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Craving EarthUnderstanding Pica--the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk$
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Sera Young

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231146098

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231146098.001.0001

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A Biocultural Approach

A Biocultural Approach

A Holistic Way to Study Pica

(p.20) Chapter Two A Biocultural Approach
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

This chapter outlines the biocultural framework, which is the perspective used to study pica. This framework spans both biology and culture. It encompasses the physical environment in which we have matured as individuals and evolved as a species, and the biological functioning of our bodies. It includes cultural institutions at the macro-level of society (e.g. history, economic opportunities, and power relations), as well as at the micro-level (i.e. household and family dynamics). Ideational beliefs and technological capacity have a place in this framework as well. The chapter then defines the six characteristics examined by biocultural work. Biocultural research focuses on adaptation. It is both holistic and therefore necessarily multidisciplinary. Similar to other life sciences, it distinguishes across levels of analysis, uses the scientific method, and is evidence-based. This is followed by a discussion of the methods used for gathering biocultural data on pica. Two sources referred to at length are the Pica Literature Database and an epidemiological study among pregnant Pemban women.

Keywords:   pica, non-food cravings, biocultural research, Pica Literature Database, pregnant Pemban women

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