesity among pre-hypertensive adults. The present cross-sectional study was conducted among 666 adults (aged 20-49 years) belonging to the Bengalee Hindu Caste Population and residing in West Bengal. Height, weight, WC, NC and blood pressure were measured. Linear regression analysis was performed to find the association of NC and WC. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to yield optimal cut-offs of NC for predicting central obesity among pre-hypertensive adults. NC and WC showed a strong correlation among both pre-hypertensive adult males (r=0.732) and females (r=0.748). The optimal cut-offs of NC to define central obesity among the subjects were ≥37.1 cm for males and ≥33.8 cm for females. The area under curve (AUC) was .755 for males and .779 for females. NC can be used as an alternate anthropometric measure to define central obesity among pre-hypertensive adults

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Double Burden of Malnutrition in the Same Households

The coexistence of dual form of malnutrition in terms of mother over-nutrition and child undernutrition might be a major public health issue in developing countries like India due to rapid nutritional transition and life style change. This study was conducted in order to assess the prevalence of dual form of malnutrition of mother-child pairs in the same household among the Bengali slum dwellers in West Bengal, India. Altogether 130 households were identified by considering specific inclusion and exclusion criteria and random sampling. Socio-economic data was collected by using pre-tested questionnaire. The prevalence of overweight mother and stunted child pairs (OM/SC) was 12.31%, whereas the prevalence of normal weight mother and normal weight child pairs (NM/NC) was 25.38%. Socio-economically, normal weight mothers were higher percentage of literacy compare to overweight mothers but most of them were housewives and low household monthly income families. In contrary, over weight mother had higher household monthly income and expenditure although their literacy rate was low and they mostly engaged as housemaid. To understand the patterns and associations of double burden of malnutrition within the same household further investigations with large sample size along with dietary pattern and physical activity level are necessary.

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Impact of Dam-Induced Displacement and Resettlement: A Case Study of Indira Sagar Project Polavaram

Involuntary displacement from one’s land and habitat carries with it the risk of the migrant becoming poorer than before displacement, since a significant number of migrants do not receive adequate compensation for loss of their assets nor effective assistance to re-establish them and make them productive. Unless the local government puts special attention to proper rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced families, especially tribes, they will continue to be victims of such programs and be drawn into pathetic situations. In this backdrop, the present study has made an attempt to find out the impact of involuntary displacement and rehabilitation of Indira Sagar Project on the tribal community in the State of Andhra Pradesh. An ethnographic method has been adopted to carry out this study. The fieldwork of research was conducted in December 2015. To collect primary data anthropological tools and techniques were used to study the various aspects of displacement, and rehabilitation. Secondary data has been collected from books, articles, reports and available literature. The study finds that the impact of dam-induced displacement and resettlement brought change among the families resettled in the rehabilitation colony.

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Borderland: a Peril of Cultural Identities

The creation of a political border has led to the surfacing of many socio-cultural activities in all the borderlands across the globe, igniting the interest of social scientists worldwide. Borderland studies more than often accentuates the history of how the political border came into being and its impact on the ethnic identity (articulations, ambiguities, and contradictions of identity) of the people residing in the borderland (Berdahl, 1999). The present borderland under study has witnessed a parallel upshot of the political border on the identity of the people residing in the borderland between West Kameng (Arunachal) and Bhutan. The identity of the Monpas* from West Kameng and Sharchops from the Eastern Bhutan has been jeopardized time and again. This paper is an attempt to understand the “Plurality of self” from the periphery of Arunachal-Bhutan Borderland from an emic perspective.

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Is mother’s employment making a negative impact on the obesity level of their daughters?

The present study aims to study the nutrition of the pre-adolescent urban girls from 6-10 years of age of Guwahati city in relation to some social factors like parental education, parental occupation, family income, food habit and family type. A total sample of 222 girls were collected cross-sectionally and measured for their stature and body weight. The sample consists of girls of different communities like Assamese, Bengali, Marwari, Punjabi and Bihari. All are from the elite private schools in the city. The IOTF (International obesity task force) cut-off for BMI were used. The prevalence of underweight percentage is 19.63% among the girls whose mothers are home workers and 21.05% among the girls whose mothers are service holder. The prevalence of normal percentage is 58.90% among the girls whose mothers are home makers and 39.47% among the service holder mothers. The present study goes in conformity where the obesity percentage is 15.79% among the girls whose mothers are service holders and 3.68% among the girls whose mothers are home makers. Same is in the prevalence of overweight percentages which is 23.68% among with the service holder mothers and it is 17.79% among the girls with home maker mothers. This is statistically significant at 5% level. Mother’s occupation has been found to be having a significant effect on their daughter’s nutritional status as the percentages of obese girls are significantly higher among the employed mothers than the home makers. All the other determinants do not have a significant effect on the nutritional status of the girls. It may therefore be concluded that maternal employment may be is empowering the women economically and socially but with a bearing on their pre-adolescent daughter’s nutritional status pushing them towards obesity.

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Status and Problems of Jenukuruba Tribal Students in Mysuru District of Karnataka

The Jenukuruba community is a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal group of India, they are inhabiting Karnataka, Kerala, and the Tamilnad States of south India.  They are geographically, socially isolated and an economically and educationally very backward community. In the after Independence period, sincere and concerted efforts were made for the economic and educational development of the Jenukuruba tribe. Despite these efforts, the performance of the Jenukuruba tribe in education is much lower than that of the other Scheduled tribal communities. The present study suggests that the policymakers’ approach paid little attention to culturally linked education. This has led to dropouts and directly impacted their overall educational status.

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General Mental Ability and Head Size of Children’s

General mental ability is a terminology that represents an individual level of learning, perceiving command, and resolve problems. Objectives of the present study are to assess the mental ability of children’s belonging to different socio-economic class; to examine the sexual difference in general mental ability and head size and to find the relationship between head size and general mental ability. The study was conducted among 100 (50 boys and 50 girls) of fifth standard children’s at schools of Bhatgaon cluster, Baloda Bazar, Chhattisgarh. The general mental ability is assessed by General Mental Ability Test for children (GMATC) and the mathematical analysis was carried out using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 16.0). The maximum number of children’s belongs to upper lower socio-economic class and dolichocephalic head size. Out of 100 children’s 26 were outstanding, 25 were excellent, 20 were very good, 18 were good and 11 children’s came in the category of scope for improvement. There is no significant sexual difference in general mental ability (t= 0.06; p<0.05)and cephalic index(t= -0.84; p<0.05). Head circumference shown a significant difference (t= 3.00;p<0.05). Significant weak correlation (r=0.255; p<0.05)) was found between head size and general mental ability. Significant medium correlation (r= 0.588; p<0.01) was observed between parental socio-economic-educational status and general mental ability.

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Distribution of ABO and Rhesus blood groups among Tribal Students of Arunachal Pradesh, India

All human populations share the same known blood systems. The best-known blood type classification is the ABO system, which is often coupled with another system, the Rhesus blood type (expressed as Rh+ve or Rh-ve). Overall, in human, the O blood type (usually resulting from the absence of both A and B alleles) is very common around the world while the majority of the human in the world have the Rh+ve blood type. The goal of the present study was to find out the distribution and prevalence of ABO and Rh Phenotype blood groups in the students’ population belonging to different tribes. A total of 664 blood samples were collected over a period of one year from the students of BSc and BCom belonging to 21 different tribes of the state. However, due to insignificant number of some tribes, only students from five tribes were considered for the data interpretation namely Nyishi(378)>Galo(81)>Apatani(51)>Tagin(51)>Monpa(41). Accordingly, determination of various blood groups namely (ABO and Rh) blood groups were performed. Results: Out of the total sample the most common blood was O blood group comprising 263 (39.6%) followed by A group 181 (27.3%), B 161 (24.24%) and AB 59 (8.9%). 656 (98.8%) of the total samples were Rh positive while 8 (1.2%) were Rh negative. The distribution of blood group O was highest among the students closely followed by A, B and AB. The frequencies of Rh positive and Rh-negative students are 98.8% and 1.2% respectively.

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Anthropometric Failure among 2-5 years ICDS Children of Bilaspur

Background: Nutritional status of children is of paramount interest of all health surveys world-wide. Anthropometry is an important parameter for assessing nutritional status of children of growing age. Severe and acute undernutrition can be easily assessed using anthropometry. Objective: To assess the nutritional status using Composite Index of Anthropometric Failure (CIAF) among 2-5 years of anagwadi children of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 502 children (268 boys and 234 girls) aged 2-5 years from 30 anganwadi centers in Bilaspur District, Chhattisgarh. Data were collected after obtaining verbal consent from the parents of children prior to commencement of measurement. The statistically significant value was considered at P < 0.05.Results: The result shows that the Overall 42.30 % of the children (boys: 45.9%; girls: 41.5%) reported no anthropometric failure (Group A). And 56.17% shows anthropometric failure (Group B-Y). Similarly, more girls (58.5 %) than their counterpart (54.1 %) are undernourished. The sex combined mean difference in weight and height was observed statistically significant at (p< 0.001) level. Conclusions: The result shows that the children under study are in critical situation with respect to their nutritional status. And CIAF has capacity to improve the efficiency of the various ongoing nutritional intervention programs by identifying the single or double or multiple failure groups. Therefore, the CIAF for become essential to introducing the nutritional intervention program in the community based population.

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Labour Market Participation and Marital Violence against Women in Rural Bangladesh: Men Reports

The Thadou Kuki of Manipur have undergone a number of social changes due to the advent of Christianity and the elements of the western culture which came with it. With the conversion to Christianity the definition of kinship has become ambiguous, and a new type of fictive kin, spiritual kin, emerged. Actually, people seem emotionally more attached to them than to blood relatives. Moreover, perceptions on kinship obligations have intergenerational differences.

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