American Anthropologist 1987
David F. Aberle. Distinguished Lecture: What Kind of Science Is Anthropology? American Anthropologist 1987 vol.89:551-565.
The purpose of this article is to assert that historical reconstruction in ethnology is essential to the development of anthropology as a science. Aberle, wants to give the term historical science as anthropology new significance. He contrasts Newtonian and thermodynamically based styles of science, and discusses common criticisms of anthropology to prove that new perspectives such as entropy, information and evolution are central to his view of historical science that proves that anthropology as a science is feasible.
The author begins to prove his essay by discussing science in the Newtonian style. According to Aberle anthropology can have few accomplishments as science in this style because it deals with universal laws of invariant expression that makes predictions about a deterministic universe. For the most part anthropology deals with the irreversible and probabilistic therefore, it is hopeless for anthropologists to pursue deterministic laws of the Newtonian type, which deals with reversible phenomena. Aberle says, anthropology can state few general laws with precise predictive power. Furthermore, its subject matter includes, purpose, motive, meaning and symbol which have no analogies in the hard sciences. On these grounds then, culture is not part of nature, an anthropologist should aspire to be only an interpretive science. He convinces the readers that historical sciences like anthropology are scientifically and academically possible.
The author’s argument about anthropology as a historical science is constructed on the premise that historical sciences are defined by thermodynamics, entropy, information, and do not subscribe to the Newtonian model. The essay is divided into sections discussing the above concepts and points out repeatedly that culture is not nature and therefore the reproduction of culture is not isomorphic with heredity.
The data offered in the article is based upon the theories of thermodynamics, entropy, information and evolution. He draws on previous works of Evans-Prichard, Rabinow, Sullivan, and Taylor. He offers Newtonian theory to contrast his essay to prove that anthropology is a historical science. Aberle uses the works of Brooks and Wiley to improve his discussion of entropy and evolution. In Aberle’s approach there is no antithesis between history and science or between history and evolution. The methods and goals of historical science are scientific: its products range from particular histories to tests of general propositions.
In conclusion, Aberle says that anthropologist have a responsibility, and obligation to forecast as well as we can and to join other scientists to do so, to debunk the ideologies used to justify grave negligence and malevolent recklessness and to study power relationships in contemporary society.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
GIROLOMA D’ALESSANDRO York University (Naomi Adelson)
Aberle, David F. Distinguished Lecture: What Kind of Science Is Anthropology? American Anthropologist September, 1987 Vol.89 (3): 551-566.
Aberle loosely follows the theoretical framework of socioecology in his lecture attesting that anthropology is actually a science, specifically a historical science. Such a science deals with entities and groups that have a traceable continuity, leading towards increased complexity, over time. A historical science also employs methods that chose among competing explanatory hypotheses, as is characteristic of the natural and physical sciences. Anthropology, specifically, seeks to scientifically explain cultural processes.
Aberle equates cultural systems with biological systems, hence attributing numerous characteristic of the latter, such as natural selection, to the former. He is careful to avoid stating that any evolution, especially cultural evolution, denotes progress, as is characteristic of socioecology, yet he states that cultures are advancing as they attain increased complexity. According to Aberle, cultural systems are constrained by historical conditions, namely existing cultures. Within these systems, as within biological systems, entropy, information and evolution follow rules that generate general patterns that can be scientifically applied to understanding culture(s).
Classifying anthropology as a historical science justifies the historical reconstruction that Aberle strongly advocates. He illustrates this practice through a sub-branch of ethnology which utilizes lexical reconstruction and continuous area studies to review the past, understand the present and predict the future. Aberle uses ethnographic data, both his own and that of others, on North American societies, to show such reconstructive methods in practice. He clearly realizes the limits to accuracy of the conclusions drawn from ethnographic analysis with the use of scientific methods. As we exist in an entropic world, we can never be truly precise, hence the necessity of constantly reviewing anthropological findings, especially ethnographic conclusions, as new information comes to light.
Aberle concludes by noting the responsibility that recognizing anthropology as a science bestows upon anthropologists, going so far as to demand a kind of advocacy. He sees the globalizing world and technology as presenting challenges to cultural evolution and survival. Such challenges, however, can and must be addressed by anthropologists, who, through their scientific understanding of cultural systems, can mobilize their skills to fulfill the “noble task” of accommodating the changing world to all humanity.
NATALIE METTLER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Aceves, Joseph B. Obituary of Michael Kenny (1923-1986). American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89(4): 927-928.
Michael Kenny, a renowned social anthropologist, editor, and professor died on January 11, 1986.
He was born in London and obtained his degree in social anthropology from the University of Oxford.
His accomplishments include recognition and contributions in urban anthropology. In addition, he helped contribute to the practices of statistical analysis and historical data to the fieldwork process.
His research focused manly on Spain and Mexico residents and in particular dealt with matters of migration and emigration. Thus, not only did he contribute to the notion of urban anthropology but also he often worked with other scholars in Hispanic studies.
More importantly, he was the kind of person who was easily approached by his students, cooperative when working with others, and not vain or arrogant when asked for critiques or help by others.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
TRACY OLIVEIRA York University (Naomi Adelson).
Aceves, Joseph B. Michael Kenny (1923-1986). American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol.89:927-928.
Joseph Aceves highlights the life of social anthropologist, Michael Kenny, who died on January 11, 1986. A student of E. Evans-Prichard at Oxford, Kenny spent most of his time conducting research in Mediterranean Europe and Mexico and was a professor at The Catholic University of America. Kenny was respected by Hispanists who previously knew little about anthropology, and helped many of his students begin careers in Iberian studies. While editor of the Anthropological Quarterly, he was devoted to including publications about his area of interest.
Focusing on Spanish life, Kenny spent time researching the effects upon individuals who either permanently or temporarily migrated to the cities, while in Mexico he researched the lives of Spanish migrants living in the New World. Kenny was a pioneer of urban anthropology with his first book, A Spanish Tapestry, Town and Country in Castille (1960). According to Aceves, his comparison of a remote mountain village in Soria and an urban neighborhood of Madrid went beyond the requirements of an excellent ethnography. He recognizes Kenny as an “enthusiastic,” “indefatigable,” “joyful” anthropologist who will be missed as a friend and colleague.
JEHAN-MARIE ADAMJI Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Atkinson, Jane. The Effectiveness of Shamans in an Indonesian Ritual. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol.89:342-355
This article discusses the Wana of Sulawesi, Indonesia and the effectiveness of Shamans in ritual. The Wana are swidden cultivators who inhabit an interior region of eastern Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. They rely on the services of tau kawalia “people spirits”, to monitor and protect their health and well-being. Most farming communities include at least one resident “people spirit” (also referred to as Shamans).
The author goes on to discuss the various types of ritual and how Shamans play a role in each. One major type of ritual that is discussed in detail is symbolic healing. Ritual logic, food for the spirit familiars and the theatrical aspect of ritual are also discussed in detail.
The article concludes by discussing the therapeutic effectiveness of these rituals. The author states that a ritual can be variously read as religion, as therapy, and as theatre, however, relation between ritual’s symbolic action and its therapeutic benefits may be neither obvious nor direct.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
LINDSAY GRANT York University (Naomi Adelson)
Atkinson, Jane Monnig. The Effectiveness of Shamans in an Indonesian Ritual. American Anthropologist, June 1987. Vol. 89 (2): 342-356.
In this article, Atkinson analyzes the efficacy of the mabolong, or “drumming ceremony,” of Indonesia’s Wana society. By validating multiple readings of symbolic, dramatic, and therapeutic efficacy in the ceremony, she explores the question of how and why symbolic healing rituals heal and serve not only the patient, but the entire community. To do this, she references the mabolong ritual as well as Lévi-Strauss’ analysis of symbolic healing. She asserts that by placing too much emphasis on therapy as the only goal of shamanic rituals, symbolic and performance-based readings are overlooked, and that by emphasizing the shaman/patient relationship in a ritual, one ignores the essential role of the community.
In the mabolong ritual, several shamans are hosted by their community. As the hosts invite the shamans to enjoy food and summon their spirit familiars (hidden beings from far away), the shamans invite their spirit familiars to aid in examining and treating patients. In the ceremony, Atkinson describes a triangle of shaman, patient, and audience (community), with the relationship of any two elements dependent upon the relationship of each element to the third. Patients rely upon the shaman for healing, shamans rely upon the audience for recognition, and the audience relies upon shamans as centers of stability in the community.
Atkinson stresses the importance in reading the performance-based, symbolic, and therapeutic meanings of the ritual. The shamans must perform well to maintain the attention of the audience and their acknowledgment of his shamanic abilities. The symbolic efficacy of the ritual invokes fear of the existential problems that threaten community life, which can only be countered by shamans. Thus, connections with shamans must be maintained as inhospitality toward a shaman may cause “small feelings,” potentially deadly feelings of rejection, resulting in the flight of his soul parts and the withdrawal of spirit assistance. Therapeutically, the often comic deflection of attention away from suffering patients and toward a shaman causes a catharsis in which emotional tensions concerning the patients’ problems are eased. Overall, there is a theme in Wana society that things will leave without a force to keep them in place, which is reflected in these various meanings.
The mabolong is more complex than a shamanic healing ritual. The shaman maintains a following of neighbors whose dependence on him creates stability in a society characterized by instability. Audience observers show their commitment to the community by expressing their feelings about others, and their attempts to save the patient and shaman from the flight of their soul parts. When the ritual is read through its symbolic, therapeutic, and performance-based meanings, these benefits for the entire community become apparent. Atkinson stresses that these multiple meanings in ritual must be explored in order to understand how they create a series of potentials that translate into meaningful experiences for the society.
NICOLE MILLER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Brady, Ivan; DeVita, Philip; O’Brien, Denise; Paredes, J. Anthony. Edwin Aubrey Cook (1932-1984). American Anthropologist September,1987 Vol.89(2):439-440.
This obituary of anthropologist Edwin Aubrey Cook concisely summarizes his major academic accomplishments and contributions to the discipline of anthropology. At the time of Cook’s unexpected death he was a charismatic professor and chair at Florida State University; working chronologically backwards he also taught at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, University of California at Davis, and University of Hawaii. Cook, himself, earned his B.A. at the University of Arizona and immediately following entered Yale University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in 1959.
Cook traveled extensively in the Pacific region but he concentrated his fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. He carried out his research in four visits over a twenty-year period in the Jimi River District of the Western Highlands District. As his visits spanned from 1961 to 1981, his work covered the peoples’ transition into the modern world. The cultural exchange in which he engaged with the Jimi generated a large amount of data about the people and the region—a rich contribution to the anthropological forum.
Already a field researcher and professor, in 1974 Cook began his position for the American Anthropologist as the combined Book Review and Articles Editor in Social/Cultural Anthropology. For four years he fully utilized his expanse of interests and personal contacts in order to solicit a diverse selection of writings. During that period he especially encouraged participation from the generalists as the discipline was becoming increasingly specialized.
This good-humored, inspiring professor and colleague above all stressed, optimistically, how much work must still be done in anthropology.
HEATHER BUESSELER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Brady, Ivan. Obituary: Edwin Aubrey Cook. American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol.89(2): 439-440.
This article is actually an obituary for anthropologist and American Anthropology editor Edwin Aubrey Cook, who died on April 24, 1984.
Cook, born in 1932 was a professor at Florida State University. From 1961 to 1963, he conducted field research in the Jimi River District of Papua New Guinea. Other highlights of his field research include a twenty-year study of the Manga tribe. His anthropological interests included, but were not limited to, fertility, kinship, economics, and legal anthropology. Towards the end of his life, he became interested in psychological anthropology. This interest was a result of his observations of how Jimi tribe members constructed their identity.
As an editor of American Anthropologist, Cook helped to attract a diverse group of anthropologist to submit articles to the journal. He also had a major role in shaping the editorial policy of American Anthropology. As an author, he wrote for all the four sub-fields of anthropology.
Cook was well respected within the anthropological community. As a professor, Cook believed in showing his students how to observe cultural experiences in every day life. He taught his students to be independent, and supported their educational and career goals. Cook also served as department chairs for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Florida State University. His teaching career also took him to anthropology departments at the University of Hawaii, where he taught from 1966 to 1968, and the University of California at Davis, where he taught from 1968 to 1970. Finally, Cook believed in the excitement and social significance of anthropology.
Clarity Rate : 5
Chyvonne S. Washington California State University, Hayward Peter J. Claus
Colby, Benjamin N. Well-Being: A Theoretical Program. American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89(4): 879-895.
In this article, Colby describes the results and implications of an anthropological theory about well-being. Physical health, satisfaction and happiness are measures of well-being. Colby sets out to prove that well-being depends on one’s adaptive potential, which is turn is related to one’s biocultural success (also called reproductive success), longevity and physical health.
The theory of anthropological well-being identifies three worlds of human concerns and behaviors: ecological, social and interpretive. Each world has a condition for biocultural success. The ecological world represents the material world and human survival in terms of way of living, subsistence and technology. The required condition is adaptivity. The second world is social: the world of human relationships, ethics, social structures and conventions. The social world is acted out in altruism. The interpretive world is about cognition, metathought and symbols. Creativity is the required component for biocultural success in the interpretive world. In short, well-being is subordinate to one’s adaptive potential that combines adaptivity, altruism and creativity. And the higher your adaptive potential is, the better your biocultural success will be. In turn, biocultural success is enacted by physical health and longevity.
Colby tested his well-being theory by testing a multicultural sample of 133 foreign-born students from the University of California, Irvine. About 75% of the students were East Asians and more than 15% were from European countries. Four scales were chosen to measure a student’s well-being. First, the Adaptive Potential Scale evaluated the level of adaptivity, altruism and creativity. Second, the Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale validated the answers from the Adaptive Potential Scale. Third, the Stress Domain Scale measured the student’s level of stress concerning school, personal relationships, family or friends. Last, the Cohen-Hoberman Inventory of Physical Symptoms determined how much the student was bothered in the last three months. Overall, the students who scored high in the Adaptive Potential Scale reported fewer health problems and a less stress. In other words, the better a student adjusts and adapts to his/her new environment, the less physical problems and stress he/she experiences.
The results of this survey demonstrate why a theory of anthropological well-being should be a substantial component of anthropology. Early anthropologists such as Sapir and Benedict believed that this theory of well-being was needed to explain the outcome of cultural change on populations. The theory of well-being can be used to research on human growth, development, coping, stress and health cross-culturally.
BELONA MOU California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus).
Colby, Benjamin N. Well-being: A Theoretical Program. American Anthropologist June, 1987. Vol.89(4):879-895.
In this article, Colby describes a theoretical program, grounded in biocultural evolution, in which stress, physical health, and cultural values and processes are linked in such a way as to provide measurements of one’s well-being. Colby uses structuralist and functionalist methods of anthropology to argue that one’s biocultural success is able to predict illness or one’s physical health. He bases this argument on data collected during previous studies pertaining to well-being as well as on data collected during his own case study, which relied on the administration of the Adaptive Potential Questionnaire to draw correlations between biocultural success and well-being.
Colby’s definition of anthropological well-being builds on Malinowski’s functionalist theory regarding the development of culture and as such, he claims that well-being is based on three areas of human concern: the ecological, the social and the interpretive. Furthermore, he argues that well-being in these three areas can be measured by one’s adaptive potential. This adaptive potential then indicates a person or group’s ability to maximize their biocultural success. Biocultural success is defined as a combination between reproductive success and the ability of a group to produce cultural patterns and pass them on to younger generations.
Adaptive potential in the ecological world is based on adaptivity, or control over the physical world, as well as the maintenance of diverse cultural patterns within this world. In the social world, adaptive potential is determined by altruism which has a positive social affect and is based on prosocial autonomy. In the interpretive world, biocultural success relies on creativity and the ability to think outside the hegemonic ideologies of a particular time.
Colby utilizes structuralist-functionalist methods of anthropology to create a formal model of adaptive potential so that it can be tested and applied cross-culturally. However, he also creates a systemic framework that the model works within. Colby incorporates Marxist theory within this systemic framework, claiming that the framework accounts for the ways in which people’s actions are affected by larger socio-political and economic system. Thus he attempts to account for context and agency within his model of adaptive potential.
Colby tested the adaptive potential model by a administering the Adaptive Potential Questionnaire to a multi-cultural group of college students. He found that there was a correlation between one’s adaptive potential and well-being. When one had high adaptive potential, or a high maximization of their biocultural success, this was reflected positively in their well-being, or stress level. Colby notes that like any study that deals with correlations, there are possible variables. However, as an anthropological theory, he argues that this theory of well-being is less limited than other theories and can also be tested using ethnographic methods such as studying folk tales and autobiographies.
NATASHA WINEGAR Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Davis, William G. and Foin, Theodore C. Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Models in Ecological Anthropology: An Evaluation of “Stability” in Maring Ecosystems in New Guinea. American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol. 89(1):9-28.
This article is an investigation of the stability of human ecosystems. Davis and Foin use the work of anthropologists Rappaport, Clarke, Buchbinder, Lowman, and others on population regulation models and the Maring agroecosystems in an attempt to analyze population stability. Three models are explained, using the Maring as illustrative examples, and are then tested against mathematical simulations. The authors experimentally manipulate input variables, such as forest clearing rates and deaths due to disease or warfare, in these mathematical simulations to examine how the Maring ecosystem responds. This is done in order to evaluate population stability and determine which model most closely represents reality.
The Maring population consists of about 7,000 people organized in 20 autonomous local groups in Highlands Papua New Guinea. They subsist on shifting cultivation along with pig husbandry and foraging, and are noted for their complex cycle of warfare and truce. The three population regulation models are the Local Equilibrium Model, the Regional Population Model, and the Disquilibrium Model. The first proposes that population size is regulated by resource limitation. The second is rooted in the notion that local instability is a necessary feature of regional stability. The last model argues that while an equilibrium state may exist, a given population is rarely in this state.
When the authors applied their mathematical simulations to these models, they found the Disequilibrium Model to best describe the Maring ecosystem. Environmental and technological disturbances occur regularly enough to keep the Maring from maintaining equilibrium for any period of time. Were it not for these disturbances, the Local Equilibrium Model would be true (and still is to a certain extent). In the simulation, the Maring population initially grows rapidly, but as the population increases the forest productivity, on which their shifting agriculture subsistence depends, decreases and the population growth rate eventually returns to zero. The Regional Population Model is discounted because they authors were unable to find a set of rules in the Maring data that produced local instability.
Ultimately, the authors arrive at a contradictory conclusion: the Maring agroecosystem can be described as stable since it will return to equilibrium in the absence of disturbance. However, it can also be described as unstable since it is rarely at equilibrium due to constant technological and environmental disturbances. This demonstrates the difficulty and practical impossibility of empirically studying population regulation. Populations are too dynamic, and they require such a long time frame to develop precise estimates about their equilibrium.
HEATHER BUESSELER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Davis, William G., Foin, Thomas. Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Models in Ecological Anthropology: An Evaluation of “Stability” in Maring Ecosystems in New Guinea. American Anthropologist March 1987 Vol.89 (1): 9-31.
In this article, the authors propose three Maring ecosystem models of stability. Davis and Foin identity a local stability model, a regional stability model, and a disequilibrium model. They are concerned with figuring out which of these three models apply to the New Guinea Highlands’ ecosystem.
Davis and Foin define what the three stability models are. In the local stability model a population is responsible for maintaining their equilibrium. The second, the regional stability model indicates a population existing somehow, even though they have not obtained equilibrium. The last model is the disequilibrium model, where a population is neither stable nor unstable. The authors argue that these models can be used to study New Guinea populations, and they compare the models to come up with the best one to describe New Guinea.
Davis and Foin construct the article by defining what stability is, describing the New Guinea population (though the exact definition of maring is not clear it seems to deal with warfare) and then a some what chronological organization of how the three models were applied to New Guinea and it’s agricultural systems. Stability is seen as the ability of a population to regain it’s equilibrium after a disturbance, how fast it can return to a stable condition, and how it returns to equilibrium. The New Guinea population is a society of about 7000 people who live in the Simbai River and Jimi valleys of New Guinea’s Bismarck Highlands. The article then goes on to describe how the models were simulated, with the local model involving comparisons of various sectors including population, forest succession, diet and disease, pigs, and festivals. The regional simulation contains graphs and equations related to the same sectors as the local model, because the authors assert that local and regional stability go hand in hand and one is essential to the other (this was also their findings when these two models were simulated). The last model, or disequilibrium’s simulation is not very clear, possibly because this last model is very controversial because most argue that no population reaches or remains in this stability model. The section on disequilibrium is mainly concerned with the comparisons of different experts’ findings, which either support or are against using this model to describe the New Guinea maring system. Finally, the author’s find that the regional equilibrium model did not best describe the maring system because of it’s contradicting connection to the local stability model. Consequently, the whether or not the other two models work are not made clear by the authors and suggest further study. The article ends with a discussion between experts, which critiques and compares their research. While this article was well organized, at times the data was confusing and seem to draw no clear conclusions about which model worked best. The most we can conclude is that the regional stability model was the most obvious one to be rejected, and while the reasons are very technical, the authors clearly point this model’s rejection out. However, the article had an interesting discussion of expert’s research results, and definitely leaves this problem open to future study.
Clarity Rating : 2
Chyvonne S. Washington California State University, Hayward Peter J. Claus
Dressler, William. W. Arterial Blood Pressure and Modernization in Brazil. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol.89:398-407
In this paper, the author attempts to provide the reader with a general understanding on the relationship of blood pressure and modernization within Brazil. Dressler’s hypothesis was that elevated blood pressure would result from the discrepancy between an individual’s style of life and his or her economic resources. More specifically, Dressler suggested that when modern life-style acquisition exceeded economic resources, a circumstance referred to as “life-style stress,” blood pressure would be elevated (1987:398).
A consistent finding in the social epidemiology of high blood pressure is the relationship between modernization or culture change and elevated arterial blood pressure. Modernization has been conceptualized and measured in a variety of ways. The two most common ways are the migration of persons from communities with a more traditional way of life to a more urbanized, modernized setting and the integration of individuals into more modernized social settings through wage-labour occupations and formal education. There is evidence that suggested that modernization processes results in higher blood pressures, however there is little research to suggest what the nature of that process is.
From 1982-1985, Dressler developed a model of stress and modernization to specify more precisely the social and cultural processes by which disease is produced. The end result was that some individuals are better able to take advantage of the economic opportunities that accompany modernization and hence are better able to amass economic resources (1987:399).
Modernization in Brazil has been much the same as in other developing societies, except that Brazil has been considerably more successful at the process of industrialization than many other countries. Following the early colonial period the economy of Brazil was based on agricultural production on large plantations. By relating these factors to those involving stress, Dressler provides the reader with a general understanding of how cultural change can affect an increase in blood pressure.
ANGELA ADU York Universtiy (Naomi Adelson).
Dufour, Darna L. Insects as Food: A Case Study from the Northwest Amazon. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol.89:383-397.
Dufour examines the purpose of the consumption of insects by the Tukanoan Indians (Northwest Amazon). The area in which the study took place was in the Columbian Vaupes region, in the village of Yapu on the upper Papuri River between November 1976 and April 1978.
The author’s aim is to focus on the characteristics of the species being exploited and the significance of the insects in the Tukanoan’s diet. Dufour analyses the relationship between the consumption patterns of his subjects and the predictability of the species being consumed. Dufour also evaluates the dietary significance of “entomophagy” for the population.
Dufour provides a section in which the methods of the study are outlined (how the species are dried and weighed, how many species, in which times of the year, etc.) The author also gives brief descriptions of each species examined. .Dufour collected insects from over 20 species in order to distinguish which insects were the most important in the diet in terms of energy and protein values. Dufour observes that each species could be placed into one of two broad categories. The first category consists of those insects which form the most predictable aggregations, such as ants, beetle larvae, caterpillar species, termites, etc. Dufour states that these species were sought after because they could be collected quite easily and in vast numbers. The second species includes those species which were less predictable and aggregated in smaller numbers. Dufour concludes that the insects in these two groups were used to supplement fluctuations in the availability of other dietary sources of protein (animal and fish game). Dufour argues that insects are a very important source of energy, animal protein and fat and are used to diversify the Tukanoans’ diets. Dufour mentions that the consumption patterns of insects varies from group to group.
Dufour also records a division of labour according to sex. Men and women collected insects differently depending on the nature of the insects. Dufour mentions that women were appointed the time consuming task of collecting ant and termite soldiers; thus, women spent more time collecting insects than either men or children. Dufour also mentions a disparity in the amounts of insect consumption based on gender. Insects provided 12% of crude protein in men’s diets and 26% in women’s diets.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
ALEKSANDRA STANIMIROVIC York University (Naomi Adelson).
Darna, Dufour, L. Insects as Food: A Case Study from the Northwest Amazon. American Anthropologist, 1987 Vol 89(2):383-397.
This case study with the Tukanoan Indians of the Northwest Amazon was prompted by the lack of information and discussion about the characteristics of insects that are relevant food resources in a tropical forest environment. In this scientific examination Dufour was interested in evaluating insects’ dietary significance with regard to the amount and frequency with which they were consumed. Dufour assessed how insect consumption fit into the standard diet, taking into account the predictability of food in the environment and the significance of insects in the Tukanoan diet. The practice of insects as food was examined from a molecular standpoint to determine their nutritional importance and consumption within an ecosystem rich with alternative protein choices. From her evaluation of protein resources with respect to energy produced and essential amino acids provided with the standard diet, Dufour found that insects are included as a minor, though important, part of food consumption.
Over two, three-month periods Dufour collected data by observing food behaviors, practices and collection, as well as keeping detailed harvest records. She found that the diversity of insects collected includes over twenty commonly used species in two major biological orders. Dufour details the method of collection and cultivation of these different insects. She notes that the sex of collector plays a part in determining which insects are collected and the ways they are gathered. In general, she remarked that women eat insects more than men.
Contribution of insects to the diet is contextualized by actual amounts eaten compared with other protein sources, including fish and tapir. Factors Dufour found to influence these amounts included the characteristics of insect species present in the diet such as: seasonal trends, larvae, cultivation, and random happenstance. She briefly mentions the cultural significance of insect consumption, including food beliefs and taboos as well as the valuation of certain foods as delicacies. Dufour concluded that insects comprise around 5%-7% of all animal protein consumed, varying with the seasonal peaks in insect larvae numbers and the availability of other protein sources. Dufour warns that the inclusion of insects in indigenous diets should not be overlooked as a peculiarity, but as a part of protein resources significant enough to merit further research.
EMILY OMURA Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Dumond, Don E. A Reexamination of Eskimo-Aleut Prehistory. American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol. 89 (1):32-56.
In this article Dumond reevaluates his earlier writings on Eskimo-Aleut prehistory by incorporating recent research in linguistics and physical anthropology. Utilizing new classifications of Eskimo-Aleut language, human skeletal analysis, biological data and recent interpretations of the area’s archaeology, Dumond reconstructs a timeline of Eskimo-Aleut prehistory that differs significantly from earlier models.
Dumond estimates that the branches of Eskimoan and Aleutian languages divided about 3,000 to 6,000 glottochronological years ago. The resulting Aleutian language is divided into only two dialects, suggesting that the language spread from its place of origin relatively recently. Eskimoan languages, on the other hand, are divided into two subfamilies (Western and Eastern or Yupik and Inupiaq) that divided between 800 to 1800 glottochronological years ago as their speakers dispersed westward.
Biological analyses of skeletal, dental, and blood characteristics also indicate an early differentiation between Eskimo and Aleut populations. Cranial studies performed by Hrdlicka, Neumann, Zegura, Szathmary and Ossenberg show that Eskimos, Aleuts, the Chukchi of Siberia, Northwest Coast and Athapaskan Indians all share a distant “common heritage.” Since that uncertain time, however, various population movements have caused the Koniag and Northwest Coast Indians to become a more homogeneous population. Eskimo and Aleut populations, on the other hand, have become more distantly linked biologically.
Archaeological evidence shows that the expansion of Thule culture across northern Canada after 1000 A.D. may account for the divergent development of Eskimo and Aleut peoples. Prior to Thule expansion, groups in both the Eskimo and Aleut areas of North America were characterized by the Norton material tradition, which lasted from approximately 4,500 to 2,000 years ago. During the same period a similar sphere of interaction existed along the Northwest Coast to Kodiak Island. Dumond uses these two early traditions to support the argument that Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and the Northwest Coast were all inhabited by a body of blade-making cultures as early as 8,000 B.C.
In conclusion, Dumond reconstructs a brief timeline of Eskimo-Aleut prehistory based upon this new information from linguistics and physical anthropology. He also enumerates the points at which this reconstruction differs from or contradicts his earlier work.
JESSICA HORNING Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Dumond, Don E. A Reexamination of Eskimo-Aleut Prehistory. American Anthropologist March 1987 Vol. 89 (1): 32-56.
Dumond takes a holistic approach to the problem of finding evidence of a common ancestral link between the Eskimo-Aleut and the Northern Coast Indians.
Dumond’s article is concerned with the recent reexamination of how linguistic, biological, and archeological evidence was used to find this common ancestral link. Evidence of Eskimo-Aleut ancestral language appeared in the New World around the time of the Northern Coast Indians’ origins (2500 BC).
Using evidence from research by various linguist, physical anthropologist, and archeologist, Dumond constructs his article by first giving the very confusing results of the linguistic links that have been found. He uses charts and graphs to describe groupings of Eskimo-Aleut languages, which attempt to show that Eskimos have five languages that are divided into two branches. The Aleut findings show that there may be earlier divisions of these dialects that link them to the Northern Coast Indians, rather than the common belief that the Aleut have one language with two dialects. The recent linguistic evidence suggest vague connections which need further examination with an emphasis on the Eskimo-Aleut and Northeastern Asian language connection, which may mean that this evidence was put into the article to introduce future study.
Next, the physical or biological evidence attempts to show skeletal and tooth links between the Eskimo-Aleut and the Northern Coast Indians. It appears, from the article, that Eskimo skeletons are closely related to those of Northern Coast Indians, and that the Aleut skeletons are closer to Native Americans tribes like the Apache. A study of blood systems shows links or clusters between the Eskimo, Aleut, and the Plain Indians, thought the details of those links are not very obvious to the reader.
Dumond’s archeological evidence shows a more archeological site based comparison, so the researchers or archeologists seem to not be able to get a more complete picture of these groups material culture and their village structure because they can only compare various sites rather than all of them. However the material culture of the Eskimo-Aleut seems to show a link to an ancestor that existed somewhere between 4000 and 8000 BC, who may have been Asian. Unfortunately, the evidence is not organized in a way that allows the reader to draw any clear conclusions about the archeological links between the Eskimo-Aleut and the Northern Coast Indians.
Dumond’s article should be applauded for it’s holistic approach to the anthropological study of a group. This approach is a good example of how a more complete view of a culture can emerge when the four subfields (even thought there were mainly three represented here, with a major emphasis on linguistics) work together. That aspect of the article was very refreshing. However somewhere in the independent constructions of the linguistic, physical, and archeological evidence that Dumond presented, the connections between the Eskimo-Aleut and the Northern Coast Indians became confusing and even seem to be lost in some places. There were instances, especially within the physical evidence, where it seemed that Dumond was re-examining the link between the Eskimo and the Aleut separately. Unfortunately, the importance of this re-examination was at times lost within the comparisons.
Clarity Rating : 2
Chyvonne S. Washington California State University, Hayward Peter J. Claus
Forman, Shepard and Silverman, Sydel. Joyce Firstenberg Riegelhaupt (1936-1986). American Anthropologist, June, 1987. Vol.89(2):440-441.
This obituary highlights the life and work of Joyce Firstenberg Riegelhaupt, a renowned anthropologist whose work focused on developing Portuguese studies in anthropology and encouraging historical as well as comparative methods in European and Latin American social sciences. Her historical approach to anthropology, which emphasized the importance of power structures, challenged the traditional structuralist and functionalist models prominent in anthropology. This challenge to traditional models was particularly evident in her influential work in the field of peasant studies.
Riegelhaupt began her career as an anthropologist while in graduate school at Columbia University. During this time, and under the tutelage of Conrad Arsenberg, Riegelhaupt became the first American anthropologist to complete a full-scale study of a community in Portugal. Her dissertation, which was a reflection of this work, was unique in that it challenged the norms in peasant studies by underlining the importance of outside influences, such as the national economy, on local life.
Riegelhaupt expanded her work in peasant studies by collaborating with Shephard Forman, co-author of Riegelhaupt’s obituary, in a study of peasant markets in Northern Brazil. This research resulted in a study entitled “Bodo was never Brazilian,” and included an examination of the development of both the European and Brazilian peasantries. They argued that the unique plantation history of the Brazilian peasantry played a key role in the creation of the peasant markets in Brazil.
In order to break away from her structuralist and functionalist training, Rieghaupt acquired an NEH Younger Humanist Fellowship in 1972 that focused on training in social history. With this NEH Fellowship and another, which she was working on at the time of her death, she continued research in Portugal.
Not only was Riegelhaupt known for her research, but she was also a professor at Sarah Lawrence University throughout most of her career. At the time of her death, caused by a recurrent brain tumor, she was working to improve programs in the social sciences at Sarah Lawrence. Throughout her career, Reigelhaupt was involved in many different professional organizations including the American Anthropology Association and the American Ethnological Society. She was also the founder of the International Conference Group on Modern Portugal.
NATASHA WINEGAR Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Freeman, Linton C. and Romney, A. Kimball and Freeman, Sue. Cognitive Structure and Informant Accuracy. American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol. 89(2): 310-325.
Using previous studies of their own work and of others Freeman, Romney and Freeman examine the compelling issue and problem of informant accuracy and ties it into the wider subject of cognitive psychology. The authors are concerned with the problem on how errors or false judgements made by informants can effect the work of an anthropologist. These false judgements and errors include forgetting information about a specific person or event, and making up false recollections about that person or event.
This is an important issue within anthropology because informants provide the key or, as some would say, the backbone of social science data, in which ethnographies, survey methods and historical accounts are produced.
Freeman, Romney and Freeman attempt to look at this issue by first reconstructing a social event within the University of California in Irvine. It consists of numerous sessions in which the participant’s attendance and seating patterns are observed and recorded. Then they are interviewed to see what they recall about the other people who participated in the sessions. Using their data from all the participants they point out major trends that occurred from the data and outline hypotheses about the explanation to why these trends are present. To do this they enlist in the help of general information on memory psychology and then test the legitimately and valid of their suggestions. Their main hypotheses focused on the tie between developing mental structure and active involvement within a particular social group or event.
After testing this hypotheses, Freeman, Romney and Freeman used figures and calculations as well as the cognitive literature to prove their assumptions and arrive at a much general and improved conclusion. They attempt to confirm the generalization that cognitive psychology is useful in understanding why biases occur when people are in the state of recalling information about people or certain events. More importantly they conclude that while the issue of informant accuracy deals with employing people who are both knowledgeable and reliable it doesn’t matter if they are capable of high mental structures. All informants are useful because they can provide information about both long-term patterns of social actions, and about specific details of a particular event.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
TRACY OLIVEIRA York University (Naomi Adelson).
Freeman, Linton C., A. Kimball Romney and Sue C. Freeman. Cognitive Structure and Informant Accuracy. American Anthropologist, June 1987 Vol.89(2):310-325.
Informants are used frequently in the social sciences to provide data, thus the accuracy of their recall is very important. This study researches the relationship between “what people do and their recollections of doing those things.” It is designed to build upon the authors’ previous study and answer the questions it produced. The paper is divided into four main sections: 1) description of the new data and the ways in which it increases accuracy; 2) review of cognitive literature on memory and its usefulness to the study; 3) ways in which their hypotheses are supported by the data; and 4) to find the most beneficial and accurate way to use this type of data to reconstruct a particular event or long-term pattern.
The data is derived from the attendance patterns of individuals in the Mathematics Social Science Group at the University of California at Irvine. Two sets of data are constructed: one of individual attendance and the second of the final session designated as the target event. Thirty-three interviews are performed via computer and comparative data is generated. It is based upon the observations of the target event, the recall of the event by participants, and the long-term patterns (of attendance) produced to capture the “social structure.”
There are no well-proven theories in psychology regarding storage and retrieval experience, but there are five nearly universal principles frequently utilized by scientists. They describe memory as created from experience and organized in a structural manner. The structures are then revealed through free recall and the accuracy of this recall depends upon two factors. First, the “elaboration of the person’s mental structure” and second, “the degree to which the element is typical in events of the kind being examined.”
Five hypotheses are created from the data and the complementing literature. The first and second conclude that individuals with more experience are more likely to falsely recall something yet forget fewer of the attendants of the target event. Hypotheses three and four relate the increase of being forgotten with infrequent attendance and vice versa. Finally, the fifth hypothesis states that the individuals who attend the most will have the most developed mental structure and better organization of recalls of those specific events.
The overall conclusion is that the informants’ recollections are more accurate in describing a long-term pattern rather than the description of the specific, target event. Strong relationships are discovered between memory and the degree of experience with the specific type of event. The results of this study can benefit any of the social sciences that utilize informants for data. The authors also encourage more scientists to break through the “disciplinary boundaries”.
Miriah Zajic MACALESTER COLLEGE (Karen Nakamura)
Griffith, David C. Nonmarket Labor Processes in an Advanced Capitalist Economy. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol.89:838-852.
Griffith’s comparative analysis of two American industries reveals how cultural and political mechanisms are produced and facilitated by authoritative powers in order to assure the availability of sufficient labour supplies. In advanced capitalist economies the treatment of labour as a commodity suggests that labour’s cost and availability depend on market mechanisms. Griffith’s main focus is on how mythologies of sexuality, nationality and ethnicity are used to influence the cost of labour. Griffith uses data from his fieldwork amongst the North Carolina seafood processing industry and the imported legal alien farm labour by the U.S. agricultural sector.
Griffith’s analysis demonstrates how labour processes in the seafood industry rely mostly on kinship and informal relations in contrast with the alien farm labour processes which rely heavily on formal political authority. His analysis suggests that in “advanced” capitalist societies, employers take advantage of informal or formal systems of authority to assure supplies of labour, and that they support their behaviour with myths of sexuality, ethnicity and nationality which presuppose that people are culturally or biologically predisposed to performing certain tasks (i.e. Women are better with their hands). His paper ends with a discussion of these behaviors in the context of post WWII international divisions of labour.
ALEKSANDRA STANIMIROVIC York University (Naomi Adelson).
Griffith, David. Nonmarket Labor Processes in an Advanced Capitalist Economy. American Anthropologist, 1987. Vol.98(4):838-853.
Griffith’s article problematizes the notion that labor in advanced capitalist economies is inherently governed by market mechanisms such as cost and availability. Griffith states that according to neoclassical economic thought, employers who cannot find sufficient labor will use market mechanisms such as increased wages to assure a labor supply. He refutes this neoclassical approach through case studies of the North Carolina seafood processing industry and of the United States’ use of immigrant farm labor. He argues instead from a Marxist angle, positing that an ample supply of labor can be assured through systems of kinship, informal social relations, and political authority. According to Griffith, these other labor supplies depend on what he terms “myths” of sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality – that is, that certain individuals possess a biological or cultural predisposition for certain types of labor.
Griffith study of North Carolina’s seafood processing industry uses data collected from 83 interviews, with workers from 22 different seafood processing plants in the four largest seafood processing counties in North Carolina. From this data, he illustrates that labor in the scallop, blue crab, and oyster houses – the three largest components of the state’s industry – are determined by systems of kinship and informal social relations. According to Griffith, the unpleasant, short-term, seasonal conditions of scallop shucking causes many scallop fishermen to turn to their female kin for labor. Griffith also finds that employers in crab and oyster houses use the kin and other informal networks of their dominant labor force – black women – to recruit new employees. He states that the “baneful” nature of the tasks make finding reliable crab pickers and oyster shuckers difficult, and that women dominate the work force, with few men or youth involved.
In his second case study, Griffith cites information from economic journals and congressional hearings on the use of Mexican and British West Indian immigrant labor. Griffith states that this labor is so important for the harvest of eastern seaboard apple and sugar crops that even when governmental bodies such as the Department of Labor have enforced the use of domestic labor, growers use their political clout to overturn these decisions. According to Griffith, growers cite statistics on the attrition rate of domestic workers to support their claims that U.S. workers will not do the harvesting work that immigrants do. Even when other immigrant groups have been supplied for harvests, growers operationalize ideas of ethnic and national propensities toward certain behaviors to justify the use of only specific types of immigrants (i.e. immigrant group X is a productive labor force whereas immigrant group Y will try to steal from me).
Griffith concludes that market mechanisms are not the only tool by which producers in advanced capitalist economies may assure adequate labor supplies, but that employers also opertationalize kin, social, and political networks supported by myths of ethnicity, culture, and sexuality to assure an adequate labor source.
LAURA M. GLAESER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
J. Stephen Lansing. Balinese “Water Temples” and the Management of Irrigation. American Anthropologist. 1987 vol.89:326-341.
In this article the Author is primarily concerned with the role of water management in wet rice agriculture. The question is weather some centralized authority plays a significant role by setting the irrigation year calendar for its 204 subaks. A subak is a group of farmers who organize themselves into work groups with the intention of farming. A subak, must obtain blessings and practical advice of what is required to create a subak from a temple priest, this is a formality. A temple priest then makes proper judgment calls regarding the possible irrigation networks to be set up by the subak.
The article’s basic argument is concerning the role of regional networks of water temples as managers of the terrace ecosystems. The author seeks to prove that irrigation is centrally organized by a system of water temples, separate from the state. Furthermore, the temple system is a symbolic system that in practice marks the downstream terminus of the water temple network. Lansing proves that the Balinese water temple system is a more effective way of managing and controlling the terrace ecosystems, and social interactions between subaks.
Lansing provides two main hypotheses to illustrate his argument. Firstly, the work of Clifford Geertz, whom argued that a complex ecological order was both reflected in and shaped by an equally complex social order, which at once grew out of it and was imposed upon it. Secondly, an argument by Mark Hobart, hypothesizes that the intervals marked by the rice rituals did not match the phases of agricultural labor, and that rituals were often quite out of phase with the stages of growth of the plants. Hobart concluded that ritual was not a master plan for cultivation. Lansing provides information that explains by example that the water temples are very important to the organization of subaks and the maintenance of the social relations in that region, therefore, ritual provides a complex system that does in fact aid in the controlling of the terrace ecosystems.
The author provides a thoughtful debate providing accessible information that can be cross referenced and properly examined in a different forum that can provide a wide rage of information for scholars who are interested in this topic.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
GIROLOMA D’ALESSANDRO York University (Naomi Adelson)
Lansing, J. Stephen. Balinese “Water Temples” and the Management of Irrigation. American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol.89(2):326-351.
J. Stephen Lansing engages the debate on Bali, Indonesia’s irrigation system which has previously centered at two poles: 1) Marx’s theory of the link between the management of hydraulic irrigation to the centralization of power in the state with Bali as a cited example and 2) the “decentralized” model, in which local organizations called “subaks” manage irrigation independently. Lansing posits that irrigation is centrally organized not by the state but by a system of “water temples” that extends beyond the local subaks.
Lansing first reviews Mark Hobart’s critique of Clifford Geertz’s claim that Bali’s irrigation system is based around local subak rituals which link cultivation into a cycle. Hobart found that the rituals were out of phase with the cultivation cycle therefore, local ritual was not the organizing medium. From this point, Lansing explains the physiology of the rice plant, climate of Bali, complex calendrical system and the role of temples as the mediators of this complex system. Lansing precedes to describe the hierarchy of temples focusing on the villages of Sukawati and Kedewatan as examples then moving upstream, exploring the role of the “master temple” Ulun Danu Batur. Lansing clearly demonstrates through three examples (creation of a new subak, a new irrigation tunnel, and pest control) that the master temple has not only a religious role but is instrumental in irrigation management of its member subaks.
Thus, Lansing demonstrates that irrigation control is not coordinated solely by local subaks – that indeed a regional organization does exist. To conclude, Lansing briefly explores the relationship between the organization and the state, showing their independence, before briefly discussing recent changes as green revolution and development plans have been implemented.
SPECTRA MYERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
MacLaury, Robert E. Color-Category Evolution and Shuswap Yellow-with-Green. American Anthropologist. 1987. Vol. 89: 107-124.
MacLaury investigates the evolution of color categorization and the introduction of yellow-with-green category in compliance with physiology that occurs for Shuswap speakers. He indicates that it cannot be merely neural mechanisms that account for this phenomenon, as other cultures have blue and green as the last two pure colors. He suggests that a cultural explanation is the plausible means of explaining differences between people.
In conducting his research, MacLaury studies the physiology of color vision and color-vision deficiencies. He finds that the Salishan languages diffuse the yellow-with-green category, that these two colors belong together. According to MacLaury, Halkomelem transfers the cool category from blue to yellow, much like the Shuswap transfer the warm category from red to green. Aggregate mappings of Shuswap speakers, along with aggregated naming ranges from the same Shuswap speakers serve to illustrate the author’s argument visually. Further research indicates that “There is no known physiological mechanism that would encourage the development of the yellow-with-green category, and probably there is a mechanism that would discourage its development at the expense of displacing the cool category” (p. 112).
In his work, MacLaury uses Berlin and Kay’s evolutionary sequence of composite color categories; he analyzes the opponent process model. By considering discrimination distance, he found that antagonistic colors, along with red/blue, did not appear exceptionally distinct as the opponent process model suggested. In fact, he found that this type of evidence could not “explain why the warm category divides before the cool category in evolutionary order, or why the yellow-with-green category is ethnographically rare” . Having reflected on this information, MacLaury further investigated the disadvantage of short-wavelength cones. The main disadvantage is that discrimination that is dependent on S-cone output is less acute than those depending on L-cone and M-cone output.
MacLaury does not suggest any sort of cultural explanation, but through his work he has systematically ruled out possible neural explanations. He also says “The concept [of yellow-with-green category] was not accompanied by a prescription concerning how the category should be named or cognitively accommodated to preexisting categories” (p.117).
HELENA KOSKITALO York University (Naomi Adelson)
MacLaury, Robert E. Color-Category Evolution and Shuswap Yellow-with Green. American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol. 89(1): 107-124.
In his article, MacLaury examines the use and possible causes of the categorization of yellow and green as one color among the Shuswap speakers of the Pacific Northwest. This categorization is common among several of the languages of the Pacific Northwest, but it is quite rare in languages in other parts of the world. MacLaury examines this yellow-with-green category with respect to Berlin and Kay’s universal sequence of color evolution and the physiology of color vision to illustrate why this categorization is unexpected. MacLaury accounts for this color grouping by suggesting that non-biological cultural factors may strongly affect how colors are perceived.
MacLaury interviewed eight Northern Shuswap speakers, and although there was some variation, they all shared the yellow-with-green category. This category is not a part of Berlin and Kay’s sequence of color evolution, which generally states that most languages divide colors into a light-warm group (white- red, yellow) and a dark-cool group (black- blue, green). Since blue and green are the least discriminable pure colors, the cool colors are commonly the last colors to be separately categorized. Therefore, languages which do not have separate words for green and blue are rather common, whereas languages like Shuswap, which have replaced the cool category with a yellow-with-green one, are quite rare.
Not only does this categorization not fit in with Berlin and Kay’s model, MacLaury argues that there are no physiological reasons that could explain how it could have developed. To explain the physiology he puts forth several different theories on color discrimination. One theory of color discrimination is opponent processes. The opponent processes model states that there are three pairs of color sensations. Each pair contains an “arousing” and a “non-arousing” color, which cannot be perceptually combined. This would explain Berlin and Kay’s model, but it does not conflict with the yellow-with-green category. Another model of color discrimination is discrimination distance, which measures the similarity of colors. In this model the difference between yellow and green was much greater than that of green and blue, which supports the Berlin and Kay model. The last theory MacLaury references is the disadvantage of short wave cones. The specific cone which produces the signal to discriminate between green and blue is slow to react, which results in receiving less information about these colors. This would explain why the cool colors are the last to be discriminated and would not explain the existence of a yellow-with-green category.
Most languages seem to follow physiology, with blue and green being the last colors to be discriminated. However, MacLaury concludes that given the case of the Northwest Pacific languages, non-physiological variables can supercede the physical processes of color discrimination. He feels that a cultural explanation may account for this rare color grouping, although he is uncertain if the process is conscious or unconscious.
OWEN ANDERSON Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Marshall, Mac and Martha Ward. John (Jack) Fischer (1923-1985). American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol.89(3):134-136.
This obituary focuses on the many accomplishments of anthropologist John Fischer. Fischer played a prominent role in expanding anthropological research to include ethnographic work in Micronesia, making it a viable research area to other anthropologists and American scholars. Fischer’s long-standing interest in Micronesian culture led him to describe a comparative study of language and folktales in Pohnpei and Truk into what he called “microethnology.” He pioneered a new style of applied anthropology while working in Micronesia, contributing to the development of civil and domestic laws, land tenure policies, and new political structures. Much of Fischer’s major contributions to anthropology are based around his studies of Micronesian language, folklore, and social organization. In doing so, Fischer helped to bring anthropological insights into the American colonial administration of a remote island area.
Fischer began his education at Harvard University in 1940, completing his B.A., masters, and doctoral dissertation. Fischer’s academic career led him to a position with Harvard as Instructor and Research Associate of the Laboratory of Human Development (1955-58). Following, he became a professor at Tulane University where he served as faculty for the remainder of his life, chairing the Department of Anthropology from 1969-71. Among Fischer’s many positions as an anthropologist, perhaps his most notable was as District Anthropologist (1949-51) and District Officer (1951-53) in the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. This position allowed Fischer to do intensive fieldwork, making him a major figure in Pacific ethnography.
MOLLY O’SULLIVAN Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Mosko, Mark S. The Symbols of “Forest”: A Structural Analysis of Mbuti Culture and Social Organization. 1987 Vol.89:896-913.
The Forest affects every part of the Mbuti society. They are a hunting-gathering culture that is organized into bands and sub-bands. The Forest is mainly described as the mother, the father, the friend, and even God. It is closely connected with Mbuti’s kinship system, economics, politics, and religious beliefs, although in this paper its focus is on kinship and the ways in which it relates to the forest.
In the Mbuti culture, the idea of the Forest is a “womb” to the people; as a result, they are all children of the Forest. The mother, the father and, most importantly, the Forest influence human procreation and human development. For example, the father’s semen is believed to originate from the Forest in order to impregnate the mother. Furthermore, the child will be named after a Forest plant or animal. Other relationships between the Forest and the Mbuti people are explored in greater detail, including the symbolic association between the social organization of the people and the Forest. In summary, “Kinship largely is the Forest.”
JANI TRINDADE York University (Naomi Adelson).
Mosko, Mark S. The Symbols of “Forest”: A Structural Analysis of Mbuti Culture and Social Organization. American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol.89 (4): 896-913.
Mosko aims to provide an alternative perspective to the materialist-empiricist approach that dominates the study of hunter-gatherer societies by choosing, instead, to follow a structuralist approach. He focuses specifically on the Epulu Mbuti, a grouping within the larger Mbuti hunter-gatherer population made well known by Colin M. Turnbull. Rather than focusing on food gathering strategies, he examines the symbols of the “Forest,” or ndura, that govern the lives of the Epulu Mbuti, and the Mbuti at large. Mosko applies these symbols to the social organization of the Mbuti, and proposes understandings of their kinship system. The author supports his points with data on the Mbuti drawn from previous ethnographic research, primarily by Turnbull. Mosko brings to light the internal contradictions within these data in order to support his own ideas concerning the importance of symbolism to the Mbuti. His suggested re-interpretations of these previous ethnographic data is largely theoretical and idealized, indeed, he terms his own approach an “ideationalist” one.
Mosko attempts to make intelligible the long-standing anomalies, or core contradictions, that have long characterized studies of the Mbuti kinship system. He tackles, for example, the marriage rules of Mbuti, that are simultaneously exogamatic and endogamatic due to the “kinshiplessness” that former anthropological studies have claimed. According to Mosko, however, there actually exists a well-defined kinship system, which is unintelligible to outsiders should they try to translate it into their own cultural terms. The “Forest,” or symbolized universe of the Mbuti, can be understood as a system of symbols by which kinship operates. These symbols have direct relevance to the Mbuti social world. The example of the concept of “sphere,” as an organizational system underlying the spatial layout of the family hut, the band community, and the “Forest” itself, illustrates the direct application of ndura symbolism to Mbuti life. Furthermore, the Mbuti kinship system functions at several different levels – the family, the sub-band, the band, and that of general Mbuti society, all of which are connected to the “Forest.” Various rituals of re-birth into each of these social levels are fundamental to the Mbuti kinship system as they integrate individuals into multiple facets of society. This constant negotiation of identity, both in kinship and in relation to the changing roles of the “Forest,” which is seen simultaneously as “mother,” “father,” “sibling” and “lover,” is essentially related to the seeming contradiction between the combined endogamtic and exogamatic marriage practices of the Mbuti. The marriage rules of the Mbuti are therefore fundamentally related to the symbols of “Forest,” which permeate social organization. These rules are therefore not based on biology, but rather on the symbolically mediated definition of identity, which includes an individual’s age, gender, and spatial position in the band and sub-band.
In short Mosko’s underlying point is that the categories by which the Mbuti organize the world, and themselves in relation to it and to each other, are fluid and multiple.
NATALIE METTLER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Mulder, Monique B. On Cultural and Reproductive Success: Kipsigis Evidence American Anthropologist 1987: 617-634.
It has been suggested that fertility is limited by culturally defined needs and the author has found correlations between culture and reproduction. The Kipsigis of Kenya demonstrate the associations between cultural success and reproductive success. The author identifies six variables that affect the cultural and reproductive success of this group of people. She focuses on seven reproductive careers of seven cohorts of men, which are determined by their age set year of circumcision.
She identifies that livestock are of critical economic importance for dairy and bridewealth payments. The size of a man’s land plot is used as a standard measure of wealth differences between men. A culturally successful man tends to me more wealthy that other men regardless of age. Wealth therefore enhances a man’s social position. Through wealth men are permitted to have a large number of marriages because they have sufficient resources for numerous bridewealth payments.
Reproductive success of men is calculated as the product of lifespan, proportion of lifespan spent married, number of reproductive wives per married year, fertility, and offspring survivorship. Polygyny, however, is the major cause of reproductive variance. So, we see that wealth is the cause of reproductive differences in that the accumulation of wealth allows for more wives and higher reproductive success. However, because rich Kipsigis men tend to marry polygynously and split their wealth through many sons, wealth differences are not highly consistent across generations. Further, reproductive success is not seen through access to modern medicine, and wealthier men do not show higher offspring survivorship.
Therefore, we see the association between wealth and reproductive success among men of all cohorts whether or not they had access to medicine throughout their lives.
KARA STEWART York University (Naomi Adelson)
Mulder, Monique Borgerhoff. On Cultural and Reproductive Success: Kipsigis Evidence. American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89(3): 617-633.
Monique Borgerhoff Mulder tests the proposed link between “cultural success” (achieving or exceeding cultural goals, i.e. attaining wealth) and “reproductive success” (high fertility). Before introducing the results of her own study, she outlines potential challenges to this link. The most problematic task is overcoming the ambiguity inherent in defining “cultural success.” Previous work had been criticized for failing to show that the anthropologists’ definitions were congruent with those of the individuals under question and for relying on “modern” notions of success. She argues that successful studies should also overcome the following challenges: a) measuring the level of fitness (ability of a trait to be favored in natural selection) over a lifetime; b) gaining accurate demographic evidence; c) determining causality (Does wealth allow for more children, as she seeks to prove, or do more children cause wealth?); d) recognizing that reproductive success could also be caused by modernization (or other outside variables); and e) identifying specific links between cultural goals and reproductive benefit.
Mulder then argues that her own ethnographic and statistical evidence, in conjunction with previous work, shows how her study with the Kipsigis of Kenya overcomes these challenges. She collected data from six cohorts of Kipsigis men between June 1982 and December 1983. (Women were excluded from her study since significant work had already included them.) Since directly asking her informants how they defined wealth would be taboo, she made an educated guess that wealth was equitable to acres of land in possession. (The credibility of Mulder’s study is compromised, however, because her definition of wealth is not verifiable by the Kipsigis themselves and thus does not overcome the problem of defining cultural success mentioned at the beginning of the article.) She then compares the relationship between land owned and fertility to conclude that her evidence supports a link between cultural and reproductive success. These findings are then placed within a larger discussion of cultural behavior and its relation to evolutionary processes. She uses her work to support the hypothesis that individuals consciously work to achieve “cultural success” because they subconsciously (as a response to natural selection) seek to achieve reproductive success.
Overall, it was clear that Mulder was interested in making a “scientific” argument; she often used the writing style of an omniscient narrator, rarely mentioning her own opinions or thoughts, and included a plethora of graphs and tables that could “prove” her claim. Perhaps this perspective is related to an overall trend in anthropology that sought to make the discipline recognized as scientific in nature. The abundance of graphs and tables, however, bogged down the argument, and the concluding discussion regarding the implications of her work is nearly unintelligible to readers outside of the subfield of human evolution.
JESSICA M. SMITH Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Nabhan, P. Gary and Rea, Amadeo. Plant Domestication and Folk-Biological Change: The Upper Piman/Devil’s Claw Example. American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol. 89(1): 57-73.
The article written by Gary Nabhan and Amadeo Rea was published in 1987. The author’s discuss how the intensification of cultivation during this time, accompanied by genetic alteration, of a fiber plant (devil’s claw) has been accompanied by shifts in structure of O’odham folk taxonomy. The authors use scholarly works of paleoecologists, archeologists, and genetics. The article looks at ethnological possibilities in the study of domestification by examining the emerging domestification of the devil’s claw. The devil’s claw is one of three native plants domesticated north of Mexico by American Indian gardeners or farmers.
The article begins with the summary of botanical and ethnohistoic evidence for devil’s claw as a background for the later discussion of folk taxonomic change. All studies discussed suggest that the most probable location in the historic domestification, diffusion, and use of the plant is the northernmost O’odham. Nabhan and Amadeo go on to discussing how these Piman speaking people perceived wild native plants. The folk-texonomic changes of the devil’s claw in O’odham is discussed with respect to domestification. The article ends with a discussion selection and evolution of the domesticate.
CLARITY RANKING: 1
DAGMARA ROMANSKA York University (Naomi Adelson)
Nabhan, Gary Paul and Amadeo Rea. Plant Domestication and Folk-Biological Change: The Upper Piman/Devil’s Claw Example. American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol.89(1):57-74.
Gary Nabhan and Amadeo Rea attempt to understand the general principles guiding plant domestication in any given society. They do this by focusing on a culture’s folk-biological knowledge, suggesting that it exerts cultural selection pressure on certain species of plant. Nabhan and Rea argue that by exerting folk-biological knowledge, societies were actually selecting certain plant phenotypes which resulted in an actual change of the species involved. This change permits anthropologists to compare domesticate and wild type species while looking at changes in folk categories and allowing them to project how many years/generations ago the species was domesticated. By arguing that most knowledge of the origins of plant domestication occurs in prehistoric cultures (and is therefor speculative), the authors instead investigate a plant species that has become recently domesticated in contemporary culture while documenting subsequent shifts in plant folk taxonomy of that culture. Doing so allows the authors the opportunity to provide actual rather than hypothetical data to support findings in nonliterate, agrarian societies.
Nabhan and Rea use the plant species Proboscidea parviflora (devil’s claw) and its recent intensification of cultivation among the O’odham of southern Arizona as an example. This particular plant illustrates a direct relationship between folk-biological change and domestication. By examining the transitional naming systems of devil’s claw it is shown that although the O’odham are not consistent in contrasting wild and domesticate types of Proboscidea (called “‘ihug”) by Western methods of plant taxonomy, there does exist a link between the domestication of a species and a taxonomic transition which follows specific linguistic principles shared by many languages.
Basing arguments on data verifying the taxonomy of P. parviflora in different stages of domestication and its correlation to O’odham involvement in the domestication of that species, Nabhan and Rea convince the reader that this relationship is, in fact, evident. Data is provided in the form of descriptive synchronic variants in ‘ihug folk taxonomy which correspond to domestication level. To illustrate this point types I, IIa, IIb, IIc, III, and IV are identified as levels of marking reversal, demonstrating how a domesticate species introduced into a culture eventually supercedes the native type in importance. This data is then graphically represented as “degree of category membership” against “‘ihug prototypicality,” showing the transitions in folk classification throughout the processes of domestication.
Although no general principles of plant domestication (to be applied cross-culturally) are offered, Nabhan and Rea provide convincing data in their ethnolinguistic investigation of folk-biological change as it relates to the domestication of P. parviflora. Additional research of other emergent domesticates is needed to apply any general characteristics of domestication or subsequent changes in folk-taxonomy in any given society.
MOLLY O’SULLIVAN Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Nichols, Deborah L. Risk and Agricultural Intensification During the Formative Period in the Northern Basin of Mexico. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol.89:596-616.
The purpose of this study was to examine the role of unpredictability in agricultural intensification, but more specifically the development of hydraulic agriculture during the Formative Period (1150-100 B.C.) in the northern Basin of Mexico.
The Basin of Mexico is a semi-arid environment, but hydraulic agriculture is not absolutely necessary for subsistence farming. Other types of agriculture can be employed in the region, such as dry farming. There are two reasons that hydraulic agriculture in this region. The first explanation suggests that irrigation and drainage cultivation emerged to increase production on large settlements. The second explanation indicates that the reason for the introduction of hydraulic agriculture was that it was encouraged by population pressure on resources.
When attempting to understand the process of adaptation, spatial diversity and temporal variability are the most important characteristics of ecosystems. Also, Sanders and Webster have suggested that agricultural intensification is also promoted by risk from environmental uncertainty. These risks can be reduced by that small-scale irrigation and drainage cultivation. Water that is obtained from rainfall can be supplemented by irrigation during dry periods. Although irrigated fields may give a smaller yield then those that are well fallowed and rainfed, but families in the Mexican Basin can easily meet their subsistence needs from an irrigated field. Even though the irrigated fields may have a smaller yield, they were a big advantage over rainfed fields in times of drought. In addition, the threat of erosion, which is always a threat in arid and semi-arid areas, would have also encouraged the early use of intensive cultivation practices.
RYAN MASON York University (Naomi Adelson)
Nichols, Deborah L. Risk and Agricultural Intensification During the Formative Period in the Northern Basin of Mexico. American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89 (3): 596-614.
The question Deborah Nichols seeks to address in this article is why hydraulic agriculture emerged in the Northern Basin of Mexico at relatively low population levels. Prior scholarship has suggested that larger settlements and population pressure are primary reasons for this introduction, but she posits that the risk of crop failure was significant enough for Mexican peasants to construct irrigation systems. In so doing, she addresses a large debate about the causes for hydraulic agriculture implementation within the study of the evolution of early civilizations. This study’s importance lies not only in its reassessment of previous work; determining the causes of the advent of hydraulic agriculture is important because this movement profoundly affected/created sociopolitical hierarchies. Irrigation often centralized power by creating patron-client relations between those who had access to the water and those who did not.
This is an archeological, anthropological and geographical study, which principally reevaluates previous work done by herself and others. No additional fieldwork was undertaken, although the observation of contemporary peasants in Northern Mexico was taken into consideration. The researchers assumed that their practices would shed light on how peasants in pre-Columbian eras worked. This act is reminiscent of functionalist and structuralist anthropologists of the 19th century who looked at contemporary “natives” to guess at what life was like for the “primitives.” Although Nichols does outline the difficulties in applying contemporary peasant behavior to their assumed ancestors, she still relies on this data to support her claim.
Nichols’ study emerges from a contradiction in the literature on the evolution of early civilizations. Most scholars have suggested that the move to hydraulic agriculture was precipitated by a need to support increasingly large settlement patterns centered around markets and/or increased population pressure on agricultural resources. Her data, however, shows that the population in Northern Mexico was not large enough to create such patterns or pressure. She therefore suggests that the peasant’s rational desire to minimize the risk of crop failure prompted them to develop irrigation. She first examines the area’s primary crops, climate, topography and the dietary needs of the peasants and then determines that this area of Mexico is a high-risk environment. Instead of analyzing average data for crop production, she looks at the extremes, since they more adequately correspond with the peasants’ reality, and finds that only one year in five would be drought-free and hence low-risk. Therefore, it was in the peasants’ best interest to develop hydraulic agriculture so as to minimize that risk and consistently provide them with the minimum necessity of caloric intake. She characterizes the peasants as rational beings – an improvement over early anthropologic work that deemed natives as irrational compared to Europeans – but she still relegates them into solely economic creatures.
JESSICA M. SMITH Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Olsen, Carolyn L. The Demography of Colony Fission from 1878 – 1970 Among the Hutterites of North America. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol. 89: 823-837.
This article is a more traditional read than many of the more anthropologically oriented articles in American Anthropologist. It focuses on the Hutterites, an Anabaptist communal sect whose origins date back to the Protestant reformation in Zurich in the 1520′s. The author focuses on a great deal of structural data with regards to the nature of the Hutterites and their colony fission, which has been characteristic of their society for over 100 years. The basic premise is that on average, every 14 – 15 years when colonies reached a certain population they formed a daughter colony that would take up to or over half of the population of the mother colony to a different location. Both colonies would then experience phenomenal growth. In fact, this author concludes that the Hutterites are in fact one of the fastest growing human population groups. From 1880 until 1980, the population grew from 443 people to an astounding 24, 326 people in over 309 separate colonies.
Olsen provides a variety of visual learning tools to assist with her analysis of Hutterite population growth, especially detailed tables showing overall growth on a per colony level. She goes on to discuss her study methods, and exactly how she came to the conclusions that she eventually did. Finally, her findings and discussion indicate the significance of this paper to the anthropological discipline as a whole and humankind as well. Essentially, Olsen argues that this kind of rapid population growth is the result of setting realistic goals for fission in any colony, and if followed by every community would result in outrageous population growth the world over.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
JAMES STREET York University (Naomi Adelson)
Olsen, Carolyn L. The Demography of Colony Fission from 1878-1970 Among the Hutterites of North America. American Anthropologist, 1987. Vol.89(4):823-837.
Carolyn Olsen’s article addresses the interpretive problems that can arise when conclusions drawn from limited amounts of information are made to represent larger social contexts. Olsen’s work takes a structural-functionalist approach to exploring discrepancies between the findings of several demographic studies on colony fission among three North American Hutterite subsects – the Schmiedenleut, the Dariusleut, and the Lehrerleut – and her own demographic findings on the Schmiedenleut and Lehrerleut subsects.
Olsen’s findings, which resulted from accessing additional subsect information and using a more encompassing historical perspective, indicate that the characterization of Hutterite fission utilized by earlier studies may not be accurate in their conclusions regarding the demography of colony fission among these subsects. The demographic issues Olsen explores most significantly are: the mean size of daughter groups (groups resulting from the fission of a mother group) that moved away from the size of those that stayed and the differences in the age structure between the staying and leaving groups.
Olsen characterizes the information used to analyze the earlier studies as being bounded by the use a small number of accounts – a “few” colonies in each of the three subsects – and the use of descriptions of the process as it was carried out only in the 1970s and 1980s. Olsen supports her own contentions on the demography of the colony fission of these two particular subsects using Hutterite birth, marriage, and death records, discussions with the “colony preacher,” family Bibles, and updated records on the Lehrerleut subsect. According to Olsen, this more complete data set represented ninety-nine percent (99%) of individuals who were members of either Schmieden- or the Lehrerleut. Olsen uses her more complete sampling of information to extrapolate the demographics of colony fission in these subsects, and finds that 1) the daughter groups that stayed at the location of what had been the mother colony were significantly larger than the daughter groups that moved away in both the Schmiedenleut and Lehrerleut cases, and 2) the majority of Lehrerleut and Schmiedenleut cases showed a large difference in age structure between the staying and moving daughter groups. Thus, Olsen’s research refuted earlier studies which concluded that the demography of colony fission made for two daughter groups which were nearly equal in both age and population distribution.
LAURA M. GLAESER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Otterbein, Keith F. Obituary of Raoul Naroll, 1920 – 1985. American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol.89(2):136-142.
Keith F. Otterbein wrote the obituary for his long time friend and associate, Raoul Naroll, with assistance from the deceased’s family, colleagues, and students. It outlines his personal history, professional accomplishments, and his impact on the field of anthropology.
Naroll wa born September 10, 1920 in Toronto, Canada. At age three, he moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at UCLA at the age of 16. Dissatisfied with his college experience, Naroll left his junior year, became a firefighter in Montana for a short time, and eventually joined the Army. He was commissioned to serve in World War II as a finance officer; the Army sent him to intelligence school and relocated him to Germany. When the war was over, Naroll spent several years writing fiction and then returned to UCLA to finish his first degree and continuing to complete a Ph.D. in history.
The remainder of Naroll’s professional life was spent teaching and researching for various universities and organizations, including Stanford University, California State University at Northridge, Northwestern University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF). His major works of research were conducted upon cultural issues, deterrance studies, and several other topics. His deterrance studies were of great importance, one being holocultural and the other holohistorical. They both sought to test the theory that war is prevented by military preparedness and neither found any support for it.
Although Naroll was only an anthropology minor at UCLA, he continues to have a large impact on the field. Most importantly, he developed various methods and procedures to analyze comparative studies, ensuring the quality and trustworthiness of ethnographhies and anthropology as a social science. To achieve this goal, he developed four techniques to conduct hologeistic surveys, many of which he invented and tested himself.
In 1984, Raoul Naroll was diagnosed with colon cancer and died a year later. Many recount Naroll’s many talents and interests sought through his ardent and encompassing personality. As social sciences move more towards holocultural and theory based studies, Otterbein believes that Naroll’s work “will become ancestral statements” for anthropologists.
MIRIAH ZAJIC Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Pearson, Richard, and Anne Underhill. The Chinese Neolithic: Recent Trends in Research. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol. 89:807-822.
Pearson and Underhill’s article is a major literature review and summation on recent Neolithic research in China, including new sites for research, research on local traditions and subsistence patterns, social organization, and links between the late Neolithic and emerging civilizations.
New sites for research in the North China Plain in the 1970s have uncovered various Early Neolithic cultures, such as the Laoguantai (aka. Baijia), and descriptions of the dwellings, and grain-processing artifacts, and evidence of the domestication of livestock such as pigs, chickens, sheep, and dogs have been gathered. Findings in the ceramic cultures of the northeast have indicated a series of early hunting and gathering cultures (~5295 ±165 B.C.) parallel to the cultures along the North China Plain, and little reliance on cultivated plants. In South China, trends have suggested that agriculture began in the time period between 7500 – 6000 B.C. Pottery vessel shapes found in South China were also similar to those found in Laoguantai cultures. A site in Hemudu led to the confirmation of the first stage of rice domestication in the Lower Yangzi river as early as 5000 B.C. where the warmer climate was more beneficial for rice growing.
There have been more than 7000 Neolithic sites discovered to date. Whereas some have argued that cultures developed in isolation within specific geographic areas, others have argued that there were interactions between cultural regions influencing development (811). Subsistence patterns of Yangshao cultural sites found in the Central Plains have indicated a subsistence economy based on millet. The most important archeological research done has come from Hongshan cultural sites in Northeast China. Affinities to the Yangshao culture and other plains areas, have been found in various artifacts, such as comb patterns on pottery, millet found on several sites, and subterranean housing, suggesting cultural interaction.
Social organization has been determined by studying burial data such as descriptions of excavations. There have been attempts to use data to support theories of matrilineal communal clans evolving into patrilineal property-owning families. Burial trends based on the interpretation of burial offerings have been used to support the theory.
In terms of the link between the late Neolithic and emerging civilizations, sites occupied from the transition from Longshan cultures to civilization located in the Central Plain Region, are the most thoroughly described. Extensive data has been culled from burial remains, grave goods, and habitation remains.
In the past decade, the discovery of the Early Neolithic, increased knowledge of settlements, environments, and regional variations, has been an immense database for study of the rise of agri-societies in China.
MARY CHUNG York University (Naomi Adelson)
Pearson, Richard and Anne Underhill. The Chinese Neolithic: Recent Trends in Research. American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89: 807-820.
This article is a comprehensive review of the archaeological research performed on the Chinese Neolithic to date, describing the evolution of subsistence strategies and social structures in various cultural regions. Pearson and Underhill highlight the most recent highly debated issues in Chinese archaeology, such as naming cultural groups and deciphering which of these groups led to specific historical civilizations. They also propose further research in regional ecology, site inter-relationships and material symbolism to expand our knowledge of Neolithic settlements and their transition into modern civilizations.
The first early Neolithic sites discovered on the North China Plain during the 1970s were assigned different names according to the various academics who studied them. Included in this group are the Laoguantai (or Baijia), Lijiacun, Cishan and Peiligang Cultures, who possess the earliest painted ceramics (as early as 6000 B.C.) and domesticated chickens in the world. Sites in the Northeast region exhibit a ceramic style similar to these cultures, but are younger (c. 5295 B.C.) and show little reliance on cultivation. The earliest Neolithic sites discovered thus far are cave sites in the South China region dating from 7500 to 6000 B.C., and the earliest center of rice domestication (c. 5000 B.C.) was uncovered in the nearby Hemudu site.
In the 1980s, the main debate surrounding Chinese Neolithic sites was the question of whether cultures developed in isolation or did interaction across cultural regions influence their development. The Yangshao, Hongshan, Dawenkou, Majiabang, Daxi and Qujialing Cultures of the Central Plain, Northeast, Shandong, and Yangzi regions are all groups who developed more complex subsistence and social patterns during the Neolithic and show signs of cross-cultural interaction. The subsistence strategies and social organization of these groups are reconstructed mainly through the interpretation of burial data. This strategy is being questioned, however, since status and kinship systems can be reflected in a variety of material ways.
By comparing burial goods, material culture items, legends and historical texts, archaeologists concluded that the Xia, Shang and Zhou civilizations developed from parts of the Central Plain Longshan Culture. The sites associated with this transition are the best documented of the Neolithic. They include settlements surrounded by earthen walls and evidence of increased warfare.
Pearson and Underhill conclude by acknowledging the vast amount of knowledge of the Neolithic acquired within the last decade. They also call for research in new areas to enrich this database, such as identifying production and distribution centers in the Central Plain, examining exchange and studying site inter-relationships.
JESSICA HORNING Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Platner, Stuart. Linda Hamilton and Marilyn Madden. The Funding of Research in Social- Cultural Anthropology at the National Science Foundation. American Anthropologist. 1987 Vol. 89: 853- 867.
In the article, “The Funding of Research in Social- Cultural Anthropology at the National Science Foundation,” Stuart Platner, Linda Hamilton and Marilyn Madden
(authors as well as members of the National Science Foundation), discuss the process of distributing funding for cultural anthropology . In addition, they discuss the paradigms of “senior” research proposals compared to those presented by more “youthful” researchers. Further, the authors discuss the notions of gaining funding and whether it relies on an individual’s gender, age, social class, or having submitted a previously declined proposal.
The article begins by discussing the acquisitions of the anthropological discipline, in 1956, when the National Science Foundation declared the study of “Anthropology and the Related Sciences” qualified to receive funding for research. Also, that same year, the first awards were granted to individuals studying social and cultural anthropology.
The article goes on to define what a research proposal is, as well as the process a proposal would go through, before receiving funding. Basically, the proposal is the document submitted to the National Science Foundation outlining the researcher’s reason for, value of, and overall plan for their research project. The proposals are reviewed by program officers who are specialists in the field of the proposal’s research. They submit a written review of the individual’s proposal. As well, an assembly of five cultural anthropologists meet to evaluate and rank the proposals received. Finally, the amount of money allotted for funding for research proposals are determined by the division director and then awarded by the division of Grants and Contracts.
Also, the authors discuss the monetary amount of an average grant and how this sum has significantly increased over the past thirty years, along with statistical data to support their findings (whether certain factors may influence a researcher receiving funding e.g., scientific merit, gender, being older). They conclude that there is no association between the factors of gender, age, or social class and the chance of accepting funding for research.
The authors close by presenting some of their additional concerns with proposals submitted for funding ( e.g., “What is the ideal line between fewer, fully- funded projects and a higher success ratio?”) and by proposing the importance of a well- defined methodology.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
DIMITRA LAZAROU York University: ( Naomi Adelson)
Plattner, Stuart, Linda Hamilton and Marilyn Madden. The Funding of Research in Social-Cultural Anthropology at the National Science Foundation. American Anthropologist December, 1987(4):853-866.
In this paper, the director of the Cultural Anthropology Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and his co-authors scrutinize the way the NSF allocates funds for research projects in cultural anthropology. Plattner et al. operate with an overarching concern about how to best fund projects in cultural anthropology. By discussing who applies for grants and who receives them, the authors want to determine whether there are any clear biases affecting the NSF’s award process. Since the NSF has provided more funds than any other institution for research in cultural anthropology since 1956, this study allows a long-term look at trends in the allotment of research funds.
All proposals to the NSF go through a selection process which evaluates the proposed project for scientific merit. The researcher, called a principal investigator, writes a proposal outlining the objective and design of the project and submits it through a U.S. institution. The proposal goes through a first round of review by specialists in the field of the proposed research and a second round of evaluation by the NSF’s panel of five cultural anthropologists. The recommendations of this panel are then considered by the Division of Grants and Contracts, which controls the award of grants.
Plattner et al. calculate the average award amounts over the past 30 years and show that when dollar amounts are adjusted for inflation, grants to cultural anthropology have decreased. One explanation for this is increased competition between cultural anthropologists, as well as between the different disciplines of cultural and physical anthropology and archaeology. Another possible factor is lower reviewer ratings. In order to see what factors influence the NSF’s funding of proposals, the authors compared success ratios to several other categories, including gender, experience, budget size, elite status of Ph.D. institution, geographic area, and subfields of anthropology. In the cases of gender, experience, elite status of Ph.D. institution, and subfield Plattner et al. did not find significant biases. For example, females submitted about 34% of proposals and were successful 32% of the time. However, budget size and elite status of submitting institution do appear to affect success, with proposals for smaller budgets and those from submitting institutions considered elite having high probability of selection for funds.
The authors conclude that cultural anthropology faces a dilemma over whether to concentrate on completely funding fewer projects or providing grants to more researchers. Plattner et al. discuss the benefits of both and argue that an important next step should be the direction of funding towards research for a comprehensive methodology, which contemporary cultural anthropology lacks.
ELIZABETH TULL Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Podolefsky, Aaron. Population density, land tenure and law in the New Guinea Highlands: Reflections on Legal Evolution. American Anthropologists. 1987 89; 581-593
Throughout his article, Podolefsky examines the practice of law within the New Guinea Highlands. Through his research, Podolefsky found that the practices of law vary in regards to certain details of the society in terms of population density, property and settlement. Within the article, Podolefsky used the Dani and Kuma tribes in order to illustrate his findings. Population within the highlands of New Guinea varies from about 30 people per square mile to 400. Podolefsky stated that in theory, the areas that would have more advanced legal systems would be those areas that have higher density areas where settlements are held within the villages. Formal law is also seen to emerge where land is owned individually rather then as a kin group (collectively).
The Dugum Dani is seen to live in areas that have wide density within their villages of over 400 per square mile. It is stated that they practiced minimal law which consisted of a moral code, a system of procedures to guide decisions in troubled cases and means in enforcing final decisions. Important men within the village are the ones that make the decisions of punishment and give fines to the individuals that have done an offence. The discussion is made in the house of the most privileged important man. The “Big Man” in this case is the one that has the privilege and the right to punish those that have done an offence within the village.
Within small density groups, such as the Kuma, legal structures and procedures are less developed. In Kuma there are no central authority to maintain law and order within the village. In Kuma as well as other small density groups mediators are brought in, in order to solve the problem between the two disputing parties.
In both the law procedures of the Dani and the Kuma there is no punishment that leads to imprisonment. Compensation is the major punishment. The offender is punished by making a payment to the offender.
CLARITY RATING: 2
TAMAR PAPISMEDOV York University, Toronto (Naomi Adelson)
Podolefsky, Aaron. Population Density, Land Tenure, and Law in the New Guinea Highlands: Reflections on Legal Evolution. American Anthropologist September,Vol.89(3):581-595.
This paper questions the relationships between population density, land ownership, and the complexity of law while examining trends in dispute settlement in Highland New Guinea. Motivated by a constitutional mandate to incorporate traditional law into the national legal system, Podolefsky seeks cross-cultural evidence that such a plan is practical for Papua New Guinea. Podolefsky’s approach is to present a generally accepted structural theory regarding the evolution of law and apply it to a series of individual case studies to show that there is no inherent connection between population density, land tenure, and law. The author also emphasizes the need for more study of law by anthropologists. He points out that until scholars agree upon a definition of law, it will remain a difficult topic to discuss.
Podolefsky explains that structural population theory suggests an increase in the population density of an area leads to an increased complexity of local law. Other theoretical approaches link an increased need for legal systems with private ownership of land. To dispute both of these supposed relationships, Podolefsky examines the ethnographic literature on fifteen societies in the Highlands of New Guinea. He divides the groups into high population density and low population density, noting that in both categories are groups characterized by private ownership and collective ownership. Podolefsky provides ethnographic anecdotes of legal situations in each group and finds that there is not a significant difference in the intricacy of law between any of the groups. Therefore, this paper concludes with a rejection of the prevailing idea that population density and land tenure influence the development of legal systems. Podolefsky notes that the lack of variation he reports in procedural law will encourage the New Guinea lawmakers seeking to involve customary law in the national legal system.
CLARITY : 4
ELIZABETH TULL Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Prattis, J. Iain. Organizational Change and Adaptation: Community Cooperatives and Capital Control in the Western Isles of Scotland. American Anthropologist September, 1987 Vol. 89 (3): 567-581
Prattis tells the story of Barra, a small island off the northwest coast of Scotland. He describes the tiny island as “the periphery of an already marginalized region;” its woes (limited job prospects and underdeveloped infrastructure) exacerbated by its isolated location. Through its institution of a island cooperative and its innovations in lobster fishing, Prattis describes a community responding to the social and economic structures that surround them. The initiatives have not only helped the community financially (though not environmentally), they have given the residents of Barra a feeling of independence the community. This, Prattis argues, has stopped social unrest before it started making the cooperative an important part of the Barra community.
Prattis demonstrates how the community recognized and proactively addressed their problems. They first acquired government grants and subsidies for fleet expansion and development, incorporating new technologies to aid in their efforts. There were immediate economic results, but with costs to the sustainability of the lobster population. The island, in Prattis’ view, was unable to self-regulate its fishing. In the early 1980s, the community developed a cooperative, providing goods and services to the community. The copperative also started a limited company, called Iasg Bharraidh, which developed strategies to better market the now-improved catch of the Barra fishermen. While this has been successful, additional capital needed to be invested in the project, for which there is very little incentive as a result of the stable incomes.
This kind of proactive community solution to a community problem seems remove Barra from the dependency seen in other U.K. communities faced with accepting dole payouts. Prattis argues that this may not be as simple seems. Capital, which he personifies, causes the people of Barra to overfish, even though they must realize the risks. This situation threatens the future viability of their way of life.
More than an actual economic cooperative Prattis sees Iasg Bharraidh as “simply a local adaptation to changing market structure.” The cooperative, however, has had a significant positive social impact on the community by giving the people of Barra a way to shape their own lives, thus preventing social unrest.
BRIENNE CALLAHAN Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Prattis, Iain J. Organizational Change and Adaptation: Community Cooperatives and Capital Control in the Western Isles of Scotland. American Anthropologist September, 1987 Vol. 89(3): 567-580.
Prattis spent twelve years doing fieldwork on the island of Barra, a Western isle of Scotland. He witnessed the evolution of the community cooperative of Barra; from its establishment to the incorporation in 1984 of a limited company the islanders named Iasg Bharraidh. Prattis’ case study is about this small Barra community that chose a strategy of transformation to face unemployment, population decline, market and price competition instead of a strategy of resistance to political and socioeconomic pressures.
Only about 1,400 people live on this 22,000 acres-island. This is a small-scale fishing community. The community cooperative on Barra has been plagued with several impediments over the years: unemployment, insecure wages for the fishermen, little access to world market, population decline, emigration and inadequate infrastructure to commercially compete at the world level. Indeed, the Barra fishing industry was not only ill-equipped (gear, boats) but also only got limited returns on their production. For example, upon catching lobsters in Barra, the lobsters were stored until a sufficient number of them were attained in order to pack them and send them first by cargo to Oban and then by rail to Billingsgate. Upon arrival, 20 to 50% or more had died during the long transportation. Since the fishermen were paid according to the number of lobsters alive on arrival, that meant that they never knew how much their catch was worth and that their wages were not secure.
To remedy to this insecure economic environment, the community cooperative of Barra decided to form a limited company, Iasg Bharraidh, wholly owned. Iasg Bharraidh’s main goal was to sale live shellfish to the mainland and other markets. The community hoped to develop and improve the fishing-based economy on the island. In the long run, another objective was the construction of storage ponds in order to store the shellfish catches and sell them when it was favorable to the Barra community, price-wise. In the meantime, Iasg Bharraidh acquired new infrastructure for the fishing fleet: a bigger boat, Devon creels, a truck and a van. Moreover, the fishermen now received steady wages.
The Barra community cooperative and the formation of their limited company Iasg Bharraidh is an example of how a small declining community adapted to the unstable economic and social environments. Although Iasg Bharraidh was by any means a success for this island community, Prattis is concerned that this may not last in the long term. One concern is the very base of the fishing economy. Barra fishermen had switched to the Devon creel, which allowed them to catch a larger quantity of lobsters. This increased lobster productivity may exhaust their very resource base. One advice Prattis give this community is to diversify their fishing economy and their other economic activities.
BELONA MOU California State University: Hayward (Peter J. Claus).
Reedy, Chandra L. and Reedy, Terry J. Statistical Analysis in Iconographic Interpretation: The Function of Mudras at Tapho, A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. American Anthropologist 1987 89: 635-649.
In this article, the Reedys discuss their theory that the Buddhist statues in the temple of Mudras are sculpted – particularly their hands – into forms depicting, through form, structure, and syntax, a form of communication. The article opens with a description of the temple, the interior structure, and the setup of the statues within.
The Reedys continue by discussing their methods of analysis, during which the reader discovers that this analysis is done not by an actual study of the temple and the statues, but by a review of a variety of photographs taken by Guiseppe Tucci and slides taken by Deborah Klimburg Salter. The photographs were dated at nearly fifty years old, and there is no date provided for the slides. The pictures are discussed, and the figures are broken up into four types of deities, of which are discussed later in the article. The reader then discovers that this study is not actually a complete analysis, as the hands of several of the statues are not clear or even visible in the pictures. Furthermore, one sculpture is not even photographed in either Tucci’s photos or Salter’s slides.
The article then continues with a description of the methods used to defer a statistical analysis for this study. Although charts and graphs are provided, the explanation of how these numbers are attained is not clear.
Finally, the Reedys offer the four hypotheses that they have reached through this study. Their conclusion, however, is left at that, offering a variety of possible explanations but making no effort to specify one or more as more likely than the others.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
MICHAEL FILLITER York University, Toronto (Naomi Adelson)
Reedy, Chandra L. and Terry J. Reedy. Statistical Analysis in Iconographic Interpretation: The Function of Mudras at Tapho, A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. American Anthropologist, 1987 Vol. 89(3): 635-649.
In their article, Reedy and Reedy argue that the statistical analysis of the iconographic elements contained within a work of art can be a helpful tool in deciphering the intended meaning. They contend that using statistical analysis to uncover the syntax, or rules, of an iconographic system is an essential step in uncovering the communication that the work of art was intended to convey. This type of analysis can be especially helpful in situations in which there are no oral or written records of the work.
To illustrate their argument they examined a mandala, a collection of deities and other relics that form a circle meant to represent the universe, at a Vajrayana Buddhist monastery in northern India. This particular mandala has 32 sculptures of dieties centered around one four faced Buddha Vairocana statue. They argue that in order to understand any one of the sculptures, the relationship between all of the sculptures forming the mandala must be analyzed.
Due to the complex nature of the art, they isolated mudras, or hand gestures with religious significance, to examine. They tested if the occurrence of specific mudras were random by analyzing the relationship between mudras and other features of the sculptures, such as arm position and color. After establishing that the mudras of the sculptures seemed to be deliberately chosen, they went on to test four hypotheses about the use of mudras. Through examining the correlation the iconographic element they tested whether mudras function to identify the deity represented, mark deity categories, mark the spatial position of the deity within the mandala, or confirm meanings indicated by other elements. Their analysis shows that the combination of arm position and mudras may identify specific deities and their spatial relationship within the mandala.
This argument is related to linguistics in that they view art much like language: each element must be looked at in relationship to other elements to discover syntax. Understanding the rules of the system is an essential part in coming to understand the meaning signified. Thus, they suggest using this method on other mandalas in order to come to some understanding as to whether there are general patterns in mudras use. This would be a first step in discovering the meaning and structure of mudras, a first step that is scientific and falsifiable.
OWEN ANDERSON Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Robarchek, Clayton and Dentan, Robert. Blood Drunkenness and the Bloodthirsty Semai: Unmaking Another Anthropological Myth. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol.89:356-365
This article discusses the Senoi Semai of Malaysia. There has been an ongoing debate about the Semai being bloodthirsty killers, however, these two authors try to disprove this assumption in the article. Both have extensively studied the Semai and have generally come to the same conclusions about their society.
The authors say that Semai society is virtually free of violence, however, some commentators have argued that, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, Semai are really bloodthirsty killers. Their purported blood lust has, in its turn, been widely cited as evidence in innate human aggressiveness.
Robarchek’s field experiences, in short, confirmed the reading of Dentan’s account as describing a peaceful way of life, a reading that corresponded with Dentan’s intentions.
The article discusses the fact that the term “blood drunkenness” has been taken completely out of context in relation to Semai society. The concept of “blood drunkenness” rather than designating the eruption of innate homicidal frenzy, describes an acute state of nausea, fear, disorientation, and disgust which the sight of human blood evokes among Semai. This is a picture of blood drunkenness and of the Semai nature rather different from the image of raging bloodthirsty troglodytes previously portrayed.
The article concludes by stating that Semai blood drunkenness is a flimsy foundation on which to erect a theory of human aggression and human nature.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
LINDSAY GRANT York University (Naomi Adelson)
Robarchek, Clayton and Dentan, Robert. Blood Drunkenness and the Bloodthirsty Semai: Unmaking Another Anthropological Myth. American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol. 89:356-365.
This article addresses issues of representation and of the formulation of universal models of human behavior. Robarchek and Dentan explain how some theorists have misinterpreted their ethnographic accounts of the Senoi Semai of Malaysia, and in particular their descriptions of Semai “blood drunkenness.” These theorists have used Semai society as an example of humans’ biological and universal tendency toward aggression and violence. The issue the authors address is that it is irresponsible to shape a universal theory of biological human aggression on particular instances of violence taken out of context. Their argument is that the Semai society they know is virtually free of violence, despite theorists’ misrepresentations of a supposedly repressed Semai blood lust.
To support their argument, the authors give examples of how Semai society is characterized by nonviolence, and how their ethnographic descriptions were misread as proof of universal human aggression. Dentan’s ethnography relays accounts of the wartime experiences of Semai men involved in a 1950s military unit, where one Semai veteran described his “blood drunkenness” during battles. According to his account, in combat the Semai men thought only of killing, and were “drunk with blood.”
To substantiate their claims, some proponents of universal human aggression used this as example of how human beings, even if conditioned by their society to be peaceable, are innately violent. Although the authors’ ethnographic accounts of Semai society describe it as peaceful one, specific instances were taken out of context in order to prove this universal theory.
In addition to explaining how some theorists have misinterpreted their ethnographic work on the Semai, the authors also admit that in their descriptions they took special opportunities to recognize and describe rare cases of Semai aggression, not realizing their readers would likely single these out and classify the Semai as a violent people. To atone for this, the authors prove how unlikely a Semai soldier was to kill and, most importantly, to explain blood drunkenness, or “buul bhiib.” While it has been misinterpreted as a sort of insanity or blood lust, for the Semai it is disorienting and nauseating, as associated with vomiting or being poisoned. It usually is a description for light-headedness and sickness resulting from a loss of blood or from seeing blood.
The article asserts that the Semai are nonviolent people and that the examples used by those hoping to corroborate their theories of universal human behaviors are taken out of context. The authors argue that while humans are capable of violence, as indicated in the case of the Semai, this is simply a potential for aggression, not a tendency or drive. They stress that theorists need to better inform their opinions by the complexities of behaviors such as these.
NICOLE MILLER Macalester College (Karen Nakamura
Saul, Mahir. The Organization of the West African Grain Market. American Anthropologist. 1987 89; 74-93
Throughout this article, Saul writes of the organization and the production of grain within the West African Markets. Most grain was seen to be produced in the Burkina Faso. These grains are produced by the small farmers who sell a small portion of their crops and consume the remainder. Other provinces along with the capital city, Ouagadougou, are supplied by the surplus grain produced by the west and the south.
Saul illustrates the role the merchants play in the grain market process throughout the article. The merchants (Buyers of grain) undertake the task of collecting and transporting the grain from the producing areas. Merchants bring agents to their village and supply them with money so they could go off to other villages to buy grain and other materials and come back and to the merchant’s village with the goods. The larger number of agents working for the merchant indicates his importance.
The cost of grain varies within the day, depending on who the merchant/agent buys the material from. In areas in which markets are formed, traders are seen to gather at the same time and come together in order to establish a fixed price in which the grain would be sold at. Those that violate the selling price are force to sell all that they have brought to the market place at purchase price. Consumers and brewers are found to pay higher prices because they are not placed within the price agreement made between the traders. Saul points out how all these factors stated above result in a broad range of prices within the market place.
Within the article, Saul points out other strategies that traders use within the market to increase their sales. Saul is found stating that a good corner in the market is an advantage to a trader. Saul also pointed out that some traders pay boys to meet uncommitted producers in the marketplace or roads and guide them towards their spot within the market. Another strategy used by buyers is that they form personal relationships with the farmers that have grain to sell. From the relationship the client may get small material benefits which the trader will use to pressure the farmer to only sell to him.
Because the market prices change throughout the hour, traders may offer lower prices to those that came to the market early in the day. Prices are seen to rise when there are only a few sellers left and buyers start coming in. Traders are also found to offer private deals to farmers who have large amounts to sell.
Funds for the market are provided by the major urban merchants. A maximum price is set to be paid to the farmers. Prices of grain increase in January when it becomes scarce. Many small traders, brokers, agents and retailers who have ran out of grain go to the merchants for more supplies, who have stored most of their stock. This is the cycle that persists within the grain market in West Africa.
CLARITY RANKING; 3
TAMAR PAPISMEDOV York University, Toronto (Naomi Adelson)
Scollon, Ron and Suzanne. Obituary: Fang Kuei Li (1902-1987) American Anthropologist 1987 Pg. 1008-1009
In this obituary, the authors discuss how Fang Kuei Li’s contributions in the area of fieldwork served as a foundation in linguistics. In his early years of study he was schooled in China and came to America to further his education. During his studies in America he worked closely with Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield. At that time Sapir taught Athabaskan (American Indian language) and Bloomfield taught Algonkian (Indo-European). In the course of his studies with Sapir, Li had the opportunity to accompany him to California to collect notes on native populations. Fang Kuei Li also had the opportunity to do fieldwork on a resident in Chicago from the Navajo. Moreover, his fieldwork at Fort Chipewyan has been considered “…the foundation of linguistic knowledge…and has stood for sixty years.” (Scollon 1008).
Li studied fours years of American education and practiced eighteen languages, and received three American degrees. He then returned to China to begin a successful career in Linguistics. Fang Kuei Li’s gentle nature veered him away from the politics of China and the politics of his work. While being asked why he spent a lifetime studying Linguistics, Li replied, “Language is one of the greatest manifestations of the human spirit; there is no study more rewarding.” (Scollon 1009).
CLARITY RANKING 5
TRACY WOOLRIDGE York University (Naomi Adelson)
Sherman, D. George. Men Who Called “Women” in Toba-Batak: Marriage, Fundamental Sex-Role Differences and the Suitability of the Gloss “Wife-Receiver.” American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89(4):867-878. .
D. George Sherman addresses the appropriateness of the glosses “wife-taker” and “wife-receiver” used in anthropological literature to refer to men who are called women: the groom and his lineage in Southeast Asian societies with modes of matrilateral cross-cousin marriage. Hitherto, the terms have been used interchangeably, presenting not only a semantic problem but also a barrier to understanding cultural behavior. By examining through a structural analysis the marriage patterns, modes of effecting marriage, and relationships between “wife givers” and “wife-receivers or wife-takers” of the Toba Bataks of Samosir, north Sumatra, Indonesia, Sherman determines that the gloss “wife-receiver” is more accurate.
Sherman begins by a sketch of the relationship between in-laws, explaining that a man’s wife-giving relatives hold a mystical power that can affect his well-being, that of his children, and even the course of normal events. While matrilateral cross-cousin marriage is the mode, affinal relations have an elastic character. If a man does not marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, a ceremonial meal and bride wealth payment are used to make the new marriage culturally acceptable. Sherman shows how one might view “wife-takers” as the appropriate gloss by examining how a marriage is formed. Most marriages are elopements that are structured between the “wife-givers” and the “wife-receivers.” A proper exchange must take place to offset the“taking” of the bride. Elopement can serve as a prelude to larger ceremonial meals were shawls are given to the groom’s party in return for bride wealth payments. Yet, these payments are largely symbolic and delayed payments not rare; the primary concern is the welfare of the bride. Thus, the term “wife-takers” is not superior to “wife-receivers” – they both fit such occasions.
To conclude, while both terms show women’s roles as mediators and a bridge between two sets of kin, Sherman argues a case for using the term “wife-receivers” based the formulation that the mother’s brother has a “lien” on his sister’s son as a wife-receiver for his daughter. This “lien” or mystical influence reveals why a man must inform and ask blessing from his mother’s brother if he does not marry the latter’s daughter. Thus, “wife-givers’” hold a “lien” over the more aptly glossed “wife-receivers.” This clarification of terms lends further light to the question of men who are called women by showing their submissive role as “wife-receivers”.
SPECTRA MYERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Sherman, George D. Men Who Are Called “Women” in Toba-Batak: Marriage, Fundamental Sex-Role Differences, and the Suitability of the Gloss “Wife-Receiver”. American Anthropologist December, 1987 Vol. 89(4): 867-878.
In this article, Sherman focuses on the use of the term “wife-taker” as opposed to “wife-receiver” in the Toba-Batak society in north Sumatra, Indonesia. This term is attributed to the groom and his family. “Wife-taker” is less an appropriate term than “wife-receiver” to refer to the Batak marriage practice and values.
The Toba-Batak prefer a matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, that is to say a Batak man marries his mother’s brother’s daughter. Traditionally, the clan that provides a bride is called “wife-givers” while the clan of the groom is referred to as “wife-takers” or “wife-receivers”. Moreover, Toba-Batak men are often referred to as boru nami (meaning “our daughter” or “woman of our clan”) like their wives because they have married a woman of the clan. Sherman also adds that is because those men “are viewed as standing in a relationship of ‘wife-takers’ or ‘wife-receivers’” (867).
Marriage practice in the Toba-Batak society is usually characterized by a plan to elope. Here, elopement is not about running away and getting married in secret. The elopement is carefully prepared: gifts are exchanged between the two families, the couple is accompanied during their elopement with the final destination known: usually the groom’s father’s house. Arrived there, a meal is given and only then does the bride’s family express their concern on her being ‘taken’ or stolen by the host’s son. From there, deals are negotiated to repair the offense to the bride’s parents and kin. So the term “wife-givers” is applied to the bride’s parents and kin as all of them claim a part of the payments for giving a bride. Conversely, the term “wife-receivers” refers to the groom, his parents, the brothers and sisters’ husbands of the groom’s father as they all contribute to meet the bride’s kin’s demands.
So now, how appropriate the terms “wife-taker” or “wife-receiver” and “wife-giver” are? Sherman argues that both “wife-taker” and “wife-receiver” are inappropriate because of the Toba-Batak marriage practice. Since the groom and the bride elope, neither families are technically giving or receiving anyone. “[M]en do not so much ‘take’ brides as women ‘join’ husbands” (Sherman 876).
One last point Sherman is arguing for is the suitability of the term “wife-receivers” to be applied to the Toba-Batak values rather than “wife-takers”. The two terms have been interchangeable throughout the article but Sherman claims that “wife-receivers” is a more proper term than “wife-takers”. He explains that the men called “women” are in fact “wife-receivers”.
BELONA MOU California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus).
Sherzer, Joel. A Discourse-Centered Approach To Language and Culture. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol. 89: 295-309
Sherzer begins his article with a brief overview of linguistic anthropology and the relationship between language and culture. Exploring the relationship between language and culture logically begins with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the notion that language patterns influence thought and therefor condition material actions. However, within this definition, Sherzer notes that culture can be constituted at the level of a single individual. If linguistics is to be thought of as a shared system of symbols between individuals, the idea of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis must be revised.
Sherzer’s argument hinges on a number of dualities in the nature of language. First, he notes that language is both an arbitrary system of signs and rules (grammar), however at the same time is “meaningful” and motivated, but only when meanings are activated by being at the level of physical speech (or writing, although Sherzer focuses only on speech). This physical speech within a cultural matrix is what Sherzer means when he uses the term discourse. This emphasis on discourse is important because discourse takes place in a specific context, which Sherzer interprets in two ways: Context is the broader rules of language use and the immediate context in which language is spoken. The first context is the abstract systems of signs and grammer and the second is the material discourse. When language is spoken both these levels of context are activated. It is these intersections, where the abstract crosses with the material, that the relationship between language and culture is best understood. For Sherzer this intersection is most apparent in the more poetic forms of language, such as “magic, verbal dueling and political rhetoric” as well as other “artistic” discourses, something Sapir and Whorf noted as well.
Sherzer uses several examples of discourse to prove his point, a Kuna incantation, the echo-word construction in the Bhojpuri language spoken in northern India, Hopi tense and narrative structure as well as narrative structure in American English. Unlike the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which would state that these structures of language condition thoughts, Sherzer sees these more as potential tools which may be activated. For example the Kuna incantation, which revolves around the position of a snake, does not indicate that Kuna have better capabilities for understanding position, but they have the discourse that may be activated in order to express position and this discourse is always in flux. This is Sherzer’s major point: while the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis sees structures as largely determinant, language is a fluid system and discourse is both produced by linguistic structures and re-produces the structures as well as producing new structures.
Overall Sherzer’s ideas are very useful. In his conclusion he argues that linguistic anthropology must move away from examining linguistic structures an instead focus on their use. Ultimately his argument for the primacy of discourse is well done. His ideas are attentive to linguistic theory, although he never explicitly mentions work he’s drawing from that body of work, and signal a turn a way from structuralism.
NED MEINERS Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Sherzer, Joel. A Discourse-Centered Approach to Language and Culture. American Anthropology June 1987 Vol. 89 (2): 295-309.
In his article, Sherzer attempts to redefine what discourse is in relation to linguistic anthropology and based on the famous Whorf –Sapir Hypothesis, which says that language is the means in which individuals think and language conditions or determines cultural thought, perception, and worldview.
Sherzer considers discourse to be the concrete expression of cultural language relationships. He believed that discourse is distinct from grammar, and in turn keeps his definition of discourse vague because he believes that defining it would be simplifying it. Sherzer also says that contemporary linguistic anthropological research is beginning with discourse. The Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis was important and re-emerges in how contemporary linguistic anthropologist approach the study of language and discourse.
To construct his argument, he gives examples of discourse among the Kuna Indian tribe of Panama. The Kuna have grammatical categories for expressing body position in relation to action. Sherzer uses the Kuna’s language also, to describe poetic and magical discourse within language by giving examples of a magical chant to a snake spirit (in the snake’s language). He also compares American narratives, which are told chronologically to the Kuna ones, which move back and forth throughout time, to give another example of poetic discourse. Verbal dueling among the Kuna tribe, with an example of market place bargaining, is also given to show the social relationships within cultures. These three examples from the Kuna tribe describe how discourse varies and should be the focus of contemporary linguistic anthropologists. Getting back to the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis, language discourse translate patterns within cultural meanings, and the verbal dueling example gives a very well developed idea of this phenomenon.
While the Kuna language examples of how poetic, magical, and verbal dueling discourse are good examples, they would be much more helpful and clear to the readers if Sherzer would have developed his meaning of discourse better. It would also lend more to the connection to the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis, and lend more testimony to his belief that a discourse approach to the study of linguistic anthropology would be in the best interest of contemporary linguistic anthropologists. And well he states that he wants his definition of discourse to purposely remain vague, his article, and the evidence he gives, would give readers a better understanding of what discourse means today within linguistic anthropology if he had.
Clarity Rating : 3
Chyvonne S. Washington California State University, Hayward Peter J. Claus
Stern, Theodore. Homer Garner Barnett (1906-1985). American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol.89(3):701-703.
In this obituary, Theodore Stern highlights the life, career and contributions of Homer Garner Barnett who died of cancer at 79 on May 9, 1985.
Barnett’s life was one of adventure. Stern mentions a few of his exploits, which include stowing away on Europe-bound ships in his youth, working as a freighter and on a road gang and penning a novel. From 1944-46 he served as anthropologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology and as a research associate with the Ethnographic Board, researching groups who the U.S. was fighting against. He also served in the Navy as a staff anthropologist from 1951-53. In 1955, the Governor-General of Netherlands New Guinea asked Barnett to work as a part-time advisor. He was survived by his wife, Judith Hazel Skaggs and two daughters, Linda and Susan.
Barnett started his career at Stanford studying math and philosophy and attended graduate school at Berkeley in anthropology. Working with Ronald Olson and Philip Drucker, Barnett conducted research in the American Northwest. In 1939 he accepted a position in the small anthropology department at the University of Oregon where he stayed for much of his career. Throughout his life Barnett worked with many cultures both in the United States and abroad. The Yuroks, Tsimshians, Yakima, Coast Salish and Palau Islanders are a number of groups with whom he spent the most time.
Deviating from the traditional anthropologist of his time, Barnett studied social psychology and perception, and then on sabbatical at Columbia and MIT delved into the philosophy of science and communication theory. He found the concept and process of acculturation the most interesting aspect of culture. He suggested, “anthropology has much to offer in the solution of human problems” and stuck by this idea throughout his life.
Barnett worked with a plethora of national and international anthropological organizations, wrote multiple books and received many awards for his work. In 1980 the University of Oregon celebrated Barnett’s work by implementing a graduate teaching fellowship in his honor.
ANNA MCCARTNEY-MELSTAD Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Stern, Theodore. Homer Garner Barnett (1906-1985). American Anthropologist September, 1987 Vol. 89(3): 701-703.
This is an obituary for Homer Garner Barnett, an emeritus professor at the University of Oregon. He was mostly specialized in cultural change and applied anthropology.
Homer Garner Barnett was born in 1906 in Arizona. He first began studying civil engineering at Stanford, tried his hands at mathematics and philosophy but eventually wound up studying anthropology at Berkeley. There, he studied mostly under the influence of Kroeber, his curriculum advisor. In 1934, Kroeber sent Barnett on his first fieldwork: an ethnographic survey on the American Indians of the Oregon coast. In 1938, Barnett received his Ph.D. and quickly became a teacher at the University of New Mexico but later moved to the University of Oregon. From then on, he did more fieldwork on American Indians in the Northwest. He especially focused on the Yurok and Yakima cultures. From his study on the Yakima culture, he wrote Indian Shakers (1957), relating a growing form of Indian religion.
When World War II broke up, Barnett joined the Bureau of American Ethnology and then the Ethnogeographic Board. As an anthropologist, he was to provide information on human and natural resources where the war was taken place, particularly in Oceania. This field research in the Pacific brought Barnett to study the Palau Islanders for a year. At war’s end, back in Oregon, he published Palauan Society in 1949 and Being a Palauan the year later. Barnett’s interest in the Pacific cultures did not vanished upon his return. He was concerned about the postwar aftermath on these small Pacific societies. He thus became a staff anthropologist for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands from 1951 to 1953 and was hired as a consultant to the government of Netherlands New Guinea in 1955.
Barnett believed that “anthropology has much to offer in the solution of human problems” and so, was very enthusiastic when the Society of Applied Anthropology was founded. In fact, he became its president in 1961. Barnett was an influential researcher and was highly recognized in his field and across disciplines. Among his numerous public achievements, he was part of the National Science Foundation (1956-57), the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and the American Anthropological Association (1960-61).
Homer Garner Barnett lived a rich life. He had more than one string to his bow. At the end of his life, Barnett was an honored researcher and teacher. But he started out as a writer, a wiper, a cook and housekeeper. One extraordinary anecdote in Barnett’s life was his audience with the Pope.
BELONA MOU California State University, Hayward (Peter J. Claus)
Tronick, Edward Z., Morelli, Gilda A., Winn, Steve. Multiple Caretaking of Efe (Pygmy) Infants. American Anthropologist 1987 Vol. 89:96-106
One of the goals for the researchers of this two-year study project was to understand how Efe caretaking practices prepared infants to meet the sociocultural, physiological and psychological demands of the Efe culture. The Efe (Pygmies) of northeastern Zaire are seminomadic and are referred to as hunters and gatherers. They live in small virilocal camps and much of their lives center on continuous social interaction and social exposure.
Two models of infant care were used as a basis to understand how the Efe care for their infants. The first is the continuous care and contact model whereby the infant is cared for by a primary caregiver, the mother. This model maintains that human caregiving practices are biologically centered and the mother should be principally responsible for providing the infant with continuous care, constant contact and frequent, short nursing sessions. The second model, the caretaker-child strategy model, conceptualizes human development as a process shaped by behavioral exchanges occurring between children and multiple caregivers.
The Efe were found to engage in a multiple caretaking system, although many of their practices resemble the caretaker-child strategy model. An important aspect of the care of Efe infants is that during the first eighteen weeks of life, lactating and nonlactating women can nurse the infant.
The data derived from this study indicate that the caretaker-child strategy model and the continuous care and contact model may be too rigid in determining what the Efe infants’ caretaking environment encompasses.
CLARITY RATING: 4
MARCIE GOLDMAN York University (Naomi Adelson)
Tronick, Edward Z., Morelli, Gilda A., and Steve Winn. Multiple Caretaking of Efe (Pygmy) Infants. American Anthropologist March, 1987 Vol89(1):96-106.
Tronick, Morelli, and Winn begin this paper by presenting two different models of infant caretaking among humans. The continuous care and contact model (CCC) claims that caretaking practices are rooted in human biology and its mother-child bonding theory for ideal child development supports the need for physical contact between the mother and child immediately following birth. Contrastingly, the caretaker-child strategy model is based upon the theory that human development is a process formed by behavioral exchanges between child and caregiver that adjusts according to evolved motivations, cultural beliefs and practices, residence patterns, and situational factors. The three authors use their two-year study in northeastern Zaire of the Efe system of caretaking to argue in support of the caretaker-child strategy, that the CCC model is too limiting to apply to caretaking systems, and that that no prototypical form of care giving exists among humans.
By using participant observation, interviews, and naturalistic observation, the authors found that Efe children are not in contact with their mother until hours after birth, are cared for by many individuals during the course of their development, and are nursed by a number of women. They argue that although the Efe strategies of care giving fulfill the physiological requirements outlined by the CCC model, it is not because they follow the mother-child bonding theory. Having multiple caregivers and nursing from a number of women, Efe children are able to incorporate into another’s temperature regulatory system, become immune to a variety of pathogens, and receive a greater fluid load than the colostrum of their birth mother.
While these are strategies created to survive in their environment, Efe care-taking practices also benefit psychosocial development. The system works to maximize culturally appropriate behaviors necessary in Efe society such as being able to interact with many individuals on a regular basis, being cooperative, having different styles of interactions and decreasing attachment to one’s birth mother.
These authors argue against the scientific CCC model that claims there is an ideal form of care-taking practices for successful child development. Instead, the caretaker-child strategy model accounts for the diversity in material environments that result in different cultural practices. By using the Efe as an example, these authors prove that there is no prototypical form of care-taking, but that systems are created as strategic responses to physiological, environmental and socio-cultural circumstances.
JEHAN-MARIE ADAMJI Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Zabawa, Robert. Macro-Micro Linkages and Structural Transformation: The Move from Full-Time to Part-Time Farming in a North Florida Agricultural Community. American Anthropologist June, 1987 Vol. 89 (2): 366-380.
Zabawa describes the structural changes the farming community of Gadsden County, Florida has made to adapt to a changing agricultural market. Shade-grown tobacco, first developed in the early nineteenth century, provided Gadsden County farmers’ with a sustainable income. After reaching its peak in the 1960s, the market for this type of tobacco began a rapid decline in America, so that by the early 1980s Gadsden County, which had once had a monopoly, found itself squeezed out by technological changes and international competition. Zabawa describes the survival strategies (farm expansion, part-time farming with the inclusion of off-farm work, or leaving farming) used by the farmers in the face of this collapse. Using two case studies and a sample of fifty-two farmers, he also describes the issues facing Gadsden County in relation to the larger structural changes and problems American agriculture has faced in recent times, including farm consolidation and international competition.
Cigar companies used the shade-grown tobacco leaves raised in Gadsden County as wrappers for their lower-end cigars. This was ideal for Gadsden County farmers as the tobacco fit their particular needs: a high yield, labor-intensive crop suitable to their ecosystem. The cost of growing the tobacco was immense, but tobacco companies and Gadsden County farmers formed a relationship in which the companies loaned farmers the money to cover many of the financial production burdens. After the 1960s, however, the technological developments of inexpensive sheet tobacco and plastic tips with increasing international trade (macro-level changes) led tobacco companies redirect their financial support away from Gadsden County in favor of shade-grown tobacco in countries such as Nicaragua and Guatemala. As Gadsden County had such success with this product for over half a century, there was little diversification in its agricultural products. The collapse of the market, and consequently the withdrawal of tobacco company support, left Gadsden County farmers with few options. Many decided to leave the farming business altogether while others expanded their farms into new areas or became part-time farmers, using off-farm work to supplement their agricultural incomes. These micro-level changes have allowed the community to survive, although unemployment rates hover around 20 percent. Racial tensions within the town have also been brought to a head as work for African-American field workers has been eroded both by agricultural changes and the influx of Mexican migrant workers, which are more attractive to current Gadsden Country farmers concerned about production costs.
In his summary and conclusion, Zabawa relates the demise of the shade-grown tobacco farming to the larger problems faced by American farmers in the face of international trade and the growth of agribusiness. In closing, he issues a warning that the American farming community on a macro level may not be able to successfully implement the kind of changes that were instituted on a micro level in Gadsden County.
BRIENNE CALLAHAN Macalester College (Karen Nakamura)
Zabawa, Robert. Macro-Micro Linkages and Structural Transformation: The Move From Full-time to Part-time Farming in North Florida Agricultural Community. American Anthropology June 1987 Vol.89(2): 366-382.
This article is concerned with how shade tobacco farmers in Gadsden County of Northern Florida adapted to the market collapse of their cash crop. Zabawa focuses on the options these farmers had when shade tobacco farming became unprofitable.
Zabawa argues that advances in technology, namely the development of the synthetic cigar wrapper and the plastic cigar tip, government interventions such as the Surgeon General Report on the harms of tobacco smoking and the Cuba Embargo, and the internationalization of the tobacco market industry by tobacco companies, all contributed to the market collapse of shade tobacco farming. He attempts to show how the market collapse has forced Gadsden County’s predominately African American shade tobacco farmers to either abandon shade tobacco farming, farm shade tobacco part-time, farm another crop, or take full-time non-farming work. Their families have also had to adapt, with the wives generally taking on full-time non-farming jobs instead of assisting their husbands on the farm. Zabawa asserts that a consequence of the market collapse is an alteration in the cultural traditions of this community. He shows how a major change in an industry affects those who are at the shorter micro level of that industry. In this case, the shade tobacco farming community.
Zabawa constructs his arguments with evidence that is presented chronologically. He starts with the height of shade tobacco farming in the early 1900’s, showing how Gadsden County’s soil was very promising for shade tobacco farming. He also shows that African American farmers became the primary farmers of this crop. Zabawa then moves on to the government, technological, and corporate contributors to the market collapse. His data shows how changes such as production being moved to more economical places like Honduras, the embargo against Cuba (laws which stopped all import and export of cigars and shade tobacco production materials) practically bankrupted a community and ended generations of farming.
Zabawa further argues that the shade tobacco market collapse was not just an alteration in how shade tobacco farmers made their living, but a major alteration in their family’s traditions. He gives examples of two families, with two generations of tobacco farming under their belt, and how their decisions to either farm part-time, full-time, or take full-time non-farming jobs affected their families.
While the article is clear in defining what is meant by part-time (8-40 hours per week) and full-time farming (40 plus hours per week), his development of the argument that shows how these occupation decisions altered the shade tobacco farmers’ culture is not very well developed. However, Zabawa makes some very clear connections between the macro-level (government, technology, and corporate) changes and their effect at the micro-level (the farmers’ income). His historical and statistical information supports that macro-level changes had a very significant role in the market collapse.
Clarity Rating : 4
Chyvonne S. Washington California State University, Hayward Peter J. Claus