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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Paper Submitted as a Pacific Basic Research Center Working Paper. January 2016
Title Anthropological Engagements of Youths‟ Mental Health in Contexts of Modernizing Social Change: A Critical Assessment
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://pbrc.soka.edu/files/documents/working-papers/lowe.pdf
Abstract
Concern over the negative effects of modernizing social change on the well-being of indigenous peoples is a mainstay in anthropology since the 19th century. Many of the 19th century explanatory tropes have come under sharp criticism in anthropology, suggesting a need to rethink how we understand the relationship between processes of modernizing social change and local resiliencies and vulnerabilities to them. But how often does this needed theoretical reformulation take place? Drawing on a large corpus of studies of the apparently worsened mental health among youths in many parts of Oceania that is associated with the rapid intensification of modernization and globalization processes over the past several decades, I argue that much of the
contemporary literature uncritically reproduces universal social change narratives inherited from the late 19th century. After reviewing the available evidence for two sites regions (Samoa and the Micronesia), I suggest that the variation in the risks and resiliencies that emerge in the face of modernizing social change are a product of the selective local appropriation of elements among globalizing flows are integrated into local social relations, routines, and repertoires. As a result, these mental health consequences will be highly variable from one context to the next. [Key words: social change, anthropological tropes, mental health, Oceania]

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