Current Anthropology 1974
Adams, Robert McC. Anthropological Perspectives on Ancient Trade. Current Anthropology Sep., 1974 Vol. 15(3):239-258
The author argues that the conceptualization of ancient trade is “too often narrowly identified with habitual patterns in the movement of goods” (pg 240). As such, trade has been misidentified and confused with diffusion. Trade, he says, extends much farther into the institutional structure of society than is allowed by any definition of diffusion. Entrepreneurial aspects of trade, for example, are goal-oriented or purposeful. A theoretical emphasis on ecological and evolutionary systems for which gradual, local adaptation are the primary motor of cultural change leads researchers to ignore the potential impact of external forces and group interaction.
Adams identifies two streams of archeological research on the process of trade. The first is limited to documenting the fact of culture contact but offers little reconstruction. He recognizes that technological advances will be required before questions related to broader social implications of trade can be answered. He gives much greater attention to studies with a stated concern with the process and structural impacts of diffusion or trade. Adams argues that archeologists should make greater use of ethno-historic, historic and ethnographic studies which offer a more complete picture of the complexity of trade and how institutional change is an important part of trade.
At this point, the author goes on to show how trade is more than simply patterns of the movement of goods. To do this he uses several ethnographic examples of how trade can have a considerable impact on many areas of society. His examples come from the Plains Indians of the United States, several African peoples, and the Cappadocian merchant colonies of the Near-East. In the case of the Plains Indians, the influence of trade with Europeans had a profound impact on their society. One effect of trade was that the Indians became more dependent on certain trade goods. They also became more concerned with the commerce of furs which led to the widespread practice of polygyny. This was because women were primarily responsible for processing furs. His African examples are used to show how the slave trade and the trade of guns to Africa affected societies there. The Cappadocian merchant colonies, which most information regarding has been gained through merchants’ tablets, show the limits of archeology in that there was probably a great deal more complexity than is realized.
Comments on Adams’ work were mainly positive, pointing out his accurate assessment of the definition of trade. Most felt that his article was very insightful and will serve as a means of redirecting the study of trade. The only real criticism comes from the archeologists who seem to be somewhat confused on what measures Adams thinks they should take in regards to trade. They believed that the article exposed several problems in defining trade but did not offer any real solutions.
The author asserted that further refinements in archeology are needed in order to answer many of the commentators’ questions regarding how they should interpret trade. While he recognizes a need for refinement he does not indicated specifically how this should be done.
AARON GRAHAM Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Brown, D. E. Corporations and Social Classification. Current Anthropology March, 1974 Vol. 15 (2): 29-52.
The author aims to classify human social phenomena into corporate and non-corporate forms. To make this distinction, Brown assesses the significance of corporate structures by reviewing previous studies of corporate forms. The works of Aristotle, Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, and a number of various other anthropologists are discussed and critiqued, with the conclusions that there exists no clear definition of the corporateness found in human social relations. Brown does, however, argue that corporations all share the principle of perpetuity; that is, corporations are meant to endure over time. Using perpetuity as a unifying corporate principle, Brown attempts to classify and define variations of corporateness by using a structural approach rather than previous functionalist explanations, which he believes are inadequate.
Brown believes that corporate social forms must also share common characteristics besides the principles of perpetuity. Brown uses M.G. Smith’s analysis of corporate traits as a basis for his discussion: identity, presumptive perpetuity, closure, membership, exclusive common affairs, autonomy, procedures and organization. Brown describes the relation of each characteristic to the presence of corporateness in human social organization. He notes that Smith’s criteria are valid, but must be left open to interpretation. For example, voluntary association (belonging to the “procedures” category) is undoubtedly the most ambiguous attribute of corporateness; a trait that Brown cannot clearly define.
Despite Smith’s unifying set of corporate factors, there exists a disparity of corporate forms, namely marked by status differences. Brown discusses distinctions between overt and covert corporate organization. In the case of covert organization, a privileged corporate category may have control over the regulatory organs of another corporate category (which is often the case within one over-arching corporation).Brown gives an example of the Brunei nobility (of Borneo), whose rights allowed them this privileged corporate category to covertly control the governing corporate body by holding the right to appoint individuals to high posts within the sultanate. These corporate rights allowed the Brunei nobility to maintain its privileged status by regulating the actions of the very corporate category that has reserved it these rights.
Brown argues that the structural approach is useful, as well as necessary, to generate a plethora of hypotheses on several distinct levels: distinctions among corporate forms, the nature of traits tied to corporateness, the various outcomes that may arrive from combining the principles of incorporation, or any other combination of these factors.
The first and most shared criticism was on the issue of perpetuity. Both Appell and Dow found that if perpetuity is a requirement of corporations, many social groupings would not be considered incorporated. Kolgeseike agrees and remarks that is perpetuity is dependent upon continuous recruitment it should be defined in terms of the recruitment process rather than as the essence of corporations. Appell also mentions that corporations are often incorporated for only a limited time, and do not endure infinitely. DeRaedt and Zenner made criticisms of Brown’s characteristics of corporations. DeRaedt believed that the different meanings attached to incorporations among cultures were somewhat ignored. Zenner disliked the idea of corporate categories marked by privilege, finding that groups are often ambiguous in character, and not sharply defined. In fact, Whitten found that Brown’s definition of corporateness was so broad that almost all of humanity could be classified as corporate. There is a discrepancy among the commentators over the value of Brown’s research. Eames found this paper to lack potential research examples of any value. Kerri and Magnarella agreed, stating that there was not much new content discussed in Brown’s work. Kerri also noted that Brown has ignored previous studies of anthropologists on the subject of corporateness.
Brown claims that the commentators misunderstood his meaning of “perpetuity”, while he reasserts that perpetuity is a unifying principle, but its actual meaning may differ depending on the context. He also disagrees with Dow, explaining that continuous recruitment is not always necessary: corporations may lose significant numbers of members and still function as a corporate entity. Brown also defends the criticism that he has ignored previous research on corporateness, stating that he did not claim that past approaches have been insignificant. In addressing Whitten’s remark, Brown admits that corporate analysis may not be appropriate for all situations. Replying to Appell, Brown claims that he did not ignore local meanings when assembling his structural approach. Brown also restates that his classification scheme was constructed within an etic, cross-cultural scheme.
BROOKE BARBER Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).
Butzer, Karl W. Paleoecology of South African Australopithecines: Taung Revisited. Current Anthropology December, 1974 Vol.15(4):367-382.
The article focuses on the reworking of the environmental and stratigraphic context in which the Taung fossil was found. Butzer contends that the current phylogeny concerning early hominids, including the Taung fossil, is incorrect. To support this argument, Butzer examines the environmental conditions in which the Taung australopithecine lived. He compares this environment with other environments that contain early hominid fossils and uses this data to establish a good age estimate of the Taung fossil based on environmental context.
Butzer’s main focus is on the geomorphologic setting of the Ulco Grootkloof region in South Africa. He compares this region with the Buxton-Norlim region where the Taung fossil was found and analyzes patterns of deposition and erosion in the Grootkloof region. He analyzed 32 sediment samples from this area in South Africa, including one sample taken directly from the Taung fossil. Butzer then analyzes calcium carbonate accumulations to build a clear timetable of geologic events in this area.
Butzer uses the data obtained in his analysis to build a viable geomorphic cycle for South Africa. He correlates patterns of deposition and erosion with specific climates throughout time. He comes up with a four-phase cycle: a dry-warm phase, followed by a wet-cool phase, then a humid-cool phase, and ending back in a dry-warm phase. The Taung fossil was found in the third phase, which he associates with the lower Pleistocene. Based on this comprehensive evidence, Butzer asserts that the Taung fossil is younger than previously thought. The basic implication of this research is that the Taung hominid may be no older than true Homo fossils in South Africa. Questions regarding phylogeny and ecological adaptations are subjects for further research.
The commentators applaud Butzer for his argument that the Taung fossil is younger than previously thought. Most of his critics attend to his methods of comparison between different South African sites. Some contend that these sites are not so easily comparable. Most commentators agree that Butzer’s work opens up all kinds of questions related to hominid phylogeny and ecology. Some commentators criticize Butzer for being too vague and theoretical in his argument. One commentator also criticizes Butzer for utilizing such a small sample size. For the most part, Butzer’s argument is readily accepted.
Butzer reemphasizes the fact that his paper was a reevaluation of a single site and that further reevaluations of other sites in South Africa are needed. Butzer also says that at the time his paper was submitted he embarked on additional research and analysis into this matter. He then provides a more complete picture of the Taung site. With this new research, he provides a greater sample size and more precise statistical methods in analyzing his data. He maintains that the Taung fossil is younger than previously thought and that it belongs in the third geomorphologic phase.
LAUREL MCNEILLEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Chapple, Eliot D. Culture and Biological Man: Explorations in Behavioral Anthropology. Current Anthropology March, 1974 Vol.15 (1):53-63.
This article is a précis for the book by the same title. The overall concern of the book is to show that properties of behavioral anthropology exist and then to show how culture modifies the behavior of individuals through mechanisms, which have a biological foundation. The book attempts to illustrate how both behavioral anthropology and culture are two interdependent areas that have their own logics. Chapple believes that culture can be reduced to a few basic dimensions or categories which are combined through the interplay of environment, technology, and the necessity to relate to oneself. The evidence in the article is based on biology or behavioral biology, which includes genetics, physiology, ethology, and ecology. Chapple argues that the reason to separate culture and behavior is to better understand their mutual relationships. According to Chapple every animal’s action and interaction patterns are the result of internal biological rhythms or biological clocks. These rhythms appear in all biological processes, which include biochemical, electrophysiological, and endocrine. These rhythms are also the elements with which individuality is built. Chapple argues that contributions from behavioral biology to behavioral anthropology have come from primate studies, ethology, behavioral genetics, circadian rhythms, territoriality, emotion, interaction measurement, learning in comparative psychology, sensory physiology or physiological psychology, and the biology of language. The author notes that cultural studies contribute to behavioral anthropology. Such contributions are the ethnography of communication, information theory, the cultural influence of space, and work-flow engineering. Chapple intends for this book to be an exploration of the factors that influence human relationships.
Nine authors reviewed the book and the précis. Overall, the reviews were positive and many reviewers commended Chapple for successfully synthesizing the vast research on the biological basis of human behavior from many diverse fields. However, J.H. Barkow, while agreeing that anthropologists should be exposed to basic parts of physiological psychology, social ethology, child development, and nonverbal communication, called Chapple’s treatment of these areas “inadequate” and suggested that Chapple leave these to the appropriate specialists. W.C. McGrew found Chapple’s discussions of biological systems adequate but argued that Chapple failed to link these natural processes to interactional processes. Jacque Maquet also criticizes Chapple’s approach for failing to offer analyses of the precise relationships between biological processes and behavioral variables. Several reviewers pointed out lacuna in Chapple’s coverage of issues (i.e. evolution, population genetics), supporting evidence and/or bibliography.
Chapple is amazed at the diversity of conceptual frameworks used by the reviewers and the apparent lack of a common ground of scientific discourse. He argues that many reviewers gave little attention to the book’s intended goal and thus reiterates the central goals and bases of the book. Chapple believes that some reviewers have dismissed the multidisciplinary nature of book and criticized it for not including their particular questions of interest.
ANDREW ARNOLD Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Dobkin de Rios, Marlene. The Influence of Psychotropic Flora and Fauna on Maya Religion. Current Anthropology Jun., 1974. Vol.15 (2): 147-164.
An evaluation of artistic imagery in key locations of southern Mesoamerica revealed recurrent themes throughout a significant portion of Mayan territory. Images of the mushroom, water lily, and frog/toad appeared consistently throughout this area’s archaeological record and diffused into the folk level as well as the Pre-Classic period. It is widely understood that the physical counterparts of these designs carry with them psychotropic properties. These properties are chemical substances that manipulate human awareness on many levels. While these three drugs had definite physiological effects on their users, they perceived the effect as something more. The different flora and fauna would have made an impact on the Mayan’s perception of religious practice and belief. Research suggests that these drugs infiltrated and influenced the religious practices of the Mayan shaman, priest, and artist.
Stones and vessels emblazoned with images of mushrooms were major trade items in Mesoamerica. The interiors of the vessels were lined with a pine resin suggesting use in ceremonious events. This evidence implies that the consumption of psychotropic mushrooms was practiced in conjunction with religious or magical ritual. The frog/toad is an illustration seen in a wide variety of contexts throughout the Mayan culture. The frog/toad secretes a poison that, if ingested, can enhance sensory stimulus. Some amphibians are known for their loud vocals during the rainy season which can be linked to their significance as gods in the Mayan culture. The poison secretion would therefore assist the users into an enlightened state and closer communications with their gods. The mushroom and toad have also been associated with each other as seen in the modern descendents of the Mayans, the Quiche. The representation of the water lily has also been documented throughout various Mayan territories. The specific use of the water lily is unknown and there is uneven evidence that it was used for hallucinogenic purposes as portrayed through the art of the area.
Commentators agreed that the information presented here is interesting, but leaves much gray area to be considered. They stated that the argument is erroneous, lacks the right kind of data, and generally reads into the archaeological record probing for answers that Dobkin de Rios has resolved based on pure speculation. Others disagree mentioning that this is the kind of detective work necessary for interpreting the archaeological record.
The author defends her arguments by mentioning that the article itself was written before more extensive accounts had been done on these hallucinogenic agents. She cites that the Human Relations Area File as evidence for the use of drugs to alter consciousness in many cultures insinuating that the notion of Mayan use is hardly far-fetched. She is disappointed to notice that other scholars, particularly those recognized for their advancement in Mayan study cannot conceive of her idea because they are purely theoretical. She confesses that some areas of her research require further study and overall provides further evidence to substantiate her assertions.
JENNIFER KIELY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Fernandez, James. The Mission of Metaphor in Expressive Culture. Current Anthropology, Jun.1974. Vol.15 (2):119-145.
Fernandez’s article is an attempt to bring greater sophistication to the study of the function of metaphor. The author defines metaphor as the “predication of a sign-image upon an inchoate subject” (pg 120). Using primarily examples of the meaning of symbolism and sign-image in religion, Fernandez shows that the symbols and sign-images, although perhaps being one and the same, shift from one another and back. Of course this shifting is dependent on the conceptualization of the inchoate subject to which the metaphor, symbol, or sign-image is predicated upon.
Fernandez breaks down the concept of metaphor by identifying its seven exact missions. The first is to afford “identity for such subjects.” Fernandez attributes humankind’s collective and primeval “interest in animals” as the origin of the metaphor. Fernandez brings to light the foundation of this mission by presenting a connection between the use of metaphor and the human universal quest to bring the natural world into the cultural. By assigning human elements to animals, or more commonly, by persons taking on the characteristics of animals, the gap between the natural world and cultural is bridged. Fernandez gives examples of early childhood games in which the cast list take the roles of animals in the significance of the subordinate and the dominant. In the case of the Fang people of Western Africa one game of choice is Run Sheep Run, where one child assumes the dominant role of a leopard and another child takes a more submissive role of a sheep. Not only can this division of dominating and submissive traits be seen in the metaphor of children’s games ,but also in metaphors where the mere comparison of an animal assigns certain attributes to the subject upon which they are predicated. This assignment of certain traits deriving from the use of metaphor is the basis of Fernandez’s second mission of metaphor, “the enabling of movement in these subjects.” Fernandez’s third mission of metaphor is, “the optimum positioning of these subjects in the quality space.” This is the metaphor’s ability to allow movement of the subjects into different spatial quality. This is something as simple as an individual’s quality of space being tapered by assigning the attributes of say a snake, in which a list of personality traits can begin to be assumed. As opposed to a completely different set of qualities assigned when the person is referred to as a tiger and where the snake holds a more negative quality of space within culture. The fourth provides a vehicle for movement of the individual’s quality of space by “providing of a plan for ritual movement.” Once the movement of spatial quality is made, “the filling of frames of social experience” is the next step and the fifth mission of the metaphor. The sixth mission of the metaphor, “The enabling of the subject to return to the whole,” uses another metaphor in order to return the subject back into “the whole” that it was before and the seventh mission is “the freeing of the subject from a preoccupation with its parts”.
The commentators praise the work produced by Fernandez, but some express their disappointment with the article for falling short of a broader conceptualization of the metaphor and its cultural meanings. Several criticized his argument that animals are a primordial domain for metaphoric extension. Some of the commentators believe that Fernandez does not place enough emphasis cultural context of metaphor and some wonder how the typology of the processes of metaphor can be applied to empirical studies.
Fernandez defends his argument but also addresses most of the individual criticisms of his work in turn. He is disappointed that fewer reviewers provided critique of his methods of analysis.
ANTHONY MYERS Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Freeman, Derek. The Evolutionary Theories of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer. Current Anthropology. Sept., 1974. Vol. 15 (3):211-237.
Responding to Marvin Harris’ arguments in The Rise of Anthropological Theory, the author argues that the theories of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer did not comprise an “evolutionary synthesis” and that in fact their theories were very different. The author also argues that Darwin’s theories should not be lumped with Spencer as providing the ideological footings of “early industrial capitalism.” First, Freeman takes issue with the argument that seminal aspects of Darwin’s theory as presented originally in the Origin of Species were primarily formulated after Darwin read Malthus. Freeman argues that Darwin took from Malthus only the idea that subsistence increases only by arithmetical ratio whereas unchecked human populations will increase by geometrical ratio. Freeman argues through several examples of Spencer’s writings that Spencer followed Lamarckian theory blindly and almost religiously. Herbert Spencer was devoted to Lamarck’s theory of evolution although he never actually did any work to aid or to prove Lamarck. The decline of Lamarckism was fatal to Spencer’s theory of evolution as was noted by leading scientists of the day, such as August Weisman whose work in cytology hastened the demise of the theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Finally, Freeman addresses the claim made by several scholars that Darwin admired Spencer and concludes that the claim is erroneous and based on one de-contextualized statement Darwin made in a personal letter. The author’s main point is that Darwin’s theory of natural selection was not primarily the application of social science concepts to biology, but rather was based on massive scientific evidence.
Most commentators praise Freeman for the timeliness of this article, although several suggest that he has overlooked important overlaps between the theories of Spencer and Darwin. One criticizes Freeman for portraying Darwin as the glorious, devoted, and hardworking scientist versus Spencer who is only concerned with the metaphysical, and lacking in empirical research. One commentator felt Freeman was for the most part accurate on the subject, although he underplays the point that Darwin’s reading of Malthus gave him the realization that variability in organisms comes from reproductive competition in both humans and other species. Marvin Harris regards Freeman’s argument as weak, claims that the author has misrepresented both Spencer and Darwin, and reemphasizes the importance of the intellectual climate and scholarly interplay between biological and social theorists of the day.
The author’s lengthy reply begins with a statement of appreciation for those who provided critical commentary. He then takes the time to explain with examples from others work to justify his points regarding Spencer and Darwin. Freeman gives special attention to Harris’ critique although he claims it is probably pointless to argue with a “convinced ideologist.” Freeman provides additional historical evidence of the influences and processes leading up to Darwin’s formulation of the theory of natural selection. He reasserts that Darwin’s delay in publishing his findings was due to his desire to collect more evidence for the process rather than fear of reactions to his controversial ideas.
CASEY GANTT Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).
Kortlandt, Adriaan. New Perspectives on Ape and Human Evolution. Current Anthropology, 1974 Vol. 15(4): 427-448
The author examines the inadequacy of current anthropological paradigms to explain ape and hominid divergence. Present scientific tools, conceptual systems, and available fossil material have proven inadequate in providing a consensus on ape/hominid evolutionary divergence, which some date at 60 million years, and others at a more conservative 2-4 million years. Kortlandt suggests a multidisciplinary approach using paleogeography and biochemical taxonomy to help remedy the problem. While prevailing methodology utilizes physiological taxonomic practices to glean information about hominid evolution, the “bones and teeth” taxonomic process, Kortlandt feels this provides little certainty. Instead, he wants to be able to reconstruct the phylogenic tree of descent using paleoecological/paleogeographic maps and new biochemical methods as support. Using what scientists know about the environment and geology of particular times and places in Africa, Kortlandt attempts to reconstruct what would have been the natural barriers creating and separating various ape populations, causing the speciation that led to humans. He also uses the results of new technologies, which allow scientists to measure the amount of genetic difference between species to recheck his own estimates of ape divergences.
Prevailing wisdom asserted that the hominid line branched off from the ape line somewhere between 20 and 30 million years ago, before the Orangutan. Kortlandt suggests that the behavior of Orangutans indicate that they have always been arboreal so they must have reached their Asian environment briefly after the collision of the Afro-Arabian and Asian continents at the beginning of the Miocene, putting their divergence somewhere before man’s split from the African ape line. Man, therefore must trace his lineage through a contemporary African ape, Dryopithecus, a semi-arboreal forest dwelling ape. When the East African river valleys were formed during the middle Miocene, Kortlandt suggests that the surviving Dryopithecus that had not left the area due to drought and “parklandization” became the hominid line of ape. Tropical Africa subsequently gave rise to the chimpanzee and areas east of the Niger and south of Chad, the gorilla.
Early work in the assessments of mutation and drift also lends support to Kortlandt’s ideas. By using methods to measure genetic drift among various animal populations, other anthroplogists’ data points to dates that correspond extremely well to Kortlandt’s figures. This research uses Gibbon divergence at 30 million years as a starting point and places Orangutan divergence at 24-26 million years and the ape/hominid divergence at 12-15 million years.
Blumenberg and Todd state that it is “naïve” to think that geographic isolation alone was the mechanism responsible for hominid evolution. They also suggest that Kortlandt ignored the possible Dryopithecus ancestry of the gorilla, and that Ramapithecus, who puts a wrench in the theory by appearing in places contrary to Kortlandt’s model, is simply dismissed as a “rare stray form”. Iwamoto complains that Kortlandt is mistaken in his placement of all African apes in the category Hominidae and asks why, then, birds are not placed in the same taxonomic category as the reptiles from which they were formed during the Jurassic period. C. Owen Lovejoy also has the same major criticism as Blumenberg and Todd. He advises that geography alone probably could not have caused the kind of speciation Kortlandt describes. Lovejoy advocates a research focus on the habitats rather than on specific isolating barriers.
Kortlandt responds to Blumenberg, Todd, and Lovejoy by asserting that natural barriers and rift barriers, especially, are more effective in sustaining floral and faunal speciation than they and many others assume. He cites the differences that exist in the butterflies on wither side of the Eastern Rift in the Nairobi area. Although they can fly or be blown over the barrier easily, the separation in nonetheless maintained. He responds specifically to Lovejoy by stating that present day chimpanzee speciation barriers tend to consist of river systems and not of vegetation (habitat). To Iwamoto, Kortlandt simply states that his lumping of the African apes into Hominidae is due to his confidence that the Orangutan diverged from the ape lineage before man and the other African apes and points out that although this idea is gaining acceptance, scientists still classify Orangutans in the order Pongidae with all other African apes.
JARED OLESEN Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Schlesier, Karl H. Action Anthropology and the Southern Cheyenne. Current Anthropology September,1974 Vol.15(3):277-283.
Schlesier argues that conservative forms of anthropology study societies but do not concern themselves with trying to assist these societies in their own struggles. Action anthropology, however, stands out from all the other disciplines because the anthropologist takes a more active role in the host society. In action anthropology, the anthropologist becomes a “nondirective” counselor for the community. The focus is to help make changes in that society in order to improve peoples’ lives. In order to do this the anthropologist must be totally committed to the goals of the host population by putting them first above all other things. Members of the society, not the anthropologist, make all the decisions regarding what would best benefit their community. The anthropologist’s role is to initiate and support these efforts. Although many people have been skeptical of action anthropology, Schlesier argues that it works. His provides his work among the Southern Cheyenne as evidence of his ideas regarding the promise of action anthropology.
When Schlesier began anthropological work among the Southern Cheyenne, he found them in horrible conditions and immediately made helping them his main priority. He saw that exploitation and discrimination were tearing their small society apart. Many of the Cheyenne were turning to violence, alcohol, and suicide as a way to escape these conditions. Schlesier learned more about their community and was able to gain respect and trust from the Cheyenne religious leaders. His goal was to help the Cheyenne achieve a better way of life since they had been oppressed for the last several hundred years. They still were able to hold onto their culture because they refused to assimilate into the society around them, but for this they paid the price of poverty.
In order to help the Cheyenne, Schlesier attempted to find financial support but was unsuccessful. Determined to move forward with counseling the Cheyenne, Schlesier and Cheyenne leaders discussed the idea of reorganizing Cheyenne society and founded a nonprofit organization, the Southern Cheyenne Research and Human Development Association. This was a big step for their community because they had always been excluded from government organizations. The new organization gave them the opportunity to step forward and voice their opinions to government agencies involved in the decision making of tribal affairs. The organization had been structured entirely by the Cheyenne people, which is why Schlesier thought his quest was successful. This accomplishment did not change all the problems in the Cheyenne community but it gave them a sense of power because they were able to exert their inherent rights. The NGO served as the motor for reorganization in Cheyenne society. Finally Schlesier discusses the problems that action anthropologists face because they are studying anthropology in an unconventional way. Although some doubt this discipline will succeed, Schlesier shows all the positive aspects of taking in this new form of anthropology.
The commentators agree with Schlesier’s evaluation of Cheyenne’s cultural history and mission to help them out of the horrible conditions the Cheyenne were living in. They disagree with Schlesier’s method of research, action anthropology. Many still doubt the uniqueness of his ideas and claim that his course of action would have been much different if he was able to receive the funding he proposed. Also, some commentators felt that Schlesier took his loyalties to the Cheyenne too far. Schlesier thought that the in order for the anthropologist to be successful in the host population they must completely commit themselves to that population. This meant that the anthropologist would have to abandon all of his own principles to take up the discipline of action anthropology. The commentators agreed that it was important to become part of the Cheyenne’s life in order to have effective communication and interaction, but Schlesier could do so without giving up all his personal beliefs.
Schlesier addressed the disputes between the method and origin of action anthropology. He stuck by his original view that action anthropology is very demanding task that requires total commitment by the anthropologist in order to be successful. Schlesier also maintained that the Cheyenne were the ones who had created new policies for their society because they were the only ones who knew what changes needed to be made. He took the role of counselor in the Cheyenne society, but his main objective was to learn about their society in order to provide the most effective help in guiding the people to these changes.
ANNE MALONEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).
Schneider, H.K. Economic Development and Economic Change: The Case Of East African Cattle Herders. Current Anthropology September, 1976. Vol. 15(3):259-276.
The author attempts to answer the much-debated question of whether or not East African pastoralists are resistant to change. After extensive research, Schneider concludes that the East African pastoralists are not resistant to change, as previously thought; rather, they are subject to change and development in their own way. Schneider argues that unfortunately anthropology has been using standard Western economics to examine the rate of change and development in Africa. Anthropologists must look at the functions of economic activity instead of its forms in order to perform an unbiased cross-cultural study. An example is Goodfellow’s assertion that money did not exist in Africa. However, when one looks at function, it is easy to see that money, if defined as anything that has value and can be exchanged, does indeed exist in Africa. In using this cross-cultural analysis, Schneider asserts that the economic development taking place among indigenous peoples is mostly due to acculturation. Schneider says that most of the pastoral and savanna areas are now used for crops, such as millet and sorghum, that were brought over from the Middle East. Also, the livestock of these pastoral people is mainly Middle Eastern – cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys. This diffusion led to population increases and a greater amount of goods consumption. There is also a great deal of entrepreneurship taking place in the African economy. Some people are now stockpiling grain in case of drought – not to feed their own livestock, but to sell it to other people when the price of grain will be at its peak. In other areas, people are now extending their cattle trade to external beef markets.
Though the article is mostly focused on the change and development of African economies, Schneider also briefly talks about kinship and gender roles. Economic wealth can be used to explain why some groups have matrilineages. Matrilineages usually arose when most societies were practicing agriculture. Though the land was under male control, women were still seen as an asset because of the fact that they were the primary labor force in food production, and they could also produce children which were a form of wealth. However, with pastoral groups the women had a reduced role. The amount of control a husband had over his wife was determined by her bride-price – the more livestock paid for her, the more control her husband had over her.
For the most part, commentators agreed with Schneider’s use of a cross-cultural analytical scheme, and the emphasis on function in lieu of form, to answer the question of whether or not East African cattle herders are resistant to change. However, Vansina claimed that Schneider really was not presenting anything new in his article. Greenwood criticized Schneider’s use of a monocausal approach to explain human behavior. Hosley questions Schneider’s use of the intrusion of Western goods in distinguishing between development and change in African indigenous people.
Schneider replies to most of the criticisms. He contested Vansina’s claim by saying that his use of economic cycling was a completely new concept that no one had previously used. Schneider also argues against Greenwood, saying that he has used both cultural and ecological parameters in his explanations. Lastly, Schneider disputes Hosley’s question by asserting that there is development and change with the introduction of external goods because the indigenous people incorporating those new goods must adjust to them, or on the other hand they lose their identity and become more like the external economy. Either way, some sort of change or development takes place.
VALERIE DAMASKY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Sharer, Robert J. The Prehistory of Southeastern Maya Periphery. Current Anthropology June, 1974 Vol.15(2):165-187.
Through inductive (or hypothesis-formulating) and deductive (or hypothesis-testing) approaches to archaeological inquiry, Robert J. Sharer tests a variety of hypotheses dealing with cultural processes in the southeastern highlands of El Salvador. Using available data, the primary objectives of his Chalchuapa Archaeological Project were to establish a basic cultural chronology for occupation at the site, define the nature and sources of external influences on the cultural development, and understand the processes in the Maya peripheral region. Sharer’s archaeological research used a balanced excavation program conducted at several sites within a variety of contexts, including ceremonial structures, domestic structures, and stratified debris which provide a basis for a continuous cultural sequence in the Chalchuapa Valley.
Sharer’s basic argument centers around the fact that prior to the Chalchuapa Archaeological Project, the southeastern highlands of El Salvador have never been subjected to the systematic problem-oriented archaeological investigation necessary to the discover the actual nature of the region in pre-Columbian times. Based on previous archaeological investigations in the region by Alfred V. Kidder and William R. Coe, Sharer formulates a number of hypotheses for dealing with cultural processes in the southeastern Maya periphery and in peripheral areas in general. Sharer uses ethnographic and linguistic data in addition to the archaeological record presented in this article to construct a model. Through his analysis he explains that at Chalchuapa, an admixture of cultural traditions and the ceramic artifacts and architectural assemblages reveal regional and ethnic diversity. Sharer believes through his hypothesis testing and additional field research should provide for a further understanding of Maya prehistory and archaeological studies of southeastern Maya periphery.
The majority of the commentators praised Sharer’s archaeological, ethnohistorical and linguistic analysis of the prehistory of the Chalchuapa Valley. Overall Sharer received favorable reviews from archaeologists for his contribution to further the understanding of the early Mayan periphery in the region. The diversity of reviewers come from those who work within the cultural, historic, archaeological and linguistic fields, which provide a broad range of perspectives in accordance to the data provided in the article. Criticisms arise from terminology used, but most of this is due to the fact archaeologists have to better clarify the use of particular terms when describing their arguments and evidence, and cross-reference their inferences to better strengthen claims.
Sharer systematically responds to each of the commentators, and most of the criticism in order to clarify some confusion in the article. Through specific references to the Chalchuapa Valley and the Mayan and Olmec pre-Colombian cultures, Sharer explains his particular cross references in order to clarify misconceptions. The reply is helpful in understanding the need for clarification and further hypothesis testing and archaeological fieldwork in the Chalchuapa Valley in order to better understand the chronology of the cultures in pre-Colombian times. The reply is rather lengthy and specific, providing for further explanation and definition of archaeological goals in general.
ANTHONY M. BELZ Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Todd, Neil B. & Blumenberg, Bennett. On the Adaptive Radiation of Hominids. Current Anthropology December, 1974 Vol.15(4):383-385.
The authors argue that Ramapithecus, a Miocene primate, is ancestral to all later hominids. They provide a theory of the disappearance of this ancestral primate and the subsequent reappearance of several other lines of hominids. Their theory rests on the adaptation of these early primates to different ecological conditions. The authors begin with a list of Ramapithecus fossil finds dating from 18 million years ago to about 10 million years ago. The next fossil discovery they mention is Australopithecus africanus dating to about 5.5 million years ago.
They explain this gap in the fossil record with a number of environmental and social pressures that were exerted upon the earliest hominids. Receding forests and associated climatological pressures may have motivated early hominids to migrate to more hospitable areas across Africa and Asia. The authors assume that this early primate would have sufficient migratory ability to accomplish this, the primate was adapted to a terrestrial foraging habit, and that the group size of this species was small enough to be able to effectively migrate and adapt to changing conditions. This migration would have expanded the population of early proto-hominids into discontinuous, isolated pockets.
The authors assume that the early proto-hominids would have had the ability to use language. The authors assert that this isolation would have caused cultural changes between different populations. Their theory rests on the importance of language as a cultural isolating mechanism. Eventually this cultural isolation led to genetic isolation, and intensified the pressure to inbreed. This genetic isolation would have led to the diversification of the hominid line through the mechanism of genetic drift, which eventually led to the speciation of the hominid line.
The commentators mainly criticize the authors for being too speculative and many reject the authors’ assertion that Ramapithecus is an ancestor to hominids. They also criticize the authors for their assertion that Ramapithecus was even a hominid. They say that the fossil record for Ramapithecus is incomplete and does not support the ancestor theory. Most commentators assert that Todd and Blumenberg have not provided enough concrete evidence to support their argument or to alter the current phylogeny of the hominid line.
The authors assert that their argument is based on fossil evidence at the time and that future evidence may negate their argument. They continue with a discussion regarding the acquisition of language by Ramapithecus and maintain that the probability that Ramapithecus had language is high. They then go on to assert the importance of genetic drift in early hominid evolution, especially as related to the diversification and descent from Ramapithecus. They defend their argument based on the fossil record in East and South Africa.
LAUREL MCNEILLEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Tuttle, Russell. Darwin’s Apes, Dental Apes, and the Descent of Man: Normal Science in Evolutionary Anthropology. Current Anthropology December, 1974 Vol.15(4):389-426.
The author argues that humans evolved from a brachiating, bipedal ancestor, which resembled the modern gibbon, more than the chimpanzee or gorilla. Tuttle provides a lengthy discussion of past and present models of human evolution and examines physical evidence, including the findings of comparative anatomy. Tuttle emphasizes the importance of the arboreal habitat in producing the first humans.
Tuttle reviews several different models of human evolution including those of: Darwin, Keith-Gregory, Morton, Washburn, and the ground-ape model. Darwin’s model is simply the realization that apes and humans had a common ancestor, who probably lived in Africa. The Keith-Gregory model said that humans had evolved from a brachiating “giant primate” ancestor. Morton’s model said that humans had evolved from brachiating, bipedal ancestors that resembled gibbons. Washburn’s model said that humans had evolved from a knuckle-walker instead of a brachiator. The ground-ape model said that humans had evolved from a terrestrial quadruped, which never spent any time in the trees. All of these models rely on different anatomical adaptations and comparative anatomy.
Tuttle reexamines a great deal of morphological evidence in his critiques of the various models. He specifically looks at hand and arm anatomy to establish patterns of locomotion. He includes many pictures comparing different physical features of apes and humans and ultimately agrees with Morton’s model, but he makes a plea for continued research into the question of human evolution. He discounts all of the other models, especially the ground-ape model. He emphasizes the importance of a multi-disciplinary scientific approach in evolutionary anthropology to address this question.
The commentators credit Tuttle for the proficient presentation of his argument. Most of the criticisms attend to Tuttle’s acceptance of Morton’s model of hominid evolution. One commentator points out that Tuttle ignores a fair amount of fossil evidence in his argument, including the greater resemblance of humans to the genus Pan. A couple of commentators also criticize Tuttle for exclusion of a real discussion of the dental apes which he hardly mentions despite the promise of his title. For the most part, Tuttle’s argument was accepted with reservations.
Tuttle asserts that his acceptance of Morton’s model does not propose a close link between gibbons and humans. He says that the ancestor to humans most likely resembled a gibbon in size and brachiating structure. Tuttle also reveals that he left out a discussion of the fossil Dryopithecus, as an ancestor to humans, because it is too incomplete to compare to other hominoids. He asserts that further study of this fossil is needed to clarify his evolutionary model.
LAUREL MCNEILLEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
Utley, Francis Lee. The Migration of Folktales: Four Channels to the Americas. Current Anthropology March, 1974. Vol. 15(1): 5-27.
The author argues that there should be a central archival collection in order to make the process of studying folklore migration easier and more concise. The author focuses on the four broad channels of folklore migration and for this he proposes a new stratification in the study of folklore migration. He also expresses the need to focus on the difference between a vague diffusion and a historically documented migration of the tales and their carriers. The content of the paper centers on the four routes through which culture, including folklore, has traveled or might have traveled to the New World: from Northeast Asia across the Bering Strait, from Southeast Asia across the Pacific islands, from Europe across the North Atlantic, and from Africa across the South Atlantic. He combines cultural and anthropological theory, along with a cross-cultural examination of present known folklore traditions across the globe, in order to determine the origins of certain folklore traditions in the Americas.
The first route the author examines pertains to the Bering Strait migration theory which was inspired in part by similar physical appearances of the Mongols and the American Indians. From a physical anthropological perspective, it appears that the two groups are related. If this is the case, the author concludes that it is probable that their folklore derived from the same source and should, therefore, have some similarity or common theme. The research for this is still in progress. Secondly, he researches the influence of India, China, Micronesia, and Polynesia on American folk tales. Cultural borrowing in these areas could include the use of South American swastikas, which are thought to come either from Buddhist missionaries from China or Egypt. There is also believed to be a link between Australian, Polynesian, and South American shamanistic initiations. From these cultural mixings, the author suggests that folklore was also shared. The third migration theory easily suggests that many folklore tales come from Europe and are incorporated into the modern day Americas due to the heavy European migration to both North and South America. Folklore from many European countries became translated and modified into our modern fairy tales and fables. The tortoise and hare tale is one, for example. The fourth channel has the most vivid accounts of cultural mixing, due to the slave trade in South America. The Africans took with them a rich heritage of folklore and oral tradition and were forced to assimilate into Catholic societies in Brazil, Cuba, and Haiti. The result was voodoo. This channel is simpler to trace because we know the history of how these two cultures were combined. The points of this article are to suggest that culture mixing was an additive in process in folklore flow to the Western Hemisphere.
Overall, the responses to the article were positive, though many commentators provided critical and helpful feedback. All acknowledged that his suggestion of an archival collection of folklore in the Americas would be extremely helpful for research in folk studies as a place where research findings could be consolidated. On a critical note, his colleagues felt that the author attempted to cover too much in one paper. They suggested that he should have narrowed his focus to one channel of folklore migration rather than all four channels.
The author was satisfied with the responses and was grateful for the constructive criticism. He was pleased that everyone had understood the four major points. In response to the criticism that that had too many subjects, he argues that it was not the point of his article. He wanted to create a stepping stone for future research, not attempt to reveal all the answers and implications in one article. He saw it as more of a general overview. He agreed that there was no way to cover all of the options in one short piece.
KATIE HALE Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa)
White, Robert A. Value Themes of the Native American Tribalistic Movement Among the South Dakota Sioux. Current Anthropology September,1974 Vol.15(3):284-303.
The article focuses on the tribalistic movement among the Sioux and its efforts to halt the assimilation of the Sioux into Anglo American society. In order to preserve Native American beliefs and values, White discusses the development of the tribalistic movement. He first talks about the background of the movement and how it came to be developed. It was considered a radical and militant movement because the Native Americans wanted to be able to take complete control over their lands and laws. This national movement would outline the main goals and value themes that the Sioux hoped to accomplish in their own culture. The focus was that the Sioux did not want the “white man” to handle their community. Instead they wanted to maintain their own tribal culture while still living within Anglo American society. Only the Native Americans could improve their lives so they needed to exert power over Anglo Americans in order to change their way of life. White is very optimistic that by using the ideas in this movement as a model, it would help improve the Native Americans way of life.
The majority of the article discusses the value themes that the movement outlined. Value themes showed what the Native Americans needed to do in order to take back their society and build a new modern society that would embody Native American ideals. The leaders of this movement consisted of a younger generation of Sioux males. They did not want to go back into history and relive their ancient cultural traditions. Instead they wanted to make a new society that fit the Native American values of today.
The first value theme was the rejection of assimilation. The Sioux hoped to break away from the grasp that the Anglo Americans had on them. This went hand in hand with the goal of developing a contemporary tribal culture. The Sioux wanted to find a new way of teaching students about Native American culture instead of allowing the Anglo Americans to force U.S. history on them.
The young Sioux leaders believed that in order for the Sioux to take back their culture they needed to have some form of a declaration of independence. Even more important was that the Sioux community needed a fellow Native American living in their society who could make decisions on how to solve problems among the Sioux. An outsider did not know the needs of the community and was very ineffective in helping them. This meant that the Native Americans needed to gain greater local control. White’s interpretation of the movement did not suggest that the Anglo American government be completely terminated, because their would be times when financial help would be of need, but they did not want them to dominate the Sioux community.
Finally the movement suggested the encouragement of economic independence, greater solidarity among the Sioux, and a revitalization of religious spirit. All these values were fundamental to the Sioux regaining control of their community. In order for the Sioux to build a new community it was important that they maintain a good relationship with the Anglo American society and federal government so that they would be more willing to accept the Native Americans new way of life.
Commentators who read Robert White’s article questioned some of his data. They said White never went into much detail on how he was involved in the Sioux society and how he came up with all the ideas presented in the article. The commentators questioned the extent of the tribalistic movement among the Native Americans. There was also an overall sense among the commentators that White was too optimistic in the evaluation of the tribalistic movement. White thought that longstanding rivalries between “mixed-blood” and “”full-blooded” Indians were close to being resolved through this movement, but many commentators did not share this positive outlook on things.
White’s reply consisted of a rather lengthy explanation of his work in the Pine Ridge Sioux communities. He explained that he had worked with a group of young, well-educated Sioux leaders that shared the beliefs represented in the tribalistic movement. From his discussions with these men came the American Indian Leadership Council (AILC), which promoted certain kinds of institutional change that was found in White’s article, particularly on the discussion of value themes. White also clarified why the strongest support of this movement came from the younger age group. He said that they were the ones who wanted change the most because they were living with the discrimination from the Anglo Americans on a daily basis, especially in schools. Therefore, they had the greatest need for change as opposed to the older generations living on the reservation who were not faced with as much rejection.
ANNE MALONEY Illinois State University (Gina Hunter de Bessa).