21A.801J | Fall 2012 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Cross-Cultural Investigations: Technology and Development


This section outlines reading assignments for the course along with suggestions for final project research.

Assigned Reading

Required Book

[KD] = Dettwyler, Katherine. Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa. Waveland Pr Inc, 1993. ISBN: 9780881337488.

1 Introduction to course and history of the culture concept

Govindarajan, Vijay. “The $300 House: A Hands-On Lab for Reverse Innovation?Harvard Business Review Blog Network, August 26, 2010.

Echanove, Matias, and Rahul Srivastava. “Hands Off Our Houses,” New York Times, May 31, 2011.

Part 1: Understanding Culture: Method
2 Ethnography and the problem of kinship Hart, Charles William Merton, Arnold R. Pilling, and Jane C. Goodale. Chapters 1 and 3 in The Tiwi of North Australia. Harcourt College Pub, 1987. ISBN: 9780030120190.
3 How to take and interpret a genealogy

Hart, Charles William Merton, Arnold R. Pilling, and Jane C. Goodale. Chapter 8 in The Tiwi of North Australia. Harcourt College Pub, 1987. ISBN: 9780030120190.

Gusterson, Hugh. “Ethnographic Research.” In Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide. Edited by Audie Klotz and Deepa Prakash. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. ISBN: 9780230542396.

4 Culture and change View in class: Joe Leahy’s Neighbors. Directed by Bob Connolly. Color, 90 min. 1989.
5 Cross-cultural communication: interviewing technique

pp. 1–58 in [KD].

Fife, Wayne. “Interviewing.” In Doing Fieldwork: Ethnographic Methods for Research in Developing Countries and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 93–106. ISBN: 9781403969095.

6 Cross-cultural communication: translators and culture brokers

pp. 59–130 in [KD].

Geurts, Kathryn . “An Anthropological Experiment: From the Cutting Room Floor.” Sensate (2011). Retrieved from 

7 Participant-observation and ethical dilemmas in fieldwork

pp. 131–64 in [KD].

Take the CITI human subjects training module for social and behavioral research before class. Supplementary modules on informed consent and international research are also available.


Spradley, James. “Doing Participant-Observation.” In Participant Observation. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980, pp. 53–62. ISBN: 9780030445019.

8 Interpreting qualitative data

Stephens, David. “Analysing the Data: Finding the Meanings.” Chapter 6 in Qualitative Research in International Settings: A Practical Guide. Routledge, 2009, pp. 98–114. ISBN: 9780415280570.

Cowan, Jane. “Going Out for Coffee?” In Contested Identities: Gender and Kinship in Modern Greece. Princeton University Press, 1991, pp. 180–202. ISBN: 9780691028590. [Preview with Google Books]

Maternowska, Catherine. “A Clinic in Conflict: A Political Economy Case Study of Family Planning in Haiti.” In Contraception Across Cultures: Technologies, Choices, Constraints. Edited by Andrew Russell, et al. Berg Publishers, 2000, pp. 103–26. ISBN: 9781859733813.

9 The importance of popular knowledge

Pigg, Stacy Leigh. “The Credible and the Credulous: The Question of “Villagers’ Beliefs” in Nepal.” Cultural Anthropology 11, no. 2 (1996): 160–201.

Harvey, T. S. “Maya Mobile Medicine in Guatemala: The “Other” Public Health.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 25, no. 1 (2011): 47–69.

10 Accessing popular knowledge

Walley, Christine. ““They Scorn Us Because We Are Uneducated”: Knowledge and Power in a Tanzanian Marine Park.” Ethnography 3, no. 3 (2002): 265–98.

Leach, Melissa, and James Fairhead. “Manners of Contestation: “Citizen Science” and “Indigenous Knowledge” in West Africa and the Caribbean.” International Social Science Journal 54, no. 173 (2002): 299–311.

11 Case study: agriculture in the wake of the Green Revolution

Gupta, Akhil. ““Indigenous” Knowledges: Ecology.” In Postcolonial Developments: Agriculture in the Making of Modern India. Duke University Press, 1998, pp. 234–90. ISBN: 9780822322139.

Davidson, Joanna. “Cultivating Knowledge: Development, Dissemblance, and Discursive Contradictions among the Diola of Guinea-Bissau.” American Ethnologist 37, no. 2 (2010): 212–26.

12 Case study: delivering public health

View in class: Delivering the Goods. Selections from RX For Survival: A Global Health Challenge. Directed by Matthew Bonifacio. 84 min. 2012.

Silberschmidt, Margrethe. “Disempowerment of Men in Rural and Urban East Africa: Implications for Male Identity and Sexual Behavior.” World Development 29, no. 4 (2001): 657–71.

Part 2: Taking Culture into Account: Planning
13 What does it mean to value labor?

Humphreys, Rachel. “Skilled Craftswomen or Cheap Labour? Craft-based NGO Projects as an Alternative to Female Urban Migration in Northern Thailand.” Gender and Development 7, no. 2 (1999): 56–63.

Dolan, Catherine S. “Gender and Witchcraft in Agrarian Transition: The Case of Kenyan Horticulture.” Development and Change 33, no. 4 (2002): 659–81.

14 Microfinance vs. fair trade

Young, Stephen. “The ‘Moral Hazards’ of Microfinance: Restructuring Rural Credit in India.” Antipode 42, no. 1 (2010): 201–23."

Blowfield, Michael E., and Catherine Dolan. “Fairtrade Facts and Fancies: What Kenyan Fairtrade Tea Tells us About Business’ Role as Development Agent.” Journal of Business Ethics 93, no. 2 (2010): 143–62.

15 Workshop on Gender, Technology and Development  
16 What is transferred in technology transfer?

Anderson, Mary B. “Technology Transfer: Implications for Women.” In Gender Roles in Development Projects: A Case Book. Edited by Catherine Overholt, Mary B. Anderson, Kathleen Cloud, and James Austin. Kumarian Press, 1985, pp. 57–78. ISBN: 9780931816154.

Buy at MIT Press Kline, Ronald. “Resisting Consumer Technology in Rural America: The Telephone and Electrification.” In How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology. Edited by Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch. MIT Press, 2003, pp. 51–66. ISBN: 9780262151078.

17 Case studies in technology transfer: treatment intervention v. health promotion

Nations, Marylin, and Linda-Anne Rebhun. “Mystification of a Simple Solution: Oral Rehydration Therapy in Northeast Brazil.” Social Science & Medicine 27, no. 1 (1988): 25–38.

Kayombo, Edmund, et al. “Experience of Initiating Collaboration of Traditional Healers in Managing HIV and AIDS in Tanzania.” Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 3, no. 6 (2007).

Kalofonos, Ippolytos Andreas. ““All I Eat is ARVs”: The Paradox of AIDS Treatment Interventions in Central Mozambique.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 24, no. 3 (2010): 363–80.

18 In-class practicum on public health promotion: how to design a (flexible) safe sex campaign, for a variety of potential users?

Wardlow, Holly. “Anger, Economy, and Female Agency: Problematizing ‘Prostitution’ and ‘Sex Work’ among the Huli of Papua New Guinea.” Signs 29, no. 4 (2004): 1017–40.


———. “Giving Birth to Gonolia: “Culture” and Sexually Transmitted Disease among the Huli of Papua New Guinea.Medical Anthropology Quarterly 16, no. 2 (2002): 151–75.


Moore, Lisa Jean. ““All in My Bag of Tricks”: Turning a Trick with the Appropriate(d) Technology.” In Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science and Social Power. Edited by Ron Eglash, Jennifer Croissant, Giovanna Di Chiro, and Rayvon Fouché. University of Minnesota Press, 2004, pp. 51–62. ISBN: 9780816634279.

Resource: TeachAIDS

19 Visit to D-Lab to learn about possible final project topics  
20 What is the appropriateness of appropriate—or appropriated—technology?

McArdle, Patricia. “Afghanistan’s Last Locavores,” New York Times. June 19, 2011.

DeLaet, Marianne, and Annemarie Mol. “The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a Technology.” Social Studies of Science 30, no. 2 (2000): 225–63.

Eglash, Ron. “Appropriating Technology: An Introduction.” In Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science and Social Power. Edited by Jennifer Croissant, Giovanna Di Chiro, and Rayvon Fouché. University of Minnesota Press, 2004, pp. xii–xxi. ISBN: 9780816634279.

21 In-class time to plan final projects Stephens, David. “Doing the Fieldwork.” Chapter 5 in Qualitative Research in International Settings: A Practical Guide. Routledge, 2009, pp. 79–97. ISBN: 9780415280570.
22 Interviewing versus surveys: benefits and limitations  
Part 3: Where do we go from here?
23 Culture in/of development

Justice, Judith. “Sociocultural Information and Health Planning Process.” Chapter 6 in Policies, Plans & People: Foreign Aid and Health Development. University of California Press, 1989, pp. 134–54. ISBN: 9780520067882.

Radcliffe, Sara, and Nina Laurie. “Culture and Development: Taking Culture Seriously in Development for Andean Indigenous People.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24, no. 2 (2006): 231–48.


Mobile and digital technologies: new solutions and new challenges

Guest speaker: Mitali Thakor

Corbett, Sara. “Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?New York Times, April 13, 2008.

Banks, Ken, Sean Martin McDonald, et al. “Mobile Technology and the Last Mile: “Reluctant Innovation” and FrontlineSMS.” Innovations 6, no. 1 (2011): 7–12.

Stone, Glenn Davis. “Contradictions in the Last Mile: Suicide, Culture, and E-Agriculture in Rural India.” Science, Technology & Human Values 36, no. 6 (2011): 759–90.

Chipcase, Jan, and Panthea Lee. “Mobile Money: Afghanistan.” Innovations 6, no. 2 (2011): 13–33.

Review: Revkin, Andrew C. “Innovation from the Bottom Up,” New York Times, July 28, 2011.

25 Participant-observation and ethical dilemmas in fieldwork, redux

Delaney, Carol. “Participant Observation: The Razor’s Edge.” Dialectical Anthropology 13, no. 3 (1988): 291–300.

Bourgois, Philippe. “Confronting Anthropological Ethics: Ethnographic Lessons from Central America.” Journal of Peace Research 27, no. 1 (1990): 43–54.

26 Discussion / presentation of final projects  
27 Presentation of final projects  

Suggested Readings for Final Projects

D-Lab: Waste project organizing waste pickers in Nicaragua

Samson, Melanie, ed. “Refusing to Be Cast Aside: Waste Pickers Organising Around the World.” (PDF - 1.1MB) Women in Informal Employment, Globalizing and Organizing (2009).

Brito, Deia de. “God is My Alarm Clock: A Brazilian Waste Picker’s Story.” (PDF - 1.3MB) WIEGO Workers’ Lives, no. 1 (2012).

Malaria prevention in Tanzania

Kamat, V. R. “Anthropology of Childhood Malaria in Tanzania.” Chapter 1 in Anthropology in Public Health: Bridging Differences in Culture and Society. 2nd ed. Edited by Robert Hahn and Marcia Inhorn. Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 3–32. ISBN: 9780195374643.

Kamat, V. R., and D. Nyato. “Soft targets or partners in health? Retail pharmacies and their role in Tanzania’s malaria control program.” Social Science and Medicine 71, no. 3 (2010): 626–33.

Kamat, V. R. “Cultural interpretations of the efficacy and side effects of antimalarials in Tanzania.” Anthropology and Medicine 16, no. 3 (2009): 293–305.

———. “Dying under the bird’s shadow: Representations of degedege and child survival among the Zaramo of Tanzania.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 22, no. 1 (2008): 67–93.

———. “Reconsidering the allure of the culturally distant in therapy seeking: A case study from coastal Tanzania.” Medical Anthropology 27, no. 2 (2008): 106–35.

———. “This is not our culture! Discourse of nostalgia and narratives of health concerns in post-socialist Tanzania.” Africa 73, no. 3 (2008): 359–83.

———. ““I thought it was only ordinary fever!”: Cultural knowledge and the micropolitics of childhood febrile illness in Tanzania.” Social Science and Medicine 62, no. 12 (2006): 2945–59.

Reduction of maternal mortality in Guatemala Berry, Nicole. Unsafe Motherhood: Mayan Maternal Mortality and Subjectivity in Post-War Guatemala. Berghahn Books, 2010. ISBN: 9781845457525.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
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Written Assignments