Crossing at y/our own peril: Biocultural boundary crossing in anthropology

Graciela S. Cabana, Marcela Mendoza, Lindsay A. Smith, Hugo Delfino, Carla Martínez, Bárbara Mazza, Loruhama Teruya Rossi, Francisco Di Fabio Rocca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Biocultural approaches in anthropology originated from a desire to dissolve the nature/culture divide that is entrenched in the discipline. Whereas biocultural approaches were born under the umbrella of medical anthropology, by the late 1990s, biology-centered approaches to bioculturalism had been mostly taken up by human biologists in biological anthropology. It was at this point that biology-inclined approaches began to gel into an informal interdiscipline, biocultural anthropology. Much like any other discipline, biocultural anthropology developed research and professional norms with erected boundaries around acceptable work and workers. We draw from scholarly work in interdisciplinary studies to explore those norms and boundaries from the perspective of our collaborative, multimethod, and interdisciplinary project that combines “biology” and “culture” in unconventional ways. We provide examples of the obstacles, barriers, and risks we experienced and the costs exacted on the research project and the researchers due to the nature of our boundary crossings. By exploring biocultural anthropology from the edges of acceptability, we expose the unacknowledged boundary work in contemporary biocultural anthropology, and by extension, in its parent discipline, anthropology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • biocultural
  • bioculturalism
  • biosociality
  • boundary work
  • interdisciplinarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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