Don’t Shoot, America!

10 Jun

At its heart, anthropology is a comparative discipline. We examine the minutiae of different cultural contexts and explore variation through time and across space. Doing so allows us to, among other things, shine a light on our own customs and behaviors. Using this perspective we can ask informed questions like “How do our familiar patterns compare to the ‘strange’ patterns of others?” or “Are there better ways of doing things?” Sometimes we end up discovering that we are the strange ones, when compared to global norms.



There was a school shooting near the college where I teach today. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the event is that it was not unusual. As other developed nations respond with disbelief and horror, I realize that such events have become familiar within my cultural context. A recent headline from the satirical newspaper The Onion says it best:

“‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens


Now that is the anthropological perspective in action! So here’s my question for readers from the U.S. and readers from everywhere else: Why has America become the world capital of mass school shootings?

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