The Impact of Globalization on Cultures

Globalization, Culture and Well-Being in Congo

Research team

Adam Boyette, Principal Investigator
Senay Cebioglu, Principal Investigator
Haneul Jang, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Vidrige Kandza, NGO Partner

Key information

Full title: Cultural dynamics of well-being at global intersections in the Congo Basin
Host institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany)
Research location: Republic of the Congo

Project overview 

In many parts of the world, Indigenous people have to confront new ways of living because of the activities of people from the so-called ‘western world’. Extractive industries and non-governmental organizations are major players in this picture. While these outsiders can cause major disruptions to the local economies and cultures, they also bring new ideas and ways of making a living. Unsurprisingly, there is diversity in who is drawn to the new opportunities, who has the greatest chance of benefiting from them, and who suffers from new inequalities that can emerge.

As roads bring economic, ecological, social and cultural changes to remote parts of the Republic of the Congo’s tropical forests, the effects of these changes on forest-dwellers’ well-being remain uncertain. Our project aims to map the paths between change and people’s understandings and experiences of health – Photo by Adam Boyette

Our study aims to understand what propels certain people to engage in new cultural practices driven by what is often called ‘globalization’, and how such engagement impacts their health and well-being. Cultural Evolutionary Theory predicts that people are likely to adopt new cultural practices based on individual differences like age, and features of human psychology like a tendency to follow the crowd. Focusing on one village in a remote region of the Republic of the Congo, we ask: What else contributes to people’s decision to embrace the products and practices of globalization? What is the impact of their own cultural preferences and knowledge? Does their perspective on the environment matter? And, for those who adopt new practices, do these improve or harm their health and well-being?


Co-PI Adam Boyette has written a blog about the recent developments in the project now that fieldwork has taken place. The blog has been translated into French as well, please click the links below to read more.

Project contacts

If you would like to contact the project team, please email the grant management team in the first instance, at

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