Title

Exploring Patterns and Pathways of Dietary Change: Preferred Foods, Oral Health, and Stable Isotope Analysis of Hair from the Dani of Mulia, Papua, Indonesia

Authors

Douglas Hayward

School/Department

Cook School of Intercultural Studies

Publication Date

2-2017

Abstract

Interregional encounters frequently result in dietary, health, and cultural changes for participating groups. This paper investigates the patterns and pathways of dietary change among the Mulia Dani of highland western New Guinea, who at the time of data collection had been in contact with Christian missionaries and the global food market for 29 years. We explore three lines of data: food preferences (from survey responses), oral health (indicated by the percentage of carious and missing teeth), and dietary composition (from stable isotope ratios [δ13C and δ15N] of hair). We assess the results alongside categories of village affiliation, profession, age, and sex, finding that different demographic subsets within Mulia differentially adopted new foods and food preferences. Children and communities that had completely abandoned their traditional subsistence strategies appear to have been the segments of society most likely to exhibit dietary changes, and preferences for meat appear to have been influenced by the ability of a group to acquire animal products from the missionary settlement. Results of this study deepen our understanding of how new foods and ideas entered highland New Guinea and provide a model to understand processes of nutritional transitions in other times and regions.

Keywords

Mulia Dani: New Guinea; Health; Anthropology

Publication Title

Current Anthropology

Volume

58

Issue

1

First Page

31

Last Page

56

DOI of Published Version

10.1086/690142

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