American Anthropologist 1993

Aiello, Leslie C. The Fossil Evidence for Modern Human Origins in Africa: A Revised View. American Anthropologist March, 1993 Vol. 95(1):73-91.

Aiello addresses both the out of Africa and the multiregional evolution hypothesis of human origins. Aiello states that both approaches in their purest form cannot adequately explain the evidenced fossil record. Examination of the fossil records of the Levant, Africa, Asia, and Europe supports the occurrence of modern humans in Africa and the Levant before their appearance in Europe and Asia. However, Aiello mentions that the archaeological record of Asia is incomplete and remains unclear.n This uncertainty and ambiguity still cannot suggest that humans appeared in Asia before Europe or the Levant. Then again, the fossil record is less recorded than those of Europe, but the possibility of discovering fossils that can give evidence to other models remains. Aiello supports the out of Africa theory and lists three factors that argue against a muliregional model of human origin. The first is the earlier dates of the fossil record from the Levant and Africa than Asia and Europe. The second is the expansion into Siberia during the Upper Paleolithic and third is the form similarities between European and Asian hominids in the Upper Paleolithic.

CLARITY RANKING: 3
PANTALEON YZAGUIRRE Baylor University (Tina Thurston).

Algaze, Guillermo. Expansionary Dynamics of Some Early Pristine States. American Anthropologist June, 1993 Vol. 95 (2): 304-328

Algaze’s article is about the outposts found at the peripheries between advanced state-level societies and less developed societies. He suggests three things about these periphery outposts. The first is that they are not limited to recent times, but that core outposts at alien peripheries were an instrument of expansion common to early pristine states. Secondly, these outposts were also a cost efficient form of channeling exchange between distant societies at different levels of sociopolitical complexity. Third, Algaze suggests that these outposts “reflect a system of early hegemony” where early states attempted to exploit less complex societies. To back up his statements, Algaze first reviews the nature of imperial relationships. He specifically looks at the expansionary dynamics of early Mesopotamian (Sumerian) civilization, Classic Mesoamerican (Teotihuacan) civilization, Mature Harappan civilization, and Predynastic Egyptian civilization. He examines the archaeological evidence for the nature and location of the outposts of these early civilizations.

Alaze’s article is very informative and well written.

CLARITY RANKING: 3
CHRISTINA ROSER Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Alves, Julio. “Transgressions and Transformations: Initiation Rites among Urban Portuguese Boys”. American Anthropologist 1993 Vol. 95: 894-917.

In this article, Alves was examining the function of initiation rites in the working-class community of Ajuda in Lisbon, Portugal. This community had no formal initiation rites, so the boys developed their own separate from the adults. The rite that was developed was “rampages throughout the community and subsequent public narration of these experiences” (894). Alves draws heavily on the theory of Van Gennep and Turner to explain the social function of the rampage. He terms it as a rite of passage, a concept of a ritual that is performed in times of transition, from one state to another. In this case it is the state of childhood that is transitioning to the state of adolescence.

These informal rites were focused on the rampage, which usually consisted of one or more boys in the group running across private property in the community. This act was seen as a serious violation in this community, as private property is not to be encroached on by anyone except those invited. It was tolerated by the community, however, when the perpetrators were boys of the initiation age, as they were old enough to be out in the community alone, but too young to do any harm of any significance. More important than the act of the rampage was the subsequent narrative performance given by the boy to the rest of the group. In this, the boy would exaggerate his bravery and wit, while allowing others who did not participate to be seen as cowards who were not quite as “manly” as himself. These discussions were the essence of the initiation rite, for those who could deliver them effectively were seen as the leaders, powerful and strong.

Alves uses many examples of these narratives in the text, showing them in the original language (with translation) and breaking down the structure of the sentences to show deeper meaning. He asserts that this data supports the theories of Turner, particularly liminality and communitas, important in initiation rites. He asserts that these initiation rites are important in aiding the boys of the community to develop structures that will be important in adolescence as well as adulthood.

CLARITY: 4
CHARLOTTE MATTHEWS Santa Clara University (George Westermark)

Bartlett, Thad Q., Robert W. Sussman, and James M. Cheverud Infant Killing in Primates: A Review of Observed Cases with Specific Reference to the Sexual Selection Hypothesis American Anthropologist December, 1993 Volume 95(4):958-990

In the mid-1970’s Hrdy proposed a hypothesis entitled the sexual selection hypothesis. The sexual selection hypothesis states that several primate species practice infanticide after taking over a group of females. The hypothesis states that the usurping males take part in this activity to eliminate their competitor’s genes and to terminate the lactational amenorrhea of the females, thus shortening the interval between their takeover and their insemination of the females. However, Hrdy’s hypothesis is supported by very little conclusive data and is challenged throughout the article.

A critique of Hrdy’s sexual selection hypothesis begins with analyzing the data of male reproductive success in the documented cases of infanticide. Of the forty-eight infanticide cases, there are only eight cases in which there is strong evidence that “. . . the infanticidal male sired the subsequent young of the infant-deprived female” (976). Of these eight cases, there is evidence that two infants were killed by their own male parents. Another flaw of Hrdy’s hypothesis is the goal-orientation of the attacks. There are too many variables involved in the documented raids to disseminate a particular motivation for the attacks. In some cases only “infant-bearing females were attacked by the infanticidal males” (976), while in others “infant-carrying females are not singled out” (977). Finally, Hrdy’s hypothesis is criticized because even in the primate populations where documented post-takeover infanticide has occurred it is at too low of an interval to significantly alter the gene pool of the population.

This article offers an unnecessary amount of data, which overwhelms the reader. However, it is informative and does an excellent job of weakening the sexual selection hypothesis.

CLARITY: 4
DOMINIC YANNITELLI Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Bartless, Thad Q., Sussman, Robert W., Cheverud, James M. Infant Killing in Primates: A Review of Observed Cases with Specific Reference to the Sexual Selection Hypothesis. American Anthropologist March, 1993 Vol. 95(1): 958-990.

This article sets out to claim that evidence for the sexual selection hypothesis is not entirely accurate when considering all non-human primates. The authors discuss a full range of primates, to which the hypothesis of infant killing as an evolutionary adaptive strategy applies to in one way or another. However, they state that the published material that is out there regarding the issue of infant killing is not detailed enough to evaluate the “veracity” of the sexual selection hypothesis (960). They simply argue that their evidence, as well as other people’s evidence of actions such as infanticide, deaths as disappearances, assault and infant killing, are not consistent enough to prove any sort of complete hypothesis. Through this discussion, they do not discount the work that others have done, nor do they disagree with it.

They make their argument based on the idea that the information that would be critical for testing the validity of the sexual selection hypothesis is not generally available. Several studies have been done on groups of primates, and the authors agree that “some degree of inter- and intrasexual aggression is normal (and adaptive) for nearly all primate communities” (980). From what the authors depict, it seems that infanticide is a recurrent phenomenon in non-human primates. The authors have provided evidence for primate groups by chronological published reports and by taxonomy of the primates. Such groups include: Hanuman Langurs- Dharwar and Jodhpur, Howler Monkeys- Red Howler and Mantled Howler, Wedge-Capped Capuchin Monkeys, Old World Monkeys- Redtail Monkey, Blue Monkey, Red Colobus Monkey, Rhesus Monkey, Savanna Baboon, and Great Apes- Gorilla and Chimpanzee. The wide variety of evidence provides for a unique understanding of each group and how they vary from the others. They state that with the exception of the Hanuman Langurs, the rest of the primate groups lack sufficient evidence to prove the sexual selection hypothesis.

A conclusion of their claim effectively includes a remark that further research and analysis of this topic must be done in a broader context in order to determine accurate and consistent patterns of “male competition and social change” (984). This is an admirable statement in that they do not give any doubt to the hypothesis as accurate, rather they think the evidences could use some improvement. It is sometimes easy to agree with something that is used in such a wide range by so many academics. They recognize this as well, and note that the sexual selection hypothesis has become “the accepted explanatory hypothesis for infant killing in non-human primates” (984). A concept such as this should not be taken lightly, and the authors of this article do a fine job of proving this to be true.

CLARITY: 4
LIANE DALLAL Santa Clara University (George Westermark)

Bjarnason, Thoroddur. In Defense of a Folk Model: The “Skipper Effect” in the Icelandic Cod Fishery. American Anthropologist June, 1993 Vol.95(2):371-394.

This article looks at the effect of a skipper on the success of his fishing expeditions, plus a look at the possible statistical analysis of folk models. The author states that “these relations may shed interesting light on the possible validity of folk models and folk science” (371). The first thing that Bjarnason and his associate, Thorlindsson, is to make clear the two paths that statistics in this field have taken.

Then, the author explains what the skipper effect is and the debate surrounding it. Interestingly, the author discusses the folk aspect of this subject, but he also takes the subject into an economic perspective. The authors of this article nicely summarize the main ideas of their article by stating that “closer attention should be paid to human as opposed to technological aspects of production. We suggest that collective knowledge, the folk science of fishing, forms the basis of individual expertise and needs to be taken into account in the empirical analysis of fishing success” (372-3). The article continues to give how the skipper effect plays roles in the fishing success, what the boat size really means, how the crew plays a role in the skipper effect, and various aspects of the business of fishing. At the end of the article, the authors give a quick warning to those solely interested in the business of fishing and to those who would quickly push aside the data from the article. They write, “Our findings have significant implications for fishing policy and resource management in pointing to the importance of human factors…Management concentrating solely on the technology of fishing or the technological aspects of boat size and effort is bound to be unsuccessful.

The article incorporates various secondary articles for evidence, plus the ethnographic work of the authors. This includes “documents by a national survey of the composition of the folk model of fishing success held by the Icelandic public” (371). There is also interview data and visual and statistical analysis of the role of outside factors in the “skipper effect.” The article also incorporates various graphs and tables to further explain the viewpoint of the authors.

CLARITY: 4
VERONICA ALVAREZ Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Briggs, Charles Personal Sentiments and Polyphonic Voices in Warao Women’s Rituals Wailing: Music and Poetics in a Critical and Collective Discourse American Anthropologist December, 1993 Vol95(4):929-957

Briggs attempts to show how Warao women gain status socially, economically and politically through their birthright wailing. Without the ability to grieve honestly these otherwise dominated and repressed women’s opinions of injustices would never be heard. Warao women communicate through tempo, pitch and timbre to construct social order or disorder. Once the women begin wailing they have more power to challenge, the privileged shamans and their hegemonic political leaders in establishing truths.

With those ideas in mind the author discusses how Warao women’s participation in rituals establishes platforms to place themselves higher socially. Only women who are wailing receive everyone’s undivided attention. Wailing is such an emotional, intensive trance, everyone watching humbles himself to show respect. Just as women’s feelings and views are repressed with the exception of wailing, men’s views are repressed during the ritual and they must consider the issues expressed seriously. The collective and individual character of women’s wailing provides a privileged context to criticize established social relations.

The author supports the argument by describing the ritual as it takes place. During a funeral the eldest of the Warao women will begin to wail, gaining the attention and respect of the community. Her textual phrases are the least controversial She would then use her voice to establish the emotion of those listening and the tone which her group will follow. After the eldest women, the mother of the deceased wails in tune or increases the spiritual emotions of everyone through timbre, pitch or tempo to convey her message. Then the other women contribute to the wailing either changing the text of the messages or increasing the emotion of the one being expressed. During these rituals they show the unfairness of their society and unmask social hierarchies, for example a son-in-law who was worked to death by his father-in-law.

According to the author, by sharing the same musical and textual characteristics at the same time women participate in a collective process of constructing themselves as a collective voice. For example Maria Fernandez wails individually when she publicly criticizes her husband for missing their son’s funeral. But when a young girl died a group of women wailed collectively. During both rituals the truth was expected and delivered to the community. Although the women continued to be repressed, waling gave them the opportunity to address or correct injustices occurring against them.

While the article in itself was clear the argument was not, for example comparing the Warao ritual of truth to concepts of Foucault. I did not understand if the author was agreeing or disagreeing with him. The language used made it very difficult to grasp the entire argument.

CLARITY RANKING: 3
TANEE ELSTON Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Briggs, Charles L. Personal Sentiments and Polyphonic Voices in Warao Women’s Ritual Wailing: Music and Poetics in a Critical and Collective Discourse. American Anthropologist December, 1993 Vol. 95 (4): 929:957

Briggs’ article is a linguistic analysis of ritual wailing as performed by the Warao women of Venezuela. This combination of singing and moaning is part of the mourning ceremony for a deceased person. In this vehicle of empowerment, women have access to the political processes of criticism and expression; discourses that are usually controlled by men. As both a communal and individual ritual, wailing also reinforces kinship and social relationships between the deceased and the wailer. Briggs’ reaches these conclusions through an analysis of musical composition and an intertextual comparison.

Briggs’ first experience with wailing was unintentional but after being moved by its profundity, he decided to make it a focus of his fieldwork. In this discussion, he refers extensively to a recording made of a wailing in 1987. A 19-year old man had died and he was mourned by his mother, maternal grandmother, sister, and classifactory grandmother. Each woman wailed differently to an extent that reflected on the closeness of their relationship to the individual. Brigg’s measured this extent by looking at the differences in pitch, tempo, and timbre of the wailing. He further regarded the literal pieces of the laments as being either part of a refrain or textual phrases. Even with these divisions, women express the importance of crying “right along side each other.” The reflection on the relationship between these incongruences contributed to Briggs’ conclusions that wailing gives women subjectively true voices where they would not otherwise be heard.

Briggs does not delve into the male hierarchy of the Warao society but tells that women have few chances for active participation in the political discourses of the tribe. During a wailing, women are able to accuse men of sorcery and suggest physical punishment on the person they feel is responsible for the death of their loved one. While men would normally be able to punish these women for their accusations, men have a limited role in the funeral ceremony that allows them to hear the wailing but not to criticize it. Just as the victim’s father states, “what they’re crying is entirely true; they couldn’t cry lies,” the voice given to women to reveal their grief must be regarded as having particular significance. Briggs cites Foucault’s idea of a “regime of truth” to show that, in their mourning, Warao women are voicing their ideas against the dominant male society. Despite it being limited to times of death, this miniscule uprising gives power to oppressed beings.

This article is clearly written for other linguists who have a clear conception of oratory composition and textual analysis. His great extension into the subject gives rise to difficulty in comprehending his argument but with careful reading, an understanding of the manifestations of social relationships and politics of expression can be acquired.

CLARITY: 2
JAMES FREEBURG Santa Clara University (George Westermark)

Cowgill, George L. Distinguished Lecture in Archaeology: Beyond Criticizing New Archaeology. American Anthropologist September, 1993 Vol.95 (3):551-569.

This lecture explores a very interesting aspect of new archaeology. Cowgill suggest doing more than thinking about the daily processes a society was involved in or when they first discovered a certain technological advance. Cowgill suggests filling the gaps of the knowledge we already have about archaeological sites. This can be done by trying to get inside the minds of the individuals who lived in these societies. He assesses the achievements of processual thought in archaeology and the shortcomings of this approach. He also presents relief for these shortcomings. He discuses the MRT of the mind. This is the “middle range theory” of the mind. The MRT are a series of generalizations that Cowgill proposes we come up with to connect the archaeological remains we have today with the mental thought processes of ancient times. He uses this theory on the prehistoric metropolis Teotihuacan. He explores the MRT that could come of their intensive artwork. Cowgill admits the defects of processual thought, but provides some guidelines to reduce error. He basically reintroduces the idea of using your imagination, responsibly of course, in the mysterious world of archaeology.

CLARITY RANKING: 3
CHEYENNE MCDOWELL Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Cowgill, George Distinguished Lecture in Archeology beyond Criticizing New Archeology. American Anthropologist September, 1993 Vol. 95(3)551-573

Examining ways in which archeological researchers formulate theories there were some basic deficiencies revolving around the theoretical process. George Cowgill has studied these basic deficiencies, and has analyzed them in his article “Distinguished Lecture In Archeology Beyond Criticizing New Archeology.” Cowgill’s argument is based on the idea that processional thought has shortcomings because of theories formulated with inadequate procedures of research methods. Cowgill’s objective is to get the reader to understand potential problems in how researchers use archeology to explain theories.

According to Cowgill there are four deficiencies in ways archeologists formulate theories. As he points out in his article, the emphasis on formal and computer techniques has been characterized by bad practice and by expecting too much from sheer number crunching. With those ideas in mind, Cowgill believes anthropologists need to become far more sophisticated about what perceptions they bring to a situation when studying sources outside of themselves. He believes this is necessary to achieve better philosophical models for theory.

Cowgill suggests that the beliefs archeologists have prior to interpreting remains should never influence their opinion on converting remains into relevant evidence. Their ideas and concepts must not predict what they believe to be true or false when observing artifacts. All observations and preconceptions must be independent of each other.

In the article Cowgill continues to demonstrate how preprocessual, processual, and postprocessual theories can be weak, lacking thorough research. He conveys how the ideational realm, if not applied properly can cause cultures to become misinterpreted. Cowgill suggests the “rational actors’” models are too simple and we must take seriously into account the nonrational propensities involved. He also suggests “middle-range- theory” should relate more specifically to ancient local rules, universal nonrational propensities, or ancient local nonrational propensities. Postprocessual approaches are shallow and unconvincing when it comes to prehistoric time. Supporting his views Cowgill, believes it is impossible to determine what ancient people were thinking exactly.

The author’s main objective is to force archeologist to develop more thorough research methods to gain more advanced theories about cultures. He then suggests methods he thinks can aid in advances in theory. Cowgill suggest sdefusing the main defects of processual thought and practice. First archeologists can see how far they can get with limited knowledge of ancient thought. Second they can employ more sophisticated historical approaches. Finally researchers will work imaginatively hard to develop a worthwhile MRT of the mind.

The article was confusing at times as to which direction the argument was taking, for example trying to relate ideational realm, implications of archeology and MRT of the mind to processual thought.

CLARITY RANKING: 3
TANEE ELSTON Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse).

Crandon-Malamud, Libbet Blessings of the Virgin in Capitalist Society: The Transformation of a Rural Bolivian Fiesta American Anthropologist September, 1993 Vol.95(3):574-596

The celebration of the Virgin de la Candelaria is a one hundred and fifty-year-old tradition in Kachitu, Bolivia that has transformed numerous times because of varying socio-economic circumstances. The fiesta began as a control method used by the ruling mestizo class over the indigenous Indians. After the Bolivian revolution of 1952, the fiesta began changing into a means of establishing social and economic contacts within Kachitu and other cities in Bolivia. Pacenos (or people from La Paz) have been in control of the fiesta for the last 30 years. Due to this, the Pacenos have gained access to inexpensive labor from the Kachitunos they meet at the fiesta, and thus have increased their wealth, while the Kachitunos have gained nothing. In addition to an increase in the Pacenos’ wealth, the ‘new’ fiesta has also resulted in a change of traditional compadrazgo (fictive-kin) roles “from lifelong alliances to fiesta-limited economic contracts” (575).

When the fiesta began around 1850, peasants from neighboring hamlets needed to attend in order to make compadrazgo ties with mestizos who could give them employment opportunities or favors in the future. In exchange for employment or favors, the mestizos received respect and prestige from their “subservients” – the rural Indians. However, in post-revolutionary Bolivia the social makeup of Kachitu began to change. The mestizos began to lose their power, and the capital of La Paz became the center for all economic exchange in the country. As these national changes occurred, so did variations in the fiesta and the system of compadrazgos. Local economies weakened, which caused an increase in people working in a multiplicity of trades to achieve sustenance. Former farmers began to trade with merchants in La Paz, causing an overall influx in the amount of capital in the capital. All the while, “Kachitu became a peripheral backwater of the national economy” (580). Due to the lack of consistent employment and wealth in Kachitu, the compadrazgo system was no longer a lifelong bond, but instead a temporary employment contact. Since the Pacenos have been in control of the fiesta, the income generated has increased, but because of the commercialization of the event very few locals attend anymore.

This article was well written, very informative, interesting, and easy to grasp.

CLARITY: 5
DOMINIC YANNITELLI Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Frayer, David W. Theories of Modern Human Origins: The Paleontological Test. American Anthropologist March, 1993 Vol.95(1):14-50.

The article by Frayer and his associates, including Milford Wolpoff, Alan Thorne, Fred Smith, and Geoffrey Pope, is a review of the multiregional and Eve evolution model. The most striking aspect of this article is the comparison of the human fossil record and these two evolution models. The first part of this article is a little background to the “fathers” of evolutionary models, plus the smaller theories of evolution that have developed throughout the years. Two of the first engineers of evolution models were F. Weidenreich and W.W. Howells. Weidenreich’s theory consisted of the idea that “human evolution was best understood as a network of interconnected populations that retained regional continuity in at least some geographic areas. Each of the four major evolutionary centers of his polycentric model retained differences on the racial level and could be directly related to the races of today” (15). With a few slight changes, this is today’s multiregional evolution model. Howells’ hypothesis “of a single recent origin for living people and Protsch’s claim of an African origin for all modern humans” (15) has developed, with the help of modern technology, into the Eve evolution model. The Eve evolution model states that by tracing mitochondrial DNA, scientists can trace back all modern humans to a single female, the proverbial Eve.

The article continues to go into more detail about the two evolutionary models. Frayer and company also discuss their points of agreement and contradictions with the Eve model. Frayer begins to focus on the Eve model during this part of the article. They state their standards that the Eve model must stand up against, in order for it to be considered a viable model for evolution. They do this by comparing the timeline that the Eve model has set up against known archaeological evidence in various parts of the world. At the end of the article, Frayer shares what conclusions the article’s debate has come to. This conclusion is that “there are not just a few problem spots for the theoretical expectations for the Eve model, but rather its predictions consistently lack support for all areas outside of Africa” (41). To support the conclusions of the writers, secondary sources and archaeological evidence is used.

CLARITY: 5
VERONICA ALVAREZ Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Fricke, Tom, William G. Axinn, and Arland Thornton. Marriage, Social Inequality, and Women’s Contact with Their Natal Families in Alliance Societies: Two Tamang Examples. American Anthropologist June, 1993 Vol.95 (2):395-417.

This article explores the relationship between women’s natal kin links and the replication of social inequality. Two Tamang communities in Nepal are used to study the effects social inequality and interfamilial relationships. Home natal visits in the first year of marriage prove to play a major role in these outcomes. Grasping the nature of women’s natal family ties requires notice of various circumstances, together with former individual happenings, the families interest in a particular marriage, and other larger community characteristics. These circumstances are argued to enhance one’s familial and interfamilial characteristics which consequently affect postmarital ties. Postmarital ties are one of the bases in the hierarchy of social inequality. Parental work was found to be positively related to natal home visits in both Tamang communities. This fact shows the importance of income producing activities in both societies. The heart of many factors that are explored in this article is the existence and frequency of natal visits during the first year of marriage. This happening is very important to the women of these societies. The relationships explored here testify to the fact that marriage is an alliance strategy in the face of economic change. The effects of this alliance strategy sometimes prove to be harmful to the social equality in these societies.

CLARITY RANKING: 2
CHEYENNE MCDOWELL: Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Fricke, Tom, William G. Axinn, and Arland Thornton Marriage, Social Inequality, and Women’s Contact with Their Natal Families in Alliance Societies: Two Tamang Examples American Anthropologist June, 1993 Vol.95(2):395-419

The authors’ objectives are to further the study of the relationship between social organization and the extent to which married women in patrilineal societies retain links with their natal kin, including individual life-course, interfamilial, and community contexts. They begin the article by giving a brief summary of much of the noteworthy work that has been published on this subject in the past before setting the stage for the current study. Their focus is on two communities, Sangila and Timling, which both lie within 50 miles of Kathmandu, Nepal, and are inhabited by an ethnic group known as the Tamang.

A brief description of the Tamang is given, with special focus on the marriage and interfamilial relations. For the Tamang, “marriage ideally unites families and patrilines in an alliance affirming multiple kinds of exchange – labor, goods, and services” (397). These goods are seen as being owed to the bride’s family, since they are losing a family member, and is considered to widen the circle of kin. The women play crucial parts in these relations “both as signifiers of alliance and as active agents in the construction of affinal ties buttressed through their continuing links to natal kin” (397). These natal ties are of special interest to the authors since their strength can tell a lot about both the culture and the relationship a wife has to her new husband her new family. The frequency and duration of post-marriage natal visits is one strong indicator of the saliency of these ties. Natal visits are often undertaken in order for the bride to receive a transfer of property from her parents, which is often a fund to which both her and her mother had contributed. Kin relations also provide a woman with the social security to pursue novel actions of her own interests and the opportunity to remain in close contact with people who have watched them grow up.

However, these familial visits can be a cause of strain on the woman’s new relationship with her husband’s family. These tensions can even lead to divorce if the visits are for too long a time or become too frequent. The authors provide an extended analysis of such visits, reasons for their existence, and their possible repercussions if familial tensions are not resolved.

The authors conclude with a discussion of the importance of wider interfamilial relations on the nature of a woman’s links to their natal families and the fact that studies of such relations must pay attention to multiple contexts, which include prior individual experience, interests of all parties involved, and larger community characteristics.

This easy to understand article provides an excellent discussion of relevant topics concerning the study of marital and natal family relationships. The authors do an excellent job showing the need for a comprehensive approach to such a study and provide specific examples showing its effectiveness.

CLARITY RANKING: 5
PATRICK HICKEY Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Hastorf, Christine. Johannessen, Sissel. Pre-Hispanic Political and the Role of Maize in the Central Andes of Peru. American Anthropologists 1993 Vol.95:115-138.

In the article Hastorf and Johannessen study food and its importance to it’s culture. It can be excellent indicator of social structure, political dynamics, and values. Through the use of intensification, where uses of food in the past are studied, and extensification, where new meanings are attached to previously used foods, anthropologists can trace the transformations that certain foods have made through time. Hastorf and Johannessen see food, maize in particular, as a symbol in the Andean society, which appears in the activities of the elites. Cultures in the Andes of Peru mainly use maize to make beer, which is considered an important part of various religious and social rituals. The study area was limited to the Mantaro Valley of central Peru where seven seasons of excavation provided an extensive history of the people who lived there. The use of this beer, through production and consumption, has given a great deal of information regarding the hierarchal structure within the society. It was often used at feasts where elites gave out prestige goods in exchange for loyalty. It also helped to keep communication lines open and brought the community together to celebrate festivals and religious rituals. They collected artifacts that directly related to the production of the maize beer such as ceramic vessels used for cooking and storing, stone grinding tools, and human bones. All of these items help to answer questions relating to the specific use of the beer and the role it played throughout history.

CLARITY RANKING: 3
ABBY WEINSTEIN Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Lansing, J. Stephen. Emergent Properties of Balinese Water Temple Networks: Coadaptation on a Rugged Fitness Landscape. American Anthropologist. March 1993 Vol. 95 (1): 97-114.

In this article looks at the Balinese water temples and their relationship it has to their farming. The analysis was shifted to the subak and water temple as opposed to the individual farmer as many studies have done in the past. Through this research the emergence of temple networks has led to a higher average of harvest yields and improvement of sustainability. The research also found that the water temples may serve as a representative of a class of complex adaptive systems that have evolved to manage systems. In the current Balinese system, new crops and patterns are experimented each year in a random process that has truly proved effective for them. However, the article concludes that as long as the focus of most agroecosystems remains on the individual the other systems of resource management will remain unnoticed.

CLARITY RATING: 3
ALLISON NEWTON Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Moss, Modonna L. Shellfish, Gender, and Status on the Northwest Coast: Reconciling Archeological, Ethnographic, and Ethnohistorical Records of the Tlingit American Anthropologist September, 1993 Vol.95(3):631-652

Moss addresses past anthropological theories on the importance of shellfish in indigenous groups on the Northwest coast of North America. The author analyses past ethnographic studies on the Tlingit tribe and corresponding archaeological information on shell middens found at eight sites on the Northwest coast, near Alaska. In all of these sites, it is suggested by Moss that remains reflected that a bulk of the diet consisted of shellfish. The prevalence of dense shell middens even at sites far from gathering locations has, in the past, contrasted sharply with ethnographic accounts down-playing the importance of shellfish in the Tlingit diet. In response to this, Moss looks at the symbolic and social relationship of the Tlingit people to shellfish to answer the question: if the Tlingit culture did not believe shellfish to be vital to subsistence, why are shell middens so abundant on Tlingit sites?

The answer to this question is complex. First, because of certain seasonal fluxes of toxicity found in some shellfish, there is a definite physical risk in consuming large amounts of shellfish. Tlingit people favor hunting meat over eating the easily gatherable shellfish found nearby. Because there is more skill involved in hunting, a person who only gathers is considered to be lazy and unmotivated to do ‘honest work’. Gathering shellfish is even less acceptable for the men. Most of the time, women do any gathering required.

Additionally, there are social implications when dealing with shellfish gathering and consumption. According to Moss, a tribal member’s rank and gender were determined by the dietary guidelines one adhered to. Because social status was, to a point, alterable over time and was not clearly indicative of blood ties, one’s adherence to dietary rules regarding shellfish could establish or diminish one’s status in the group. The lower class was allowed to subsist mainly from shellfish because they could not afford to participate in less abundant hunting activities. Trolling for shellfish, then, was seen as an insulting activity for the aristocracy. By referring to another person as a “clam digger” one would be derogatorily identifying that person with the lowest status as well as with the impurities associated with shellfish. However, shellfish was seen as a valid food source in small quantities for the aristocracy according to the season. The consumption of shellfish was seen as a symbolic connection to sexuality, adultery, and other less desirable traits. Women were strictly prohibited from consuming shellfish at more vulnerable times such as pregnancy, when they could be prone to contamination spiritually and physically.

Moss questions the validity of early gathered information, as well as addresses the reluctance of male informants to discuss the importance of shellfish in the Tlingit diet intelligently. She discusses the importance of re-evaluating archaeological and ethno-historical data so that information is not misinterpreted.

CLARITY RANKING: 5
STEPHANIE SMITH Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Olszewski, Deborah. Subsistence Ecology in the Mediterranean Forest: Implications for the Origins of Cultivation in the Epipaleolithic Southern Levant. American Anthropologist. June, 1993 Vol. 95 (2): 420-435.

Some researchers have recently formed the opinion that the Natufian subsistence shifted from hunter-gatherer to a position that emphasizes cultivation of cereal. Olszewski argues that this claim is not accurate if current information is examined.

The core area studied was the center of the Mediterranean Forest, where the Natufian culture originated. It is there that some scientists say cereal cultivation began. However, examining the food resources there, it shows little significant cereal growth that would provide for sustenance. Tools for harvesting have been excavated and are the main resource used to support the idea of cereal growth. Additionally, storage facilities (pits and silos) have been found, but these may have been used for something other than cereals, like acorns. Natufian villages have been located at areas with both upland and lowland resources. They are also used to describe a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, convenient for cultivation. Skeletal and dental remains have been found. Dental attrition is inconclusive regarding cereal use. Skeletal remains had once been described as being carbohydrate rich, supporting cereal consumption, but that view has been rejected. There is a significant list of past and present foliage. But with human impact of today, an exact recreation of the area could be impossible. What was once there we may find no evidence of today.

An alternative situation is also presented, using information about Native Americans to supplement the available knowledge about the Natufians. In this alternate idea, acorns are considered an important subsistence and can be supported with the local foliage and storage facilities found within the villages. That is not to say that there was no cereal use, but less than is projected. Lastly, the author points out that the region of study is somewhat limited. Although this is where we find a significant amount of information, we may be limiting our answers by not having a broad region from which to study.

The article is easy to understand and well organized. Sometimes thing are a bit vague in description, for instance, how conclusions were made regarding acorn consumption.

CLARITY RANKING: 4
ANNE BREKKEN Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Petersen, Glenn. ”Kanengaman and Pohnpei’s Politics of Concealment.” American Anthropology. Vol. 95. July 1993: 334-352.

This article analyzes the Pohnpei’s behavior of Kanengaman is a purposeful concealment of the truth. One must restrain him or her from acknowledging that entire one knows and posses. Like most societies the Pohnpei see lies as crude and ethically negative. However, the ability to conceal the truth is seen as a virtue- and does not appear as a lie. Secrecy allows people to have a second world other than the one manifested. Because Kanengaman is such an esteemed virtue, it is constantly being challenged.

Kanengaman serves its greatest function politically. It decreases the power of the power of the chieftain. The Pohnpeian leader can only gauge the sentiments of the people by what they say. Since Pohnpeians never reveal the complete truth, the chieftain can never have complete control. The chieftain must know the most of the entire individual, but never more than the entire community. Most leaders see knowledge as power. Inability to see beyond appearance limits the power of the chief. When leaders do not have much knowledge their future is unstable-and can easily be overthrown. Kanengaman has political control and serves as a check and balance to the government.

CLARITY RANK: 2
CLAUDIA P. GUZMAN Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Peterson, Nicolas. Demand Sharing: Reciprocity and the Pressure for Generosity among Foragers. American Anthropolgist 1993 Vol. 95(4):860-874.

Nicolas Peterson’s article addresses the ethic of generosity among foragers. He closely examines the significance of demand sharing among these people. Demand sharing is of notable importance because the recipients are in the position where they must demand the generosity of their kin.

In Peterson’s article, he argues that demand sharing is usually characteristic of small-scale societies, but not confined to them. Contrary to western thought it is not a form of altruistic generosity. He further argues that this system of demand sharing is a complex organization of social relations and action. It is not just the expression of goodwill, “neither is it clearly based on a simple normative kinship morality. That is, people are clearly not following prescriptive behavioral formulas in day-to-day sharing.” (869)

Peterson draws this argument primarily from research with the Aboriginal Australians. He begins by examining ethnographic evidence for demand sharing and its practice in Australia. He then analyzes the context of how people are taught to share and how this is related to scarcity, risk, the pattern of game distribution, and nonfood exchanges. Finally, he concludes by considering the implications of hunter-gatherer relations in a social context. Peterson uses this evidence to contradict the former thought that the system of generosity among foragers is a truly altruistic one, seeded in selfless giving without the immediacy of instant compensation. On the contrary, he concludes that, “Demand sharing is a complex behavior that is not predicated simply on need. And, paradoxically, a demand in the context of an egalitarian society can also be a gift: it freely creates a status asymmetry, albeit of varying duration and significance.” (871)

CLARITY: 4
MEGHAN FRANCIS Santa Clara University (Dr. George Westermark)

Peterson, Nicolas Demand Sharing: Reciprocity and the Pressure for Generosity among Foragers American Anthropologist December, 1993 Vol.95(4): 860-874

There is a common misconception that egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies operate within a system of reciprocity. However, in many instances reciprocity is not a voluntary act but instead demand sharing is the commonplace within a system that seems to be one of unsolicited reciprocity. Demand sharing is the act of requesting food or material goods in a sometimes rude or demanding manner. This practice has been documented in several aboriginal Australian societies including the Yolngu and Wik-mungkan. Demand sharing is taught at an early age to the youths and reinforced throughout adolescence. In adulthood, the technique of demand sharing continues with various strategies ranging from lying about what items one possesses to hiding food or goods in an attempt to avoid being asked to share.

The misconception that egalitarian societies are fully reciprocal in giving has come from ethnographers directly asking native informants about their behavior, which generally results in the informants giving normative statements about their lives. In reality, demand sharing is a complex social phenomenon that takes kinship, age, gender, and work ethic into consideration. In some cases, demand sharing may not be asking for something out of need, but instead it may be “…a testing behavior to establish the state of a relationship…” (Pg. 870), or an “…assertive behavior, coercing a person into making a response.” (Pg. 870). Regardless of the reason behind demand sharing it is evident that idea of unsolicited giving is the exception and not the rule in aboriginal Australia.

This article was informative, easy to read, and offered ample evidence for the conclusions reached.

CLARITY: 5
DOMINIC YANNITELLI Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Piot, Charles D. Secrecy, Ambiguity, and the Everyday in Kabre Culture. American Anthropologist. June1993 Vol. 95(2): 353-370.

This article focuses on the every day occurrences in Kabre culture, but more importantly on the fact that most anthropologists neglect the everyday in culture. Most Africanists view social structure and culture as principles that are unchanging and known by all. Observations were normally followed by interviews of informants to discover the regular occurrence of the principle, which their studies focused on, which in turn ignored the everyday. Through doing this much of the conclusions made are put into a biased Western point-of-view, on categories that are placed on the above-mentioned culture. Anthropologists carry over much of Western thought into the African context such as the idea that the public society should be kept separate of the individual private. Kabre data however, due to the fact that it focuses on the everyday, which not only helps to understand their culture better but maybe even all culture in general. The data from this research shows that the individual “privacy” plays a very important role in understanding a culture and how it works and is utilized.

CLARITY RATING: 3
ALLISON NEWTON Baylor University (Tina Thurston)

Piot, Charles D. Secrecy, Ambiguity, and the Everyday in Kabre Culture. American Anthropologist June, 1993 Vol.95(2):353-370

The author attempts to explore and discover the concealed meanings behind the secrecy so prevalent in the everyday lives of the Kabre of northern Togo (West Africa). He argues, “not only that Kabre everyday life and discourse are permeated by hidden messages, but also that taking this insight seriously might cause us to reexamine our assumptions about the nature of culture in such societies.” (353) The Kabre have a unique and complex system of ambiguity and discretion that is prevalent in anything from simple everyday conversations while greeting one another to complex initiation rituals. Though these uses of secrecy can often be complex and hidden, Piot contends that they all have their roots in notions of shame and a social hierarchy.

Language is an extremely complex and integral part of every culture and “it is forms of speech, rather than institutionalized structures, that are responsible for the ongoing production and reproduction of social and political life.” (355) When speech is carefully studied within the larger social context, one begins to see the importance it has in shaping relationships and advancing status. In almost every aspect of Kabre life there is some sort of uncertainty that underlies the situation; both the actual truth that is often guarded closely and concealed and the truth that is the result of speculation and allusive, metaphorical speech. Piot gives many examples to illustrate this point, such as the careful practice of naming a child and the delicate lyrics used during an initiation ritual. However, the best example may be the art of gift giving. Through two Kabre men may exchange gifts that seem equal in value, one of them always needs the exchange more than the other, thus making the trade unequal. A trade cannot be refused, therefore a debt is made and the conditions for future exchanges and possible a long-term relationship are established between the two.

Eventually ambiguity and secrecy will be revealed among the Kabre. When a person dies all assets are brought out into the open for all to see, a secret marriage will always eventually be revealed, a child in the womb will one day be born. Until these secrets are revealed however, the Kabre will continue to guess and gossip about the status of both themselves and their neighbors.

This article was extremely well written and easy to follow. The author does an excellent job drawing conclusions from his years of first-had observation and helps to shed light on an extremely complex and hidden practice.

CLARITY RANKING : 5
PATRICK HICKEY Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Saunders, George R. “Critical Ethnocentrism” and the Ethnology of Ernesto De Martino American Anthropologist December, 1993 Volume 95(4):875-893.

Ernesto De Martino was an Italian historian and anthropologist. One of his most important contributions to anthropological thought was the idea of “critical ethnocentrism.” Critical ethnocentrism is an approach to ethnography in which the ethnographer must be aware of his/her cultural biases as well as trying to better understand his/her culture through the study of other cultures. De Martino’s ideas stemmed from the thoughts of Benedetto Croce, a prominent Italian scholar during the first half of the 20th century. Croce’s focus on the state of one’s place in history directly influenced De Martino’s ideas regarding the relationship between the powerful – those remembered by history – and the powerless – those forgotten.

The scrutinizing of both one’s places in history and culture were important topics in De Martino’s works. He thought that by studying the disenfranchised (in his case the Southern poor and Northern proletariat) and their rituals one could learn more about the “Others” and, more importantly about “. . . Western culture itself . . . of our intellectual history and our methods of research.” (Pgs. 885-886) De Martino hoped that the latter would result in western ethnographers gradually seeing fault in some of the “. . . limits of (their) own system . . .” (Pg. 888), and a reformation of western ideas would take place as a result. Paradoxically, De Martino saw himself as a member of Western culture, and felt that Western culture was superior in most ways to any other culture to date. He felt that there was no conflict in this because in order for anthropology to be valuable it must start and reflect back upon it’s own intellectual traditions and historical context.

Saunders’ article on De Martino was highly informative and readable, yet at times strayed from the actual topic of critical ethnocentrism.

CLARITY: 4
DOMINIC YANNITELLI Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)

Sussman, Robert V. A Current Controversy in Human Evolution: Overview. American Anthropologist. March 1993 Vol. 95(1) 9-13.

This article focuses on the controversial topic of the origin of anatomically modern Homo sapiens. Throughout various finds and new mtDNA evidence theories on modern humans origins are constantly being questioned. The hardest part in trying to find information is that the answers are often vague and lack straightforward answers or solutions. The only ways to eventually try and answer these questions are to find more complete fossil materials.

CLARITY RATING: 5
ALLISON NEWTON Baylor University (Tina Thurston)