American Anthropologist 1983
Brady, Ivan. Speaking in the Name of the Real: Freeman and Mead on Samoa. American Anthropologist 1983 Vol.85:908-918.
This paper presents further discussion on the controversy between Derek Freeman and Margaret Mead on Samoa. Derek Freeman’s book, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of Anthropological Myth, published in 1983, brought forth the credibility of Mead’s work and has raised questions concerning the discipline of anthropology. He set out to prove that Mead misunderstood the Samoan society because of her strong belief in cultural determinism, blinding her from the truth. Freeman thought it more important to prove she was wrong rather than to publish his own research of the people.
According to Freeman, Mead shouldn’t be blamed for the wrong information since she was only twenty-three years of age and a student of Franz Boas who was an absolute believer in the cultural determinism theory. This claim made about Franz Boas is incorrect since his writings defend both arguments, the biological and the cultural views. Freeman questions the professional integrity of Franz Boas in order to prove that Mead misunderstood the information. According to Freeman, Mead’s findings were based on an “anthropological myth.” He believes that there’s only one reality, one truth, although he fails to acknowledge that ethnographic research is all about interpretation according to each researcher. Presently, Samoans disagree with Mead’s findings because they have been educated with Western values. It is important to note that Freeman failed as a social scientist because he dismissed all other studies made in Samoa by other ethnographers. Not only were his studies made 20 years after Mead’s, but his survey on adolescent girls was done in Upolu, not on the island of Ta’u where Mead did her work. As to the girls she interviewed, they gave their personal interpretations of the world around them, making them unlikely to lie.
The author comments on Freeman’s book by saying, “it fails in its history, in its ethnography, and as a scientific refutation.” As for Margaret Mead’s book on Samoa, the author raises this important question: “Can this book, badly written and deeply destructive, alter what people think about the value of Anthropology?”
JANI TRINDADE York University (Naomi Adelson).
Brumfiel, Elizabeth M. Aztec State Making: Ecology, Structure, and the Origin of the State. American Anthropologist June 1983 Vol.85(2):261-284
Brumfiel’s objective is to discuss state formation in terms of the ecological variables utilized by the Aztecs. She wants to explain three main points, “the strengths and weaknesses of the ecological approach to state formation in its current form, suggest how a greater emphasis on the internal dynamics of political systems might enhance our understanding of state formation, and to illustrate the utility of a structural approach by reviewing the developmental history of the Aztec state” (261). Brumfiel proposes a question, “why and how do states emerge?” (261)
A state is defined as, “a powerful, specialized institution for political administration; therefore, state officeholders can function as highly effective problem solvers” (262). Brumfiel explains that in, “the attempt to explain why states emerge in some times and places and not others” (261), the cause is two opposing approaches: the ecological and the structural. The ecological approach is the most common, while the structural approach has not been fully explored.
Aztec state formation is said to be the probable cause of the primary state formation. Aztec state formation is described as, “interactions among small, autonomous polities within rather narrow graphic confines: the Valley of Mexico and immediately adjoining areas” (266). Brumfiel compares the city to a well-developed chiefdom, by way of, “size and internal structure” (266). Brumfiel summarizes the events surrounding the Aztec state formation. The summary is outlined as such, “the defeat of Azcapotzalco, the formation of the Triple Alliance, and the consolidation of control over the Valley of Mexico” (267). This outline marked the beginning of a new political era.
Brumfiel gives a brief description of the four steps in Aztec state formation. The first step is collapse of the prestate structure. She refers to this as, “a period of militaristic expansionism” (270). The second step is organizational reform. She defines this step as, “the principle of rule by a local ruling lineage was reaffirmed partly as a public relations gesture, and partly as a strategy for balancing the power of nobility…” (273). The third step is consolidation of power where public works are initiated and conquests were expanded. Last, the fourth step is bureaucratic complexity, which was gradually developed, and accompanied by the third step where the public works were initiated.
In summation, the author points out the obvious differences between ecological and structural approaches. The ecological approach focuses on, “the implications of ecological variables for human populations as whole entities” (278). The structural approach focuses on; “the implications of ecological variables for prestate political orders specifically” (278).
This article was average. The description was very detailed, but due to the length you forgot the main points. The article never gave a detailed description on the origin of the state, which was part of the article’s objective. Also the article never explained why state emerges, only how.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
JENINE CLEMENTS Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Brimfield, Elizabeth M. Aztec state Making: ecology, structure, and the origin of the state. American Anthropologist June 1983 Vol. 85 (2): 261-284.
The author talked about the Aztec state formation “in terms of ecological variables” (261). The author defined the state as “a powerful complex, permanently instituted system of centralized political administration, exercises sovereignty in caring out basic political functions… and its authority in these matter is buttressed by sovereignty in the of force within its jurisdiction.” (261). The author tries to explain “why state emerges in some times and places but not others” (261) with two contrasting approaches: the structural and the ecological.
The structural approach states that “state formation redirects attention to the implication of ecological variables for prestate political orders specifically.” (278). The ecological approach is concerned with the “implication of ecological variables for human population as whole entities” (278), and has received more attention than the structural approach. The author goes on and explains that “the strengths and weaknesses of the ecological approach to state formation in its current form to suggest how a greater emphasis on the internal dynamics of a political system might enhance our understanding of state formation; and to illustrate the utility of a structural approach by reviewing the developmental history of the Aztec state” (262). The Aztec state formation “was the result of interactions among small autonomous polities within rather narrow geographic confines”(266). The author also talks about the “defeat of Azapalzalco, the formation of the triple Alliance, and the consolidation of control over the valley of Mexico” which, all together, mark the beginning of a new political era” (267). The author described the four steps of Aztec state formation as follows: the first step is the “collapse of the pre-state structure”. The second step is the “organization reform” where the “principle of rule by a local ruling lineage members was reaffirmed…partly as a public relations gesture…and partly as a stratagem for balancing the power of the nobility within” (273). The third step is the “consolidation of power” where “the triple alliance initiated large-scale public works within the valley and expansionary conquests beyond” (274). The fourth step is the “bureaucratic complexity” in which “the initiation of public works and militaristic expansionism was accompanied by the gradual development of bureaucratic complexity” (275).
CLARITY RATE: 2
Wajma Lodin, California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)
Ember, Carol B. The Relative Decline in Women’s Contribution to Agriculture with Intensification American Anthropologist June, 1983 Vol.85(2):285-304
Historically females have contributed less to outside/manual labor in agricultural systems as they become intensively based. Carol Embers refutes the hypothesis of plowing/irrigation as an explanation in place at the present time, and offers her explanation of increased amount of domestic work expected of females. Her secondary point is about females’ higher involvement in horticultural systems of subsistence, and males’ decreased role in these types.
Embers refutes the plow/irrigation theory by stating that it is not obvious why women do not take part, and that it certainly cannot be attributed to strength (due to the majority of labor being placed upon plow animals). She next contends that women decline in all areas when plow/irrigation comes to be the dominant method, and that women could theoretically do more of the other types of work necessary.
Embers goes on to offer her own explanation based upon the evidence related to females’ increased domestic responsibilities in intensive-agricultural systems. These include processing/preparation of foods (related to the types produced between horticultural and agricultural systems), household chores such as cleaning (related to type of household between horticultural and agricultural systems), and finally increased emphasis on childcare.
This last point is expounded upon by Embers, in that there is proof of higher fertility rates for intensive-agricultural systems, thus more childcare (due to more children) duties expected of females in the domestic sphere. Evidence is based upon research done in the areas of the desire for more children, relaxed attitudes toward post-partum sex taboo, changes in economy/diet, and incidence of sterility and venereal disease. She also recognizes contraceptive use/availability, and rates of infanticide and abortion as possible explanations.
Embers’ second point analyzes possible explanations for men not being more involved labor wise in horticulturally based subsistence systems. In her inquiry, she examines the issues of hunting practices, warfare, and trade as possibilities.
Embers’ article, in my opinion, definitely presents a feminist point of view regarding female involvement in leadership/political duties in pre-industrial intensive-agricultural systems. She presents some valid examples/hypotheses, backed by substantial research and sources. Her writing style delivers in a clear/concise fashion.
AGUSTIN PINA Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Ember, R. Carol. The Relative Decline in Women’s Contribution to Agriculture with Intensification. American Anthropologist June, 1954 Vol. 85(2): 285-304.
The article written by Carol Ember is on women in agriculture. Ember is a professor of Anthropology at Hunter College. He discusses why the intensification of agriculture is associated with a decline in women’s contribution to agriculture. By using statistical evidence the author tries to prove that women become more responsible for domestic work with the intensification of agriculture. This additional work explains the “relative decline” in women’s contribution to agriculture. The author uses the term “relative decline” throughout the article with references to women’s contribution to subsistence in intensive agricultural societies. The term is used because the evidence described in the article supports Boserup’s suggestion that women actually do as much agricultural work in intensive as in nonintensive agricultural societies. The term is used because the evidence described in the article supports Boserup’s suggestion that women actually do as much agricultural work in intensive as in nonintensive agriculture. Ember uses many scholars in support of his argument.
The article begins with a discussion of plowing as one common interpretation of the relative decline. The author points out three major problems with the “plow” explanation. The first problem is that according to Ember it is not obvious why women do not plow. He disagrees with two common arguments given for why men have to do certain work. One is that the work requires great muscular strength. Ember disagrees by stating that plows are usually either animal-drawn or mechanized, therefore they do not require too much strength. He supports his statement by pointing out that in many societies women do very heavy work, including the clearing of land for cultivation. The other argument that Ember challenges is that work of plowing is incompatible with childcare. Ember states that it might be dangerous to have children with the mother on the field, aspecially if she has to carry the child as she plows. Ember believes that women try not to take little children with them to the fields. He gives an example from his fieldwork in Samoa of the mothers, which left their children with caretakers when they went to the fields.
The second major problem with the “plow” interpretation is that even if women cannot or do not plow, why couldn’t women keep up their relative contribution by doing more of the other agricultural work. The author compares the opposing suggestions of Boserup, Murdock, and Provost. Ember concludes that the development of plowing cannot account for the relative decline in female contribution to all kinds of agricultural work in societies that cultivate intensively. The third problem is approached with a question of why women should be doing a lot of work in crop production prior to intensification. Ember states that if horticulture requires less work than intensive agriculture then why don’t men do most of the work in horticulture too.
The author goes on to discussing what he calls the “increased domestic work” interpretation. Ember suggests that the shift to men doing more then women in intensive agriculture may be due to an increase in domestic work. He states that women in preindustrial societies depend on intensive agriculture have to spend more time processing crops and preparing food, doing other household chores, and caring for children. These now more time-consuming activities do not allow for women to contribute to intensive agriculture. Ember goes on to discussing reasons for increased domestic work. For example, the time spent processing crops and preparing food increases because of intensive agriculturists’ greater dependence on cereal crops. Ember also discusses for reasons for increased fertility. Lastly he explains high female contribution to horticulture. The article ends with a brief summary. The author points out that the statistical evidence is consistent with the theory that women contribute relatively less to agriculture when it becomes intensive due to their domestic work and fertility increase.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
DAGMARA ROMANSKA York University (Naomi Adelson)
Freed, Stanley A & Ruth S. Freed. Clark Wissler and the Development of Anthropology in the United States. American Anthropologist December, 1983 Vol. 85 (4): 800-825.
Beginning with a brief introduction, the authors list some attributes of Clark Wissler. They comment that he is probably the least understood and underrated figure in American anthropology. Although he accomplished many things, his fame was diminished in the focus on Boas, Kroeber, and Lowie. This may be credited to several reasons. First, his personality was more subdued than Boas. He was said to be quiet and reserved. And second, he was not a member of the Boasian school of influence. Thus, he received less attention.
Continuing on, the article gives a biographical sketch of Wissler. He was born of English and Swiss descent in Wayne County, Indiana. Thriving in school he continued his education at Indiana University; then received his Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia, in 1901. While at Columbia he attended classes taught by Boas. This has been thought to be what influenced him to change from psychology to anthropology, but Wissler attributes his interest to James Mckeen Cattell. It was Cattell who supervised his dissertation. Shortly thereafter, Wissler earned a position at the American Museum. His administrative and organizational skills proved successful for the position. While Wissler was at the American Museum, he made his most significant scientific contributions. While in this position of Acting Curator of Ethnology, Boas, who also worked at the museum, resigned. This resignation is thought by the authors to be one of the most important, but least recognized events in American anthropology. Wissler’s actions and his relations with Boas are considered as some causes for Boas’ resignation. The circumstances and event are then discussed in following pages of the article.
Wissler’s ideas on theory of cultural anthropology went beyond those of Boas. Wissler had four definitions of culture. These definitions all fit into subcategories that have been classified by Kroeber and Kluckhorn as psychological, genetic, descriptive, and normative. He also developed contributions for culture age, age area, culture pattern and the universal pattern of culture. These contributions established a basis for cross-cultural comparison.
While the article does establish Wissler’s merits for acknowledgement, the first part seems to be more of a defense against the Boasian school. It yields constant comparisons between the two. However, the point of the article is conservative and defined.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
ANNE BREKKEN Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Freed, A. Stanley and Freed, S. Ruth. Clark Wissler and the Development of Anthropology in the United States. American Anthropologist 1983 Vol.85:800-825.
In their articles, titled “Clark Wissler and the Development of Anthropology in the United States,” Stanley A Freed, and Ruth S Freed draw an outline of the significant contribution of the American anthropologist Clark Wissler, while they try to account for his diminished reputation.
They begin by briefly reflecting on his (professional) biography. In so doing they describe Wissler’s humble origins, and explain how it was that he eventually made the shift from psychology to anthropology. Thereby tracing his career from Columbia to Yale. In the process explaining the significant differences between Wissler’s and Boas’s style or approach, the former being one more likely to compromise and the later being more outspoken and having a magnetic personality. Furthermore they argue that Wissler was more fit for museum work, not only because of his style but also his exceptional coordinating skills and his extra-ordinary drive in field work, exhibitions etc. While Boas on the other hand lacked skills in theorizing and was better adapted to the university. To qualify this the authors note the radically different results of the Jesup Expedition (under Boas) that yielded little theorizing and comparative analysis, and the American Museum’s Plains research (under Wissler), which instead produced significant theoretical analysis.
The authors then reflect on Wissler’s contributions in key theories:
1. Culture Area: a concept that shifted analytical focus from the culture and history of a specific social unit to its location in a cross-cultural trait-complex analysis. Thus the adaptations of a culture to its environment diffuse to the limits of its geographical area.
2. Culture Pattern: whereby dominant beliefs or patterns within a culture have bearing on, or modify any diffusion of alien traits.
3. Age and Area: a concept facilitating historical differences, stating that widely spread traits generally tend to be older than the more localized ones.
4. Universal Pattern of Culture: a very broad theory that extends the comparative ability of culture area to include ‘culture’ in general. In other words it would facilitate the comparison of cultures that don’t share similar trait complexes or cultural areas. Thus it seeks the very “essence of humanity” and lists nine basic divisions: speech, material traits, art, mythology and scientific knowledge, religious practices, family and social systems, property, and war.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
BEHZAD SARMADI York University (Naomi Adelson)
Furbee, Louanna and Robert A. Benfer. Cognitive and Geographic Maps: Study of Individual Variations Among Tojolabal Mayans. American Anthropologist June 1983 Vol. 85(2):305-330.
The authors’ objective is to observe and learn “the meanings of disease terms to the native(s)” of the Tojolabal Indians in Mexico (Furbee and Benfer 305). Disease beliefs are described by the authors as being influenced and determined by location or geography. According to the informants in the authors’ study, disease can be separated into three categories of hot, cold, and temperate, where each category is thought to have a hot, cold, and temperate version, making a possibility of 9 types of diseases. Furthermore, these diseases are described as originating from either God or other humans. The diseases handed out by God are thought to be the better kinds of diseases because “they can be treated and cured”, while the diseases sent from other humans are seen as witchcraft (326). These acts of witchcraft are bad diseases because they resent treatment and are harder to cure.
The curing of these hot, cold and temperate diseases are described as involving different diagnoses and treatments. Hot diseases are characterized as being “acute”, where fever and a restoration of good heath comes at night with the cool weather (323). These hot diseases command “immediate intervention” and are treated with cold-like remedies (323). Cold diseases differ from hot diseases in that cold diseases are marked by “chronic” ailments, demand “less immediate treatment”, and the restoration of good health comes with “the heat of the day” (323). The temperate diseases differ from both the hot and cold diseases in that they are “difficult to diagnose”, “they require time” to correctly diagnose, and that the remedies associated with both hot and cold diseases are the remedies used for temperate diseases (323). The authors believe that because of the relative ambiguity of the temperate diagnosis, the temperate versions of disease are most closely associated with witchcraft because they are difficult to diagnose and resist differing treatments as is characteristic of the varying effects of witchcraft.
The authors arrived at their conclusions regarding the meanings of diseases among the Tojolabal Indians by using multidimensional methods by comparing “individual cognitive ‘maps’ from disease terms and hand-drawn geographic maps” (305). These maps where then compared with each other and with “an official topographic map” to formulate a picture of what villages where associated with what disease and how accurately individual informants identify and interpret these regions. The authors claim that their methods allow for meaningful comparisons ” both among and with in informants”, which allowed them to objectively arrive at their results (305).
The authors provide thorough evidence to legitimate their approach as an objective method of analysis. However, such an emphasis on the approach takes the reader’s attention away from the subject matter of the essay.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
KEVIN BULGER Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Furbee, Louanna and Robert A. Benfer. Cognitive and Geographic Maps: study of individual variation among Tojolabal Mayans. American Anthropologist June 1983 Vol. 85 (2): 305-327.
In the beginning of this article the author stated that diseases are associated with specific locations for the Tojolabal-Maya. The author’s concern has been “to learn the meanings of diseases to the Natives”(305). The authors used multidimensional methods to compare the “individual cognitive “maps” from disease terms… and hand-drawn maps both with one another and with an official topographic map” (305). These maps were very helpful and allowed “meaningful comparisons both among and within informants” (305).
The authors state that there are two sorts of diseases: those sent “from god,” and those sent by humans. Diseases sent by God are seen as the better of the two, or good, because “they can be treated and cured” (323). Diseases sent by humans are seen as bad because they are caused by witchcraft and the treatment for these bad diseases is very hard. “Bad” diseases resist treatment and they require native practitioners to find out the specific cause and treat it. An example of this is a child’s illness, which resulted “from witchcraft directed toward father” (323).
All diseases, good and bad, are divided to three groups: hot, cold, temperate. It is possible that the same disease has all three versions. Each version requires different treatment regimes. A disease may have only two versions, hot and cold. It is also possible that a disease may have only one version. A disease, which is diagnosed as hot, is termed acute and needs immediate attention. Patients with a hot disease are treated with cold remedies. Diseases are diagnosed as chronic if cold while requires “less immediate treatment,” and are treated with hot remedies. Temperate diseases are not like hot or cold; in fact, they are very difficult to diagnose. The authors suggest that the diseases “which have hot, cold and temperate versions, are the ones that are primarily involved with witchcraft” 324).
CLARITY RATE: 3
Wajma Lodin, California State university, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)
Goldstein, Melvyn C., Paljor Tsarong & Cynthia M. Beall. High Altitude Hypoxia, Culture, and Human Fecundity/Fertility: A Comparative Study. American Anthropologist March, 1983 Vol. 85 (1): 28-49
The article begins with an introduction and hypothesis, based on other scientists’ reports that high altitude has a depressing result on fecundity and fertility. The author investigated whether high altitude hypoxia reduces fecundity, using a population in the Himalayas, Ladakh, India an area not yet explored for such evidence. They report that they have found contradictions and problems between the Himalayas and the Andes, where this has been previously examined.
Contrary to previous reports this Himalayan population has a rather high fertility rate. The first problem with previous research is that evidence was gathered as a part of a larger study. It is suggested that after looking at culture one must establish different categories for women because this will display how sociocultural factors affect reduced fertility. Differences in fertility are associated with different marital reproductive categories.
Another possible cause for discrepancy is that in past studies, the sample size has been small and not selected by a random or systematic method. Thus, evidence is skewed or unreliable for analysis. Instead of using different marital categories, the women studied are grouped by reference to socioeconomic status. In conclusion, the low fertility for high altitudes does not appear to be a sign of low fecundity because of biological-environmental factors. Instead the authors suggest that earlier studies have failed to identify crucial factors affecting fertility.
The next section of the article compares high and low altitude populations in the Himalayas, and concludes that there is little support for a difference in fertility. Again shortcomings are presented. The authors note that new research must take “into account the methodological and conceptual factors discussed in this paper”. Until this occurs the only evidence for a “hypoxic effect is primarily anecdotal”.
The article is interesting, but the organization is poor. Also, they never actually defined some of the common terms that were referred to in the paper, for example fecundity, or fertility, in terms of their use of the words.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
ANNE BREKKEN Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Goldstein, Melvyn C., Paljor Tsarong and Cynthia M. Beall. High Altitude Hypoxia, Culture, and Human Fecundity/fertility: A Comparative Study. American Anthropologist March, 1983 Vol. 85 (1): 28-47.
The authors of this article disagree with other researchers’ reports that “high altitude has a depressing effect on fecundity and fertility”(28). The authors tried to replicate the previous study on whether high altitude hypoxia reduces fecundity or not, and did their research in the Himalayas, Ladakh, India. They found that there were “problematic issues” between the Himalayas and the Andes. The new research about a Himalayas’ population indicated that this population has a higher rate of fertility. Problems with the previous research include the fact that the first study did not established different categories of women. Second, the sample size of research was very small and not selected by “a random or systematic sampling method”( 36). For example, the previous research was based on 14 Khumbu women 45 years and older. In fact, the Khumbu population had 260 women over the age of 50. This research’s evidence was not right for analysis. In the previous research, the women studied were categorized by “reference to socioeconomic strata and degree of village acculturation”(37). Goldstein and Beall argue that the low rate of fertility is not due to high altitude hypoxia, but from the mating system in place such as “fraternal polyandry” where “two brothers share one wife” (30). In fact, “sociocaltural factors act to reduce fertility” (30).
Different rates of fertility are dependent on different social-marital reproductive categories, such as fully married, never married, and reduced fertility. Thus, the low fertility of high altitudes does not “reflect low fecundity produced by high altitude hypoxia” or other biological-environmental factors. The authors indicated that previous research was not able “to control for critical confounding factors affecting fertility” (38).
The authors compared the fertility of high and low altitude Himalayan populations and indicated that “the current evidence does not support the conclusion that high altitude Himalayan populations have lower fertility than comparable lowlander populations” (38). New research in this area should take “ into account the methological and conceptual” issues mentioned above Until this takes place, “the evidence for a hypoxia affect is primarily anecdotal”(47).
CLARITY RATE: 3
Wajma Lodin California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)
Handwerker, W. Penn. The First Demographic Transition: An Analysis of Subsistence Choices and Reproductive Consequences. American Anthropologist. March 1983 Vol.85(1):5-27.
Penn Handwerker provides data in his essay which questions fundamental assumptions of both demographers and anthropologists. His objective is to reevaluate the fertility patterns previously assumed and reinterpret the determinants of human population growth trends from 30,000 B.P. through the Neolithic. The three main viewpoints of this evaluation consist of the demographer’s view, the anthropologist’s view and the author’s personal view.
The evidence is divided into several sectors. First of all, Handwerker states and explains the four basic variables with which he approaches the topic of fertility. In the following section, the author presents the two main procedures for predicting fertility. Handwerker also provides charts of fertility patterns, which assist his explanation of the data.
The following two sections go hand in hand. The first is dedicated to providing the results of the collected data. The second explains Handwerker ‘s conclusions, which he assesses by three variables accounting for low fertility. Next the author provides possible reasons of why peoples have tried to control fertility, which leads into his discussion of the characteristics during the Pleistocene – Holocene transition. And finally in the last section Handwerker explains the relationships between mortality and population growth. This paper ends with a wrap up of the author’s findings, ideas and conclusions about fertility patterns.
Handwerker provides a lot of information, which is somewhat confusing; however, his charts are a big help in understanding his points. Although the vocabulary is basic, some of Handwerker’s conclusions are not easy to follow. His layout of evidence does not flow smoothly and this makes it difficult to grasp Handwerker’s assumptions. Even though the clarity in this paper is not the greatest, the author does fulfill his purpose of reevaluating fertility patterns.
SUSIE CAIN Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Handwerker, Penn. The First Demographic Transitions: An Analysis of Subsistence choices and Reproductive consequences. American Anthropologist. 1983 85; 5-23
Throughout this article, Handwerker examines the patterns of fertility within the foragers’ society and the agricultural society. Handwerker points out that between the two societies, many factors have contributed to the fertility rate decrease. The factors that were brought out throughout the article were advancements within technology, freedom of choice to conceive, time and age as well as financial stability that make many couples choose not to reproduce.
CLARITY RANKING: 1
TAMAR PAPISMEDOV York University, Toronto (Naomi Adelson).
Hays, Terence E. Ndumba Folk Biology and General Principles of Ethnobotanical Classification and Nomenclarure American Anthropologist September, 1983 Vol. 85(3):592-611.
This article focuses on Ndumba folk biology and the way they conceptualize and label their local fauna. The author uses a slightly modified version of a proposal by Brent Berlin on the general principles of classification and nomenclature. The main part of the article begins with a description of who the Ndumba are and the type of fauna they consume. There is no general term for animals in the Ndumba language, instead, there are two forms of classification, kaapwaa, or food animals and faahi-kuri, literally rodent-birds but best glossed as game animals.
The Ndumba classify animals in numerous ways like many people around the world. Classifications include habitat, edibility, economic significance, and other criteria. Not all categories possess distinctive names, though they can be characterized as primary and secondary lexemes, as in America where there are distinctive names for a toad and a frog. Ndumbas classify many insects as just insects or birds as just birds. Hays gives a diagram to help follow Ndumba taxonomies as well as their lexicons. Using Berlin’s suggestion of classification, Hays proposes taxonomic ranks of kingdom, life form, generic, specific, and varietal. These terms are used for identification, description, and analysis of the different folk biological categories. The ranks, however, are based on Berlin’s schema and include taxonomic, linguistic, psychological, and biological features. Hays considers the rankings by Berlin as working hypotheses.
At this point the article begins discussing the taxa life form rank, classified as level 1 of the taxonomic structure. There are eight taxa that occur at level 1: rodents, marsupials and monotremes, frogs and toads, dogs and cats, reptiles, birds and bats, insects and arachnids, and lastly pigs and livestock. A background description of each taxon is given, following each category. From here, each rank is discussed at length before following with a conclusion, discussing Berlin’s schema and its use in ethnography.
The beginning of this article proves to be a difficult read but becomes easier as the article progresses. I would highly recommend re-reading this article several times in order to get a firm grasp of the author’s objective.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
Shanna Crummel Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Hays, Terence E. Ndumba Folk Biology and General Principles of Ethnobotanical Classification and Nomenclature. American Anthropologist 1983 Vol 85: 592-611
Hay’s research involved the Ndumba, a group of 450 Trairora speakers in Eastern New Guinea. The men of this group survive on eels, birds and marsupials, while the women survive mainly on rodents, frogs, lizards and insects. Hays looks at the system of nomenclature used to classify animals in the Ndumba system, as there is no actual word equivalent to the Western notion of “animal” or “animal kingdom.” Hays conducted research through “…systematic interviews eliciting statements regarding relationships of inclusion and contrast among named plant and animal categories” (606). Much of this paper is a refutation of the work of Brent Berlin and his position on folk nomenclature.
Groups of animals are based upon habitat, importance in Ndumba subsistence, and edibility. The Ndumba animal classificatory system is divided into five categories, but the animals in the same category are not necessarily related or similar by Western standards. The rank includes many different animals and here is a sample of the variation possible. The rodent is in the first level, classified by tail length, size, hair colour and habitat. The category of rodent includes ten different kinds of rodents. Marsupials (tree kangaroos, possums, wallabies, cuscuses, bandicoots and echidnas) are also in this level, classified by tail length, tail type and pelage pattern. The marsupials are divided into 18 kinds. Domestic dogs and cats are also in the first level; cats were added after introduction into Ndumba society by colonial forces. Reptiles and eels are present in the first level and distinctions are made based upon size and colour. Bats and birds are also present and there are 113 divisions within this category. Other categories that fit into the first level of classification are wild pigs and livestock, and spiders.
Hays places much emphasis on the linguistic structure of the folk nomenclature of the Ndumba along with combinations of names given in order to accommodate for new animals brought to awareness by Europeans. There is a lack of some Western animal categories due to lack of presence of certain animals in the Ndumba natural landscape. Hays cannot tell how this complex structure of nomenclature is taught to Ndumba children. Some sets of animals relate to “…major cultural importance” (604).
CLARITY RANKING: 1
AMANDA JONES York University (Naomi Adelson)
Holmes, Lowell. Freeman and Mead: A Tale of Two Studies. American Anthropologist 1983 Vol.85 (7): 929-935.
In this article, Holmes expresses how he feels about the controversial restudy of Margaret Mead’s Samoa by Derrick Freeman. He reveals that it is his belief that there are two reasons for doing a restudy: (1) to contribute to the understanding of the culture, improve the methodology of field research and advance the science of anthropology; or, (2) to refute the findings of a former investigator and by doing so to enhance one’s own career.
Holmes details his experience in Samoa for the reader and states that he did his restudy to determine if differences in the studies were due to cultural change or other personal or methodological factors. He documented the culture for three periods of time: the mid nineteenth century, the 1920’s-30, and 1954. Holmes established when major cultural changes took place that might explain the differences between his research and that of Mead. Holmes motive was not to prove who was right or wrong with his restudy. He does however convey that it is his impression that Freeman’s book tries harder to refute Mead’s data rather than confirm it.
Holmes states that the research could have been affected depending on various circumstances: It could be due to the age and sex of the anthropologist, the time era or generation they are from, who they have traveled with, their methodological training, their own personal interests, the exact location of research, or the culture that they have come from. These are all plausible explanations of why different results can occur.
Holmes then describes facts about Freeman’s work and his visit to Samoa. Holmes thinks that Freeman was interested in challenging Mead’s material and criticized her work even though it was sound.
Lastly Holmes announces that there are studies to confirm that the profiles for Samoa are more compatible with Mead than they are with Freeman.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
PATRICIA A. FALCONI York University (Naomi Adelson).
Matthews, Holly F. Context Specific Variation in Humoral Classification. American Anthropologist December, 1983 Vol.85(4):826-847
Matthews’ article examines the theory of individual variation, when applied to classification in humoral systems. She argues that too many times anthropologists seek to explain behavior on a culture wide basis, and that this neglects the possibility of individuals not thinking/classifying things in the same manner. The theory she opposes claims that there is an underlying, universal cognitive/behavioral structure present in individuals whose cultures employ humoral systems; and that this structure determines how objects are classified. While Matthews agrees that certain principles of classification are indeed universal, she argues that these are used differently based on context, and individual. Her research was done in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The humoral system is based on the beliefs of Hippocrates, the Greek medical figure, about matter. He stated that all matter consisted in varying degrees of heat, cold, wetness, and dryness. Humoral systems usually classify all things known into categories of heat and coolness. Matthews focuses her research on the way in which members of a community classified various foods in different contexts.
She gathered her data by administering tasks which allowed her to examine how individuals came to classify foods, and then re-administering these same tasks upon her departure to test consistency. She also conducted extensive interviews about classification to a different set of informants and recorded their responses. Her final method was to observe behavior in the home, relating to different classification of foods. She found that there were distinct situations which affected the way in which foods were perceived as hot or cold. This was related to the idea that foods (as well as all things hot and cold) should preserve a state of equilibrium.
Matthews first studied the context of food preparation as a determinant of classification. Here the concept of physiological danger became the key whether a food was deemed hot or cold. In these situations foods which were associated with physical ailments such as stomach ache were considered cold, and those associated with gas or heartburn were considered hot. These types of foods are always served together, due to the belief that they will cancel each other out.
The next context Matthews examined which defined classification was the control of sexual behavior. In this situation, neutralization was the desired effect of foods. For example, behavior which was perceived as abnormal was usually attributed to an individual being too hot or cold in his or her character. Foods classified as cool would be given to an individual believed to be hot in behavior, reinforcing the notion of balance. However, these states were believed to be only temporarily alleviated by foods.
The final context in which Matthews examined the classification process was illness/disease treatment. The maintenance of healthy states was the dominant factor. As in the other situations the notion of balance, or offsetting/neutralization, was the important characteristic; hot foods would be used to combat cold illnesses.
Matthews presents a valid viewpoint on the classification process of individuals using humoral systems. She also has a legitimate argument against conclusions drawn by previous anthropologists. Her article is well constructed, and makes some intuitive arguments.
AGUSTIN PINA Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Matthews, Holly. Context-Specific Variation in Humoral Classification. American Anthropologist 1983, Vol. 85 826-847
Matthews’ article attempts to address the issue of Anthropologies assumption of intra-cultural homogeneity through an analysis of humoral values from data collected in Oaxaco, Mexico. She states that the issue is one that has become more prevelant in recent studies and argues that intra-cultural diversity studies are not often discussed within anthropology for two reasons: anthropology emphasizes on the collective, and logistically, the method of analysis. Traditionally a random sample at the population would have been used, however this method is not applicable when one is attempting to observe individual variation. To that end Matthews’ uses the thorough analysis done on the population of Oaxaca.
The study examines humoral perceptions of hot and cold by the people at Oaxaco. The paper then goes on to focus on the shared content at the humoral catergories and not on the classification process itself. From there the observation is made that these humoral values, despite varying across individuals, share principles of classification depending on the context. These perceptions are then qualitatively linked to the context in which the observation is related and a high degree of correlation is noted, resulting in an increase level of predictability (when context is accounted for).
Matthews’ study, while admittedly incomplete, delivers a methodology and orientation that will point to new directions for classification in future studies.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
SIMON ISRAEL York University (Naomi Adelson)
McCabe, Justine. FBD Marriage: Further Support for the Westermarck Hypothesis of the Incest Taboo? American Anthropologist March 1983 Vol.85(1):50-69.
In the Arab Middle East, a salient feature of marriage is the FBD marriage, or marriage to a man’s father’s brother’s daughter (first parallel cousin). FBD marriages constitute roughly one-fourth of marriages in Arab villages, according to statistics.
The author says it would appear that FBD marriages in the Arab Middle East provide evidence to disregard the Westermarck hypothesis of incest (intimate childhood association, with for example, a first cousin, breeds sexual disinterest). However, she then contends that the FBD marriage actually provides evidence that intimate childhood relationships actually do breed sexual disinterest.
Edward Westermarck’s hypothesis is that there is “set of behaviors upon which the [incest] taboo was built [which] allows the construction of condisjunctive evolutionary sequence.” His theory was that incest avoidance existed to prevent effects of inbreeding. This theory was disregarded by many, due to lack of support after testing the hypothesis.
McCabe cites evidence supporting Westermarck’s hypothesis by naming rhesus monkeys as non-human animals that, while preferring close relatives as grooming partners, show sexual avoidance for siblings. Also, in Taiwan, a natural test of the hypothesis is possible due to two types of marriage there; sim-pua, or minor marriage, and major. The minor marriage unites a couple who is as close as brother and sister. The major marriage unites a bridal pair who has not met up to the day of the wedding. Evidence showed that the major generally produced more children and had a lower rate of divorce and/or adultery.
McCabe cites data that she gathered in a southern Lebanon village. While doing her research, she found much interaction between paternal opposite and same-sex cousins of all ages. The cousins teased and acted with affection toward each other, much like siblings would.
The author, after witnessing these interactions, predicted that continued intimate interaction among cousins would lead to dissatisfied marriages between the cousins. She used the Taiwanese model of marriage; those who married after knowing each other intimately since childhood would have a lower birth rate and a higher divorce rate. She found that the first parallel cousin marriages (FBD marriages) had more than four times the divorce rate of other marriages in the village. There was also a lower birth rate in FBD marriages, as predicted. Matrilineal first cousins (MBD) have a generally higher rate of success in marriage, as the children do not generally have as much opportunity to become intimately acquainted as in an FBD relationship. McCabe concludes the FBD marriage in this instance has supporting evidence for Westermarck’s hypothesis.
This article was difficult to follow and understand. The author (admittedly) had inconclusive data, and was working on another project in the village while compiling this data. I found the article jumped from subject to subject without need or warning. It was also repetitive at times.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
KRISTA CHAMBERS Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
McCab, Justine. FBD Marriage: further support for the Westermarch Hypothesis of the Incest Taboo? American Anthropologist March 1983 Vol. 85 (1): 50-69.
FBD Marriages, or marriages to “a man’s father’s brother’s daughter” (patrilateral parallel cousin), make up from 9% to 30% of all marriages in the Arabic villages. The Westermark’s hypothesis stated that “intimate childhood association breeds sexual disinterest.” Justine provides evidence to support this. In 1970, In Taiwan, there were two types of marriages: sim-pua, or minor marriage, and major marriage. The minor marriage allowed “a baby girl to be adopted into” and raised by a family as “the future bride for their son” (50). In the major form of marriage “the bridal pairs do not meet until their wedding day” (57). Research showed that major marriages produced more children and that the rate of divorce and adultery are lower than with the minor form of marriage. This evidence supports the Westermarck’s hypothesis.
In a Lebanon village (Bayt Al-Aser), Justine’s research found that the “maturing and grown (unmarried) opposite-sex first cousins to be extremely friendly and caring with one another” (58), but with a patrilatral parallel cousin as spouse marriage became unhappy or dissatisfied. As a result, the FBD marriage had higher rate of divorce and lower rate of birth. In the village, the FBD marriage divorce rate was four times higher than “ all other marriages” (61). MBD (mother’s brother’s daughter) marriages are more successful the author states because of less interaction during childhood, supporting Westermarck’s hypothesis.
CLARITY RATE: 3
Wajma Lodin, California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)
Moseley, Michael E. The Good Old Days Were Better: Agrarian Collapse and Tectonics. American Anthropologist December, 1983 Vol.85(4):773-799
This article serves to outline the theory of plate tectonics and also to speculate about ideas supporting the hypothesis of agrarian collapse of the Andean mountainous region. The hypothesis surrounding agrarian collapse states that areas of the world undergo tectonic shifting. The tectonic shifting can cause the slope of superior lands to change, which leads to the alteration of waterfall runoff, ground water, and erosion patterns. The changing patterns of water flow produced difficulties in crop growth, eventually causing agrarian collapse.
The author provides brief explanations of the problem involved with the collapse, variables of the hypothesis, and several physical considerations. The watershed is one of the physical consequences. A watershed consists of metamorphic and crustal igneous rock that lay along a fault line. Another physical consideration is the littoral zone. Melted glacier waters caused land-sea levels to change at river mouths and the littoral zone. Numerous other physical possibilities are mentioned in the article.
The format of this article is clearly laid out; however, some of the sections of discussion are unclear as to how they pertain to the topic of the overall article. This article is lengthy and terms from geology and seismology are used much too loosely with no explanation provided for the layperson.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
ALLISON GOFF Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Moseley, Michael E. The Good Old Days Were Better: Agrarian Collapse and Tectonics. American Anthropologist. 1985 Vol.85:773-799
A hypothesis of agrarian collapse, or “HAC”, is proposed by Moseley as a possible reason for the change of land from previously farmed land to land that is no longer agriculturally suitable. HAC functions on the premise that no cultural association with land abandonment can be determined before the natural causes are first considered. Rather than cultural or agricultural practices as reasons for the changing suitability of the land, a more unseen force is theorized to be at work. The reason for the abandonment of land is thought to be movement in tectonic plates. As these plates move, the slope of the land changes, changing the flow of runoff, groundwater and conditions of erosion. The change in patterns of vegetation growth follows.
The study focuses on the Andes of South America and the abandonment of land in the city of Chan Chan in the Moche Valley. There is no evidence to suggest any social catastrophe that would cause an abandonment of farmland in this area. Certain physical considerations must be made when studying the land in question. The watershed and rates and nature of tectonic activity can give indication to the influence on the hydrological practice of the time. The gradient of the land and the changes in the water table are considered conditions that would contribute to a change in the irrigation system of the time. The changes explored involve analyzing the distribution of the water and not changes in the amount of water.
A historical outline is provided in order to realize the full effects of the tectonic movements. Hydraulic works and irrigation systems are examined in order to understand the agriculture of the area and the growth of the city. Most of the abandoned land lies in areas that have a high occurrence of seismic and volcanic activity, further pushing the theory that it is the movement of the land that changes the distribution of water and, consequently, the agricultural suitability of the land.
ANNA COLOMBO York University (Naomi Adelson)
Osborn, Alan J. Ecological Aspects of Equestrian Adaptation in Aboriginal North America American Anthropologist September, 1983 Vol.85(3):563-591.
This article presents an ecologically based model to explain the distribution of horses, and the variation in the size of herds in aboriginal North America. The paper starts out describing the significance the horse has played in aboriginal societies in western North America. The paper suggest that “anthropologists must first understand the nature of environmental constraints imposed on horse herd size before they examine aspects of aboriginal life that were a function of horse numbers.” (565). The correlation between horse population and weather is then presented. A hypothesis is made that states: “if winter forage and its availability is a limiting factor for horse populations in western North America, horse herd size (tribal herds) should decrease as winter severity (WSI) increases” (572). Data, charts, graphs, formulas and background environmental conditions are then presented to test and confirm this hypothesis.
The paper then touches on how this information can help us understand the human behavior and equestrian adaptations in western North America. How human group size relates to the number of horses is discussed, the data showing an increase in human group size correlating with the existence and amount of horses present. The article concludes with a summary of the findings, and questions concerning equestrian adaptations. The author hopes his article can help others find answers for these questions concerning the past in aboriginal North America.
This article contains a lot of information in an organized fashion. This article will be useful for anyone working on equestrian adaptation in aboriginal North America. It provides a clear argument that the ecologically based explanatory model is a more logical model than the previously presented cultural diffusionist or historical particularist paradigm. The article uses the scientific method to present this argument and organizes the data collected into useful charts throughout the paper.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
HEATHER MCISAAC Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Osborn, Alan J. Ecological Aspects of Equestrian Adaptations in Aboriginal North America. American Anthropologist. 1983 Vol.85:563-591
The author makes the argument in this article that human behaviour and culture are directly related to the environment that a specific group of lives in. He uses ecological models to account for the differential distribution of horses in Aboriginal North America. The introduction of horses into this society widened their activities and hunting abilities. Anthropologists also feel that horses effected the culture of the Aboriginals, however the author feels that it was not an abrupt change as many of his peers think. We first need to look at the environmental factors that affected horse herd size.
The author finds that geographical variations exist for horse-herd size from group to group. Milder winters tended to favour the acquisition and maintenance of horses, whereas groups with few horses tended to live in areas with severe winters. Horses require geographical areas with adequate food and water supplies along with proper shelter during the winter. Winter reduces the amount of food and water sources, making maintenance of horses difficult for groups in areas of harsh winters. The environment, therefore, affected the horse care and aboriginal behaviour from group to group. The author identifies resettlement programs as problematic in that they changed the relationship between climatic conditions and horse herd size. So, although some tribes were in fair environmental situations, they still had low herd sizes.
Climatic data and horse population data are used to support the ecological perspective that the author takes. This perspective will allow anthropologists to more adequately determine the lifestyles of Aboriginals in North America. The ecological perspective will also be useful to archaeologists to understand the temporal and spatial situations of horse herd size. This perspective will move us from an examination of horse ecology to one of human behaviour and horse adaptations. The author found that the introductions of horses increased the size of the home, decreased travel time for hunters while also increasing their success.
KARA STEWART York University: (Naomi Adelson)
Plattner, Stuart. Economic Custom in a Competitive Marketplace. American Anthropologist December, 1983 Vol. 85(4): 848-858
Stuart begins his article with a short introduction expressing the importance of developing relationships between a buyer and a seller of goods and services. Here he also tells us that rationality plays a role in economic decision making. The article is then divided into two sections. The first section develops a theory and defines terms, while the second section tests the hypothesis in a real present day situation.
Using the example of a trader and a foreigner he shows us the meaning of “equilibrating relationships”, to bring attention to meanings and reciprocities. Our trader will not sell his goods to the stranger because she knows that miles away there are people who rely on her product. If she were to sell her goods, this would ruin the established relationships with her daily patrons. They have an understanding that goes beyond the money-for-goods situation. This “equilibrating relationship” is “reciprocal, open-ended, and long-run”(Stuart: 849). Another term that is defined, though less extensively is “balanced reciprocity”. This tends to be “specific, nonreciprocal, closed-ended, and short-run”. Stuart uses the example of the purchase of a movie ticket.
It is then that Stuart presents the idea that the features of the goods and services exchanged affect an economic relationship. It is the consumers’ job to seek out the preferred bundle. He calls this “search quality”. However, in some markets no economic attributes have become more important efficient production of their goods. This is the case for some fishermen and fish buyers. Thus, social qualities create free entry into the system and a competitive marketplace. Historical investment creates a stable society too. There is less stress placed on these environments from aspects of mobility and change. Such is the case in Soulard Market in St. Louis, Missouri. The majority of these vendors have rented stalls here for three generations. While Soulard Market is a quaint reminder of the past, it exists as a “real” marketplace as well.
In the second section he suggests why some sellers abstain from maximum profit to achieve consistent relationships. The benefits of this practice include insuring consumers, a steady habit of chores, and stable income. Buyers then receive convenience and habit, resulting in a good relation between the two.
The article is easily read. The author gives good examples and supports statements and concepts.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
ANNE BREKKEN Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Plattener, Stuart. Economic Custom in a competitive Marketplace. American Anthropologist December 1983 Vol. 85 (4): 848-857.
The author talks about the important relationships between merchants and customers. “Rationality is by identifying subtle but clearly economic constraints that would influence any reasonable decision-maker from any cultural background” (848). He tried to illustrate that the “equilibrating relationships are embedded in a thick fabric of meanings and reciprocities” (849). For example, a trader does not sell her products to foreigners even if she is offered a higher price. If she sells her products to a foreigner, it would ruin her relationships with her local customers. Her customers may decide to give “their trade to her competitors” (849). To keep her long-term relationships was more important than a foreigner’s money. Each product serves to “keep the relationships than to maximize value.” Long-term relationships are defined as “generalized, reciprocal, open-ended, and long-run” (849). The author introduces the reader to another term, “balance reciprocity,” which is a “specific, non reciprocal, closed-end, and short run” (849). Hementioned the buying of a movie ticket as an example (849).
The author also shows us that services and goods exchanged affect the “quality of an economic relationships” (849). “Noneconomic attributes of individual bosses, which allowed them to create and maintain the trust of buyers, may have been more crucial than efficient production” of goods (851). The Soulard Market is a classical market place in St. Louis, Missouri. Most vendors at the Souland market have been there for a long time which make it “a remarkably stable institution in a society which stresses mobility and change” (851). Strong relationships exist between buyers and sellers. “Social benefits from customary shopping are important” (853). Many customers shop in the marketplace “because they enjoy it” and enjoy dealing with owners of the businesses (853). “Economic customs is important in industrialized commercial societies as well as in the agrarian world” (856).
CLARITY RATE: 2
Wajma Lodin, California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)
Quilter, Jeffrey and Terry Stocker. Subsistence Economies and the Origins of Andean Complex Societies American Anthropologist September, 1983 Vol.85(3):545-562.
Much of the literature on preceramic Peru has been centered on the relative importance of marine versus terrestrial resources, the maritime hypothesis and the terrestrial hypothesis, in the subsistence economy of the large coastal preceramic sites. In the past scholars have argued that maritime resources were unreliable, insufficiently abundant, and lacking enough protein to support coastal populations. Jeffrey Quilter and Terry Stocker maintain that land-based resources played an important role in the development of complex societies in Peru, but that marine resources also played an important role in that development as well. Critics of the maritime hypothesis have raised points worthy of consideration in evaluating the role of seafood in prehistoric diets. Quilter and Stocker believe that certain aspects of the maritime versus terrestrial resources debate rest on misconceptions of what the argument is about and on a poor understanding of preceramic subsistence economies. In their review of available ethnographical, archeological, and environmental data they set out to show just how important seafood was to the preceramic peoples of Peru and the development of complex societies.
In the first section Quilter and Stocker begin by questioning variation in dates of sites found, the diversity and abundance of native species in prehistoric times versus today, evidence found by physical anthropologists that indicates considerable time and energy spent getting seafood in skeletons recovered, and the role of technology in the gathering of seafood. The second section focuses on the importance of seafood, focusing mainly on the variety of seafood consumed and the benefits of seafood as compared with land resources. This section walks through debates on protein consumption, preservability of seafood, and the variety of foods available and consumed from the sea. The third section focuses on the role of agriculture, the effects of El NiZo, and strategies for disaster.
The article is obviously part of an ongoing debate between scholars about the importance of maritime resources versus terrestrial resources in the development of complex societies in Peru. Although Quilter and Stocker write in a manner easily understood, they are clearly writing for other scholars and proponents of the terrestrial hypothesis in an attempt to persuade them to look at the Abigger picture@ and to begin taking into account the importance of seafood in preceramic Peru.
SARA A. FELLOWS Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Quilter, Jeffrey., & Stocker, Terry. Subsistence Economies and the Origins of Andean Complex Societies. American Anthropologist 1983 Vol.85:545-561.
In Western South America, complex societies appeared to have developed independent of outside influences. The maritime hypothesis versus the terrestrial hypothesis is debated in the article to explain the appearance of this phenomenon along the central coast of Peru. The maritime hypothesis holds that the abundant marine resources were able to support the development of the complex societies in the late preceramic period, which set the foundation for the later cultural development. The terrestrial hypothesis argues that the marine resources were unreliable and insufficient to support the coastal population. This hypothesis argues that the preceramic people of Peru did not have adequate technology to exploit the marine resources and, therefore, the land-based resources played the key role in the development of complex societies in the area. The authors cite evidence of how the marine and terrestrial resources available today are less abundant than in the preceramic period.
Examination of the Paloma cite demonstrates that the people spent considerable time and energy collecting seafood due to the large quantity of shells, and the skeletal evidence, available. There is evidence at the Paloma cite of elaborate fishing technology. Seafood played an important role in the subsistence strategies of the preceramic people of Peru. Some theorists argue that the shellfish available contained a low ratio of protein compared to terrestrial animals and that agricultural subsistence strategies would have offered greater security because of the unpredictable environment of the area. The way in which El Nino may have affected these subsistence economies is discussed and debated in detail.
The ability to preserve and transport seafood over long distances is a problem for the maritime hypothesis. By the late preceramic period large complex structures that required planning and organized labour were being built. The authors propose that it was a mixed economy of seafood and domesticated plants, which was able to support these massive undertakings. Long distance trade between highland and coastal cultures is believed to have spread a common ideology among Andean people during the late preceramic period. Maritime resources were an important part of the development of the social and political integration of the Andean people during this time.
LAURA MONTEITH York University (Naomi Adelson).
Sahlins, Marshall. Other Times, Other Customs: The Anthropology of History. American Anthropologist September, 1983 Vol. 85(3):517-544.
In his article, Sahlins presents a short historiography of historical approaches. First he summarizes recent changes in the field and then defines the two basic approaches taken to historical records. The first he labels “elite history”, history constructed with a focus specifically on individuals at the top of the social hierarchy. The second approach concerns itself with “unconscious structures, collective mentalities, and general economic trends”, basically the influences which affect the community as a whole. Although authors typically laud the second approach as a new one, Sahlins believes that the two are used throughout the historical record cyclically.
Using a variety of cross-cultural examples, Sahlins then discusses what he terms “Heroic History”. He details the adoption of Christianity by the people of the Fiji Islands after their chief, Thakombau, converted in the mid 1800s. Thakombau’s involvement, and hence his people’s, in a war with rival chief Rewa played an instrumental role in his conversion. Sahlins points out that “This really is a history of kings and battles, but only because it is a culture order that, multiplying the action of the king by the system of society, gives him a disproportionate effect.” Thus, history is discussed in terms of the elite, but only because the everything the king did was viewed as on the behalf of all of his people, giving rise to a record of heroic actions on the part of the individual as the history of the society.
Sahlins extrapolates further on the idea of heroic history with examples from the Zulu. Evidence reveals that action on the part of the individual ruler can lead to drastic lifestyle changes for the entire population. Sahlins attributes these changes to the organization of the society, and also briefly discusses the role of the chief as a container of history. Zulu chiefs often referred to themselves in the first person, what Sahlins calls the “heroic I”, even when describing the exploits of their ancestors three or four generations back. The history of a nation becomes segmented along the lines of the ruler in power, and individuals outside of the royal circles may be threatened with varying degrees of “historylessness”.
Sahlins then discusses “Mytho-Praxis”, the practical applications of myth to life. He begins with an example from the Maori culture in which a chief threatens another chief with war through a love poem. In the Maori culture, sex and the female contain connotations of death, a property that the author of the poem manipulates to threaten his rival. Recitations of myths and proverbs lead to socially accepted justifications behind acts in the present, and myths become inextricably linked with the culture’s history. He then illustrates examples of how mythology affected early Maori contact with the British.
Although Sahlins provides a plethora of interesting ethnographic examples, his article was dense and difficult to read. However, his point that cultural traditions and hierarchies play a key role in determining the how the history of a people is constructed is well developed, despite his confusing approach.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
ALYSSA L. BROWN Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Sahlins, Marshall. Other Times, Other Customs: The Anthropology of History. American Anthropologist 1983 Vol. 85:517-543.
Western historians argue over two major methods of proper historiography: that of an elite history narrated through the viewpoint of higher politics, and the study of history as the life of communities. Sahlins argues that different cultural orders have their own modes of historical action, consciousness, and determination – that is, their own historical practice. There is no singular human course and each society has its own life. Societies are comparable in their modes of development (i.e. historicity), as well as their structure.
Sahlins uses the concept of divine kingship as a point of departure to examine the general cultural practice of heroic history (518). That is, how the main relationships of society are projected historically, and embodied currently in the persons of authority (523). The author proposes a hierarchical solidarity to go alongside Durkheim’s mechanical and organic solidarity, and states that the coherence of a society is not due to the similarity or the complementarity of its members, but their collective submission to a ruling power. The collectivity is defined by its adherence to a ruler, and not its cultural attributes.
In heroic history, the judgment of “significance” is a qualitative value determined by the ruler and not based upon other social interactions. As such, collective history resides in royal traditions. The term “society” is replaced with “realm” which connotes the power of the king. Historical consciousness becomes an aspect of formal hierarchy. That is, the kingship provides a timeline for incidents of lineage, or personal recollection, which if taken by itself, is socially meaningless.
At an extreme, Sahlin argues that people can verge on “historylessness” (524), but cultural consciousness is recovered through daily living, and embodied as habitus, as demonstrated in his example of the peoples of Hawai’i. A “people’s code” is formed where the sharing of what is deemed important is not determined by royal rite or myth, but the story of everyday happenings. The cultural consciousness objectified in heroic history appears in the practical activities of the people that correspond to the heroic mode of historical reproduction.
Historicity varies but its absence of structure is inscribed in the habitus, and not its objectification into royal myth. Sahlins argues that societies “find themselves in history” (526) and in order to better understand cultural order, the division between anthropology and history needs to be devalued. The field of anthropology studies abstract structures to explain concrete events; the field of history studies recurrent structures, and ignores the events being produced. It is increasingly important to combine anthropological experiences of culture to better study history – the life of a people.
MARY CHUNG York University (Naomi Adelson)
Silverman, Martin. Our Great Deception, or, Anthropology Defiled! American Anthropologist 1983 Vol. 85:944-947.
In this article, the Derek Freeman versus Margaret Mead controversy is written about in a melodramatic and soap opera like style. Silverman critiques the controversy through a sarcastic narrative involving all those involved and/or effected by Mead’s book ‘Coming of Age In Samoa’ and Derek Freeman’s rebuttal ‘Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Masking and Unmasking of an Anthropological Myth’.
Freeman versus Mead is first broken down into categories of characters including the good (hero), the bad (villain) and the innocent (victim). Silverman paints each person involved in a different light. Freeman is seen as the hero. Franz Boas, his assistant Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead (who is later in the article described as an innocent as well) are seen as the villains. Six innocents are then listed. They are seen as anthropology (in its youth), anthropology (in maturity), the public (as a youth), the public (in maturity), the Samoans and the media. A series of subtexts are then explored through various one line newspaper-like titles like ‘Born to be Duped’ and ‘The Monster Slain: Cultural Determinism Destroyed’. The last issue raised is that of truth versus error. Silverman suggests that Freeman plays the role of truth and Mead plays the role of error.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
SANDRA FARFAN York University (Naomi Adelson).
Williams, Robert Charles. Scientific Creationism: An Exegesis for a Religious Doctrine American Anthropologist. March, 1983 Vol. 85(1):92-102
This article is an explanation and review of the work of Henry M. Morris, the Director of the Institute for Creation Research. The author is dealing with a sensitive subject, the idea of creationism, that the world was created by God and not through the natural processes thought by scientists. The author notes the sensitivity of his subject and the fact that he is not writing to outright Morris out right but look at his work objectively.
The Williams uses quotations from Morris’ books to explain the ideas behind scientific creationism. There are several core ideas pointed out by Williams about Morris’ writings. First, the Bible is historical fact and not an interpretive book. Second, in Genesis the creation story is true and that the earth was created in six literal days. Third, creationism differs from evolutionism in that it is externally directed, purposive, supernaturalistic, and completed. Fourth, the bible is a book of science because it contains all knowledge of the natural world. And finally science can tell us nothing about origins or how the world was created because Gods word (the Bible) is all knowledge.
Williams points out that some of these may seem somewhat contradictory, especially since Morris argues several times that the bible is a book of science and then says that science can tell us nothing about the origins of the earth. Williams remained objective throughout the article until the end where he pointed out the problems in Morris’ argument.
I found this article interesting and informative. The article was easy enough to read but I did have to look a few words up.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
MICHAEL FOURNIER Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Williams, Robert Charles. Scientific Creationism: An Exegesis for a Religious Doctrine. American Anthropologist. 1983 vol.85: 92-102.
Robert Williams the author of this unconventional argument attempts to understand weather the origins of creationism can be traced to a scientific method. The author discusses the continuing ideological struggle between the creationist movement in contrast to Darwinism and evolutionism. Williams’ adversary Henry M. Morris is the founder, patriarch, architect and chief neophyte of the modern scientific creationist movement. To understand the creationist movement Williams uses the same techniques as Morris does, exegesis, to prove that scientific creationism is a religious doctrine and not a scientific endeavor.
The author sets out to prove that scientific creationism, as set forth by Henry Morris is a religious doctrine. Williams achieves this essay by using the same methodology as Morris’ exegesis. Simple explained exegesis is an interpretation of and commentary on a book, most particularly the Bible.
Williams makes his point by eliciting the literal works of Morris. He proves that the creation model as discussed by Morris has its roots in a belief in God and a literal interpretation of an authoritative, divinely inspired book, and therefore, in fact a religious doctrine. Morris says, ” Science can tell us nothing about origins”. “Science, as such is utterly incapable of really telling us anything about creation. It is therefore as Williams indicates, impossible for scientific creationism to be an exercise in science.
The evidence used to prove the argument is the same method as the creator of the concept of scientific creationism. Williams uses the works of Morris to disprove, the scientific creationist theory using the method of exegesis. He uses the resources available to him, book, news, law and actual circumstances. For instance, Arkansas and Louisiana laws have been passed that restrict the teaching of evolutionism to students.
Williams’ implies in his conclusion that the scientific community has appeared so ill prepared and slow in responding to the scientific creationist challenge and that in contrast the creationist’s have been ready and extremely prepared to argue and advocate the cause. Therefore, anthropologists should be better prepared in the future to argue against Morris’ theories even if it means to use the same methods used by him, exegesis.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
GIROLOMA D’ALESSANDRO York University (Naomi Adelson)