Current Anthropology 1969
Bryan, Alan L. Early Man in America and the Late Pleistocene Chronology of Western Canada and Alaska. Current Anthropology October 1969 Vol.10(4):395-412
Alan L. Bryan explains his focus in the first paragraph of his paper. He notes late glacial chronology and the implications of this to early man will be the focus of the first part of his paper, and the second part will focus on an attempt to synthesize the early man problem in relation to the first part.
He first explains some accepted views of early humans’ journey into the North American continent. He comments that it is almost impossible, for someone who has visited the region of southeastern Alaska and British Colombia, to say that humans could have traveled through this without impeccable conditions. There had to be another way for humans to move. With evidence of glacier movement, tool types and archeological finds Bryan explains the movement of man throughout North America.
Bryan gives lots of sound evidence as to where and when the ice-free corridor existed. He incorporates many dates of glacier movement into his data. This allows the reader to feel confident that his ideas are sound. After lots of explanation of dates and glacier movement, which would make much more sense on a chart or map, he concludes that the ice-free corridor could have allowed people to pass through in several windows of time. One window closed by 8,500 or 8,000 years ago. Thus, there are tools found before then in places south of Canada, humans had to move into North America before 8500 tears ago. They had to move before or after these dates. Using tools as evidence of humans’ movement Bryan charts the years of occupation. He disregards one authorities’ hypothesis of humans entering 11,000 years ago and bringing a certain point with them. According to Bryan there is no evidence of this point in any place other than Alaska 4,000 years ago and no evidence of movement at this time. Bryan concludes after a long discussion of projectile points and tool types (that most people are probably not aware of unless explained in a chart or map) that all projectile points evolved south of the ice sheets independent of when humans traveled from an old world hand axe that was a bifacial flaked “leaf shaped point”. That is: different groups of migrants’ tools all evolved from the same one, and could have come over the ice-free corridor at any time it allowed passage.
He then goes on to a lengthy report of sites in North America and their excavation finds. The point of this is to show the early dates of inhabitants. He concludes that humans entered Alaska 35,000 years ago and every groups’ tool types developed independently.
The comments all generally agree that the paper describes difficult anthropological material; furthermore, a chart of the time periods or a map of the glacier movements would be very helpful in understanding the big picture of Bryan’s article. Some responses agree to the difficulty of making a hypothesis on early humans in America, especially agreeing with a few anthropologists of the early dates of the first migration. Most agree that his evidence of his statements are plentiful.
I think it is good that Bryan noted that the reason he put his article in “Current Anthropology.” He thinks that a controversial topic needs to be open to comment and discussion. He answers questions that different commentators had and tries to explain things more clearly that some said was difficult to understand.
LEIGHA FUNDERBURK University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Dr. Janet Levy)
Cohen, Yehudi A. Social Boundary Systems. Current Anthropology, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Feb., 1969), 103-126.
Dr. Yehudi A. Cohen opens his article, “Social Boundary Systems,” by defining inter and intragroup relations. He states that they are in a constant feedback relationship with each other where “neither exists independently of the other…that a change in one immediately produces changes in the other.” (103)
Then he presents eight lengthy questions he will address for this work. They include levels of organization, social relationships, cultural technical development, groups effect on each other, component groups, evolutionary change, group interaction and sets of terms. The subsystems of society which are kinship, household, educational, occupational, political, religious, and community are presented as boundary systems.
Two societies are used as analytical examples throughout the work to illustrate his points. The first is the New England Puritan community of Sudbury, Massachusetts, and the second is the Tokyo suburb of Mamachi. He compares Puritans where the church seems indistinguishable from the town to the residents of Mamachi for whom the religious sphere plays almost no role.
Cohen uses the example of a balloon as a boundary system. He takes the position that a network has internal and external pressures. When the pressures alter, the network’s boundaries change accordingly. He focuses on firmly bounded systems. They can easily exclude unwanted influences and people.
In comparing New England Puritans with executives of Mamachi, Dr. Cohen concluded that the Puritans were firmly bounded. The church was the governmental center of power and landholding conferred citizenship. He also concluded that Mamachi executives, a workgroup exclusively for men who formed a network which started at the University and continued into the work firm, were also firmly bounded. For this group seniority was more important than skill.
Cohen states that there are three main characteristics of bounded systems. The first is role transposability, where he points to the fact that women are usually excluded. It is usually men that are responsible for the functioning of the group. One can serve in place of another, in his stead with respect to his role in the network. The second is consensus, the inability to tolerate sustained and outspoken dissent. The third is the lack of differentiation of networks within the unit itself.
At one point Cohen, looks at the relationship between husband and wife and observes that a joint conjugal relationship where both carry out some activities together, or at different times interchangeably, represents a firmly bounded network. He also observes that the segregated role relationship where husband and wife have clear differentiation of tasks with clearly defined division of labor represents a weakly bounded network.
In discussing tolerance and dissent, Cohen takes the position that there is an inverse relationship between the strength of a system’s boundedness and its ability to tolerate member dissent.
Dr. Cohen’s work is a little disorganized leaving the sense that you may be traveling in circles. Dr. Cohen covers a topic then goes on to cover another just to circle back to a previous one. The article is reflective of its time (1969) in that women are portrayed in examples as non-participants in social systems. In Cohen’s defense I must point out that he did state the importance of mothers in their role in helping Japanese sons to prepare for their exams.
Dr. Cohen has a broad, well documented list of reference citations. He has also previously published other works, some of which he cites in this article. It seems awkward the way he cites himself instead of just referring to these articles as his previous work.
The review comments are mixed for Dr. Cohen’s work. There are questions about his views on bonded network, transposability and boundary systems. He carefully addresses each issue in his response.
DELECIA CURRIE University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Collins, Desmond. Culture Traditions and Environment of Early Man. Current Anthropology October, 1969 Vol.10(4):267-316.
In this article, Desmond Collins asks if evidence demonstrates the traditional idea that variable assemblages of stone tools left by past societies can be utilized to reconstruct evidence of community networks. Alternatively, were the different sets of assemblage-types left by just one society? He also explores the possibility that two or more communities may have happened to produce the same assemblage-types. Here, an assemblage-type is defined as all of the available artifacts from a specific horizon.
The author attempts to determine if it is possible to say that a certain set of stone tools came from one culture that evolved their tool making technology over time or whether an assemblage-type was made by two separate cultures. Some possible explanations of tool style similarity are: chance; two neighboring communities making the same styles of tools; functional factors that would indicate similar activities rather than cultural relation.
One hypothesis Collins includes in his article is that a single population made both the Clactonian and the Acheulian tools. This was proved to be extremely unlikely. Another hypothesis is that the Clactonian from Germany would not be repeatedly different from the samples in England. Collins said that this hypothesis still seems probable because there is no evidence to contest the idea.
Collins uses numerous statistics about lithics, including 16 tables and charts, 15 maps, diagrams, and all the dating evidence and references necessary to support his hypotheses. The tables and charts organized information about stone tool size, the locations where the lithics were found, the shapes, the functions, the names, possible cultures of origin, flora and fauna found at or near the sites where the tools were unearthed, and hominid fossil data.
Collins created a series of metric characteristics to identify stone tools more accurately from the Pleistocene. The characteristics measured were features like the relative thickness of the flakes and the width of the striking platform.
The author concludes that there are specific patterns of tool making that are distinguished by unique tool types and metric and quantitative parallels that appear after the Oldowan period. Collins states that the patterns of culture traits in assemblages are not random and that they are not made by a single community creating two or more styles of functional tools. The variation that is observed is due to cultural evolution.
This article is quite in-depth and does cover every possible aspect of the topic. However, when Collins uses abbreviations it is a bit cumbersome and often unclear.
There were seventeen commentators that had basically similar things to say. Some common criticisms were: interesting but not original; based on unacceptable scientific theory and method; and unconvincing. Constructive suggestions included: this should have been a preliminary outline of his future research; a premature attempt to summarize Acheulean evolution; and Collins should have used a letter-designation system. Many commentators praised Collins, too: he handled his data competently; the paper was well organized and clearly stated; and Collins is courageous to tackle the problem of man-land relations in a crucial time-span.
Collins replies to the commentators addressing every commentator’s remarks thoroughly. Collins “mostly” agrees with Butzer, Narr, Movius, Pfeiffer, Howells, and Coon. Collins explains the points that the commentators brought up. He says that in the reply it is not his “purpose to defend” his “original suggestions,” but instead to get “better-defined and tested generalizations.” He says that his paper should not be “immune from criticism” but that the commentators should keep their comments about his procedure separate from their criticisms about the subject matter. Collins graciously thanks the commentators.
EMILY HOUSER University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Dalton, George. Theoretical Issues in Economic Anthropology. Current Anthropology Feb, 1969 Vol.10(1):63-102.
Dalton discusses why industrialized economies cannot be compared economically with traditional economies. Dalton suggests that future anthropologists focus their research on the changes that take place within an economy rather than comparing the economies to the industrialized economies. Dalton classifies traditional economies into three categories. The first is “primitive” without centralized polity; the example Dalton used is the Tiv. The second traditional economy is “primitive”, with centralized polity: for example chiefdoms, kingdoms, and empires. Dalton said the Nupe, Bantu, and Inca are examples of this type of traditional economy. The third type of traditional economy is the peasant economy. Dalton uses the Malay fishermen and the Latin American peasantries as his example.
Dalton explains there are two analytical distinctions: organization and performance. Within the first category there are nine levels of organization. They are the size of the economy, the transactional modes (like market exchange), the production processes, the organization of roles of external and internal trade, the organization of money, the operational devices (like record keeping and accounting), the prestige economy in contrast to the subsistence economy, and the relation of economic to social organization. Since each economy is different, they cannot be compared as if they are the same.
The second category is performance. Dalton distinguishes four ways of measuring performance: the number of goods and specialist services produced or acquired level of output; fluctuations in output and frequency of dearth or famine; the distribution of real income; and the distribution of subsistence goods contrasted with the distribution of prestige goods.
Dalton explains why the three traditional economic types are not the same as industrialized economies and should not be analyzed theoretically like an industrial economy. He says that anthropologists should study the socio-economic change, growth, and development. Anthropologists should focus on how the economies have changed temporally. Dalton places emphasis on three major changes that should be studied. These are: degenerative change, cash income without development, and development of communities.
Dalton’s writing is clear and informative. Dalton explains everything in detail so there is no confusion in the mind of the reader. The author uses a great deal of quotes, from numerous authors, supporting his ideas. At times, it is distracting, but it clarifies Dalton’s theories and emphasizes the amount of research Dalton must have completed to reach his conclusions. The paper is interesting and easy to read. The only negative thing about this paper is Dalton portrays himself as a savior to this neglected topic.
The comments were very encouraging and positive for the most part. They said that Dalton composed a well written essay. The commentor’s criticized him for not defining particular words in his paper as well as his word choice for particular socio-economic groups.
Dalton suggests that there are different theories that evolve during time and he was merely trying to get one on paper. Dalton said it would change over time just as definitions change over time.
TERA CRUMBLEY Theme University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy).
Graves, Theodore D., Nancy B. Graves, and Michael J. Kobrin. Historical References from the Guttman Scale: The Return of Age-Area Magic? Current Anthropology 1969. 10 (4): 317-338.
Anthropologists use numerous techniques to examine and reconstruct the history of humankind. In their article, Graves, Graves, and Kobrin explore the use of the Guttman scale as a way to reconstruct the past. The Guttman scale approach is used to study the developmental processes of cultures as well as to map life trajectories. Guttman scaling originated in the area of social science, however, has since been used by a large number of anthropologists. The basic idea of the Guttman scale is that each trait found in a particular culture must have a prerequisite. This idea leads researchers to infer a one-dimensional sequence of events, through which all cultures must pass. The goal of this article is to prove that the Guttman scale is not a legitimate technique to use to reconstruct the history of humankind.
Throughout the article, the authors focus on one particular study they conducted to disprove the validity of the Guttman scale. The researchers carefully studied 40 Latin American communities, and focused on 24 overt traits found throughout these communities. Using the Guttman scale, the researchers attempted to reconstruct the history of these communities. Along with the Guttman scaling of these traits, the researchers also studied the actual historical sequence of these traits. Their conclusion was that the Guttman scale, although it presented a statistically significant correlation with the actual historical sequence (.7), did not account for all of the variation of traits found throughout the communities. The authors also suggest that the Guttman scale can be manipulated. The ability of researchers to manipulate and refine the Guttman scale also causes problems with its validity. By removing traits that seem to be “erroneous” (traits that a community should or should not have), researchers can make the correlation between scaling and actual sequence much higher. For example, in the study conducted for the article, removing trait “errors” led to a reproducibility of the scale well above .90. After further refining the scale and removing several other “errors,” the correlation rose to .94.
The writers conclude from their research that Guttman scaling is not a valid technique for reconstructing the human past. Although they agree that Guttman scaling may have other uses in social science research, they unanimously conclude that it has no place among historical reconstruction.
Although the authors believe that Guttman scaling is an inefficient way to reconstruct the past, many other anthropologists disagree. Robert Carniero, for instance, refers to Guttman scaling as “a powerful instrument for the study of cultural evolution.” Other anthropologists agree with the conclusion made in the article. Jon Nathan Young concurs with the authors. He believes that Guttman scaling is an inappropriate method for historical constructs, however, he too believes that “Guttman scaling is the most appropriate theoretical construct in regard to certain problems” (especially social science problems).
In response to the comments posted by his contemporaries, Theodore Graves once again reemphasizes his conclusion that the Guttman scale has no place among historical reconstruction. Although he does not dismiss the fact that anthropologists can use it in order to make broad generalizations, he discourages anthropologists from forming one dimensional theories based on the Guttman scale.
ERIN LOWDER The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Higham, Charles F. W. Towards an Economic Prehistory of Europe. Current Anthropology April – June, 1969 Vol. 10(2-3):139-150.
This article is about the study of bovine bones from Troldebjerg, an archaeological site that thrived in the Early, Middle, and Late Bronze Age in Denmark, and how they compare to modern bovine bones from the same area. With this analysis given and careful examination of other archaeological information, Higham gives a detailed account of what he believes life was like for these Neolithic people. Higham’s first five pages are very hard for the average person to understand. One must be a zooarchaeologist in order to understand all of the faunal remains and bones he is examining and comparing. Higham’s statistical charts help in understanding what he is writing, but it is still difficult to follow unless you are a professional in this field. I thought that Higham’s last two pages were the best because they provide an interesting interpretation of the data, including the life of the people of the village. Higham describes how the animals were slaughtered and for what purposes. Higham also describes what village life was like to these people by describing to the reader how they had to burn fields every three to four years in order to create enough fodder for their livestock. The productivity of these fields would diminish after four years so moving the cereal fields for livestock fodder was a necessity of life. An interesting part was the fact that the majority of bulls were killed by the age of one year for food for the settlement. The fields were tended with hoes and, thus, these people did not need beasts of burden to plow the fields year after year. This made a larger supply of meat available. Overall Higham did a good job of describing how stock raising affected the overall economy of the village, and Northern Europe for that matter, during this time. Higham could have elaborated more on the other aspects of village economic life like what vegetables were grown, if the livestock raised was ever sold off in trade, or if wool and other products from the livestock was ever traded as well.
The commentators reply to this article made it possible for someone who is not a professional in this field could understand the first five pages of the article. They broke Higham’s research down into just the basic facts without all of the technical terms and allowed the reader to get the main idea of the article. The commentators also brought up so rather interesting questions for Higham to ponder over and respond to. They all believed Higham did a great job with the faunal research because up to this point nobody was researching faunal remains of domesticated animals in Europe. His work here is really the first in the field up to this point. The only real criticism that was presented was the fact that Higham never really talked about trade connections and the economic impact made by the livestock of these people. Overall the commentators did a great job of making the entire article understandable for anyone to read.
Higham’s reply was one of defending his work as well as being open to new ideas and questions presented to him. Higham tried to explain his stance on certain methods of examination, like the examination of faunal remains. Higham talks about how archaeologists are desperately trying to salvage any pottery sherds available to them at a site and trying to study them but he makes the point that they throw prehistoric bone fragments onto spoil heaps without even wanting understand or study the significance of them.
ED BROWN The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Holloway, Jr., Ralph L. Culture: A Human Domain. Current Anthropology October, 1969 Vol.10 (4): 395-412.
Holloway begins this article as a refutation of supposed “animal culture,” an idea that grew up around the numerous primate studies during the 1950s and 60s. Holloway proposes that primate behavior does not necessarily equal human, or even early human, behavior simply because primates are animal and not human. He suggests that simply making the psychological inference that humans are self-aware and primates are not cannot be proven or disproven; he instead points to the fossil record to show the difference in the psychological processes of animals and humans. Holloway is careful to point out that his essay is based on a bias towards humans ruling the domain of culture, and does not necessarily negate the necessity of primate studies, but rather questions their viability in verifying early human behavior.
The main thrust of Holloway’s essay is that the two essential elements that separate human from animal are “imposition and arbitrary form upon the environment.” Holloway’s main example of imposition and arbitrary form is a comparison between the psychological processes of tool making and language. He refers to Hockett by looking at three aspects of language processes (traditional transmission, productivity, and duality of patterning) and inferring that these processes are the same processes used in tool making. With this inference that the two processes are the same, Holloway states that he believes that tool making and language emerged in tandem, and not one succeeding the other, which has been the general consensus in anthropology thus far.
Holloway suggests that a possibility for the widespread uniformity of stone tools throughout a widespread geographical area may be attributed not just to imitation and observational learning, but also to the emergence of language with grammar, syntax and non-iconic symbolization. He goes on to say that both tool making and language produce variations on a theme: standardization, sets of rules, and social interaction on a hierarchical level.
From this standardization Holloway infers that arbitrary non-iconic symbolization leads to organized perceptions, which leads to social transmission of organized perceptions, which ultimately leads to social control. He believes that the hallmark of culture is social control of perceptions of the environment. Holloway states that what determines culture should be based upon the products of cognitive structures (stone tools in the lithic and fossil records) and not merely on biological factors (such as cranial capacity), the behavior of primates, or logical necessities. Holloway concludes his essay by stating that anything that passes his “culture test” is human; this includes Australopithecus, usually thought to be a protocultural hominid.
With the exception of McCrae, who stated that anthropology is a pseudoscience and cannot look at problems empirically, most of Holloway’s commentators were supportive of his persuasive view that culture belongs to humans. The main point of contention with Holloway’s conclusions, particularly for Benoist, Bowen and Graf, lies with his examples of non-iconic (Oldowan) tools versus iconic tools (unaltered sticks). They commend him on his beginning assertions, but state that they would like to see more supplementation for his theories.
In Holloway’s reply he states that he is disappointed that most of the objections to the question he posed seemed to gloss over the fact that he was more concerned with the psychological processes and organization involved in the making of the tools, not their actual functions. He presents his case again and replies to each of the commentator’s disagreements. His witty retort to McCrae is especially enjoyable.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
TRACY CROWE University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Holloway, Jr, Ralph L. Culture: A Human Domain. Current Anthropology, Oct. 1969, Vol. 10, No. 4, Part 2, 395-412
Holloway’s article is an exploration into the question of continuity vs. discontinuity in the behavior of humans and other primates, and to critically asses the current arguments that culture no longer belongs to humans alone. The author is very blunt in his beliefs on this issue, believing that culture is unique to humans and that the studies of culture in primates and early hominids is improper. Beliefs in theories of gradualism, critical points, learning, tool use, and language are not factors that decide if humans are unique from other animals. Instead “arbitrary form” and “imposition” are the two factors that define human culture, and he further combines the two into the “Imposition of Arbitrary form upon environment”. An example of this is the creation of stone tools, for a human must conceive of a stone being flinknapped into the desired tool shape. This concept also implies that humans can make delusional systems work, that is, they can impose fantasies and non-iconic constructs upon their environment. While many animals learn from their experiences, humans move away from animals in that we organize our experiences differently.
Holloway casts a critical eye upon current theories of the evolution of culture, believing that it is impossible for us to tell when apes, Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens, and Australopithecus became self aware. The author also looks analytically at “insect culture”, a belief in which any creature can learn from their experience and create their own micro culture, a practice that Holloway accuses of being one dimensional since learning and instinct encompass many different behavior patterns than are being presented in the theory. Holloway also believes that applying and describing the social structure of apes and especially monkeys is misguided, and he questions whether other animals as well are fit to be analyzed in the same manner. The application of Darwinian concepts to the evolution and current forms of culture also receives a healthy dose of skepticism from the author as well. Theories about tool manufacture and the evolution of language interest Holloway, but he believes that tools do not prove the complexity of a language. Through these arguments, Holloway asserts that culture remains the domain of humans.
COMMENTS: The more common comments leveled at Holloway was that he should elaborate on his theory of imposition, while one person attacked his paper as trying to impress people through “sheer verbiage“ and called anthropology a pseudoscience.
REPLY: The author replied in turn that none of his terms and concepts should be taken as the only way of looking at culture, while declaring that calling anthropology a pseudoscience was an attack not worth his time.
NELSON KLITZKA University Of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Jarvie, I.C. and Peter Kloos. Problems of Role Conflicts in Social Studies. Current Anthropology, December 1969 Vol. 10(5): 505-523.
This article is divided into separate articles, one written by Peter Kloos, and the other by I.C. Jarvie. Each deal with issues faced with by an ethnographer in the field. Kloos specifically notes that an anthropologist deals with three groups in doing fieldwork: the society from which he/she comes, the scientific community, and the group studied. Because the anthropologist fulfills a different role within each of these groups, Kloos notes that one is hard pressed to behave in such a way acceptable to all. He argues that the methodology of participant observation will always influence the group studied in some fashion and gives several examples relating his experiences. Kloss does not propose a solution to deal with “role conflict.” He does note, however, that bringing attention to the issue may facilitate the situation. His examples clearly illustrate his point of “role conflict” and problems of influence.
Jarvie, however, does propose a solution to “role conflict” in which the anthropologist views him/herself as a stranger in relation to the group studied. This, as Jarvie explains, allows the scientist to be honest, as a member of his/her native society and as a member of the scientific community. To work in the field as a “friend” leans towards falsehoods in created relationships. He also questions the anthropologists’ almost inherent belief that the insider’s perspective is the best perspective from which to gather information. He also argues that the insider role is unattainable. Jarvie states his main point as being that the anthropologist must be honest and this characteristic should be made a practical part of his/her methodology, much more so than cultural relativism. What this means for the author is that the anthropologist separates him/herself both socially, and ideologically from the group studied.
Kloos: Most scholars agreed with Kloos in that there is no one answer to the issue of “role conflict” in anthropological fieldwork. He is hailed for his personal approach to the article by illustrating his examples with field experiences. Kloos is also praised for shedding light on the subject of ethics in anthropological fieldwork not much is said to critique his actual article.
Jarvie: This author is ripped apart in the commentaries. He is called ethnocentric and one who is disrespectful and uncaring towards his subject groups. His colleagues tend to agree with him, as they did with Kloos, that attention needs to be brought to the anthropologist’s roles, influences, and responsibilities. However, that is as far as they are willing to agree with Jarvie (for the most part). Among commentaries, anthropologists also noted how they believed one should deal with “role conflict.”
Kloos: Ralph Piddington, a contributor to the commentaries, notes that anthropologists need to safeguard themselves from uncomfortable moments by not allowing oneself to feel emotion. Kloos disagrees and argues that instead of pretending to not have emotions, one should attempt to not act out on emotions felt. Kloos also recognizes the existence of another party in addition to “scientist” and “subject,” as commented upon by Apthorpe. This third party is comprised of individuals such as sponsors and members of the group studied who have special insight into the community’s cultural patterns.
Jarvie: Jarvie’s reply is towards specific colleagues. He again asserts that honesty is needed above attempted cultural relativism. Yet he notes that honesty in different roles (as the scientist or towards group members) cannot always be one in the same. This argument seems to differ from his original article where there was one empirical truth, that of the anthropologist. At the end of his reply, the author notes that perhaps anthropology does not “demand” for the ethnographer to be a stranger. Jarvie is unafraid to answer the question of “what is the role of an anthropologist” while Kloos avoids answering the question. After reading this article one may choose to believe that Jarvie is correct, that Kloos is correct in not knowing, or that there is a separate answer entirely.
CLARITY: Kloos and Jarvie articles: 4.5, Comments: 3.5, Kloos and Jarvie replies: 4
JESSICA L. TOTH University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Jason, Heda. A Multidimensional Approach to Oral Literature. Current Anthropology Oct, 1969 Vol.10(4): 413-426.
This article was an address to criticisms concerning research in oral literature. The criticism that the author focused on was that it lagged behind in research, in comparison to other disciplines related to it. The author, therefore, proposed going over the literature to determine if these criticisms were justified. The author constructed hypotheses in order to answer this question, but her main intention was to provide a framework that would allow the study of oral literature to continue. Beginning with several assumptions about the characteristics of oral literature(i.e. oral literature is an art form), she is able to create a framework. The author focuses primarily on the assumption of the multidimensionality of oral literature. To make this multidimensionality more understandable, she breaks up these characteristics (dimensions) of oral literature, and uses them as the basis for her framework. Once placed within the framework, it becomes more evident as to what role a certain characteristic has in a certain culture. The author describes and explains each part of the framework, which allows identification of a characteristic into one of the categories of the framework. As the author mentions, the determinants (the parts/categories of the framework that describe oral literature, such as artistic, content, and cultural) are like coordinates: they help place oral literature (and its aspects) into a specific cultural context. This framework can be used when studying oral literature to obtain a better understanding of its role in human culture. The presentation of this framework is understandable, and its use will allow the author’s intention to be accomplished: the continuation of the study of oral literature.
There are several criticisms I would like to mention. The framework does allow for further studies in oral literature but the question remains if the framework is a reasonable one. It is hardly explained how it was developed, which raises the question of its validity. Being a professor of oral literature, the author would want her discipline to continue, which is perfectly reasonable, but it certainly creates a bias in her research. Another criticism towards the article that is of note is its use evidence and examples. The author directs the reader to the works of literature she mentions instead of using examples directly from them. The fallacy in that is it does not greatly convince the reader; the reader has to look elsewhere to be convinced. It is better to satisfy the reader at the moment he/she reads the article rather than later on. With this use of evidence, it may well be that the author is correct, but the reader will never be certain.
Commentaries: These are interesting because they all have something in common: they mention the fact that, once taken out of its cultural context, oral literature is difficult to comprehend. All comments praise Jason for her effort in constructing a framework, but note its fallacy: understanding oral literature is a difficult task. Times change and cultures change, which changes the meaning of oral literature completely. An item of oral literature may have different meanings in several cultures, which introduces further difficulties in trying to understand it. I agree, and it is something Jason should have considered in her framework. When responding to these commentaries, Jason seems to have misunderstood these criticisms. She related and responded to these criticisms using her framework, which is acceptable if it is to remain valid. The problem with that is if she wishes to convince others, she needs to prove the validity of her framework before she uses it as defense.
EDWARD BENITEZ University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Jelinek, Jan. Neanderthal Man and Homo sapiens in Central and Eastern Europe. Current Anthropology December 1969 Vol.10(5):475-503
New methods of dating fossils along with new discoveries in human genetics have led researchers to reevaluate already known fossils in order to accurately date all previously discovered fossils of Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neandertalensis. The purpose is to place fossils chronologically and thereby bring to light the process of human evolution.
Jelinek is illuminating data from Neandertal and Homo sapiens finds in Central and Eastern Europe. His goal in this article is to inform the scientific community about the data from this area of the world. Previously this information has been passed over by many researchers. Reasons for that include the fact that the data has been limited to regional journals in foreign languages and scientists were unfamiliar with the existence of the data. Jelinek believes that these data are crucial to discovering the process of hominid evolution in Central and Eastern Europe. The discovery of new methods for dating finds has led to the reevaluation of fossils. This has led to the conclusion that not all Homo sapiens neandertalensis possess the same morphology nor were they necessarily separated from individuals of Homo sapiens sapiens, either in time or in place.
Jelinek summarized previously unknown Eastern and Central European finds of Homo sapiens neandertalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens. His purpose for doing this research is partly to show that assumptions about Neandertals and Homo sapiens are not always correct. In his analysis, Jelinek summarizes two groups of fossils: Neandertal fossils and Homo sapiens fossils. In these summaries, he compares the fossils in each group. Jelinek discovers that the Neandertals and Homo sapiens are not as morphologically distinct as the scientific community once thought.
Jelinek’s conclusions are that the Neandertal finds show pronounced variability in features even within a group of fossils from a single site. In this variability, Jelinek notes that many of the Neandertal finds display many characteristics found “fully developed and universal in Homo sapiens sapiens”. He found that some Neandertal fossils are located at the same time and in the same geographical region as modern types of Upper Paleolithic fossil hominids. He believes that his evidence shows that just as Neandertals are classified as Homo sapiens neandertalensis, the anatomically modern hominid fossils of “Upper Paleolithic Man” should be classified as a variation within Homo sapiens sapiens.
The problem with this article is that Jelinek writes about specific fossils as if the reader knows exactly what he is referring to. A map of the areas in Central and Eastern Europe along with more diagrams of the individual fossils would improve the readability of the article.
All of the commentators basically appreciated the effort of Jelinek to bring these fossil finds to light. They all agreed that the information is invaluable to continuing research on hominid evolution. Some of the commentators used their responses as a place to post either their discoveries on the issue on the evolution of Homo sapiens neandertalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens. Two of the commentators felt that Jelinek had overlooked other information and fossils in his evaluation.
Jelinek took the comments and criticisms as a basis for further work on the topic. He responds to the criticism about needing to address more fossil finds by writing that his purpose was not to present an inventory of every fossil found in Central and Eastern Europe. He believes that including any more information in his analysis would have only created problems for himself and the readers.
ANNE PAYNE University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Dr. Janet Levy)
Keyes Roper, Marilyn. A Survey of the Evidence for Intrahuman Killing in the Pleistocene. Current Anthropology, October, 1969 Vol.10 (4): 427-459.
With this paper, author Marilyn Keyes Roper addresses the issue of the hypothesized use of violence and warfare during the Pleistocene. To start, the author explains that not much had been written about the topic so she took it upon herself to compile all the information available. Keyes Roper successfully put together the accounts of many specialists and experts in the subject matter; the only problem being that none of them reached the same conclusion. As opposed to other authors that try to persuade the reader to see things from their point of view, in this case the writer provides the reader with the evidence so they can come up with their own conclusions. The author does not boldly state her preference over any of the given arguments; she accepts all of them as valid in one way or another. The whole purpose of her writing is to see if it can be proven that warfare brought about intrahuman killing, or if the reverse was true.
Most of the evidence provided comes from two different sources: (1) the study of fossilized remains of what is believed to be men that lived during the Pleistocene; and (2) the study of cave paintings in France. The first source of evidence is the most widely used and the one that has provided anthropologists with the most information. Keyes Roper divided the evidence into three groups for better understanding. The first group was composed of the data pertaining to the australopithecines from Africa; the second group to the pithecanthropines (H. erectus) that lived in Asia, Europe and Africa; and the third group to the Neanderthals from Western Europe and Southwest Asia. Keyes accompanies the evidence of violence with tables of data that include: the name of the site, name of the hominid, the remains recovered, the specialist that claimed the violence and in some cases the people that provided a counter argument. An example: Taung (South Africa), Australopithecus africanus, 1 incomplete skull with natural endocranial cast, Dart (1049b:37) and followed by the counterargument of Washburn (1957), Mason (1961) and Coon in (1962:239).
The fossilized remains were analyzed and most of them showed that certain individuals had engaged in some type of violence. Most of the specialists relied on the presence of what they called a depressed skull fracture, which has two possible explanations:(1) that the individual was injured before death; or (2) that the individual was struck moment after death. Other physical evidence implies the use of a blunt object to crack the skull and facilitate the removal of the brains for consumption. Even when this raises the idea of cannibalism, it still does not prove that the hominids were killing each other for food. Taking all of this into consideration is hard to prove if this violence was willingly brought about by another hominid or that the individual died as a result of a freak accident (being struck by a falling rock for example).
Keyes Roper concludes her paper stating that it is believed that during the Pleistocene different species of hominids shared the same living are and that is not possible to see if death was brought about by members of the same group or members from another group.
Even when the notion of violence between hominids is accepted it still does not prove that this violence brought about warfare.
Most of the commentators seemed to be pleased with Keyes Roper’s paper. Most of them expressed their interest in the subject and praised the author’s organization and brilliant use of data. For example, on of the commentators expressed that the idea of cataloging this evidence was one of useful undertaking. Also, one of the commentators explains that a principal for selection of the evidence should have been followed; this being and example of other commentators questioning the reliability of the data as well as the anthropological value of the work.
Marilyn Keyes Roper thanked the people that read her paper and decided to form part of the discussion. The author explains that she accepts and appreciates the criticism of her peers. She also explains that one of the commentators in particular misunderstood the purpose of her paper and she goes on to print part of the preface for better understanding. The author once again explains that she is not an expert in human fossilized remains and because she had not studied the evidence firsthand, her paper will just be a compilation of evidence and should be regarded as a survey of the topic.
NICOLLE M. ALICEA University of North Carolina, Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Livingstone, Frank B. Genetics, Ecology and the Origins of Incest and Exogamy. Current Anthropology Feb, 1969 Vol. 10 (2) :45-61.
Anthropologists have proposed several hypotheses to explain the origins of incest and exogamy. One hypothesis is based on the belief that cultural universals are determined by human biological characteristics. Some anthropologists believe the origins of these cultural universals should be attributed to harmful genetic consequences imposed by inbreeding, but Livingstone believes their origins are thanks to cultural evolution over time.
Inbreeding is deleterious for the individuals in the population because it increases the mortality of those involved. Inbreeding is beneficial to the population in that the individuals harboring the deleterious alleles will die early and rarely reproduce, and the harmful alleles will be expunged from the population. From previous research it is known that among the Caingang Indians of Brazil, inbreeding was high among people, and mating was highly endogamous, yet research found the frequencies of deleterious alleles in the population were low.
Livingstone does not agree that the genetic differences found amongst the populations do not contribute to the large magnitude of differences in mortality rates. The large quantity of mortality among modern human populations that share alike cultures, has to be due to their genetic differences, he believes. Looking at the mountain gorilla it is obvious that they are endogamous and that given a number of generations this population will become highly inbred. This suggests that early hominids used inbreeding as a regular practice, and therefore the origin of exogamy and the incest taboo did not originate among the early hominids.
It is also thought that the incest taboo could not have developed without the use of language. Incest has nothing to do with language, it is sexual union between closely related individuals and gorillas recognize their relatives without language. The majority of anthropologists agree that the evolution of tool making and language occurred simultaneously around two million years ago. Coon believed that language was an essential implement for hunting among hominids. Etkin sees that the origin of language must have come from that need for teamwork to undertake hunting, but Goodall refutes that using chimpanzees as an example. She affirms that chimps work in a group for hunting purposes, without language.
Before the origin of language, hominids were probably endogamous bands separated into smaller groups and that seems a fitting social structure when considering gang hunting, little mating permanencies, and little sexual division of labor. With language development there was a reorganization that took place within the hominid social organization including the origins of incest taboo and exogamy. Livingstone’s paper strives to disprove genetic analysis as a proof of the origin of the incest taboo and exogamy.
Comments by various people are similar in that they do not believe that to origin of the incest taboo and exogamy had to evolve after language. One commentator says that the author is correct in that a species is better to survive when exogamy is a statute and inbreeding is kept at a low. Another commentator states that Livingstone needs to be more clear on his definitions especially whether he is speaking about cultural incest or biological incest. Although most commentators agree with the points of Livingstone they do not all agree with his reasoning in the article but enjoyed his paper.
Livingstone is glad that many addressed his issues although the thoughts of some of the commentators that his hypothesis was total speculation and definitely not proven angered him. He agrees that there is no one simple thing that causes the origins of exogamy and the incest taboo, but that his findings are not totally out of conception. Livingstone still stands by his prior statement that language is needed to understand incest and that if our pongid relatives suddenly talked they would instate an incest taboo also.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
AMANDA MIMS University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Janet Levy)
Renfrew, Colin. Trade and Culture Process in European Prehistory. Current Anthropology April-June, 1969 Vol.10(2/3):151-169.
Renfrew re-evaluates the belief that widespread diffusion was one of the leading forces behind cultural change in European prehistory. Instead, he asserts that local factors, particularly trade, played an even more important part in motivating and guiding change. He describes two main reasons why the research of trade is a good example of local factors. First, trade is evidence that prehistoric groups came into contact. Second, trade was a prime motive for contact to initially take place. Renfrew also claims that although his model for change is focused on European prehistory, the essential ideas behind his article can be applied to any similar case study.
Renfrew defines trade as “the reciprocal traffic, exchange, or movement of materials or goods through peaceful human agency.” He furthers his definition by detailing how he will use the related words “commodity”, “profit”, and “surplus” so that the reader does not confuse these terms with their dual commercial meanings, when used to describe economic structures. He also warns against the assumption that there were full-time traders who made a livelihood participating in such exchanges. Renfrew claims that middle-men are the product of more modern societies, and as such, care needs to be taken when drawing parallels between the trade that occurred in prehistory and modern commerce. Renfrew also emphasizes the importance of keeping the definition of trade broad enough to include the wide range of transactions that took place historically.
In discussing trade as a method of cultural development and its role as a motivator for cultural change, Renfrew makes three main points. First, that many of the traditional ideas about cultural change in European prehistory are outdated and do not fully explain the evidence. Second, that explanations for cultural change should be sought within a community instead of only evaluating the relationships between communities. Lastly, Renfrew makes the argument that through scientific enquiry, trade must be proven and not just assumed because objects look similar. He further discusses these ideas through his analysis of several approaches traditionally used in understanding cultural change: the invasionist model, the diffusionist model, the evolutionist model, and the culture-process model. He provides reasons why each of these models are too vague, conflicting, and inadequate to reveal the forces behind cultural change. A section on scientific documentation of trade, and thus of cultural contact, is also included. It focuses mainly on the quantitative evaluation of archaeological remains of amber, copper, jade, obsidian, and pottery products. This is in opposition to the traditional typological evaluations. Armed with such data Renfrew believes that conclusions can be drawn about the social organization of the culture.
Renfrew finally challenges traditional ideas on cultural change in European prehistory by presenting the case study of urbanization in the Aegean during the 3rd Millennium B.C., where he suggests that an increase in trade was responsible for social change. He concludes that the importance of migration and diffusion as motives for cultural change in European prehistory has been greatly exaggerated, and that the focus should instead be upon local systems, such as trade. Using quantitative data, Renfrew believes that the anthropologist can derive a greater understanding of prehistoric cultural change which encompasses all of the scientific evidence of cultural contact and urbanization.
The commentaries are overwhelmingly positive and agree with Renfrew’s perspective. A few flaws in his reasoning, and ways in which he could be more thorough, are discussed. The most common response commends Renfrew for developing an idea that challenges the traditional perspectives and takes the study of archaeological remains in a new direction.
Renfrew returns these commentaries with gratitude. He also recognizes the flaws in his argument and suggests ways in which further study could overcome these problems.
LISA ANN DE MURO University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Dr. Janet Levy)
Wolfe, Alvin W. Social Structural Bases of Art. Current Anthropology February. 1969 Vol. 10 (1): 3-44.
Wolfe’s article aims at explaining why some societies produce more high quality art while others produces small amounts or art of lesser quality. He focuses on analyzing the human feelings symbolized in the art. From Wolfe’s own experience among the Ngombe of the Congo led to the idea that cleavages among males of a community might be significant to the development of art. Based on his observations in the Congo, He formulated the thesis: “ High development of graphic and plastic arts is associated with social structural features that set up barriers between males in local communities.” Wolfe tested his hypothesis using a sample restricted to African societies whose art had been previously studied. 25 African scholars were brought in to evaluate the each tribe. The African societies evaluated were based off the 1963 list in the Ethnographic Atlas. The arts of the societies were rated. Their variables were mapped out to look for patterns. Wolfe used two types of statistical techniques in interpreting the patterns of the variables: factor analysis and scalagram analysis. His use of the scalogram on the raw data revealed three scales: Sodalities Scale, Descent Cleavages in Closed Communities Scale, and Caste in Complex Local Community Scale. The important variables that emerged from this analysis are: fixity of nucleated settlements, sodalities scale, productive capacity of the local community, variability in social structure among settlement, maximum settlement size, separation of adolescent boys from families, caste in complex communities scale, and ambiguous cognatic kin groups. Wolfe found through his research that fixity of nucleated settlements has the highest involvement with art since it refers to the local community and their association with art development. He thought that the research and data he found supported his hypothesis.
Comments on Wolfe’s research had both positive and negative responses. There were some that commented that Wolfe’s research topic was both interesting and provocative. They felt that he had performed well with demonstrating the relationships with art and barriers. Most of the comments were focused on the negative aspects of his report. Some of the main complaints that Wolfe gave no reference as to what was being considered art; the sample size he used was too small and only focused on African societies so there is no way of claiming his findings as universal. Other complaints focused on the lack of examples to correlate with the statistical data presented; questioning of the qualifications of the 25 anthropologists used in the evaluation; and the lack of references to the symbolic meaning associated with the art of each tribe.
Wolfe’s reply to the comments was defensive but appreciative of the criticisms. He constantly defends his research against the negative remarks made against it. He at one point attacks the commentaries about how easy it must be to “point out” problems with validity. Wolfe defends his ideas of art by saying “ To criticize these judgements because they are ‘subjective’ is to miss the whole premise: art is subjective, and its study must depend on that subjectivity.” He does at one instance agree with criticisms made by Paul Rosenblatt about the aspects of the statistical analysis, but also claims that if he were wrong it wouldn’t have affected the following steps. Over all he was grateful for all the comments.
I found Wolfe’s research topic to interesting and well thought out but lacked examples to correlate with the statistical data, which would aid in the understanding of the information.
BRIANA PETTIT University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Dr. Janet Levy)