March 19 & 20, 2018 “Understanding Harmful Cultural Practices: Origins, Drivers and Behavior Change”

Workshop Information and Registration

Recent years have witnessed increased international commitments to abolish cultural practices deemed inherently harmful to women, particularly child marriage, female genital cutting and intimate partner violence. Addressing an urgent need to share insights across disciplines, this workshop will bring together a multidisciplinary group of social scientists, including evolutionary and cultural anthropologists, demographers, sociologists, political scientists and economists, each forging a new understanding of the origins and drivers of so-called ‘harmful cultural practices’; both questioning and informing current efforts of the international development sector to discourage them. Emphasis will be on low and middle-income country contexts, with invited speakers from both Europe and the Americas. Discussion sessions will focus on cross-cutting issues such as context-dependency in the evidence for harm, identifying the motivations of multiple actors that maintain seemingly harmful practices and the conflicts of interest therein, methodological considerations when working with sensitive research topics, and the evaluation and design of behavior change initiatives.


Karisa Cloward (Southern Methodist University): When Norms Collide: Local Responses to Activism Against FGM and Early Marriage.

Mhairi Gibson (University of Bristol): Measuring Hidden Support for 'Harmful Cultural Practices' in rural Ethiopia.

Gerry Mackie (University of California, San Diego): When and How is Law Effective in Reducing the Practice of FGM/C?

Erica Field (Duke University): Power vs Money: Alternative Approaches to Reducing Child Marriage in Bangladesh, a Randomized Control Trial

Susie Schaffnit (University of California, Santa Barbara): Understanding Early Marriage in Context: Marital Timing and Women's Wellbeing in Kisesa, Tanzania.

Nicolas Syrett (University of Kansas): Child Marriage and the Law in the United States.

Jonathan Stieglitz (Université Toulouse 1 Capitole): Marital Violence and Fertility in a Relatively Egalitarian High Fertility Population.

Janet Howard (University of Bristol): Can Evolutionary Anthropology Help to Explain Levels of Male-Female Intimate Partner Violence?

Brooke Scelza (University of California, Los Angeles): Concurrency in Context: The Roles of Autonomy, Mobility and Kinship.