Current Anthropology 1981
Adams, Richard N. Natural Selection, Energetics, and “Cultural Materialism”. Current Anthropology, 1981 Vol.22(6):603-624.
In this article, Adams critiques Marvin Harris’s theory of cultural materialism as the mechanism of cultural evolution and offers his own ideas about natural selection and energetics. The article is organized into three areas. First, the flaws of Harris’s cultural materialism are outlined by discussing the organization of sociocultural events into the categories of “infrastructure”, “structure” and “superstructure”. Secondly, Adams gives an alternative theory by stating that natural selection is the key to understanding cultural phenomena and change. Evolution with is initial variations that have been selected by humans explains why certain cultural behaviors have become fixed and other not. Thirdly, the laws of energy and energetics are discussed as an origin of culture. According to Adams, energy transformation illustrates the most basic and innate linkages between cultural environment and the surrounding environment. To make his point that natural selection favors behaviors imbedded in energy flows, he references the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Lotka’s principle and Prigogine’s far-from-equilibrium theory. Natural selection and energetics are more workable and accurate for Adams to describe cultural evolution that Harris’s “structure” categories.
COMMENTS: Peer comments center on the fact that Adams deconstructs Harris’s ideas more than he construct his own. Wiel sums up the general complaint about this article, “Adams criticizes logical and operational aspects of the research procedures formulated by Harris,…but he does not offer equivalent counterproposals for comparative evaluations.” Ehrenreich furthers the general sentiment of the peer reviewers by saying Adams not only “attacks” Harris’ ideas, it also does not offer an alternative.
REPLY: The author replies, “My critics and I simply do not understand each other” and that “through repeated efforts to explain, better understanding may eventually emerge”. Adams admits that “I was better at destroying than at constructing”, but he also states that was not what he intended. In the reply, Adams reiterates that his stance on natural selection and cultural materialism in the cultural sphere, since he felt that many of the commentators misunderstood his interpretations of these two paradigms. He states that they are not models that should be followed exactly, but rather serve as guidelines or inspiration for development of new ideas about cultural evolution.
CELIA RUPP University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Cohen, Ronald. Evolutionary Epistemology and Human Values. Current Anthropology. June, 1981 Vol.22 (3): 201-218.
Among anthropology and its sister social sciences, biological evolution as proposed by Darwin, and contributed to by later scientific research, is commonly accepted as the mode by which species develop and biological diversity is perpetuated. There is some debate, however, whether or not evolution as a theory can be profitably applied to the social sciences, anthropology in particular. In this article, Cohen explores the logic behind evolutionary theory and its application to sociocultural materials. He seeks to prove that not only is it applicable, but it fulfills a needed “third position,” which lies between “value-free” and value-based science.
The first part of the article defines the taxonomy of evolutionary theory as applied to biological evolution, and how sociocultural phenomena fit into the scheme. It also covers developmental relations, processes of change, and directionality. The latter half is devoted to discussion of the philosophical problem of social sciences being caught between a “value-free,” positivistic attitude of objectivity, and an opposing side, which believes that all scientists have inherent biases that must be taken into account. His logic leads him to realize that the appropriate route is to apply evolutionary theory to human affairs, and concludes that this route will lead to conservatism. One aspect of conservatism in biological evolution is to protect biological diversity; conservatism in cultural evolution will likewise aid in protecting cultural diversity. He asserts that evolutionary theory will present the social sciences with a platform for understanding the past while providing a framework to guide our future.
COMMENTS: Though his colleagues by and large recognize the need for a discussion of the applicability of evolutionary theory to the social sciences, in their caveats they remain somewhat divided. While some applaud his definitions and taxonomy, others feel too much emphasis is placed on them at the expense of dynamics, and undue attention is paid to adaptation. Those who disagree with his definitions base their assertions on alternative sources or their own interpretations of evolutionary theory. In short, those who lean in his theoretical direction continue thus, and those who disagree remain unconvinced.
REPLY: Cohen’s reply centers on recurrent themes in his colleague’s critiques, conceding points, and clarifying his argument. His reply places particular emphasis on the contrasts between the notion “progressive” and “conservative” as applied to social theory. “Progressive” is a value judgment on past changes with a hope to change for the better. “Conservative” policy within social theory dictates that change should occur after consideration of all the ramifications of our action. He feels change will inevitably occur, but it is the responsibility of the social sciences to aid in finding the “progressive” route that will satisfy the needs of our society.
ALYSSA CAYWOOD University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Ellegard, Alvar. Stone Age Science In Britain? Current Anthropology. Apr., 1981 Vol. 22 (2): 99-125.
Alexander Thom proposed that Neolithic populations in Britain possessed extensive knowledge of astronomy, standardized measurement in the form of the “megalithic yard,” and were much more advanced in the sciences than was previously assumed. Ellegard has examined these claims and simplified Thom’s technical descriptions to better understand and in the end, disprove the theory.
Ellegard first explained what can be observed of the movements of celestial bodies, particularly the sun and moon, with the naked eye. He then calculated and identified what a Neolithic individual making these observations could reasonably be expected to understand and use. He also examined the inconsistencies underlying the concept of the “megalithic yard,” and critiqued Thom’s claims in depth, supported by his observations, research, and graphic analysis.
Neolithic populations in Britain certainly made extensive, persistent, and accurate observations of the sun and moon. However, they were in no way “calculators” building these ancient monuments with intimate mathematical knowledge of the movements of celestial bodies. Rather than a standardized unit of length, the “megalithic yard” is simple pacing done by those who built the monuments. There is no evidence to suggest that the Neolithic peoples of Britain had the mathematical routines–or the literate society to record this knowledge for following generations–that would be necessary for science.
COMMENTS: Comments almost universally took exception to his definition of science as “numerate and quantified knowledge.” This was felt to be a narrow definition that excluded the works of many early cultures as well as that of disciplines such as anthropology. In addition, many disputed his assertion that literacy -a writing system-is the only way complicated scientific knowledge can be passed from one generation to the next. Nevertheless, they almost all approved of his handling of Thom’s data and his demonstration of its strengths and weaknesses.
REPLY: Ellegard gave a lengthy response. First, he conceded the ambiguity of his definition of science, stating that literacy is vital to a highly quantified science, and there is no good evidence for this high degree in Neolithic Britain. Secondly, he addressed the more individual critiques of his paper, largely clarifying his position rather than conceding the disputed points.
ALYSSA CAYWOOD University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Fox, John W. The Late Postclassic Eastern Frontier of Mesoamerica: Cultural Innovation along the Periphery. Current Anthropology August, 1981 Vol.22(4): 321- 346.
In this article Fox hypothesizes that a frontier cultural pattern had emerged in Late Postclassic southeastern Mesoamerica where the expansionist tribes of the Quiche and Cakchiquel encountered the tribes of Honduras and El Salvador. Fox begins by explaining the frontier model and then the cultural pattern, geographical subdivisions, social organization, and homogenization associated with this model.
The Quiche and Cakchiquel were two militaristic Mayan tribes who resided in the highlands of southeastern Mesoamerica. They formed vast states by together conquering other tribes and expanding their territory to the east. While the newly conquered tribes began to adopt Quiche and Cakchiquel traditions, a zone of transition emerged, which Fox labels the frontier.
Archaeology provides many of the clues we have today about the cultural patterns of the frontier region. Fox sites examples of ceramic and architectural patterns that are very distinctive to this region. He also confirms the expectations laid out by Lattimore in a previous publication, Studies in Frontier History. Lattimore believed that the greatest difference between two cultures is to be found at the geographic heart of each. The ceramic and architectural examples Fox sites follow this pattern although he states that the cultural flow was overwhelmingly west to east.
Social organization in the frontier was based on proximity to the conquest states. He believed that frontier sites would respond to Quiche and Cakchiquel militaristic expansion and tend to organize in particular social and settlement patterns. First, he proposed that sites closer to the conquest state will become more centralized. Second, the sites closer to the conquest state will tend to be larger because people generally group together in threatening situations. Next, the closer sites will be on higher hills and slopes for better defensibility. Finally, the sites closer to the Quiche and Cakchiquel states will have more Mexican-like traits. Fox also believed that the constant variable of Quiche and Cakchiquel expansionism led to some of the homogenization seen in the frontier area.
COMMENTS: Overall, the comments made by Fox’s peers were positive and complimentary. He was praised for his ambitious attempt to combine historic and archaeological information. A few even pointed out how his theory could be applied to other cultures in Mesoamerica. While most of the comments were complimentary, a couple of people did seek some clarification and had some critiques of Fox’s use of theories.
REPLY: Fox was very congenial in his responses. He addressed each of his colleagues’ questions. One specific example was his explanation for the appearance of two temples. One of his peers thought that this phenomenon could have been explained by other factors. He agreed that this could have been the case, but his data did support his theory. He was able to go more in depth into areas where more clarification was needed, and seemed appreciative of the compliments as well as the constructive criticism.
AMY GRANMO University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Freed, Stanley A. and Ruth S. Sacred Cows and Water Buffalo in India: The Uses of Ethnography. Current Anthropology October, 1981 Vol.22(5):483-502.
The Freeds’s ethnography show that Hindu religious beliefs are the reason for the very large zebu cow population. From a technoenvironmentalists perspective, zebu cows are useful and technology and environmental variables make a large population of zebu cows economically beneficial to the Hindu population. In contrast those who believe that religious factors play a part argue that animals and humans are battling for resources and it would be economically beneficial to decrease the zebu cow population.
The Freeds’s use holistic ethnographic to compare their village to other villages on a larger scale. Their study examined the number of cattle in the village, the number of bullocks and their labor value, and the number of cows. The Freeds‘s findings lead them to believe that there is a religious explanation for the large number of zebu cow’s.
To test the technoenvironmental and religion hypothesis, the authors first compare the ratio of males and females in the zebu cow population for Hindu and Muslim people living in similar environmental conditions. If the Hindus have more female zebu cows than the Muslim’s, then religious beliefs would be the explanations for having more female cows than necessary. They also measured the reproduction rate of bullocks, which are economically useful. If there are more cows than the bullocks ratio, religion would be a factor in explaining the size of the zebu cow population.
The Freeds’s argue that when studying social phenomena, one can not forget human behavior that is driven by emotion and attitude. The Freeds’s criticize anthropology for its narrow prospective on issues and suggest that a holistic ethnography is needed to obtain reliable data.
COMMENTS: While there are those that applaud the Freed’s use of the ethnographic approach, questions still remain. One deals with the willingness of villagers to sell their cows without concern for the animals fate and whether some villagers value cows economically while others value them religiously. Other comment suggests that the Freed’s research is flawed and unreliable, leaving questions unanswered.
REPLY: The authors acknowledge suggestions and agree that further research should be done on the issue that includes historical and evolutionary variables as well as micro and macro links. In one case they clarify quotes that were used in their paper and insist that the holistic approach should be incorporated into other research.
LYNDSEY LOCKHART University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Galdikas, Birute M. F. and Geza Teleki. Variations in Subsistence Activities of Female and Male Pongids: New Perspectives on the Origins of Hominid Labor Division. Current Anthropology, June 1981 Vol. 22(3): 241-256.
In their paper, Galdikas and Teleki examine the origins of sexually based divisions of labor in hominids by analyzing the behavior of present-day pongids. Their study focused on comparing statistical and observational data from two pongid communities, orangutans from the Tanjung Putting Reserve of Borneo and chimpanzees from the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. They concluded that the emergence of sexually based labor divisions did not occur with the appearance of early carnivorous hominids, but was a derivative of a more general primate adaptation for an omnivorous “collector-predator” or “hunter-gatherer” subsistence style. The authors used quantitative data, including the amount of time spent gathering food by sex and species, daily time budgeting for all activities, the distance traveled during the day, and food types gathered per day according to sex. While the authors may have intended to be as thorough as possible when laying the groundwork for their argument, the amount and variety of information provided tends to distract the reader from the author’s main point, while leaving the reader longing for a clear indication of the validity of their conclusion. In their final paragraph, the authors seemed to sense this need, as they called on their audience to expand on the available research in the area; they direct primatologists to “tease” out pertinent data about labor division in apes, and social scientists to replace ideas of human uniqueness with models of evolutionary continuity.
COMMENTS: While no critiques completely repudiated the authors’ observations that some forms of early labor division could be seen within the behavior of the subject apes, most had issues with other points within the paper. These included the observation that there was not yet enough information to firmly substantiate the claims, the criticism that the authors had engaged in behavioral “lumping” without proper consideration of the significance of the “exceptions” to their generalizations, a lack of clarification concerning the logic behind their main conclusion, the failure of the paper to look at why the division of labor took so strong a role in hominid culture, and the potential inaccuracies of generalizations about the behavior of two subject populations within species whose behaviors vary widely across communities of the same species.
REPLY: The author’s reply had not arrived by press time and was to appear in the Newsletter.
AMY ROSE SPAMPINATO University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Gilman, Antonio. The Development of Social Stratification in Bronze Age Europe. Current Anthropology February, 1981 Vol.22(1): 1-23
To deal explain how social stratification started in Europe, Antonio Gilman offers his own ideas to shed some new light on old evidence. Gilman also questions whether anthropologists are using the scant evidence we have correctly. In dealing with the question of how to interpret Bronze Age evidence, Gilman opposes traditional functionalist theories which he summarizes as the belief that large trade networks and resource distribution led to the establishment of a permanent ruling class. Gilman combines several theories about how stratification began, including the development of irrigation or the trading of luxury goods, which requires some sort of hierarchy for the sake of directing labor. Moving away from this school of thought, Gilman tries to focus on a non-functionalist view on stratification development. While still using the advent of irrigation and trade networks as his primary evidence, the author believes that people stayed in the same area after they had invested time preparing their surroundings for intensive harvesting of available food. According to the author, people who have spent countless hours clearing land to create a field for intensive agriculture are likely to stay despite poor leadership because their investment of time is so valuable. This is what the author refers to as “capital-intensive subsistence technology” and he uses the creation of irrigation systems in the arid parts of Europe around the Mediterranean and the time intensive job of growing grapes and olives in the Mediterranean, creating large boats and nets for fishing in coastal areas, and clearing land inland for plow intensive agriculture as illustrations. The author believes that “protectors” established their power over an increasingly capital intensive people, and that an increase in the Bronze Age trade of luxury items and development of metallurgy should be viewed as indicators of a stratified society and not as the only reasons for the rise of European stratification.
COMMENTS: Nine pages of the article are devoted to the comments and criticisms of the author’s peers. The most common charge leveled against the author is the belief that his speculations are too risky given the scant amount of information then available so for the Bronze Age. Some felt that Gilman was creating too universal a theory, while one argued that the author had ignored the role precious metals had played in Bronze Age social development.
REPLY: In his defense, Gilman replies that while some of his evidence is shaky, it is too easy to for people to criticize archaeological conclusions and that anthropologists become mired in various theories and not willing to think outside their traditional schools of thought.
NELSON KLITZKA University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Graulich, Michel. The Metaphor of the Day in Ancient Mexican Myth and Ritual. Current Anthropology June, 1981 Vol.22(1): 45-60.
Michel Graulich correlated Mesoamerican origin myths and the rites of the 18 twenty-day “months” that make up the solar year in Mesoamerica and to explain the links between “the day”, origin myths and ceremonies.
Graulich stated that “the day” consisted of night, morning and afternoon and that this is a dualistic system of light and darkness, sun-(earth), fire-water, and masculine-feminine. Each part of the day correlated with the different worlds in Aztec myth. Night was consistent with Mictlan, the Place of the Dead, morning associated with the House of the Sun, and the afternoon linked with Tlalocan, the paradise of Tlaloc, the god of earth and rain.
According to Graulich, who uses various references from books, articles, codices, and his dissertation and publications, the origin myths among several different indigenous tribes like the Quiche Maya, Toltecs and Aztec Mexicas were similar. Graulich uses diagrams to depict how each part of the day correlated with the origin myths. All in all, the creation myth begins with some type of forbidden transgression or “sin” between higher beings that resided in a heavenly plane where all were equal and there is no death. The transgression has an underlying hint of sexuality which results in the expulsion of these beings from their heavenly plane to earth and the products of their transgression populate the earth with people, plants, animals, etc.
Graulich also uses a diagram to show how the 18 twenty-day “months” of the solar year corresponded with the origin myths and to the three parts of “the day” along with different festivals and ceremonies. He stated that each season is associated with a part of the day and how they coincide with the “months” of the solar year. He also stated that ancient Mesoamericans would participate in festivals and ceremonies celebrating each “month” of the solar year.
COMMENTS: Several of the author’s colleagues agreed with him and commended him for taking a structured approach to his findings and stated that he has opened up avenues for further research. Others disagreed with him especially for his lack of modern references and of several codices that should have been considered pertinent to his research.
REPLY: In his defense, the author stated he wanted to be concise and to give priority to the sources. He also stated that the sources he used were essential to the argument and that nothing was left out of his research.
IZTLATZIGUATH R. CASTANO University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Johnson, Steven C. Bonobos: Generalized Hominid Prototypes or Specialized Insular Dwarfs? Current Anthropology August, 1981 Vol.22(4):363-375.
The Bonobo, or Pan paniscus, has been portrayed as the closest living hominoid relative to the hominid family. Steven C. Johnson, an educator and expert in mammalian paleontology, suggests that bonobos are specialized chimps with a unique ecological niche, rather than the closest relatives to Homo sapiens. Johnson investigates several aspects of bonobo morphology and personality, and claims that bonobos are more suited to quadrupedal locomotion than bipedal movement. Bonobos have little sexual dimorphism and have smaller, almost dwarf-like, features of chimpanzees, such as teeth. Through the many examples Johnson explores, bonobos are shown to be a product of their insular environment instead of being similar to ancient hominid morphology.
Overall, the paper is very thorough and thought provoking and the combination of the information presented by the author and the reviewers gives a very detailed overview of what was known and presumed about hominoids at the time of publication. The article, however, uses very scientific phrasing which can be quite confusing for a beginning anthropologist.
COMMENTS: The comments range from complete acceptance of Johnson’s claims, to complete contempt. Many agree that using bonobos as a base for studying hominids is not valid and explore their own reasoning behind this belief, including the unique bonobo vegetation zone. Johnson’s critics advise that his conclusions are not reflected in his data and include a misinterpretation of dwarfism, of the bonobo ecological niche, and of bonobo personality. Other critics point out the parallels between bonobos, humans, and other hominoids. Still other critics simply suggest that the bonobo is the best living hominoid through which to study extinct hominids.
REPLY: Johnson replies to his critics by addressing their contentions, but also by reaffirming his statements. Johnson reviews his arguments about bonobo behavior and physiology, as well as the bonobo ecological niche. Finally, he states some discrepancies he finds in his critics’ work.
BRIAN BLUHM University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Kehoe, Alice. Revisionist Anthropology: Aboriginal North America. Current Anthropology October, 1981 Vol. 22(5): 503-509.
Alice Kehoe proclaims that anthropology has lagged behind other disciplines in recognizing and changing their ideological and schematic biases. Beginning with European traditions and depictions of aboriginal North America, anthropology was guided by ethnocentrism and empirical positivism and biases continue to be a part of current anthropological ideologies and conceptualizations. Kehoe calls for a recognition of anthropological biases and also a rejection of terminology and models that she recognizes as unjust.
Kehoe follows the Boasian multilinear evolutionist tradition in analyzing and rejecting the origins of these ethnocentric and empirical positivist biases and also in reexamining aboriginal North American societies. Kehoe examines the biases and ethnocentrism of both the “cant of conquest,” or the conscious doctrines and myths of European traditions, and also the deeper biases produced by the structures and frameworks of language in aboriginal studies and depictions. She points to as evidence of these over generalizing and ethnocentric traditions such as using tripartite schemata, e.g., Adam Smith’s three sectors of economic activity or the three branch system of government, and the tradition of oppositional dualism reflected in terms such as primitive/civilized, hunter-gatherer/food-producer. Although the Bosian tradition struck deeply against these entrenched traditions and conceptualizations in anthropological thought, Europeanist oppositional dualism and the over-generalized use of tripartite schemata continues to be used uncritically in many areas of anthropological thought.
Kehoe’s evidence comes from modern evolutionary and ecological traditions with an emphasis on examining culture areas, food-production and manipulation and also social structure to reveal how aboriginal North Americans adapted to regional environmental conditions and ecological niches. Kehoe classifies North America into three areas comprising two ecological zones: the food-producing tropical and temperate zones and the non- food producing north. The three areas are the continental core, whose inhabitants relied on indigenous Mexican cultigens, and whose societies were nearly all stratified; the pacific drainage, whose inhabitants also practiced active food management; and the high latitudes, where Kehoe stresses environmental factors in the adaptation of its inhabitants into non-stratified, non food-producing societies.
COMMENTS: Kehoe’s reclassification of aboriginal North American societies into a tripartite schema of continental core, pacific drainage, and high latitude ecological areas may be a useful framework in reexamining these societies, but her article loses validity by using the same classifications, simplifications, and labels such as “the Indians” that she critiques. She over-generalizes in areas such as expanding the term “food-production” to include all environmental manipulations by humans that improve the food supply in any way. Kehoe’s article reveals important problems in the study and analysis of aboriginal North America, but doesn’t effectively help much in solving them.
REPLY: Kehoe responds to the critique of her hypocritical use of classifications and culture areas by stressing that “the crux, I believe, is whether one proposes a schema without reflection upon its epistemology or carefully derives one from specified data and delimits it accordingly. concepts or frameworks may have been misused but are not therefore to be discarded with the bathwater” (Kehoe 1981: 515).
LUKE BORKENHAGEN University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Lewellen, Ted, C. Aggression and Hypoglycemia in the Andes: Another
Look at the Evidence. Current Anthropology. August, 1981 Vol.22(4):347-361
Ted C. Lewellen overall addresses 365 pages of doctoral dissertation published by a Ralf Bolton. Lewellen simply expands upon more relationships that deal with hypoglycemia in the Andes. Although more relationships may have an impact on the subject, Lewellen and Bolton agree there is a correlation between Hypoglycemia and aggression.
Lewellen is well traveled, spending over 18 years studying around the world and appears to be extremely open and non-egocentric, un-like his counter part Ralf Bolton whom wrote the article that Lewellen followed up on. Lewellen presents the possibility that aggression was effected by more than just hypoglycemia in the Andes.
Lewellen generally embraced the data provided by Bolton even though his conclusions were dramatically different. The evidence, probing through sugar levels that Bolton used was from his own experiences and ethnographies of the people he named “Qolla” who are a combination of two different cultures in the Andes with different languages. Lewellen uses all the information published by Bolton to open up the minds of future anthropologists and show them how to expand on published ethnographies and add great additions to information provided. The data used ranged from a wide variety of blood tests to measure the correlation of “hypoglycemia’ and aggressiveness. Bolton’s conclusions left no room for different nutritional explanations and the environmental factors that are shown as being dominating factors by Lewellen. Lewellen did find a correlation in Bolton’s data but also finds that glucose and environmental factors contribute to aggression.
COMMENTS: Other anthropologists believe that Lewellen should try to concentrate his studies on the United States which has its own problems with hypoglycemia. As for the grouping of the two cultures into one critics were not pleased that Lewellen did not attempt to explore both cultures separately rather than using Bolton’s research.
REPLY: Lewellen replies by saying that even though the United States does have a problem with hypoglycemia, it is not known how many “Qolla” have blood sugar deficiencies, and most of his materials came from mainstream medical journals. He also says, the reason theat he used Bolton’s information on the Qolla’s is because it was the most extensive research on the two groups.
CALVIN W. SNEED University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Mansfield, Victor N. Mandalas and Mesoamerican Pecked Circles. Current Anthropology June, 1981 Vol.22(3):269-284.
Mansfield has two main objectives in this essay; first to show that Mesoamerican pecked circles can be considered mandalas which are usually one or more circles divided in to four quadrants, and to demonstrate that mandalas are a psychological universal found in all cultures. He uses C.J. Jung’s theory of archetypes as the intellectual background to frame the premises of his work. Archetypes are universal psychic structuring patterns that manifest in all aspects of humankind through thoughts and feelings. These structures can not be directly seen but are expressed though myths, symbols, and rituals. Jung argues that mandalas are an archetype of self connection of the inner psyche of a person to the material world around them.
Mansfield goes on to show the relation of Jung’s definition of mandalas to the Hindu and Buddhist views. Unlike Jung who views mandalas psychological Hindu’s and Buddhist’s view them physiologically, believing that they aid in connecting man to the “cosmos” through meditation. The similarities of both views are made apparent since; both reference creating a mental connection with the world. Mansfield also explains how mandalas are tied in to other aspects of culture. He gives the example of the Vajrayana Buddhists of Tibet. In their culture mandalas represent the five transcendent Buddhas: Vairocana, Aksobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, and Amoghasiddhi. Each of the Buddhas represents a cardinal direction: north, south, east, west; an element: earth, wind, fire, ether, as well with the exception of Vajaryana a color. The third example he gives of mandalas is the Ogala Sioux. In Oglala Sioux culture mandalas are used in many aspects of society particularly in vision quests, where a young man will go to the top of a mountain for day and fast in order to become “one with all things”. This concept which involves use of mandalas relates to Jung’s and Vajrayana Buddhist concepts.
This is all finally joined together to show the relation of mandalas to Mesoamerican pecked circles. Mesoamerican pecked circles which are commonly found on the tops of mountains and floors of temples have been theorized to have served as celestial calendars. Suggests that one of the primary functions of pecked circles was as a mandala. He is careful not to contradict any past scholars also; he writes that it is not only possible for the circles to have served as a celestial calendars but that the physiological significance would be increased by being so because of the cultures strong spiritual connection with space and time. The argument is made that Nahua pecked circles are in fact mandalas. In Nahua culture, similar to Vajaryana Buddhist culture, the mandala represents the orientation of their gods: Ometeotl in the center and his four sons: Tlatlauhqui Tezatlipoca, Yayauhqui Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, and Omteotl each also representing an element. In addition to the connections of deities Mansfield also show the relation of the locations of the symbols. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions mandalas are often found on temple floors and in the case of the Oglala Sioux and many other Native American tribes of the southwest mandalas are found on the top of mountains. He concludes his essay by reiterating the similarities found in that of pecked circles and mandalas as well as the evidence brought forward pertaining to their widespread use.
COMMENTS: With the exception of John B. Carlson who amends Mansfield for the establishment of his arguments, no other scholar agrees with his work. Many find his theory to be too heuristic in nature, lacking scientific standing. Gabriella Eichinger Ferro-Kuzzi contests his theoretical approach, pointing out that the universal physical laws he uses apply to astronomy and do not necessarily coincided with the Jungian archetypes. Another discrepancy that many of the commentators have with his work is the over reliance of Jung’s work. Making numeral references to Jung’s “experiences” and “insight” on the field well offering no way to validate either Jung’s of the author’s findings. In addition to these criticisms Mansfield is labeled thinking too much in “the old evolutionary approach”, attempting to make cross cultural universals well using out dated material for his theoretical premise.
REPLY: Mansfield responds by writing that our society is far too materialistic and secular, so much so that we are blocked from seeing past culture with and empathetic view. He is very quick to defend Jung’s work and in turn his own by addressing specific points commentators made about his work, addressing each question answered to the commentator by name.
ANDREW H. KURTH University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Melotti, Umberto. Towards a New Theory of the Origin of the Family. Current Anthropology December, 1981 Vol.22(6):625-638.
The author, Umberto Melotti, introduces his article defining altruistic behavior as “behavior that benefits individuals other than its performer at some cost to the latter,” and how all creatures display this remarkable feature including social insects, vertebrates, non-human primates, and humans. He presents theories on the evolution of altruism and states his own hypothesis that the origin of the family, in its monogamous form, relies on interdemic selection, or group selection of populations within a species, where altruistic behavior is found.
The author discusses the altruistic advantages of monogamy, which favored the emergence of the family over promiscuity predominately through children, whom present a higher coefficient of relationship in a monogamous marriage. This gives the monogamous family advantage over a polygamous family in regards to altruistic behavior. He also believes the biological relationships between levirate and sororate marriages serve the evolution of altruism in human populations by raising the coefficient of relationship in each following generation. The incest taboo in human and non-human primates helped altruism evolve by extending family ties to wider spheres thus extending altruistic behavior beyond the original group. The largest difference between human and non-human primate groups is: the sexual division of labor found in human populations.
The author’s goal was to show that the development of altruism increased the fitness of the individual and is fixed in our genetic stock. He felt his hypotheses agreed with the historical, sociological, and anthropological analyses that point to the prevalence of the monogamous family having deep and ancient roots, a social organization with a complex network of commonalities based on division of labor, mutual dependence, and contractual ties.
COMMENTS: The majority of the commentators took a fairly empirical approach towards critiquing the author’s paper. While they all commended the author on reopening and addressing an otherwise stimulating subject such as the origin of the family, most felt the author was too accepting of sociobiology which lacks hard data and is difficult to test. Some felt the article was unclear and speculative but a step towards new research.
REPLY: Melotti stresses that his argument is an hypothesis, an idea which serves to reopen the debate on the origin of the family and altruism. He remains grateful for the criticisms and suggestions but holds to his ideas and feels that the commentators were too general in the critique of sociobiology and that he is offering it as a suggestion for study.
ALISA MARTODAM University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Nash, Dennison. Tourism as an Anthropological Subject. Current Anthropology October, 1981 Vol.22(5):461-481.
Dennison Nash’s article serves as a call for long-term study of the anthropological impacts and historical context of tourism, by viewing “the intersections of the histories of two or more cultures or subcultures”. Tourism has been practised throughout the ages by all types of societies from hunter-gatherers to industrial. Tourism in hunters and gathers as well as horticulturists often combines their plentiful leisure time with socialising and trading. Agricultural societies have more differentiated forms of tourism, as the high-rank take longer, more leisurely stays and the lower class attend fairs, pilgrimages and contests. In industrial societies, the differentiation is even more pronounced, based on the factors of education, class, gender and age. The assumption that tourism is time taken off from work to sightseeing and travelling is problematic because all types of societies participate in tourism, and tourism involves interactions between different places and peoples, creating touristic systems that reflect the larger social contexts. According to Nash, anthropology should be concerned with tourism because it is a form of cross-cultural interaction and an avenue for sharing cultural information. Also, tourism can cause a plethora of internal cultural changes by disrupting the host country’s economy due to the influx of revenue from tourists.
COMMENTS: All commentators agree with Nash that tourism as an anthropological subject should be discussed more. Disagreement remains between the peer reviewers and the author about the anthropologically relevant issues surrounding tourism, like “work” as a primary activity and “leisure” as a secondary. Noronha points out pilgrimages many not be considered tourism because it is a primary obligation and could fall under then “work” category. Noronha feels that tourism should be activities that are “leisurely” secondary activities compared to work. Commentator LaFlamme recognises that although millions of people are involved in tourism each year, it is untrue to assume that the people in the host country are simply at “work” and the tourists are at “leisure”, for the relationships are much more complex than that.
REPLY: The author predicts in his reply that a “better understanding of the nature of touristic phenomena, how far afield we have to go in considering them, and what kinds of theories are most applicable” to the anthropological study of tourism will surface as more work in the area amounts. Nash admits that the definition of tourism needs work, especially when considered in past societies and in activities like work travel and pilgrimages.
CELIA RUPP University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
O’Brien, Eileen M. and Charles R. Peters. The Early Hominid Plant-Food Niche: Insights from the Analysis of Plant Exploitation by Homo, Pan, and Papio in Eastern and Southern Africa. Current Anthropology April, 1981 Vol.22 (2):127-140.
Eileen O’Brien and Charles Peters to find what types of vegetation and other food sources were exploited by early hominids and how easily these food sources were to obtain these food sources due to competition by other primates. The authors looked at three species: Homo, Pan, and Papio from southeast southern Africa since that is the birth place of the early hominids. The authors point out they have not been able to find a place where all three primate species overlap geographically.
They found four hundred sixty-one plant genera were exploited by one or all of the three primates studied in these areas of Africa. One hundred and one of the four hundred sixty-one plant genera were consumed by at least one of the three primates and/or all of the three primates. The paper goes on to explain the different types of vegetation consumed by all three and the differences in plants each species prefer and which ones each species had access to. There is an abundance of statistics on the plant types, their location, their probability of existing in a specific area, and the likelihood of each species devouring the vegetation. The authors were able to determine that there was a high likelihood that there was competition for food between the three species, but the extent of the competition could not be determined for sure. They argue that humans had access to and exploited more resources than chimpanzees and that the chimpanzees exploited more resources than the baboons.
The conclusions that were drawn upon were not real accurate and the authors admit that further studies need to be done on the fundamental food-niche of early hominids. The overall conclusion shows there was competition between species in a certain local and all three primates tended to eat similar foods in the area, although the authors were not able to definitely state the food-niche of early hominids. Conclusions on what food sources where exploited by each species not complete so far.
COMMENTS: Noel Boaz find that the comparison between what each species eats in terms of vegetation helps to discover ecological niches for each primate and thus in turn help to identify competition for food subsistence. Boaz also believes by displaying the statistics on each primates food preference can better determine the likelihood of the abundance or not of a food source in a certain area. Glenn Conroy believes differently on the substance of this article. He believes that the articles inability to determine dietary patterns and that little has been gained in the study of hominid dietary patterns. Conroy states that more research has to be done in more basic areas of geology of the area, further looks into primate concentration in these areas, and so on and so forth.
REPLY: The authors thank everyone for the insights and believe the comments will help further the research. They develop more points when challenged on material presented on material life competition in an area and how likely it was. They also point out the lack of quality research on the subject to date. The authors question specific suggestions like the savanna of the Southern African continent could have been a different type of region during the past.
STEVEN AMSLER University of Minnesota-Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Rice, Prudence M. Evolution of Specialized Pottery Production: A Trial Model. Current Anthropology June, 1981 Vol.22(3):219-240.
Prudence Rice sought to explain the emergence, utility, and changes in specialized pottery production around the world through archaeological research. Graphs organized her data to show how societies developed from having varieties of pots in an egalitarian social system, to making standard pots as it became a specialized task in stratified systems, to using the standard pots for the common folk and re-implementing a variety of elaborate forms for the elite. Rice tested her model from material obtained in the 1970’s of the Mayan site of Barton Ramie in Belize.
Written from a linear view on the emergence of pottery specialization, she concluded that its evolution was in tandem with the evolution of categorized societies. An egalitarian society could not develop specialization because everyone had access to the resources, and a variety of pots were found at a site, rather than standard types clustered in one area made by a specific person, or mass produced. In a ranked society, production and accumulation increased, thus prestige was measured by how much one had and could give away. At this stage pottery gained value, but specialization came with stratification. In stratified societies, class levels were defined, division of labor was formalized, and pottery resources were restricted to certain people. Standard pots were made for the majority, while a variety of elaborate shapes, sizes, and colors appeared in pottery for the elite. Measuring variability (richness/evenness) and standardization in an area was done by noting the number of different colors, styles, compositions, and their addition, substitution or subtraction.
COMMENTS: In Egypt, Adams stated, the emergence of elites did not result in “elite” pottery, based the same types of pottery found in tombs of both elites and peasants. It was wrong to assume, Adams and Hodder noted, that specialization was a linear process that became more complex with the increase in complexity of the social/political systems. Hodder found in western Zambia that making pottery was a household job, not controlled by the elite.
Ball expressed concern with the terms “richness/evenness” used for production and specialization when they were normally used for ecology, especially since she did not use them in tandem with other factors such as marketing or access.
REPLY: In her response to Adams on “elite” pottery, Rice referred back to her explanation that the term was broad and could mean simply a “special purpose, status, or restricted good.” As for the tombs, maybe there were distinctions other than style that set apart the pottery of the elite from the peasants, such as more care in painting. Also, sociopolitical change did not necessarily correlate with ceramic change.
She understood Ball’s concern with the borrowed terms “richness/evenness” because statistics could have been misused, but it was necessary to best make sense of the data. The broader social context was not ignored but was not conducive to her original theoretical idea.
STACY METTNER University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Service, Elman R. The Mind of Lewis H. Morgan. Current Anthropologist February, 1981 Vol. 22 No.1:25-41
Elman Service summarizes the ideas and background of Lewis Henry Morgan and suggests Morgan was misunderstood; he was not a materialist in the sense that all attention should be given to material culture, but believed that materials have some significance in relation to other aspects of culture. While Morgan did group the “ethnical periods” by technology, such as agriculture or pottery, he argued that ideas, intelligence and knowledge would rise above the materials around the culture. People also misunderstand Morgan’s writings that property brought about government, when actually he believed the two were not directly related and on separate evolutionary paths. While social institutions/government and technologies were not related directly they did relate to the evolution of the brain.
Although many thought Morgan to be racist, Service argues that he has to be looked at in the perspective of his own time, in which he was considered liberal. Morgan believed in monogenesis, one creation, which encouraged racial equality but he was also ethnocentric, placing his own culture on the top of the evolutionary scale. He believed that humans had risen from a lower state but had not evolved from apes or other animals. While Morgan’s focus was on material culture, he denounced inherited privilege or power. The class systems such as those that existed in feudal times were counter evolutionary and the inheritance of large estates did not advance the development of the mind and morality of culture.
Service argues finally that Morgan’s legacy is not so much in any schools or ideas of his own but in the people his ideas influenced such as Marx and Engel, who kept a few of his ideas alive in a new context.
COMMENTS: Some of the comments agreed with Service’s statement about judging ideas in the place and time they were made while others disagreed. One writer was disappointed that Service did not add more information about Morgan’s work on kinship studies. Others agreed that the legacy of Morgan has more to do with those he influenced than his own ideas, stated that Morgan did have a materialist approach, and criticized lumping Marx and Engels together as having the same view of Morgan.
REPLY: Service again stated that he believed the works of Morgan should be read from the perspective of his time and not what we know or believe now. Service agreed he should have talked more about Morgan’s work with kinship.
ANDREA SANFORD University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Shipman, Pat, Wendy Bosler and Karen Lee Davis. Butchering of Giant Geladas at an Acheulian Site. Current Anthropology June, 1981 Vol. 22(3):257-268.
The authors propose that systematic butchering of giant gelada baboons (Theropithecus oswaldi) by hominids can be documented in the fossil record from the Acheulian site of Olorgesailie in Kenya. This, they agree, represents the first fossil evidence of systematic butchering of nonhuman primates by hominids and test three hypotheses to account for the accumulation and breakage of gelada bones at the site: (1) a nonhominid predator was responsible, (2) hominids were responsible, perhaps during hunting and butchering, and (3) an unknown factor, disease or starvation, was responsible for a mass death with breakage caused by postmortem events like trampling or transport.
In order to assess which hypothesis is most accurate, the authors investigate the ages and sexes of the primates and the pattern of bone breakage. First the age and sex structures were determined by assigning left lower canines to either males or females which are dimorphic in size according to sex, and calculating the minimum number of individuals in each of six age-classes from the inspection of 236 molars. One must read slowly to fully understand the categories and classifications the authors use to show age and sex in their tables. The authors then compared the breakage of bones at the site with bones from animals with a similar basic structure and that lived in similar locations, and used a standardized classification of breakage types to consider the overall pattern of breakage, not just those seen on individual specimens.
The authors found most of the geladas were juveniles with some adults with 1:1 male to female ratio. They suggest the consistent pattern of breakage, which is distinctive to this site, was related to butchering and perhaps hunting by hominids and not a catastrophic event. While the authors were clear in their conclusion they ended the article with more questions to be investigated and answered by future researchers.
COMMENTS: Six commentors offered his or her appreciation of the article and gave the authors credit for their insights on tackling such complex issue. While the main conclusion was not doubted, some felt the authors’ analysis was not as strong as it could have been. While the sex and age study was impressive, they felt the further work needed to be done, especially concerning the reasons for breakage on the fossils inspected. Although the authors pursued a multiple-hypothesis approach which affected the bones of Theropithecus at Olorgesailie, the researchers largely felt the conclusion was weak.
REPLY: The authors agree that the taphonomic history of the Theropithecus is very complex and suggest that hominids may not have been the only factors behind the breakage pattern. They also feel that it is unlikely that other factors may have caused the damage to the bones, and that much more research is needed within the specified area. The authors ask researchers for suggestions to strengthen their study. The authors also clarified some of their assumptions and suggest their conclusion is accurate.
ALISA MARTODAM University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Strauss, L.G., Altuna, Clark, Gonzalez Morales, Laville, Leroi-Gourhan, Menendez de la Hoz, and Ortea. Paleoecology at La Riera (Asturias, Spain). Current Anthropology December, 1981 Vol.22(6): 655-682.
“Paleoecology at La Riera” was written by a team of eight authors each specializing in an area of research being done at the cave. The paper focuses on the man-land relationship at the site of La Riera during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene and is the twenty-third contribution from the La Riera Paleoecological Project. The cave is situated on the north-central border of Spain. The central and entrance sections have been previously excavated so the new excavations were done in the inner section. This report mainly addresses areas such as stratigraphy, pollen, faunal, and sediment analysis, and compares the results found to other known sites of the period.
The pollen analysis revealed that the area had mainly mild winters with a fluctuation between extremely humid and dry periods. These mild winters could have allowed for the existence of deer year round, and deer bones found in the deposits also support this theory. Although the stratigraphic levels vary in the amount and type of bones found, red deer remains dominate. Nearly 20,000 mollusks from 21 different species were found. Edible mollusks accounted for approximately 97% while 2.5% were used for ornamental purposes. Based upon the species of mollusks and fish present, scientists were able to approximate their harvest location. Other sources of food were reindeer, ibex, fish, and birds. The sediment analysis section addresses two main causes of deposition, frequent erosion and secondary alterations, which have affected the area.
In general, the conclusions made about climactic conditions at La Riera coincide with conclusions from other sites of the period with slight fluctuation in temperature and humidity. There are some discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating results for each of the sites. The results from the analysis of mammalian fauna study provided good insight into the diet and hunting preferences of La Riera’s inhabitants.
COMMENTS: The comments given about the article are very diverse. Some of their peers praise them for the work done at a very influential site to Spain’s history. There is also praise for the “succinct summary of data” from the site. Some of the criticisms deal with the fact that so many publications have already been written on the issue. One of their peers also criticizes the fact that this publication may be premature. He points out that much of the data is still being analyzed and the conclusions are preliminary and not well developed.
REPLY: L. G. Strauss replied to the comments from his French, British, and American colleagues. He was appreciative of the “generally complimentary and useful comments”. His reply to much of the criticism was that this was the first attempt to synthesize the information into a form that went beyond pure archaeology. At one point, Laville specifically addresses his critic on a point where one of his statements was taken out of context. He defends his use of the word Aquitane in reference to a climactic and chronological scheme.
AMY GRANMO University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)