Anthropology of the Life Cycle


Anthropology of the Life Cycle

To consider the life cycle as a whole and its principal stages and transitions.

Members: 38
Latest Activity: Oct 22, 2014

Discussion Forum

The Churching of Women 8 Replies

Started by Richard Irvine. Last reply by Richard Irvine Dec 13, 2012.

Classical references 1 Reply

Started by Fabiane Vinente dos Santos. Last reply by John McCreery Nov 5, 2011.

Generation war? 6 Replies

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by John McCreery Aug 29, 2009.

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Comment by Janelle Christensen on January 27, 2013 at 8:52pm

This group has been quite for a while, but I think it is an important anthropological topic. Christine L. Fry has done some great work on aging societies. In her words, "Of all the social sciences, social anthropology is arguably among the best suited to address questions arising from global change and its impact on the lives of individuals and the communities in which they live."

Comment by ESWARAPPA KASI on September 19, 2009 at 7:17am
I am Dr. Eswarappa Kasi is currently Guest Faculty and taught a course titled ‘Tribes and Other Backward Communities in India’ to Integrated Masters (IMA) Students in the Special Centre for Integrated Studies (SCIS) and Department of Anthropology, University of Hyderabad, India during January- May 2009 Semester.
In the coming semester (July-December 2009), I will be teaching a course titled ‘Fieldwork and Research Methods’ to Integrated Masters (IMA) Students in the Special Centre for Integrated Studies (SCIS) and Department of Anthropology, University of Hyderabad, India.
PhD Topic: “An Anthropological Study of Livelihoods: A case of Two Sugali Settlements in Ananthapur District of Andhra Pradesh”.
Link to my PhD Thesis:
M.Phil Topic: “Developments and Change due to Sericulture: A Village Study” in Chittoor District. The study analyzes the upliftment of rural Livelihoods (sericulturists) of Kotha Indlu village, as a result of Implementation of Development programmes, as part of M.Phil.

Masters Dissertation: “Life Cycle Rituals among the Koyas of Boddugudem: An Ethnographic Study”. The study is conducted in the village of Boddugudem in ITDA, Bhadrachalam, to find out the role of life cycle rituals and their belief systems in their daily life activities, as part of MA course.
My new book based on my M.Phil Work is being published titled as ‘ANTHROPOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT IN A GLOBALIZED INDIA: AN ETHNOGAPHY OF SERI-CULTURE FROM THE SOUTH’, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Isbn13: 978-1-4438-1345-7, Isbn: 1-4438-1345-1
Book Link:
This book seeks to portray sericulture as a crop enterprise which is emerging as one of the foremost significance for theoretical and methodological understandings in the disciplines of sociology and social anthropology in India. Thus, anthropological analysis of sericulture and its emergence in development literature gives us an idea of the activity leading to further theoretical and critical studies. Anthropological understanding of sericulture and its development, as studied by scholars of different disciplines across the states of India, is therefore thoroughly explained. Sericulture is best suited to a country like India where manpower and land resources are in surplus. It generates direct and indirect employment in various ways. More and more farmers in India have taken up sericulture activity which, once confined to only five states, has now spread to almost all the states of India. Sericulture also creates gainful employment for women and aged people at home with minimum risk. Thus, the analysis clearly establishes the importance of sericulture over other agricultural practices in the generation of fresh employment opportunities in rural areas. Further, it is shown that as a predominant sector of rural development, stability is the vital requirement for sericulture enterprise.

Special Issue Editor- MAN IN INDIA Journal:
2009 Jointly with (Dr. R. Siva Prasad) Special issue Theme on ‘Issues and Perspectives in Anthropology Today’ for the Journal MAN IN INDIA, (Vol. 89, (I &2) 2009). In this anthology, we have taken a specific device to highlight the trends of research in anthropology and through which multifarious human dimensions conditioned by present day circumstances principally in Indian Contexts which have been explored.
Edited Books:
1) Dimensions of Social Exclusion: Ethnographic Explorations, jointly with K.M. Zoyauddin , Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, (http://www.c-s- Exclusion--Ethnographic-Explorations1- 4438-1342-7.htm). Isbn13:978-1-4438-1342-6, Isbn: 1-4438-1342-7
2) Ethnographic Discourse of the Other: Conceptual and Methodological Issues, jointly with Panchanan Mohanty, and Ramesh C. Malik , Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing (
ISBN: Isbn13: 9781847185839, ISBN: 1-84718-583-5 (Hardback)
ISBN 13: 978-1-4438-0132-4, ISBN: 1-4438-0132-1 (Paperback)
Edited Books (In Press):
1) Jointly With (Ramesh C. Malik) ‘Theory and Practice of Ethnography: Readings from the Periphery’ Rawat Publications, Jaipur, India.
The book Theory and Practice of Ethnography is an anthology of research papers contributed by illustrious scholars from India and abroad. Theoretical and empirical layout of the Ethnography, Language, Literature, Culture, Rethinking History and Social Development are significantly accentuated in the present book. Ethnography is highly entertained in the search of the concept of the other which is elaborately discussed in the book. The main emphasis of the contributions highlight the deprivation-economic, social, cultural and linguistic among the marginalized groups of Indian society mainly; women, tribal, and the downtrodden. Ethnography is both a process and a product, in this direction, the entire exercise in this volume focuses on applying the different methodological tools of ethnography.

2) ‘Rethinking Developmental Discourse in the 21st Century India’, New Delhi: Serials Publications, 2009.
In order to understand the dynamics of development in the 21st century India, an attempt is made in the book to address the themes which cover the range of theoretical and empirical understandings in the field of interdisciplinary works of scholars drawn from across the disciplines. Thus, it makes a link between field experiences and the classroom debates and discussions. The book also tried to portray the debates of contemporary developmental discourse and how far are they reaching to the common man or the poor in the contemporary Indian Society.
Comment by John McCreery on September 12, 2009 at 2:44am
Just to confuse things, allow me to introduce three concepts familiar to marketing researchers: age, generation, and life stage. Age is physical age. Generation refers to defining life experiences shared by individuals of the same age. Life stage is defined by critical events, e.g., dependent, single adult, married, married with young kids, married with older kids, elderly, widowed, etc. All three concepts are currently vary much in flux. They seemed to make a lot of sense shortly after WWII, when lots of men in all of what are now the OECD countries were around the same age, returning from the war, going to school, getting married, having kids, and buying a house in the suburbs,a.k.a., living an American dream widely imitated in other parts of the world. At that point in history, the three concepts were empirically synchronized. It was possible to say things like "the average woman marries at the age of 23, has 2.7 children by the time she is 30. By then her husband will be established at his job and have received his first promotions. They will live in a 2000 sq. ft. house a 30-minute commute from the husband's factory or office. They will own an automobile and be looking to replace the refrigerator they bought when they got married." All of these numbers are totally fictitious but illustrate the confidence that descriptions of mass markets were accurate enough to guide business plans. Now, of course, age is no clear guide to anything. A hypothetical woman in her late 30s may be single, married, divorced, working on her third marriage or in a consensual relationship with no legal standing. She may have no children, young children, children approaching college age. The life courses of men are equally varied, as some settle down quickly, others bounce from relationship to relationship, job to job, achieve promotion or endure unemployment, etc.
Comment by Fabiane Vinente dos Santos on September 11, 2009 at 7:56pm
Hi Everybody!
I work in brazilian Amazonia, among the baniwa/koripako group and their relation with the brazilian army and the social consequences of this interation. I am particularly interested in what I am calling "the invention of adolescence", ie the design of a period dedicated for the “adolescence”, driven by the advent of schooling among the Indians, since before the “contact”, the departure of children was directly linked to adulthood. The discussion of life cycles is essential to consider categories and concepts that take account of these changes. I do not speak English very well, so forgive the grammatical errors.
Comment by Venkman Whoisnothere on July 22, 2009 at 5:03pm
hm. thinking about possible intersections with ideas about the lifecycles of stuff
Comment by Shirish Darak on July 18, 2009 at 11:02am
Hello to all,
I am from India, and hope to have nice discussion with all of you. Have a nice WE
Comment by Hülya Demirdirek on July 9, 2009 at 10:05pm
I thought this following Anthropology News announcement is timely to put here.

Hello Anthropology News Contributing Editors:

I hope you are having a great summer. Please spread the word about this opportunity within your sections, committees and interest groups. Those interested should email a 300-word abstract and 50-100-word biosketch to me by August 15 to participate. Please also note that our "Aging and the Life Course" (Nov issue) deadline is July 22, and our ongoing "Work-Life Balance" series deadline is August 25 (it will be ending with the Dec issue). For details see


Dinah Winnick
Associate Managing Editor, Anthropology News
American Anthropological Association
Visit the new AAA blog:
Comment by Keith Hart on July 9, 2009 at 9:41pm
Sorry for being obtuse and flippant, John. I get it now. Death is final for all of us and the idea of a cycle suggests it isn't. This comes close to what interested me in the development cycle idea: human beings are transient, but society goes on.

Fortes once told me that he got the idea from the maverick geneticist, D'Arcy Thomson's Growth and Form. If Darwin is right and life is made up of infinite small variations, why do species of plants and animals look the same for long periods? Or as F said, "You young people go on all the time about change, but the problem is how to account for and ensure continuity." I hope that this time I have found enough common ground for discussion. An individual life ends, for sure, but Chinese civilisation persists to a remarkable degree. Even so, you are right to insist that we should not glibly assume that life is cyclical.
Comment by John Postill on July 9, 2009 at 10:44am
Erm, nope, I reserve such things for private email or face-to-face banter. In public forums I try to reduce ambiguous formulations and write clearly, but I obviously haven't suceeded in this case!

All I was trying to say is that the drawing illustrates nicely the biological life course, from birth to death. Our biological lives run their course wherever we are and whatever our beliefs about life after death. When we die, our egocentric networks go with us, whereas most or all of the social groups and organisations we belong to will survive our death. Personal networks cannot be maintained beyond the biological lifespan; they are inherently unsustainable.

This is all very basic, I know, but I find that in contemporary anthropological thought (e.g. in the work of Tim Ingold) we have this understanding of process as always being emergent, always work in progress, always recyclable. My point is that all processes (whether individual or collective) eventually run their course. Even the Catholic Church and Robert Mugabe will one day be no more.
Comment by Keith Hart on July 7, 2009 at 11:55pm
Come on, John. Are you taking the piss? Obviously I chose the pic because it looks cyclical and had ironic possibilities.

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