Anthropologica (New Series) 1999

Denton, Trevor. Long-Range Forecasts of Society and Culture: Four Quantitative Methods from Cultural Anthropology. Anthropologica, 1999. XLI(2): 177-194

Denton’s discusses the four quantitative methods that are used for long-range forecasts. These methods are conditional predictions of what will happen in the future. This is known as extrapolation. These methods include universals of culture; atheoretical long-range time series models; directional long-range trends; and theoretical models.

Extrapolation of universals of culture is a single object of culture, which has existed everywhere post 35000 BC from of our species. Thus, these universal objects of culture are either sets of complex multivariable behavioral relations which, include psychodynamic functioning of the mind, cognitive models of thinking and features of language. Single traits of culture which includes Murdocks traits such as age grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, fire, study of weather, marriage and family. Malinowski’s universal traits, which are basic needs that include food, shelter, mobility, safety, health, rest and sex. Extrapolation of an atheoretical long-range time series model is a set of observations that is indexed by time. This method involves graphing. Long-range time series predicts that bilateral kinship’s, neo-local residences as well as independent families will dominate to 2050 AD. Wife beating will decrease and social inequalities will arise in age, gender, natural ability, property ownership, specialized training, ethnicity and geographical location will also exist.

Extrapolation of a long-range trend generated by an ongoing underlying process involves trends in culture that are increasing and decreasing over time.

Extrapolation of a theoretical model involves causal models that are important because they can use time series forecasts to forecast the states of causal variables. In this method it is predicted that men and women will marry and there will be fewer children per marriage and women will work outside the home more.

Denton believes that with these four quantitative methods of forecasting culture, anthropologists can see how societies work. Denton also points out that these methods may be used to forecast matters that concern individuals, governments or businesses. These methods also show that it is possible to make long-range forecasts of a society and culture.

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TAMI ELLIS York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Furniss, Elizabeth. Indians, Odysseys and Vast, Empty Lands: The Myth of the Frontier in the Canadian Justice System. Anthropologica, 1999. XLI(2): 195-208.

In her article Elizabeth Furniss points out how deeply rooted certain popular imaginary constructions of Canadian population are and how these, in turn, affect the political and legal dealings of First Nations with the Canadian government. She suggests the importance of investigating the ongoing role played by the `myth of the frontier’ in structuring dominant Canadian conceptualizations of Aboriginal peoples, culture and history more generally, so that the new sympathetic portrayals couched in the language of the frontier myth may not just simply reproduce the terms through which it has long retained its grip on Canadian historical consciousness.

She analyses two official texts concerning Aboriginal rights: the 1991 Delgamuukw Aboriginal title case and the 1992-1993 Cariboo-Chilcotin Justice Inquiry. These two texts communicate contrasting sets of opinions on Aboriginal issues while being framed in a similar mythic discourse. This is especially true in the case of the myth of the frontier. In Canada this means the historical dealings between the Aboriginals and Euro-Canadian residents. This is the story of conquest through benevolence; through the paternalistic actions of government agents, Mounties, missionaries and settlers to whom Aboriginal people meekly submit. Both texts suggest a paternalistic perspective, reinforce the image of the Indian as childlike, fearful and semi-rational and uphold the burden of responsibility on those who presume to understand the nature of the problem. A heightened awareness of the frontier conception of history may assist anthropologists in becoming aware of the manner in which unintended cultural meanings are communicated through the metaphorical and narrative content of our own representations.

She concludes that concepts of primitive culture and cultural evolution, while no longer accepted within the discipline of anthropology, nevertheless are widespread beliefs among non-Aboriginal Canadians. Because of this, applied anthropology need to be visualized as a process of cultural translation not just between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal world views, but between the cultures of First Nations, contemporary anthropologists, and the general, non-Aboriginal public. This means the exploring of the various ways in which Aboriginal and settler cultures are articulated within the same dominating colonial system, and to including the dominant culture of Canada as an important object of ethnographic analysis.

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JARNO VAKIPARTA York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Jones, Laura. Technologies of Interpretation: Design and Redesign of the Tahitian Marketplace at the Field Museum of Natural History. Anthropologica, 1999. XLI(1): 67-72.

Jones argues that “museum exhibitions are a special genre of anthropological communication” which have helped create opportunities for applied anthropology. She demonstrates that museum exhibitions should be considered popular media because they help educate as well as entertain audiences. Furthermore, she argues that museums are morally obligated to provide service to their communities and to represent their communities responsibly. The author encourages museums to create more temporary exhibits that contribute to the business of public education.

The author begins by telling the story of a controversial exhibit, the Tahitian Marketplace, in the Field Museum of Natural History. Criticisms are discussed as well as lessons learned from the experience. As a graduate field student in Tahiti in the mid 1950′s, the author meets the exhibit’s developer, Phyllis Rabineau, at the Musee de Tahiti. The Tahitian Marketplace at the Field Museum was seen as controversial because the exhibit challenged the traditional rules of museum practice. Many people in the internal community criticized the exhibit for its “Disney” approach as well as its outdated 1950′s look. So the anthropologist reviewed the exhibit in depth, responded to recommendations, and rearranged the exhibit by adding new modern technologies such as photos of local merchants and video-taped interviews.

The author argues that the exhibit received internal criticism even before she became involved in the project. John Terrell, the Field Museum curator, refused to participate in the exhibit planning and design and even published his views on the subject in a newspaper article. The author states Terrell’s criticisms and then discusses an alternate reading of the exhibition process and product. Terrell argued that museums should support scientific research instead of promoting art over science, and traditional artifacts should be used instead of contemporary objects. He further argues that the exhibit was created wrongfully without native participation. However, the author later reveals that this is not true as natives indeed participated by being included in the videotaped interviews. Lastly, Terrell believed that the exhibit created a timeless, utopian reality that represented the appropriation of other cultures. Nevertheless, the exhibition did receive some positive feedback as it was considered an influential, creative experiment that changed the course of anthropological design.

The use of postmodern appropriation in museum exhibitions, curatorial authority, and the role of collections are next examined. The author argues that there has been a new acceptance of enrolling young anthropologists as members of teams of designers and educators, and it is this younger approach to interpretation that will attract new audiences to museums. Furthermore, the author promotes the introduction of new technologies that create more temporary exhibits and greater interest. Jones demonstrates anthropology’s position in museums by arguing that museums are a special genre of anthropological communication.

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ALIES SAVAGE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Kelley, Heidi. “If I Really Were a Witch”: Narratives of Female Power in a Costal Galician Community. Anthropologica, 1999. 61(2): 133-142.

Ana is a former emigrant who has returned to the village of Ezaro in Galicia, a southern province of Spain, to tend to her casa (home), while her husband and sons stay in England, where they had been working for sometime.

Ana now struggles to deal with maintaining her home while her husband is away, and the problems her sons are experiencing as a result of being emigrant children.
Recently Galician women like Ana have been the study of much anthropological research. Anthropologists believed that women in this culture hold an `absolute’ power. They attributed this to the lack of male presence (many men emigrate to work), and also to the strong mother-daughter bond that comes from being `united in the domestic sphere’. These assumptions have flaws. For a `domestic sphere’ to exist, a `public sphere’ must also exist. This `public sphere’ is something that can only be found in a capitalist society.

These arguments ultimately tell us more about our own culture and it’s power relations, than they do about power relations in Galicia. Our Western view of `domesticity’ is formed by our own societal practices, and differs greatly from the duties of a woman in Ezaro.
After marriage, every woman in Ezaro is faced with the task of building and maintaining her casa. This, when combined with the implications of being chosen as a millorada (principle heir to one’s parents), can create substantial personal and financial problems. Once a parent dies, the millorada is responsible for their casa and all that comes with it. In recent studies, we have seen how this can cause irreconcilable conflicts between siblings.

While it is observed that the burden of holding casas together is exacerbated by male absence, the issues surrounding inheritance remind us that female power is always contested rather than absolute.

GEOFFREY FLEMING York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Lawson, Barbara. Exhibiting Agendas: Anthropology at the Redpath Museum (1882-99). Anthropologica, 1999. XLI: 53-65.

The main argument of this article is that the growth of anthropology and museums in Canada evolved during the early 19th century and were composed of mostly individual collections and were greatly influenced by the people who had direct involvement in creating them. The collections were based on religious beliefs and focused mostly on zoological, botanical and cultural artifacts.

The article discusses how the explosion of anthropological and ethnographical artifacts in Canadian museums began when John William Dawson became the main influence on the material that was being displayed in museums and universities. Dawson encouraged donations and set up meetings with important scientific associations to popularize museums and arranged for artifacts excavated in Canada found by anthropologist such as Franz Boas to remain in Canadian museums.

The development of anthropology in the Redpath Museum was greatly affected by the fact that Dawson was a very religious man. Dawson would display artifacts in unusual ways and use the anthropological findings of the evolution of man in his papers to argue against evolutionism. Though none of the artifacts in the Redpath Museum were Dawson’s findings he had complete control on how they were displayed.

The main idea that the author is trying to get across is that the Redpath Museum artifact displays were not regulated primarily on the scientific discoveries of history but rather who had the major influence and power of the museum.

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ALEXIS THOMSON York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Parkhurst, Shawn. In the Middle of Myth: The Problem of Power in Gender Relations and the Alto Douro Region of Northern Portugal. Anthropologica, 1999. XLI(2): 103-115.

Shawn Parkhurst’s article addresses ethnographic scholarship that discusses a division of male social dominance in the south of Iberia and female social dominance and equality in the north. Conditions that are related to male power and dominance of the north lead the author to question whether certain conditions define regions and gender relations within them. Parkhurst suggests that based on his ethnographic data collected from the Alto Douro region of Portugal, these conditions do indeed define these regions and there gender relations.

Parkhurst cites previous research to compare and contrast to his own findings. He states that “the revival of notions of a `Mediterranean’…” culture area by Brogger and Gilmore (1997) and O’Neill (1995)…is worth attention because of the stress such a notion puts on cultural differentiation in space.” Brogger and Gilmore argue that the public presence of women in the north and the south of Portugal are very different. In the South men dominate society socially because they are in control of the public sphere and in the north the women control this sphere and are therefore dominant in society. Parkhurst argues that when looking at Northern Portugal a more regionally differentiated view is needed to fully understand gender relations. Political economies that are divided by region should be looked at in how they affect the relations between public and private spheres as well as the meaning of the division between men and women. In Parkhurst’s study of the Alto Douro, he shows how similar regions warn against homogenizing portrayals of cultural space and also raises questions about connections between regions.

Examples of labor divisions are the main focal point throughout the article. When discussing the women of Socalos, he states how men view the division of labor in terms of `important’ and `unimportant’ work. The view is essentially hegemonic. Looking at components in terms of space, it is clear that some public spaces are considered more appropriate for women than others. These are only a few examples provided by Parkhurst in terms of his argument.

In conclusion, Parkhurst states that the way Brogger and Gilmore and O’Neill present their findings from the north of Portugal is overly homogenized. In contrast Parkhurst tries to show that male dominance is found in the area by looking at published ethnographic information together with his own data collected from the Alto Douro region. He argues that his work is supplements and supports the work done by Brettell, Cole and Pina-Cabral that shows how in Northwestern Portugal men have a lot of power over women, especially in ecological and economical contexts.

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APRIL GUAMOS York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Pearce, Susan M. Museums of Anthropology or Museums as Anthropology? Anthropologica, 1999. XLI(1):25-33.

In 1995, the Pitt Rivers Museum (part of Oxford University museums) produced a postcard featuring 14 early handwritten museum labels from its documentation archives. As a simple consumer item, the postcard shows remarkable self-reflection on the part of the museum. Pearce explores the meaning of the postcard as it relates to a set of 5 historically linked groups from colonial to current postmodern times. These groups are illustrated on a time-line, showing their interconnectedness. Each subsection of the article relates directly to one of the groups: the indigenous community, the collectors, curation and display, artists in residence and museum visitors, respectfully.

First, the genealogy of the museum is examined. In colonial times, objects were removed from indigenous communities, destined for museums. From about AD 1400 forward, museums have been representations of a series of specific “modes of understanding” (drawing from Foucault’s concept of episteme). Pearce indicates that collectors are responsible for deciding which objects are important. Historically, they made subjective choices reflecting social values and perpetuating the notion of British cultural superiority. Diagrams and examples illustrate and support these ideas.

Once appropriated, the object is imbued with meaning that appears innate but is, in fact, negotiated by the curators. This is obvious when the curator creates a handwritten label. As a binary, the item and its label together become a museum artifact. Narratives relating to the material may be exotic and cryptic, linking them to distant places associated with a colonial sense of the “other”. Pearce draws from examples and comparisons, showing how this process objectifies indigenous persons and makes their cultures appear static. Through choices about content and display, the museum “tell[s] the audience what to think beyond what [it] ostensibly is teaching”.

In search of new ideas and aware of the museum’s limitations, artists in residence have found themselves challenged to experiment with the display and arrangement of artifacts. Fred Wilson, a black artist, is highlighted. According to Wilson, real life can not be precisely organized. Through his work, he draws attention to the fact that we all may be objects of study, and that all people should be equally accepted on their own terms. Wilson and others point out that the museum’s hierarchical placement of objects can marginalize cultures. By the use of “parody, irony and deliberate fiction”, these artists hope to challenge the museum’s limited position.

Previously, museum visitors have been presented with objects that are out of context and separated from their creators. Hence, modern arrangements that comment on past displays may be even more difficult to interpret. Despite their obvious irony, visitors are not likely to understand why the artist created them. The danger remains that through this treatment, yet another elite group will be formed and the visitor will become the outsider.

The museum’s power to objectify cultures can only be ceased by a plurality of voices. When curators allow artists to participate, it widens the general scope of understanding and acknowledges the “Mixed Metaphors” that reflect the museum itself.

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KURT HOWLETT York University (Maggie MacDonald).