Current Anthropology 1961
Comas, Juan. “Scientific” Racism Again? Current Anthropology, 1961, vol. 2 (4): 303, 33
This article, written in the early 1960’s, must be placed in its political context. A decade after the atrocities of World War Two, the almost worldwide grassroots movements of colonized people beginning to realize political autonomy indeed made “race” a hot issue at the time of publication. The larger intellectual debate that frames Comas’ article is the biological category of race. Taking a stand against those biological anthropologists who claim that human races can be classified hierarchically, this article surveys the contemporary research (1950’s) supporting the more popular view that a scheme or arrangement of races in which the “White” race is more biologically apt than others races, particularly the “Negro” race, is ideologically informed and thus has no scientific validity or merit. He begins by name-dropping those scholars who constitute the “racist” school, and then he cites many scholars whose work denounced “scientific racism”. The term “scientific racism” describes a position founded on 19th century anthropology and pejoratively charged by the Nazis and fascists with a predilection to eugenics; this position contends that the Negro race is subordinate to the white race in biological capacity. Comas admits that the scientific-racist position is a minority one; the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences adopted the ‘Statement on the Nature of Race and Race Differences’ in 1952, and it included as an appendix by Comas in this article. Indeed, this proclamation was based on UNESCO research.
Even still, not everyone signed on. Comas is perturbed by the advent of The Mankind Quarterly, a journal that, he says, has a “racist orientation (306).” Before discussing research from this journal specifically, he comments that there are four stages in the development of scientific racism. The first was the simplistic methodology of establishing body differences at all. Because this methodology is unconvincing, cranial capacity was used to denote implicitly a racial hierarchy based on intelligence. This outmoded research was also found useless as no significant racial difference could be found. The third stage of scientific racism concentrated on the physical morphology of the brain as a basis for a racial hierarchy. Comas quotes many scholars, all of whom report that generalizations cannot be made from the research, which suggests that there are no structural differences between races. He thoroughly cites one article, and uses it to dispel the bad scholarship and racist agendas of scientific racists in general.
The last method of scientific racism, the one used by Henry Garrett in his article “Klineberg’s Chapter on Race and Psychology. A Review”, is a psychological one. Comas states that Garrett selectively misrepresents Klineberg’s research and argument, concentrating only on IQ scores of Negro and Whites. Garrett arrives at the conclusion that Negroes are inherently more prone to crime and inherently less intelligent than Whites. Garrett takes issue with Klineberg’s denouncement of IQ tests as “culture-bound (309)” and insufficient for cross-cultural comparison by basing his methodology of racial difference precisely on psychological means, i.e. analysis of IQ tests. Comas responds by citing the overwhelmingly convincing scholarship that posits racial difference in sociocultural terms- economic, educational, cultural- and not in alleged cognitive deficiencies.
Comas ends his critique of Garrett on the subject of race mixture. It is Garrett’s argument that race mixing produces “physical as well as mental disharmonies (311).” Comas goes through each piece of evidence provided by Garrett and shows quite eloquently that Garrett’s position is erroneous and ideologically informed. As a summation of the argument purported by scientific racists as well as a prime example of the race debate in anthropology, this article is highly informative and explanatory.
The responses to Comas’ argument are mostly favorable. As Gjessing points out, it is hard to write about this subject without a polemical tone (324); most of the responses read as anti-racists diatribes from anthropologist to anthropologists. Ashley Montagu, who fills in some of the evidence disproving Garrett’s claims, provides the most complimentary commentary. The harshest criticism comes as expected from Garrett himself, but he lapses into familiar, caustic racist posturing when he asserts: “The Negro has nothing to offer the White man (320).” R. Gates also finds the tone of the article polemical and divorced from reality, although he does not provide convincing evidence that Comas was mistaken in anything substantial. R. Gayre is also critical of Comas, although only vaguely so. Still the pattern described by Comas of scientists hiding behind simplistic notions of positivism and using science for a racist agenda shines through in the comments section of the article.
Comas recognizes that most of the commentary was in agreement with his article. He splits hairs with Elkin on several facts, most notably when he proves to Elkin why The Mankind Quarterly is a racist publication. Comas is especially annoyed by the tone and content of Garrett and Gates and offers wordy yet convincing arguments that counter those posed by the said authors.
CHRISTOPHER SWEETAPPLE Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight), 2003
Conklin, Harold. The Study of Shifting Cultivation. Current Anthropology. Feb. 1961. Vol. 2 (1): 27-38.
Harold Conklin, an anthropologist, explains shifting cultivation since the Neolithic. Shifting cultivation, as Conklin uses it, is “any continuing agricultural system in which impermanent clearings are cropped for shorter periods in years than they are fallowed.” It is imperative to grasp this definition to get a full understanding of the article’s intent. Although the article itself is relatively short, he included an extensive topical outline. Conklin makes the point that in many regions shifting-field cultivation is coextensive with agriculture. This includes regions that are tropical or even subtropical in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Conklin implies that this study is very complex due to the different aspects involved. Although these methods are widespread, they are only in the beginning stages of understanding for scholars.
It is obvious to Conklin that the “study and analysis of the complex relations in shifting cultivation can profit greatly from a combined ethnographic and ecological approach.” This opens the field up to a broader and more comprehensive study. Population and productivity are the main topics that Conklin is interested in; he says that these two are the primary problem areas. These topics are central to his discussion of shifting cultivations. He examines the problems in the study of shifting cultivation. A chart showing the cultural and environmental dimensions of any system of shifting cultivation through time. This diagram includes a temporal, a cultural, and an environmental axis.
The diagram gives a visual understanding to the concept of shifting cultivations. Along the time line (temporal) it goes through the stages of swidden farming: first selecting, then cutting, burning, cropping, and finally fallowing. The process of fallowing is by far the longest of all the stages, hence the idea of shifting cultivation. This process is repeated, but by no set time.
Conklin outlines obstacles that plague researchers in this field, particularly, research relating to swidden productivity concerning crop yields and labor efficiency. The topical outline was designed to be used to further research on the topic. It includes sections related to general considerations, site selections, cutting, burning, cropping, and fallowing. Thus, by including such a detailed outline, Conklin makes it obvious that there is opportunity for further research in this area.
DANIELLE NORDBROCK Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight).
Conklin, Harold C. The Study of Shifting Cultivation. Current Anthropology February, 1961 Vol.2 (1):27-61.
Conklin’s concern in this article is regional variation in the practice of shifting cultivation. More specifically, he argues that this variation, although well documented, is poorly understood. The problems addressed by past researchers have focussed on two areas, which are doomed by controversy – population and productivity. He presents a framework for research of variation in shifting cultivation, which he argues, should be conducted from an ecological and ethnological perspective.
Shifting or swidden cultivation is when land is cleared, planted and harvested for a short period until the soil is depleted of nutrients then the farmers move on to a new plot and repeat the process. Various forms of swidden cultivation include slash & burn, hoe & burn, and slash & mulch agriculture. Factors that may determine variation of swidden practices are the quality of land and the availability of labor. Integration into modern society may account for further variation, i.e. the use of a shovel as opposed to a digging stick.
While variation is well documented, the literature lacks research on the relative importance of factors that cause the variation. The majority of research deals with the two central issues of population and productivity. The conclusions of these studies are controversial because accurate data are difficult, often impossible, to obtain. Seclusion of fields makes on-foot surveys very time consuming and the practice of intercropping complicates calculation of yield per acre.
In order to understand the significance of variation, Conklin proposes an ecological and ethnological framework. There are three dimensions of shifting cultivation: environmental, cultural, and temporal. By considering the variation among each of these factors, one will be able to compare the swidden practices of different groups and frame questions about swidden agriculture more precisely.
The environmental dimension includes climatic, edaphic, and biotic factors. Climatic factors exist independently of cultural control or change. Edaphic factors or soil conditions, such as fertility and drainage, are somewhat responsive to human activity. Biotic factors, the presence or absence of flora and fauna species, are heavily associated with cultural activity. The Cultural dimension includes technological, social, and ethnoecological factors. Technological factors account for ways the environment is modified. The social and political organization of the farmers includes residential, kinship, and economic groups. Ethnoecological factors refer to how the local population defines and differentiates between environmental conditions. Finally, the temporal dimension designates the repetition of the five phases of swidden farming: site selection, cutting, burning, cropping, and fallowing. The first three phases are removal of old vegetation, while the last two are control of new vegetation. Most important is the amount of time allotted for each phase. The last section of the article is an outline general considerations and specific topics for investigation during each phase of the process.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
PARK BEECHER McGEHEE Appalachian State University (Cheryl Claassen)
Edmonson, Munro S. Neolithic Diffusion Rates. Current Anthropology, 1961. Vol.2 (2): 71-102
This article is concerned with the development of a comprehensive theory of culture dependent on a more rigorous analysis of its communicative processes. The author focuses on a simplistic explanation for the process of diffusion. He hypothesizes a model where a circle represents cultural space inhabited by a homogeneous field of persons communicating at maximum efficiency. In this model a single invention would diffuse from its point of origin at a constant rate predicted by the variables time and location in person-space, and can be tested on the Neolithic period. From this argument he proposes that: “1. The apparent diffusion rate, measured by the distance reached by a given trait in a given time, will be essentially constant in Neolithic time, that is, will approximate the real diffusion rate of the model” and, “2. The apparent diffusion rate will reflect a constant acceleration through time for any one point of origin.”
He testes this hypothesis on traits that are known to have diffused widely, providing the maximum apparent diffusion rates for the approximately stable conditions of Neolithic communications. Through the traits that he examined, he determined that his hypothesis is correct and that the mean apparent diffusion rate for the Neolithic is around 1.15 miles per year. Of the six traits he originally calculated data for (the projectile point, the ground stone axe, pottery, domesticated plants, domesticated animals, and alphabetic counting) he presents the mean diffusion rates in a table. Most of the results vary from the rate of 1.15 miles per year, which he attributes to a variety of possible sources of error.
From there he expands on data for two of the traits that he examined more carefully: pottery and copper. He presents data for pottery in graph and table format and concludes that the mean diffusion rate for 22 of his most reliable dates from a single point of origin is 1.15 +/- .03 miles per year. He does the same for copper and determines from his 10 most reliable dates a mean diffusion rate of 1.16 +/- .08. He presents some preliminary data on the diffusion rate of maize from four direct dates from widely separated regions yielding a mean diffusion rate of 1.38. He also explains in detail which of the data he classified as strong (his “reliable” dates), weak, or intermediate and why. He states that he found that the more reliable dates fit his hypothesis better than the dubious ones.
He concludes by addressing the substantial variation seen in some of his diffusion rates and attributes them most likely to various sources of error. He also discusses the problem of tracing origins of traits and the problem of what constitutes a trait itself. But his main point is that the data on potter, copper, and maize support the hypothesis of a constant diffusion rate under Neolithic conditions.
Several anthropologists with varying degrees of agreement and disagreement make comment on the above article. Some commentators find interest in his theory and agree with his approach of studying statistical regularity in culture. Others find flaw with this approach and argue various points of contention including his rejection of the concept of culture complexes, study of limited circumstances, arbitrary interpretation of dates, method determining where traits originated, the macroscopic aspect of his approach, the communicative process of diffusion, the qualitative aspect of invention, and the lack of reference to the concept of society, among others.
In reply, Edmonson acknowledges some faults in the specifics of some of his data and concedes to the corrections made by those with more expertise in those areas. He agrees that some contested dates may invalidate his specific reconstructions but without disproving his general thesis. He also clarifies his stance on some points brought up in the commentaries while maintaining confidence that his idea may eventually be accepted. He concludes with a challenge to his critics to disprove his finding that under Neolithic conditions, these traits diffused at a rate of 1.l5 miles per year.
JESSICA KEENER Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Edmonson, Munro S. Neolithic Diffusion Rates. Current Anthropology April, 1961 Vol. 2(2):71-102.
This article is predominately concerned with utilizing simplified interaction spheres compounded to broader geographical areas, in order to create a synthesized model of Neolithic diffusion rates. It further speculates that the rate of cultural diffusion can be proven, by means of discovering an origin to the phenomenon thus finding the epicenter of diffusion, such as Ulan Bator, Mongolia for pottery. Henceforth the article’s true aspirations lie in empirically proving that diffusion occurs at a constant rate, developed by utilizing artifacts from the Neolithic period. This period roughly approximates the homogeneous distribution of interacting individuals hypothesized in his model. The author’s basic argument revolves around proving that data on the chronology of the earliest occurrences of pottery, copper, and maize, supports the hypothesis that the apparent diffusion rate of “rational” traits under Neolithic conditions approximates a constant, measured in miles per year.
This argument is further constructed by explaining the validity of each individual site and its usage, according to the evidence from pottery, copper, and maize. Edmonson discrimination between sites is contingent on their number of radiocarbon dates. He breaks down the extensive list of sites into three categories: those which had already been satisfactorily radiocarbon dated; those which are less convincingly radiocarbon dated; and those which have not been radiocarbon dated. Comparing only the first two lists, Edmonson is able to compute two mean rates of diffusion. Then the author, making sure that the first rate has a lower error factor than the second, asserts that the first rate, such as 1.16+/-.08 miles per year for pottery, is the definitive answer sought.
The abundance of charts and graphs help to animate this empirical data, as well as provide a clearer understanding of the complex quantitative means of analysis. While understanding is methodically and scientifically accomplished, Edmonson fails to uphold Occum’s Razor by duplicitously ignoring such factors as gross population movements, assumed paths of diffusion, and the possibility of independent invention. Edmonson seems content to take the reader on a roller coaster ride, spiraling through his hermeneutic rationale, all the while openly rejecting the concept of “cultural complexes” for simple rational traits.
These assumptions are what weaken Edmonson’s case to the point that the reader mistrusts the empirical answers, which his selective data have produced. To his credit, he does realize that at this period of time in anthropology there is a serious lack of comprehensive radiocarbon dates from a majority of the sites he utilizes for data; therefore future improvements will most likely yield a different mean rate of diffusion, and thus a more accurate representation. Ergo, his tedious attempt at holistic synthesis should be commended for its perpetuation of archaeological knowledge, and indubitably what fruitful future attempts will ultimately accomplish.
The reviewers of Edmonson’s article eagerly point out the major flaws in his theories while still commending him on a bold but premature attempt at synthesizing worldwide cultural diffusion, contingent as it were on the utilization of radiocarbon dating. The main short comings identified are: the out-of-date diffusionist methodology used a la Childe; an over simplified model of “cultural reality” proposing unorthodox origins of diffusion; the contradictory pre-supposition that diffusion radiates from person to person rather than comparing cultures to cultures; and an assumed slow rate of diffusion in Neolithic times which neglects regional environmental and ecological discrepancies. Moreover, the arbitrary assumption that a uniform distribution of cultural diffusion occurs in Europe leads the reviewers to volunteer conflicting data to Edmonson, which waylays and nullifies his diffusion rate.
Edmonson’s response to the reviewers is both humble in accepting the shortcomings of his research, while pretentiously refusing to admit his theory is ultimately incorrect. By not succumbing to the implausibility of his mean rate of diffusion, eloquently pointed out by his colleagues, he perpetuates the stubborn prestidigitation of his research, further obscuring and hindering any further revamping. Thus Edmonson does not admit the faults of his research, but only further challenges his colleagues to disprove what he believes is an over-arching answer to an impossible question raised at that junction in archaeological research. Thus he has stalemated his hypothesis, making it void.
MATTHEW M. NANNEY Appalachian State University (Cheryl Claassen)
Eisenstadt, S.N. Anthropological Studies of Complex Societies. Current Anthropology June, 1961 Vol.2(3):201-222.
In Anthropological Studies of Complex Societies Eisenstadt discusses “some of the problems arising out of the application of the methods and approaches developed in social anthropology to the study of more complex societies” (Eisenstadt 1961: 201). Eisenstadt accomplishes this task by focusing on the contributions and limitations posed by a theoretical model that anthropologists have formulated through the application of social anthropology to the study of complex societies.
The author starts on this task by defining how the model relates to social anthropology. He points out how observed interaction of social behavior can give insight into institutional norms, how interaction of institutional norms can give vision into group structure, how interactions of group structure can give insight into total societies, and how the interaction of societies can lead back to insights of personal behavior.
Eisenstadt confirms the above by breaking the model into parts and mapping its evolution. He describes three mechanisms that are found to “regulate the direct interrelation of social behavior to group and institutional structures” (p. 202). He then goes on to list several trends reflected in the model before categorizing into three groups those anthropological studies variously demonstrating those trends. He explains that problems arise when using the model to study complex societies, as compared to simple ones, and offers examples. Nevertheless, as he explains, anthropologists have made theoretical advances pertaining to this problem. After that he points out how two other aspects, (ordering social activities and comparative studies) were affected by anthropological analyses that analyze regulative mechanisms in complex societies. The authors then point out that many attempts have been made to classify societies by their mechanisms but that while this is helpful, pure types do not exist. Moreover, he points out that studies of social anthropology do not claim to have all solutions to studying complex societies. In his conclusion he discusses the contributions anthropologists have made and can make to the study of both simple and complex societies. He sums up all his analyses and states that the sharper contrast between anthropological and sociological studies of complex societies may bring more insight (p. 210).
Commentators discussed Eisenstadt’s judgment, principle, and theoretical framework. Whether it was criticized or applauded, things such as the British contribution and the subject matter of defining primordial and complex societies were predominate. Eisenstadt replied with a reconfirmation of what he intended, and then followed up with an extended discussion of the points he agreed and disagreed with in the commentaries. He grappled with the problem of the difficulty of distinguishing between primordial and complex societies. Further, he tackled Barnes and Epstein’s criticism on his use of description and analysis by saying one needs to clearly define laws of social behavior. Finally, he makes clear that the people using the model while emphasizing social integration used total society as a datum.
MATTHEW BAIR Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Eisenstadt, Samuel. Anthropological Studies of Complex Societies. Current Anthropology June, 1961 Vol.2(2):201-222.
Samuel Eisenstadt was Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, at the time this article was written. Eisenstadt’s purpose in this article is to explain some problems that arise out of the use of some methods and approaches that have been developed in social anthropology to study more complex societies. He points out that one particular branch of anthropology, social anthropology, has made the most contributions to the study of complex societies. The studies made through social anthropology have developed a theoretical model. Using this model to deal with the study of complex societies, several problems with understanding complex societies have been uncovered.
Social anthropologists ask several questions. The first question is the way in which people of the same group act in different situations. This research mainly focuses on inter-group relations. The second question queries the type of relations between culture, or values, and ritual symbols on one side, and social relations on the other. The third question explores the continuous interrelation in societies of differing social activities within most groups and situations.
Eisenstadt mentions some major trends developed in social anthropology that have stemmed from the theoretical model mentioned above. These are: the many well-known studies that illustrate “total” tribal societies, studies that deal with total societies, but concentrate on the study of these societies from the point of view of one major institution such as marriage and kinship, political structure, etc., the general studies of institutional groups in human society and their characteristics, the studies of parts of a society as well as the whole, and finally, comparative studies.
Social anthropologists have begun to study other types of societies, such as historical and contemporary (modern) societies. These studies are divided into categories. The first category deals with studies done with ecological communities. The second category deals with “natural” or institutional groups in complex societies. The third category uses studies that attempt to examine the “total” structure of complex societies.
Eisenstadt ends his article talking about concepts used for the study of complex societies. These concepts are “network”, “social field”, and “social organization”. He then explains their different meanings and concludes that although they are all important concepts, the term “network” is of the utmost importance in analyzing the relation of different persons, acting within a group, to different social roles and situations.
Eisenstadt’s article was sent to fifty scholars of whom eleven responded with their own commentary of the article. Some scholars readily agreed with his way of defining social-anthropological studies, but many found fault with his definitions of certain parts of a complex society. A few scholars did not quite respond specifically to his article, but instead gave their own descriptions and research, offering their opinion of whom he should have mentioned in his article. Eisenstadt responded to these criticisms and praises quite matter-of-factly by arguing his point in his article, what he based it on, and the explanation for complex societies that he was trying to get across to his readers, as mentioned above.
ABIGAIL VOTAW Appalachian State University (Cheryl Claassen)
Goody, Jack The Classification of Double Descent Systems. Current Anthropology February, 1961 Vol. 2(1):3-25.
Goody begins by stating that one of the most common methods used to classify human societies is by using descent. Goody illustrates his definition of descent early on by stating that it is a criterion of eligibility for membership in a social group, which is unilinear either through the male or female. He proposes there are four ways in which societies can be classified: patrilineal (inheritance and unilineal descent followed through males), matrilineal (equal to that of patrilineal with the exception of it being followed through females), bilateral (lack of unilinear descent) and lastly double descent (having both matrilineal and patrilineal descent simultaneously). Goody also notes that some societies are more restricted than those listed, for instance, some societies create additional kinship criteria such as locality. Therefore, he sides with Fried and declares other things need to be considered when classifying unilinear descent groups (UDG) such as, stratification or lack of, ranking, and demonstrated descent, rather than basing the classification solely on matrilineal or patrilineal descent. Moreover, Goody also agrees that classifying societies under only matrilineal or patrilineal groups produces difficulties due to the fact that both may coexist in the same society.
Jack Goody’s main goal is to refine the classification of the “double descent” system. He does this by pointing out controversies that arise when classification takes place in two specific cases, the Ashanti of Ghana and the Australian groups, as well as, generalized situations. He then proposes ways in which these difficulties can be eliminated and redefines terms that cause confusion while classifying. One of which is corporate and he defines this as “those UGDs within which property is inherited.”
The Australian tribes have been classified in all three categories and Goody proclaims this is in due part to the unclear definition of descent. He states that a descent group is a social group in which either a stated/recognized unity or a supposed unity is observed. He believes with this criterion added to the list, several Australian tribes will not fall under the “double descent” category.
Controversies and confusion also arise while classifying the Ashanti of Ghana into a descent group. Some professionals claim these groups are “the nearest approach to pure mother-right.” Others maintain both matrilineal and patrilineal and yet others designate them as clearly patrilineal. Goody claims that the controversies occur due to the fact that societies have minimal criteria that meet the definition of double descent and are thus classified as so. This creates a double descent category, which has various groups in it with nothing in common except that they have both matrilineal and patrilineal descent.
In conclusion and as a proposed solution, Goody creates a refined definition of double decent. He claims there are two types of double descent systems: those with complementary descent groups and those in which a person belongs to a pair of such groups one based on the patrilineal, the other on the matrilineal mode of reckoning and double inheritance (full double descent). Thus, Goody declares six groups in Africa to be full double descent groups, as well as, four other groups through out the world. All remaining tribes that researches have previously termed as double descent are, by Goody’s classification, realistically either patrilineal systems with complimentary descent groups (named or unnamed) or matrilineal systems with complimentary agnatic groups (named or unnamed).
Comments addressing Jack Goody’s article are plentiful. Although some commenters are willing to accept Goody’s definitions, they also acknowledge the fact that everyone has a right to create their own unique definitions and follow them. Many responders include personal research to express their concerns with using Goody’s meaning of corporate as one of the main classifications of double descent. Fischer notes that although property holding is important, it is not fundamental. For instance, each group may have a greater inner function as to the reasoning behind distribution. Okada asks if property holding is a suitable criteria in classifying double descent systems for any other group than those in Africa (which is where Goody focuses.), stating that some groups place a higher emphasis on property holding than others. Furthermore, certain societies could value something different providing reason to instead use that item as a main topic of study.
Fischer also questions whether or not a grouping recognized by an Anthropologist, but not by its members can be credited as so. He ponders the passivity of the Anthropologist creating such a bond between people when, in fact, no real linkage exists.
I. Karve considers Goody’s article to be based on double descent systems in Africa and not of double descent systems in general due to the fact that he focuses on tribes in the African region. Karve also claims that not only does Goody fail at contributing a solution for the problems he declares, but that the problems raised are those from the past. Karve believes that the problem arises when groupings (whether stated or assumed) are automatically designated as descent groups. However, E. Muller declares in his comment, taking into consideration the ambiguity of the term group, that by simply using the term for categorizing causes, “one of the most crucial difficulties.”
It is clear, whether they agree with Goody’s distinctions or not, most of the responders feel that an even more distinct and clear way of classifying double descent systems is needed in order to put an end to researchers use of various different methods/criteria when labeling a group having double descent.
Goody begins by thanking his commenters and then clarifies a few misconceptions that they appeared to have. He states that when addressing the issue of corporate, he not only means the transmission of property after death, but also those transfers taking place through out the lifetime as well. He then defends his choice of using the term corporate to indicate property-holding stating that it is used as such by lawyers, economist etc. and that barriers in terminology should be avoided if possible. Goody also clarifies that he does not want his readers to think that he ranks property interests as more fundamental than kinship. Goody acknowledges Fischer’s point concerning credibility of unnamed descent groups and admits that this could be true. Goody ends his reply by stating his purpose was to raise the problems that occur when classifying groups as having double descent and he proclaims that he has reached his goal even if it were only partially.
SHERRI BRAINERD Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Haselberger, Herta. Method of Studying Ethnological Art. Current Anthropology Oct, 1961 Vol.2(4):341-384.
In “Method of Studying Ethnological Art” Herta Haselberger discusses the study of all art that lies outside the Anglo-American tradition. This includes art objects variously referred to as primitive, tribal, traditional, native, indigenous, folk, or popular—art that would typically be the object of anthropological study. The author suggests that her article is a step towards closing the gap between ethnologists and art historians so that they may begin to understand each other’s methods and reveal a whole new approach to studying these types of art (343).
In her Introduction Herta explains why she uses the term “ethnological” art while showing the faults in using such words as primitive and popular when referring to the art she is discussing. She proceeds to establish what art is, concluding that it is something of aesthetic intention. Then she offers a brief background of current knowledge about art, claiming that all ethnological art should be collected and described to provide a firm foundation for study. She then reveals her four guidelines in studying ethnological art, explains why they should be initiated, and provides a brief description of each with the intention of explaining them more fully. She describes in detail the methods of field research, (1. collection; 2. description; 3. inquiry; 4. observation), that hould be employed.
The rest of Herta’s article is divided into a section for each of the four guidelines she gives for studying ethnological art. In her discussion of the first guideline, a detailed study of a work of art, she gives the criteria for classification, which includes the standards for material, technique, purpose, content, form, and structure. In discussing her second guideline, the artist’s biography, she describes psychological methods and common working processes of an artist. In Guideline three she describes the study of art in its cultural context. She gives examples of the interrelation between economy and art, social structure and art, ideology and art, then a brief description of other aspects of art and culture. The fourth concern she lists as a guideline to the study of ethnological art is knowing what the history of art is among ethnological people. Here she refers to the history of African art concerning the empire of Kush in Nubia, styles during the times when cultures were transitioning from stone to metal, and examples of how all this was catalogued and organized. She ends her article by encouraging that further studies be directed to a “systematic description of a single artistic creation, and historical or structural-analytical studies restricted to regional or even local problems” (355).
Ralph C. Altman, Ingeborg Bolz, Bernard Fagg, William Fagg, William Fenton, P. Jan Vandenhoute, and others provided commentary on Herta’s article. A criticism of her definition of art was made and in her reply she offered that a better definition could have been made given sufficient space. In their comments several authors made attempts to explore their own ideas in studying ethnological art, and Herta makes reference to this in her reply. Klausen and Vandenhoute made one comment that Herta specifically agreed with, concerning formulating full definitions of words such as aesthetics. When replying to Klausen’s comment about style-criticism, Herta replies that she thinks art historians separate pure description of an art object from value judgment when describing art and therefore the word style-criticism is a proper term, which she chose to use.
MATTHEW BAIR Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Haselberger, Herta. Method of Studying Ethnological Art. Current Anthropology October 1961 Vol. 2(4):341-384.
Haselberger begins by immediately defining ethnological art as used “to denote the tribal and tourist art of those peoples in Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Oceania who are objects of ethnological (or, as it is called in the Anglo-American tradition, anthropological) study”. She goes on to explain why the use of words such as “primitive, tribal, traditional, popular, folk, native” and “indigenous” are inadequate descriptions of ethnological art for various reasons. When using the words “primitive, tribal” or “indigenous” a negative association is brought to mind, and when using the words “folk” or “traditional”, one must understand that it is being used to describe “everything not belonging to high art or higher applied arts”, and in some cultures there is no differentiation of higher art versus “lower”, and thus the words are inappropriate. Haselberger explains that the word “art” is used to define the fine arts only, such as painting, architecture, drawing, sculpture and arts and crafts. To distinguish between fine art and objects made of a utilitarian purpose, Haselberger says, “art is involved only when the action produces results designed to affect someone, and is not, like play, an end in itself”. The history of art is discussed, beginning in Europe during the Renaissance, with a narrow scope of artistic interest, until the science of art was established in the 18th century. Selections of ethnological art were incorporated in European collections in the 15th century, but were only considered oddities and curiosities, instead of intrinsically beautiful. Beginning in the 19th century scholars turned serious attention to ethnological art, published many books and started many museums with the specific intent of studying and understanding ethnological artworks. The type of art that receives attention depends largely on the interests of the investigators. Sculpture and architecture have received much scrutiny, whereas paintings and murals have been widely neglected. Haselberger states that the study of ethnological art involves four primary tasks: “detailed systematic study of individual art objects, the artist’s biography, the study of art in the whole structure of the culture and the history of art”. When in the field there are four main tasks of an art researcher, the collection, the description, the inquiry and the observation.
Haselberger defines the criteria for the classification of ethnological art, the type(s) of material used, the technique, the purpose, the content and the form. Haselberger specifies that there are seven different purposes for which art is created, “utilitarian, ritual, educational, commercial, social prestige, social control, and art for art’s sake”. A basic biography must be obtained from the artist, as well as an idea of the artist’s personality, using psychological methods. An artist’s psychological type may be based on kinds of aesthetic talents, or art of the sensory type, the emotional type, the kinesthesia type and the imaginative type. Men and women usually occupy different psychological types, and peoples can be evaluated for their eidetic ability, or the ability to “recreate in their imagination subjective pictures of objects they once perceived, even after considerable time has passed”. When studying a specific ethnological art form, one must keep the total culture in mind, from economy to social structure to ideology. Haselberger concludes by giving a brief description of the history of African art, with its early Egyptian influence, to its later (post-contact) European influence. Many of the commentators praise Haselberger for her “attempt to bridge the fields of anthropology and art history”, while others postulate that the use of the words primitive, traditional and popular are adequate when used appropriately. Some seek to correct her on the specific technicalities of artistry, and some claim that the title of her work has very little to do with the content of the article and such an investigation of ethnological art forms in Africa is far more complete than she has stated. Haselberger replies that she is aware that her wording and definitions may be imperfect, and she claims to be thankful for their corrections. She explains once again why she finds the words “primitive, traditional, folk,” etc. to be inadequate, and goes on to say that finding exact, concise definitions would be useful, but ultimately difficult. She thanks individuals for bringing in documented evidence of investigations, but remains faithful to her opinion that the ethnological art forms of Africa are woefully under-studied.
MARY FRANCIS HILL Appalachian State University (Cheryl Claassen)
Hoyt, Elizabeth E. Integration of Culture: A Review of Concepts. Current Anthropology December, 1961 Vol. 2(5) 1961
The title of Hoyt’s paper, “Integration of Culture: A Review of Concepts”, clearly defines the intent of her work. It is concerned with organizing and analyzing the meaning and functionality of integration in relation to “culture”. The paper touches on the development of the meaning of integration, describing various theories in different disciplines but the bulk of the paper concerns itself with two overarching ideas which Hoyt attempts to reconcile. Hoyt divides integration into two main camps that she situates at opposite ends of a continuum of meaning; integration by dominance and integration by interrelationship of parts. Integration by dominance is defined as “the idea of a culture dominated by an idea or a group of ideas”(pg. 409) She argues that describing a culture in terms of only one dominant idea or value is limiting. The Harvard Values Project, whose methodology includes the assumption that there are fundamental “clusters” of relationships common to all cultures, is then provided as an example of a theory of integration by dominance which has more flexibility and utility in understanding culture.
The theory of integration as interrelationship of its parts, understands culture in terms of the interconnectedness of all its components. The paper describes competing concepts within this broader theory but seems to settle on the idea that human agency is the link that connects a culture’s “parts”. “All parts of a culture are dependent on human choice; and not only material goods but time and energy”. (pg. 411)
Two reviews are concerned with the need to agree upon a definition of culture before discussing the idea of integration. Other comments question the significance of Hoyt’s conclusions. The majority of the comments are critical in some way of the exclusivity of Hoyt’s paper, specifically the omission of other theories that don’t fit into her model. Eleanor Leacock says, “I must confess that I find Hoyt’s article on concepts of culture somewhat arbitrary in its selection of social scientists whose ideas are touched on, and somewhat limited in the aspects of integration which are covered.”
Hoyt organizes her response by grouping the criticism of her paper into three main areas. Hoyt explains that she purposely did not attempt to define culture as a theory of integration should be applicable to every definition. She fairly dismisses the notion of omission except to say that she appreciates her colleagues pointing it out. In regards to the significance of her research Hoyt claims, “Before it can be answered we must be concerned with what integration is, and have some agreement on its meaning.”
BOONE W. SHEAR Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Hoyt, E. Elizabeth Integration of Culture: A Review of Concepts. Current Anthropology December 1961 Vol. 2(5):407-426.
Hoyt addresses the integration of cultures in society and how culture is misrepresented. Inductive and deductive approaches to the issue are used to justify the meaning of culture. Hoyt refers to Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture as she defines that cultures are to be looked at holistically and not piece by piece. Hoyt found that comparing certain cultures to others based on their values was difficult because of the variation between each. However, by giving examples of different groups and the values which were characteristic of them, parts of culture could be examined, but not as a whole. Humans are dependent on their beliefs and values, and therefore each is affected by the other, in turn causing change in culture. Culture is an independent factor of society as it may vary from person to person or group to group, depending on the economic development. The main concept to understand is culture is present in all societies and is integrated in every aspect of life. Despite the fact that the ‘fabric’ of culture is never fully-sutured and always subject to unraveling, the process of cultural analysis nonetheless fosters understanding.
Hoyt employs Benedict’s two terms of classifications, Apollonian and Dyonysian. These values are seen in the native peoples studied by Benedict. Apollonian is the way the Southwest Pueblos are viewed and the latter is the view of the Kwakiutl and other Northwest coast Indians. Although each tribe is different there lies a dominant trait to define the culture as a whole. These opinions may be skewed by others who view each culture as unique and separate from the rest. To define one’s culture, it is necessary to acquire knowledge of past as well as contemporary values that are inherent. Observation alone does not encompass the culture as a whole (the cultural representation created by the ethnographic outsider could never grant access to the lived practices of the cultural insider). Culture serves as a function of society and it is liable to change over time.
Commentators are generally opposed to the idea of leaving the definition of culture out of the article. They argue that she implies integration refers to parts of culture, but she leaves out eh whole and its relationship to its parts. According to her critics, references to Benedict and Radcliffe-Brown were un-warranted because of the misrepresentation of social structure compared to the “integration of culture”. Her critics supported the contributions she made in regards to the functionality of economic structures within culture. However, her critics did not support her ideals of how culture is integrated. For example, Hoyt’s contemporaries suggest the concept of integrated cultural dominance is problematic due to evidence shown in different tribal societies such as Kwakiutl and Zuni. Overall, Hoyt’s peers find her article “arbitrary” and problematic at best. They do, however, give her credit for her deductive approaches to cultural integration.
In reply to her critics, Hoyt has “purposely omitted such a definition” of culture because she feared that a definition of culture would detract from her emphasis upon integration. Hoyt gives no reference to history because she feels that once again such a historical genealogy would divert attention from her focus upon integration but she eliminated the central concept around which all her other concepts revolved.
RACHEL KAY Appalachian State University (Cheryl Claassen)
Olderogge, D.A. Several Problems in the Study of Kinship Systems. Current Anthropology April, 1961 Vol.2(2):103-107.
In this article, D. Olderogge discusses the study of kinship systems since the publication of Lewis Henry Morgan’s Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family. Despite the criticism that Morgan would face from future generations of ethnographers, Olderogge asserts that a particular point raised by Morgan, that a particular group’s kinship systems is directly related to its social structure, is valid.
Without going into the minutiae of kinship systems, Olderogge supports the legitimacy of Morgan’s claims by discussing, for example, various groups whose kinship system follows the Omaha model. Although these groups may be otherwise unrelated and, in fact, geographically isolated from one another, Olderogge believes that their similar kinship system results in similar social structures; for example, all groups with the Omaha model are patrilineal and patrilocal. By way of comparison, diverse groups in North America, South America and Africa that follow the Crow kinship system are matrilineal and matrilocal. Olderogge argues that these systems “…actually reflect definite forms of social organization, and are not accidental.” (Olderogge 1962: 104)
The article then moves on to a discussion of Morgan’s critics such as A. L. Krober, who claimed that kinship terminology is simply the result of language and that it is not possible to draw conclusions about social structure based upon kinship systems. In contrast, Robert Lowie argued that while kinship systems may reflect social relationships, it is impossible to reconstruct the history of the development of society.
From there, the article moves to a brief summary of the history of the
development of kinship terminology, culminating in the discussion of the fact that tribal societies classify relations differently than modern, class-based societies. While tribal societies’ kinship systems were largely based upon a notion of “extended” family, modern kinship systems tend to focus more on the nuclear family.
Finally, the author suggests that in its original form, kinship terminology actually defined systems of marriage classes. Elements of this terminology can still be found in the kinship terminology of several peoples who have classificatory systems. For example, the Giliak kinship system clearly defines their notion of the “ideal” marriage. These norms, like the Omaha and Crow kinship systems, are shared by a number of diverse groups on at least two continents.
Although many of Morgan’s ideas have been fallen out of favor with succeeding generations of social theorists, this article nonetheless remains a well-argued defense of his theories while simultaneously pointing out their shortcomings.
GLENN L. PLANCK Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Olderogge, D. A. Several Problems in the Study of Kinship Systems. Current Anthropology April 1961 Vol.2(2):103-107.
Before reading this essay, I would suggest relocating those long forgotten kinship notes from the first semester of Cultural Anthropology. As the title implies, in this paper, Olderogge outlines some of the problems associated with the study of kinship systems. Olderogge begins with a discussion of Lewis Henry Morgan proposition that kinship analysis could aid in the study of social evolution. Morgan argued that there is a subconscious link between kinship and social structure, especially pertaining to family and marriage. The idea of laws underlying the development of society remained a topic of serious debate for a century. Olderogge’s goal is to highlight some of the discrepancies that have developed in these studies over time.
Undoubtedly, the appearance of identical kinship networks, on extreme ends of the world, offer a degree of validity to Morgan’s work. However, his proponents, in desperate attempts to explain some of the more difficult family networks, often created ridiculous interpretations of the evidence. In other situations, the interpretation was justified but the evidence was incomplete. In combination with the inaccurate use of the language, generations of ethnographers overlooked what Olderogge feels was the earliest kinship system.
In a delightfully dissonant tone, Olderogge attributes some of the ludicrous explanations of tribal lineage to scholars’ inability to ‘think outside the box.’ Morgan’s followers adhered too closely to the models he established. Some of Morgan’s definitions are generally weak. For example, The Giliak phratry (preferably spelled Gilyak) is an arrangement characterized by the marriage of a group of brothers to a group of sisters. However, Morgan’s definition is poorly worded, leaving room for interpretation. In addition, his designation of all kinship systems as either classificatory or descriptive is rather vague and subjective.
Native kinship terminology poses another problem for Morgan’s students. Olderogge argues that as indigenous societies change, native terminology often suffers from time-lag, thus creating anomalies in the way natives address each other. Failure to take account of the time-lag factor led researchers to create bizarre kinship systems. Olderogge furthers his point by explaining some of the peculiar examples created by advocates of Morgan’s framework. Through his enlightened analysis, Olderogge feels that the Giliak phratry lies at the base of more complex kinship systems.
PARK BEECHER McGEHEE Appalachian State University (Cheryl Claassen)
Sears, William. The Study of Social and Religious Systems in North American Archaeology. Current Anthropology, June 1961 vol. 2(3): 223-246.
William H. Sears’ article “The Study of Social and Religious Systems in North American Archaeology,” explains how artifact interpretation and classification mainly deals with typology and description while not ever defining the cultural influences the artifact had in its own time and space. Sears explains that the descriptive style of Archaeological writing has been prevalent for years in many journals, but yet according to him the writing never expresses the contextual information of an artifact that is needed to make a complete time and space analysis. He goes on to describe the transitions of previous archaeological information gathering practices that have been modified in the past to create what we have today. Sears is trying to push the modifications of time and space relevance into the new archaeological information gathering system he wants to define. Sears wants to conjoin social and cultural anthropological studies together to allow a seemingly timeless and spaceless position of cultural events. He suggests that allowing archaeologists an open door to the comparative method will allow a look into the ideology of the prehistoric society. Sears describes the time / space lapse as a problem frame of reference which will inevitably leave unknowns in the archaeological record. However, with the union of social and cultural practices the lack of cultural understanding through artifacts may be eliminated. Sears wants to apply a form of artifact analysis that will allow partial if not total reconstruction of the past societies’ religion and social practices. He continues by saying “With the proper approach it should be possible to discover and document a great deal about social systems and the political and religious organizations for most prehistoric North American cultures.” (Sears, 225)
The reconstruction of the religious and social systems will allow archaeologists a better vision of these prehistoric peoples as they lived and developed through time and space. This question of time and space of prehistories and that of our own is a difficult one to answer. To have the ability to dive into another person’s mind and see what makes them tick is a difficult task. In order to accomplish such a feat, a vast understanding of psychology and social norms of the time period would help for a detailed record of these systems. Sears suggests starting with an analysis of the over-all religious and political systems of that time. Sears explains how his approach allows each individual artifact analyzed to open the door to another social system. By looking at burial mounds Sears can develop an idea of what the general family size and type may have been. Each structure of an excavation site that is examined in social context gives Sears a broader picture of actual daily life in prehistoric societies all over North America. Since this article is fairly old, the problem of misinterpreting cultural, social, political, and religious systems because of lack of living people to question and limited artifacts has been assessed, and although I do not know for certain, I suspect that the problem has been subsequently addressed by other archaeologists.
DEREK WHITTINGTON Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)