Anthropology-Kohistani and Paul Farmer


Anthropology-Kohistaniand Paul Farmer

TheKohistani Tribe

Differentcultures have changed due to modernity or the influence of othercultures. Despite being well structured, the old cultures aregradually changing and adapting to the modern world. However,modernity has not fully changed the way people live, instead, it isthe introduction of new social, economic and political structuresthat changes these cultures. The discussion in this paper willillustrate that the modern world, infrastructure and globalizationhave significant changes in the culture of a people. To explore thisthesis, this paper will explore the changes in the changes inKohistani tribe and how they influenced their cultural integration.

Livingin the upper parts of Pakistan along rivers Swat and Panjkora, theKohistani tribe provides a good example of how construction of a roadsystem and changes in violence influenced their culture. The firstway that the construction of the road system led to culturalintegration is by allowing the people of the tribe to travel andtrade with other communities. The Kohistani tribe was traditionallyherders and farmers therefore they had produce they could sell inthe newly developing markets (Keiser, 1991). This enabled them toshare with other communities as they traded. Trade became importantto them, thereby creating a need for more production leading to thesecond change.

Thesecond change was the focus of their efforts from herding to potatofarming, as necessitated by the market as a result of good roadsystems. This had a significant consequence of the culture of thepeople. They had to disintegrate from the herding groups to focus onfarming. Traditionally, the culture of the Kohistani tribe wasclosely knit through cross-kinship herding that brought severalgroups together (Keiser, 1991). As their farming continued, theygradually lost the cross-kinship touch. In addition, their incomesincreased because of trade and their economic potential changed. As aconsequence, the third change in culture was imminent.

Thirdly,the Kohistani tribe did not believe in using violence and conflictsas a way of solving their conflicts. However, due to the interactionwith members of other communities, especially in the markets, theircultural ideologies changed. One of the interactions is with theIslamic communities that influenced their religious outlook to theIslamic perspectives. In addition, trade created their need forbuying weapons and using them to expand their land, to get more spacefor farming and herding (Keiser, 1991). Due to the trade, everybodyin the tribe could afford guns, even those who were previously poor.The combination of different perspective on violence as well, buyingof arms with trade income created a different person. This led toviolence that gradually changed their culture and introduced theintegration of their culture with the Thull.

Thechanges in the cultural integration of the Kohistani tribe existed inconsequences that followed each other. This means that one change ledto the other, which instead led to another. The impact of theconstruction of the road system by the Pakistani government led tomovements of the Kohistani tribe and interaction with othercommunities (Keiser, 1991). This led to trading and establishment ofmarket, leading to income creation. The developments in income led toa change in their perspective and eventual adoption of violence. Thisportrays the changes of culture as a consequence of the modernelements of economic integration, such as road construction.

Worksof Paul Farmer

Theworks of Paul Farmer show the extent that human beings can exemplifythe achievement of the three medical anthropology fields. Farmer andhis colleagues in the Partners in Health organization takesignificant steps towards helping people at all cost and to theirmost extreme extents. The application of the three fields of medicalanthropology provides the guidelines for every anthropologist tofollow (Robert &amp Wenzel, 2005). The fields provide the approachesto understand the health of people through studying the culture,cultural symbols and economic and political impacts on a culture. Thediscussion in this essay will illustrate the exemplification of theworks of Paul Farmer in the medical anthropology fields ofecological-epidemiological, critical and interpretivist approaches.

Thework of Farmer and his team shows the importance of applying theecological-epidemiological approach by considering the health factorsthat affect a society. Farmer and his team examine the risk factorsfor a society and make use of the data that help them understand thehealth phenomena of a community. Through the use of such methods,Farmer and the Partners in Health intervene in the most vulnerableand needy cases, such as their Haiti intervention(Kidder,2003).Theapproach of the ecological-epidemiological field of anthropologyprovides anthropologist with frameworks of understanding the threatsto health for a community (Robert &amp Wenzel, 2005). This field isclearly exemplified by the works of Farmer and the Partners inHealth.

Thework of Farmer and the Partners in Health shows importance ofconsidering the critical field of medical anthropology by evaluatingof political and economic consequences if the areas they visit.Taking the example of their work in Haiti, Farmer took a lot ofsignificance on the economic impact the earthquakein the country (Kidder, 2003). This mostly influenced Farmer and theteam to provide medical treatment for free in a hospital, theyestablished, the PIH Hospital. This helps the people living inpoverty in Haiti to access drugs and essential medical care (Kidder,2003).Through the understanding of the economic state and the politicalinability of the country to take care of the injured and poor peoplein Haiti, Farmer was able to establish medical help for the locals.

Moreimportantly, the work of Farmer and the Partners in Healthexemplifies the best way to apply the interpervatist approach ofmedical anthropology to promote health. Farmer understood thecultural beliefs that lead to poor health and illness of people theytreat. For instance, his work in Rwanda is successful because of hisunderstanding of the cultural beliefs of the African country (Kidder,2003).According to Robertand Wenzel (2005), theinterpervatist approach, the field focuses on the understanding thehealth situation of a society by exploring their diseases as theyrelate to their culture. Through an emic perspective, ananthropologist explores the culture of a society and established therelationship between the cultural beliefs and practices and thehealth problems they face.

Inconclusion, the works of Farmer and the Partners in Health team areextensive and have impacted on several parts of the world that manymedical workers cannot. One of the reasons why Farmer has achievedthis is by applying the essential approaches of medical anthropology.Through the adoption of the epidemiologicalapproach,Farmer understands the risk factors that relate to the community heserves. Critical approach provides the understanding of the economicand political aspect of while the Interpervatist approach providescultural perspectives of the societies he works at. Therefore, hiswork provides the most appropriate exemplification of the fields ofmedical anthropology.


Keiser,L. R. (1991). Friendby day, enemy by night: organized vengeance in a Kohistani community:CaseStudies in Cultural Anthropology Series.NewYork:Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Publishers

Kidder,T. (2003). Mountains Beyond Mountains:The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.New York: Random House, 2003

Robert,P., &amp Wenzel, G. (2005). Medical Anthropology: Understandingpublic health.New York: McGraw-Hill International