Human Relations Area Files: Human Saliva, Violent Democracies, and Quality Ethnography

Sponsored by Human Relations Area Files

Recorded on 09/10/2018
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 59

In this episode, Dr. Carol Ember describes how researchers in the U.K. used the extensive ethnographic record in HRAF to form hypotheses about the spread of AIDS through cultural practices involving human saliva. She also elucidates a bit of research she and her late husband, Melvin Ember, along with a political scientist undertook to determine whether the claim that democracies don’t fight each other—which is widely circulated in studies of international relations—is an artifact of treaties like NATO, high standards of living and other features of contemporary democracies, or whether it’s a more general principal that can be applied across polities. Dr. Peter Peregrine also explains the power of index searching and examines the quality of the ethnographies collected in HRAF.

To learn more about HRAF, visit the Human Relations Area Files website.

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About the guests:

Carol R. Ember

Dr. Ember is President of the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University. She has served as President of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research and the Society for Anthropological Sciences. She was the principal director of the Summer Institutes for Comparative Anthropological Research, supported by the National Science Foundation. Most of her research career has been devoted to cross-cultural research on variation in marriage, family, kin groups, gender roles, predictors of war and other forms of violence.

Her current research is an NSF-supported project on how natural hazards may have transformed culture. She is interested in research that integrates the fields of anthropology as well as anthropology with other disciplines. She has authored or edited over 50 books and over 80 articles or chapters. Her textbook on how to do cross-cultural research, with Melvin Ember (Cross-Cultural Research Methods, 2002), won a Choice award for outstanding academic title—it is now in its 2nd edition).

Peter N. Peregrine

Peter N. Peregrine (born November 29, 1963) is an American anthropologist, registered professional archaeologist, and academic. He is well known for his staunch defense of science in anthropology, and for his popular textbook Anthropology (with Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember).

In addition to archaeology Peregrine has also made a number of contributions to cross-cultural studies. The focus of his work has been on developing archaeological correlates for various types of behavior, including warfare, post-marital residence, and social stratification. Peregrine also developed a sampling universe for conducting diachronic cross-cultural research using archaeological cases. The Outline of Archaeological Traditions, as this sampling universe is called, formed the basis of the Encyclopedia of Prehistory and the Human Relations Area Files Collection of Archaeology.


Listen to the rest of the series:


About the Music:
The intro and outro music in The Authority File is “Grapes,” mixed by I dunno. The transition music is “Peace ( There’s A better Way ),” mixed by Loveshadow. The music is available on ccMixter, and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (cc-by 4.0).