Biological and Cultural Resilience: What Matters for Child Health

Catherine Panter-Brick
Date and Time: 
Friday, February 22, 2013 - 2:15pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


Resilience offers the promise of a paradigm shift in many fields of heath, away from a limited focus on risk and vulnerability, towards a concerted focus on strength and transformation. The most understudied aspects of this new paradigm are the ‘biology’ and the ‘culture’ of resilience. What are the main points to know about resilience? In this talk, I will demonstrate differences in conceptual framework between risk and resilience, current impact on research and policy, and give examples from some of my work on youth in adversity (street-children in Nepal and war-affected children in Afghanistan). I aim to clarify conceptual frameworks, articulate their relevance, and identify critical examples to show that resilience matters just as much as risk for understanding survival, dignity, development, and health.


Catherine Panter-Brick is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University. Her research consists of critical analyses of health and wellbeing across key stages of human development, giving special attention to the impact of poverty, disease, malnutrition, armed conflict, and social marginalization. She has directed large interdisciplinary projects in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom. These projects include work on global public health and health interventions, mental health, psychosocial stress, disease ecology, nutrition, and human reproduction. Her focus on children in global adversity has included biocultural research with street children, refugees, and war-affected adolescents. She teaches courses on wellbeing, livelihoods, and health, disease ecology, nutritional anthropology, and medical anthropology. She has published widely on child and adolescent health, including articles on violence and mental health in Afghanistan, household decision-making and infant survival in famine-stricken Niger, the social ecology of growth retardation in Nepali slums, biomarkers of stress in contexts of violence and homelessness, the effectiveness of public health interventions, and human rights and public health approaches as applied to international work with street children.

EcoGroup (Anthro 364): Ecology and Environment Winter Colloquium Series