Lecture: The Good Life. Guatemalan Coffee, German Eggs, and the Anthropology of Wellbeing
Edward F Fischer, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University
While we may all want to live the good life, we differ widely on just what that entails. In this talk we will examine notions of wellbeing in the very different cultural contexts of Maya coffee farmers in Guatemala and middle-class supermarket shoppers in Germany. Looking at on-the-ground narratives of Germans’ choices regarding the purchase of eggs and cars, and Guatemalans’ trade in coffee and cocaine, we see how these different groups use the market in pursuit of the good life. We find that material conditions are a necessary but insufficient prerequisite of wellbeing, and uncover the important role of aspiration, opportunity, dignity, and purpose.