Globalization has been characterized as the movement and process which has "made the world a smaller place." The merging of cultures, economic systems, technology, legal/environmental policy, healthcare, military prowess, and creolization of many different ethnicities are all components of globalization. Globalization has been conceived as "the spread of supra-territorial relations between people" [1] ; as well as "the process whereby power is located in global social formations and expressed through global networks rather then through territorially based states"[2] . Globalization has played a key role within medical anthropology as it has brought together many disciplines and forms of medicine from a variety of countries, cultures, and beliefs. This has allowed for anthropologists to study medical practices cross-culturally and establish similarities and differences that exist in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of many different types of illnesses internationally.

Anthropology and Globalization

Within anthropology, globalization has provided new aspects of study in the four main sub-disciplines within anthropology; biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. Through the increasing ability to travel and send information at rapid speed, cultures can communicate and exchange information faster than before. These capabilities have created new ways in which human beings interact and exchange and modify ideas. This has also given human beings the ability to relay information about certain biological and social phenomena that are taking place, in "real time." Anthropologists have had the ability (through globalization) to monitor and study local community dynamics such as health practices and compare them to global practices that are used internationally. This ability has allowed for many local social models to be constructed and utilized on a global scale and vice versa.

Negative Aspects of Globalization

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Since globalization has brought the international community closer together, many conflicts of interest have occurred. The professional workforce has suffered (in some aspects) due to globalization because of outsourcing employment opportunities to other countries that do not have mandated compensation laws. From a medical and epidemiological perspective, trans-continental disease spreads more easily, and pharmaceutical companies are able to produce diagnostic products for illnesses that are not prevalent in all parts of the world. Due to product sociability, these products are marketed to populations that may not need them and advertised as necessary devices. Globalization has also brought about misperceptions of illness by the press, specifically in epidemic illnesses. Popular media sources often publish that a specific illness is "immanent, prevalent, or of concern" [3] . Furthermore, we see the spread of cultural deficincies, third party resource consumption, and more frequent military engagements (policing in nature).


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Globalization has been linked to many different eras and times throughout history. Globalization, as we know it in modern day nomenclature, can be rooted back to the spread of ancient religious beliefs, where the initial intention of supraterritiorial relations was thought to have come from divine intervention and that it was determined as a "deity's will." Through such expansion came the idea of "global consciousness, advanced developments of capitalism, technological innovations/data processing, and enabilization of regulatory framework, especially through states and suprastate institutions [i.e. United Nations]" [4] . Such development was characterized by sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein as a "[development of an economic system, which] lays the base for subsequent attention to global aspects of culture and identity" [5] . Wallerstein's thoughts on globalization are part of a perspective known as world-system theory, which builds upon dependency theory[6] . Anthropology's grasp and role within Globalization is extremely important as anthropologists offer a keen insight into the history of culture, language, societies, and biological states that have affected and will continue to affect the rapid development of modern globalization.

Example of Anthropology within Globalization

Within the several facets of anthropology, there have been many new studies and inquiries done over the past 20 years, as there has been a tremendous increase in the speed in which globalization is advancing. One example of anthropological research exploring impacts of globalization is the work of Dr. Gordon Mathews, a professor (of Anthropology) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Mathews has been conducting a study in Hong Kong in which he occupies a trade station of commercial centers where over 10,000 individuals representative of 120 different countries conduct business daily. This trade station is known as "Tsimshatsui," and it serves as an example of how globalization has affected social, biological, linguistic, and medical development. In Hong Kong alone, there are over 120 different nationalities represented, all carrying a different approach to and perception of speech patterns, pathogens, social mannerisms, and ways of interpreting medicine. This melting pot serves as a perfect area of study for anthropologists as they can explore not only the history of such trends, but also the future impacts of globalization.


The video posted is a speech given by Phillipe Bourgois, PhD, regarding the current issues of globalization and how anthropology can help understand and help the rising situations of inequality and violence on a global scale. The speech was given on October 1, 2009.


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Additional Information

Fitzpatrick, Liam
2007 Best Example of Globalization in Action. Pg. 15.
Images were taken from the following sites:


  1. ^
    Scholte, Jan Art. 2000. Globalization. A Critical Introduction. New York: St. Martin's Press
  2. ^ Clark, Ian. 1999. Globalization and International Relations Theory. New York: Oxford University Press
  3. ^
    Nichter, Mark. 2008. Global Health. Arizona: University of Arizona Press
  4. ^
    Scholte, Jan Art. 2000. Globalization. A Crtical Introduction. New York: St. Martin's Press
  5. ^ Kearney, M. 1995. The Local and The Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:547-65.
  6. ^ Kearney, M. 1995. The Local and The Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:547-65.