Current Anthropology 1971
Cockburn, T. Aidan. Infectious Diseases in Ancient Populations. Current Anthropology February, 1971 Vol. 12(1): 45-62
In “Infectious Diseases in Ancient Populations,” T. Aidan Cockburn discusses infectious diseases, and how they result from the interaction of three factors: the host, the parasite, and the environment. The article, more specifically, focuses on the prehuman and human hosts and the environment during the period of man’s evolution. It begins with a discussion of primates focusing on those diseases that are found in both species (human and primate). This section also explores the effects of arboreal versus terrestrial living and the impact that this difference could have had on the development of certain diseases. Early man lived in small bands and ate whatever he could find. Some of the infections he suffered came from primates while others were the result of environment. Among these infections, would be parasites from raw foods (insects, fish, birds, mammals), and from zoonoses (infections of other animals) that were transmitted to man from mosquitoes, ticks and termites. Cockburn also spends time discussing the development of anthrax and Type E botulism which are two good examples of zoonoses. “Agriculture probably had a more significant effect on man than any other factor from his first appearance to the present time of scientific revolution”(Cockburn 48). People were able to produce plenty of food and it was the type that could be stored for periods of shortage/famine. Thus, man lost his mobility allowing him to become tied to the land. Which, in turn led to an increase in the population. The loss of mobility permitted to parasites to establish conditions in which they could continually infect the host. Furthermore, this linkage of man to the land allowed animals to move in beside him. Mosquitoes were able to develop a preference for human blood. Agricultural practices also exacerbated the conditions that allowed parasites to thrive. Cockburn discusses the use of feces and urine as fertilizer and various techniques of irrigation. The increase in population allowed pathogens to spread to different victims quickly permitting their continual presence in the new agriculturally based societies.
Finally, he discusses the three main types of resistance to infection. The first is active immunity. The second is passive immunity and the third is genetically inherited nonspecific resistance. The author goes on to explain the development of these three types. In the section of the paper labeled Studies of the Evidence, Cockburn details studies of fossil specimens, ancient writings, and Egyptian mummies that have aided him in his analysis of infectious diseases. Most importantly according to him, are those studies of soft tissue and ancient human remains.
The commentaries following this work mostly ask for more information. Several comment on the need for more physical evidence and W.C. Osman Hill deconstructs Cockburn’s argument because of lack of description under several areas. “Although the author devotes a page and a half to the problem of increase in population, nowhere does he specifically deal with that important phase of cultural history, the establishment of cities and city-states, which began in Mesopotamia in the 7th millennium B.C.”(56). In his reply, Cockburn thanks his commentators for their comments and suggestions. He responds to each letter addressing the writer at the beginning of the paragraph and details the findings of several studies that were completed after the writing of this one. He concludes that the field of infectious diseases is one that is vast and that he hopes this work will interest other anthropologists in the study of how diseases have affected the evolution of man.
BRITT HAMER Western Michigan University (Vincent Lyon-Callo/ Bilinda Straight)
Crombie, D.L. The Group System of Man and Paedomorphosis. Current Anthropology, April 1971 vol.12 (2): 147-170.
In the article, ”The Group System of Man and Paedomorphosis,” D.L. Crombie conveys the idea of understanding the evolution of humans through studying humankind’s behavioral structure, which via paedomorphosis shows a resemblance to the behavioral structure of more primitive beings. (In the article Crombie uses the words mature animal, human and hominid interchangeably, although in this review I will use the words mature animal to describe all of them.) Crombie believes the features that make way for the process of paedomorphosis are apparent in all other forms of mature animals along the mature animal evolutionary chain. In the article Crombie gives examples of how other primitive animals have the same behavioral patterns as humans. He says, there are numerous interactions that humans endure everyday that reflect past primitive knowledge of how earlier mature animals acted. The only difference is the context in which the humans are interacting.
Crombie says that there are two main aspects of human life which are also apparent in other animals such as (1) “the need to pay attention to one’s peers as the basis of social behavior,” (2) “the need for personal space maintenance, the basis for all individual or selfish motivation” (Crombie,162). Now these two main aspects, which are very well known in our society today, were not much different during the evolutionary process of humankind. All other mature animals have these same general patterns which drive life for them such as grooming or paying attention to a peer in the same social group, but what makes the difference between what we do as humans for grooming and attention are primarily based on the language that humans possess, hence the contextual differences in the situations of modern humans and primitive ones.
The understanding of paedomorphosis is embedded within the understanding of primitive social groups’ behavioral patterns, which Crombie describes as every general behavioral pattern that is apparent in primitive societies is apparent in today’s humans, but simply displayed in another context. “The larger cultural subsystems already described are evolutionary extensions of the original basic family unit, via the extended kinship group of the hunting pack, to the clan and tribe, then to the more complex city-state, and, latterly, to the modern nation.” (Crombie, 161) This statement describes how, before language and the more developed humans, learning was preformed by implication, but now with speech we are able to verbally teach our kin the customs and the ways of everyday life. Paedomorphosis is involved in those now verbally taught customs that were once only understood through modeling by more primitive human societies. Now, since there are uniform languages, the content of what is being taught to the younger kin has not changed, but the context in which the information is being conveyed has changed drastically. “Paedomorphosis is the appearance in mature animals of features that belong to some earlier stage in their embryological or premature development. On the whole, therefore, paedomorphosis must have generalised rather then specific effects.” (Crombie, 163)
In the evolutionary scheme of things of reality as we perceive it, paedomorphosis allows modern humans an understanding of how we evolved from past mature animals into the present day humans. Paedomorphosis is a very generalized way of understanding why we act and interact in the way we do, which has been done for thousands of years but only in different contexts of kinship groups, tribes, castes, or clans. Paedomorphosis is highly intertwined within the effects of evolution, which without them (such as bipedalism, placement of foramen magnum, longer maturation period, etc), the effects of paedomorphosis would not influence our learning abilities. What paedomorphosis did for human society was to allow humans another opportunity to overcome their genetic endowment and embrace the new genetic knowledge of language and the ever-increasing knowledge of the universe around us.
The commentary concerning Crombie’s article addressed some flaws in the description of the transition from behavior to structure on an individual basis relating the behavioral patterns to a cultural level. There are also several references to linguistic barriers that seem to not make the distinction between human and animal language, which Crombie does not reply to because he is not a linguist. Crombie considers the misinterpretation of the linguistic barriers to be a minor point because no other linguistic model has proposed a better way of understanding the actual symbol components of language to fully grasp the informational content of the language. In response to the comment of all the other subsystems of humankind Crombie says that the “little people” may show better evidence of physical signs of paedomorphosis then “Western Man,” but he does not believe this to be true for the behavioral structure in the culture they can support.
DEREK WHITTINGTON Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight)
Gillin, John P. Some Principles of Sociocultural Integration. Current Anthropology, 1971 Vol. 12(1): 63-71
Gillin sets out in his article to discuss principles of sociocultural integration and disintegration. The author is concerned with internal consistency of component patterns of a sociocultural system and compatibility with the situation in which it functions. He begins by discussing basic concepts of the sociocultural system and the system itself. Then he moves on to elaborate on the existence and purpose of goals and values. In the third section Gillin focuses on describing the features of a situation. The last section of the article pulls the features he has described together and forms a model for integration and disintegration. Throughout the article he provides examples to assist in understanding his ideas.
Personnel are the humans that perform customs in any sociocultural system. Customs are behaviors that are socially learned and shared between the members of a society. Gillin describes what he calls a custom pattern as an abstraction of the actual performances of a custom by the various performers. These custom patterns are the performances that give a custom functional significance to the sociocultural system. Patterns are classified according to their mode of performance, being overt or covert to the members of a society, or assessment of whether they are fully conscious or partially conscious (subconscious or unconscious).
A pattern consists of the cultural elements that are a starting point, course, end point, and evaluation. Each pattern is performed for the purpose of achieving a culturally defined goal. When acquiring the cultural elements of pattern maladjustments may occur that divert the pattern from achieving the goal. This elemental combination is the smallest unit that functions within a sociocultural system. Together cultural elements form cultural complexes. Cultural complexes have a larger goal and value set.
Four different ways that elemental combinations and complexes are linked are the following: 1. Complexes require concurrent or simultaneous performance of elemental combinations. 2.Complexes require consecutive performance of a series of elemental combinations. 3. Sequences of elemental combinations within a complex have a direct affect on the completion of the next elemental goal. 4. Complexes contain elemental combinations that bring materials in or out of the complex.
An example given by Gillin is a surgeon performing a surgery with an assistant handing them tools.
On a grander scale is the existence of institutions and subcultures. Institutions contain organizations of personnel with divisions of labor. Subcultures contain elemental combinations, complexes, and institutions that achieve goals of participants.
Goals and values are found at all levels of sociocultural systems from elemental combinations to the system as a whole. They are internalized patterns shared by communication patterns. Gillin defines a goal as a culturally formed and held notion of the state of affairs that is supposed to result from the practice of a pattern associated with it. Values are seen in patterns and in the features of a situation ranging form positive to negative. A situation is a combination of a natural environment, human beings, learned behavior, and foreign influence. Gillin also describes products of the operation of a system including social subdivisions of a population, sociocultural aspects of personality, material features, and resultant states.
There are features that indicate the level of functioning a system is exhibiting. These crucial features are boundary maintenance, internal consistency, compatibility, adequate communication, leadership, power, and dominant goals. Boundaries must be maintained between systems or one system will absorb another, or two systems will merge together. Internal consistency refers to the compatibility of the component patterns of a system. Compatibility may be defined as condition where all parts of a situation permit performance of other parts of the culture. Power refers to the hold on personnel to participate. Last dominant goals also exert power over participants that maintain integration.
One criticism of Gillin’s article is that he didn’t sort out concepts in their relation to a folk or analytical model. The article is also seen as not providing a proper conceptualization of the relationship between society and culture. Important concepts that Gillin fails to define, sociocultural system and culture, would add to understanding of his ideas. Another theory that aligns with Gillins and should be addressed is the superstructure theory. A final dispute is that Gillin’s theory is based on assumptions about systems and grouping integration.
DARYL STEWART Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight), 2003.
Heinrich, Albert & Russell L. Anderson. Some Formal Aspects of a Kinship System.Current Anthropology Oct. – Dec., 1971 Vol. 12 (4/5): 541-557
Summary: Heinrich and Anderson’s article discusses the problem of “factually incorrect” data on the Eskimo kinship system for the reason that it tells us very little about how the system truly functions (p. 541). The authors explain that previous studies of the Eskimo kinship system—in areas of the Canadian and Alaskan Artic—overlooks its cultural meanings and an essential category of kin. The basic goal of the authors’ paper is to uncover the overlooked data which current methodology (at the time) had failed to see. They aim to denounce the “ethnocentric criteria of sibling vs. cousin terminology” used by researchers in the past (p. 541). That is, researchers tended to transfer Western concepts to the Eskimo kinship systems making them much more simpler than they really were.
The evidence/data that is offered by Heinrich and Anderson includes rethinking the “unidomain approach to kinship” by presenting data from the Bering Strait Eskimos (p. 542). Their data will “demonstrate a frame of reference within which the data can be understood,” and looks at “sibling-like” persons outside the nuclear family—cousins (biological) or step-relatives (“recruited” through divorce or spousal exchange) (p. 542). When looking at the sibling vs. cousin terminology, the authors noted that there are ‘subdivisions’ of sibling status where each ‘subdivision’ is termed (labeled) specifying distinct interactional roles due to age and/or gender assigned to those within and even outside—“those who are functional equivalents of siblings”—the nuclear family (p. 542-543).
In their paper, Heinrich and Anderson present their information in a number of diagrams to exemplify their data, showing the positions of each relative in immediate and extended families. These diagrams include a detailed description of each relative—their roles, gender relation, and ethnic names. Charts are also presented by the authors to help clarify the complex relations between “sibling-like” individuals. The authors introduce the term “siblingid” to identify the relations between these equivalent persons (p. 545). Heinrich and Anderson describe not just status and roles, but “allostatuses” and “alloroles” describing in depth particular sub-positions and roles (p. 546-547). Also, these charts are derived from a quasi-mathematical formula of the Eskimo kinship system (p. 547). Finally, Heinrich and Anderson build their diagrams and charts around an individual referred to as “Ego” to help illustrate precisely what position and roles particular ‘cousin’ terms partake in the family system.
Heinrich and Anderson’s extensive charts and tables of their data would definitely convince the reader to agree with their argument that more attention must be paid towards the complexity of this kinship system. Although it takes a little while to understand the authors’ formulas, this article does justice to only a fraction of the Eskimo’s complicated kin structure.
Summary of the comments: Most of those who responded to Heinrich and Anderson’s article are in agreement with their arguments, yet almost all added their own thoughts and opinions on the matter, some offering their piece of mind feeling they could do better on the subject. Charles A. Bishop, for example, believes that the authors’ methods are a bit shady and they forget to separate “variations in behavior” (Bishop, p. 548). Bishop, along with others, believes that the authors should have paid tribute to the “excellent study” done by David Damas. Yet, Damas, who comments on the article himself, feels that Heinrich and Anderson’s article is appropriate and even contradicts Bishop on some of his comments. The biggest thing that most of the commentators had a problem with was that the authors barely made any reference to other studies preceding their own.
Summary of the authors’ reply: There are two sections in the authors’ reply in which Heinrich first makes his own reply. While his ideas were assisted by others in the field, Heinrich first of all claims to the commentators that he will not make reference to publications preceding his because his set of ideas are genuine. He explains that he had contact with the Eskimo culture before having any training in anthropology or linguistics. Thus, Heinrich claims that his analysis arises from his own experiences. In the second part, both authors reply that their analysis is applicable and their attention to “distinctive features” have relevance among most Eskimos (p. 554).
ANDREA L. BERNARD Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Heston, Alan. An Approach to the Sacred Cow of India. Current Anthropology April, 1971 Vol. 12 (2): 191-209.
The overall problem and concern addressed by Heston in his article is the theory that the sacredness of the cow has in part led to the impoverishment of India. That is, the cattle population is in excess and is not proportionate to the human population of India (p. 191). Alan Heston’s basic argument is to propose an alternative cattle situation, thus he states: “I argue that in India, if cow slaughter were allowed, the cattle population could be substantially reduced, and the output of the cattle could be increased, and land would be freed for production of other crops,” (Heston, p. 192). He also proposes another argument that does not include the slaughter of cows, that without cow slaughter, “existing institutions could be improved by presently known methods,” (p. 192) (this argument will be explained later).
A major point about Heston’s first argument is this: While cattle contle to male ratio problem: (1) “the stationary bullock solution” and (2) “the stationary milch cow solution,” (p. 193-94). The first of the author’s solutions would maintain a ratio of adult females bred to bulls at one-third or less. Heston Claims that “two of every three females born must” either never reach maturity or, if so, she must never reproduce (p. 193). The second solution assumes that if milk production is the main purpose of the cattle population, “India could just use the buffalo,” (p. 194).
Heston explains that his arguments (that the cattle population is not proportionate) are influenced by India’s Hindu value system. To support his argument, he compares the two adjacent environments of India and Pakistan where traditional beliefs differ. Heston’s comparison suggests that India’s value system reflects its high female to male ratios unlike that of its Muslim neighbors who have a more balanced cattle population. Meanwhile, Heston asserts that certain regions of Pakistan where Hinduism is concentrated coincides with uneven cattle ratios. In an area where the issue of cattle and religion is not evident, it seems that Heston is arguing, “that Muslims use their cattle (cows being used as beasts of burden where milk supply is not poor) more rationally than Hindus,” (p. 196). Yet, Heston admits that he has no evidence to confirm or deny his argument. Overall, it seem that Heston backs up his arguments quite well. His article has no shortage of facts. He presents his data in graph form, as well as sharing with the reader his comparative studies of cattle populations in Hindu and non-Hindu regions. Sometimes his arguments are his own opinions derived from facts on the cattle situation in and around India (e.g. Muslims vs. Hindus on economical uses of cattle and methods of milk production).
Summary of comments: Since Heston pits his arguments against that of Marvin Harris throughout his article; all comments following the paper analyze the data and cases between the two. In Harris’ commentary, he confronts Heston’s “attacks” on his views of India’s cattle situation. He claims that Heston misinterprets his position on the issue continuously and he totally rejects the author’s argument that 30 million ‘unproductive’ cows could be thinned by slaughter. Since Harris assumes that the cattle of peasants will automatically be the ones to be slaughtered, he claims that Heston does not support the needs of India’s peasants. Thus, “Heston’s models are intended to improve the welfare of India’s large farmers while forcing 150 million more people off the land,” (Harris, p. 200). Points made by the other commentators include James W. Hamilton’s, where he explains that both authors (Heston and Harris) have arguments of economic interests from two different points of view. Michael M. Horowitz asserts “Heston does not… deal with disease and the biological adaptation of Indian cattle (older cattle that are ‘unproductive’) to local selective forces,” that older cattle are resistant to contagious diseases and can increase the immunity within the herd (Hamilton, p. 202). Manning Nash writes in spite of Harris that Heston is searching “to find the cause of the widespread poverty” within “the development of the Indian economy,” (Nash, p. 204). H.K. Schneider suggests that it may be “possible that starving cows feed untouchables” since open consumption of beef indicates low status in India (Schneider, p. 206). Lastly, Imre Wellmann understands that this is a complex problem that should be approached from as many sides as possible. Hence, “Heston’s study is a useful contribution” because he adds another viewpoint to the investigation,”(p.206).
Summary of Heston’s reply: Heston credits his paper to the influence of a paper by V.M. Dandekar whose arguments also focus on the excess of cows in India. He then confronts Harris’ view that these excess animals contribute “to the subsistence of the marginal farmer” by saying that most of these cows are not owned by small farmers (p. 206). On the adaptability of cattle and buffalo, Heston agrees with Harris that the “differential use of buffalo and bullock for traction” creates different relative percentages of cows in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh (p. 207). Therefore, buffalos are more productive and better milkers inland while for cattle, it is vice versa on the coast. Yet, Heston believes that the glorification of the cow led cattle to regions where the buffalo is the better milker, a claim that neither Harris nor others have questioned. On the subject of slaughter vs. neglect affecting the value of beef, Harris’ belief that farmers are practical when they cull females (those that are barren and unproductive) by neglect is “nonsense” to Heston, who believes otherwise (p. 207). These barren and unproductive cows could be potential sources of meat and hide for the untouchables and would even yield more return for the farmer if sent to the slaughterhouse before these animals become emaciated. Heston opposes Harris’ statement claiming that his goals would deprive the 30 million peasant families of their cattle and that there is one cow for every one of these families. He explains that not all peasants own cattle and that 30% of these agricultural families work for others, even some are landless. Heston believes that if slaughterhouse activities were to expand, salvaging of animals would decline and the untouchables would benefit from the new supply of meat and jobs (at slaughterhouses). In the end, despite the shortage of commodities caused by overabundant cattle and their costly maintenance, Heston concludes that “the reason [India’s] cattle are still maintained in such circumstances is that cultivators are willing to bear expenses for the animals just for their presence,” (p. 208).
ANDREA L. BERNARD Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight)
Jones, F.A. Operant Psychology and the Study of Culture. Current Anthropology, 1971 Vol. 12(2): 171-88
Jones explores the study of free societies through the use of operant psychology’s principles and procedures. The author views operant psychological principles as a tool to assist in the explanation of cultural diversity. This field of psychology has derived form the works of B.F. Skinner. Operant psychology, through Jones’s view, explains behavior by looking at a learning process where an environmental event (stimulus) occurs, then an actor responds to the stimulus (response), and finally the actor receives a consequent environmental event (reinforcement). The author also briefly looks at respondent conditioning, Pavlovian psychology, which examines pairings of neutral stimuli with unconditioned stimuli resulting in conditioned stimuli. In the last section of this article the author examines basic procedures involved including: deprivation, satiation, adaptation, shaping, chaining, discrimination, generalization, pairing, fading, extinguishing, and schedules of reinforcement. Respondent and operant conditioning both belong to a class of learning theories. Experimental psychology concerns itself with innate behaviors that reflect genetic inheritance and behaviors that result from functions of environmental settings. Learning theories as well as social anthropologists concern themselves with the latter.
When understanding this learning process it must be understood that an organism is continuously exposed to stimuli through sensory preceptors. The organism discriminates between stimuli that are significant guides for behavior and those that are not. Jones describes this process as a cybernetic system. Organisms respond to particular stimuli with particular behaviors. The responding behavior is determined by previous reinforcing or punishing consequences that have occurred. The effectiveness of reinforcing consequences relates to the importance, immediacy, and likelihood of repetition. Through continuous exposure the organism learns to emit certain behaviors only in the presence of certain stimuli, referred to as stimulus control. The environment establishes boundary conditions where a particular response will create a change in the environment that will affect the frequency of future occurrences of that response. The complexity of this learning system is attributed to the environment and not to the organism.
F.A. Jones refers to culture in this framework as the environmental events that are subsequent and consequent to behaviors of the acting organism. Other members of the definable setting, or society, are viewed as discriminatory aspects of the environment. Jones sees a stable society as having a limited number of alternative response behaviors in a situation. Verbal behavior is seen as a unique ability belonging to humans used in their interaction with each other within an environment. Words become paired with stimuli and may be used to study or learn about the nature of the phenomena they have been paired with. Language isolates a small percentage of definite aspects (time elapsed, number of speakers, sex of speaker, etc.) of a situation and incorporates them through language structure. Experiences are shared and stored in this symbolic form by communities. Communication between two organisms relies on commonalities between their repertoires.
Jones received several comments critiquing his article. One repeated comment was that research and application are best done in a natural environment where as Jones prefers a controlled setting with a single subject. Observations that are made in a lab may be more difficult to obtain in a natural setting. The subjects of operant psychology’s research have a tendency to be pigeons and rats rather than humans, with all their complexity neglected. Another critique is that Jones’s methods put restrictions on space and time when studying populations. Topics of maintenance and generalization of learned behaviors are also questioned by critics. Some do see Jones’s work as beneficial in its understanding of social processes and application. Insights may be gained about human behavior cross culturally from the methodology described.
Jones writes: “The limitations that exist are not in the theoretical basis of operant psychology but in the present development of measurement technology (186).” In response to the opinion that he prefers the study of single subjects in controlled settings, not matching with the behaviors of humans in natural group settings, Jones recognizes the effect of other individuals on a single actor but there are significant similarities in behavior worth study. Jones describes this idea with his thought that “groups are abstractions so far as perception of stimuli…(187).” Jones describes the purpose of his article is to open the field to anthropologists. He believes that understanding culture is important as well as knowing methods for changing behavior and he hopes that the next generation of anthropologists will have more interest in his work.
DARYL STEWART Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight)
Jorgensen, Joseph G. On Ethics and Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1971 Vol.12(3):321-334.
Jorgensen’s article on ethics in anthropology declares the need for an Anthropological Code of Ethics and introduces the proposal of having an ethics committee to review ethical concerns arising within the field. He proclaims that such a code is needed so that our subjects are not harmed, suspicion of our intentions are not generated, validity of our research can be assured, and lastly to protect the field of Anthropology from becoming jeopardized thus, not further limiting our research. Jorgensen makes it very clear that in his discussion of ethics within anthropology, he is only referring to that relationship between the anthropologist and his/her subject(s). Furthermore, he addresses two major concerns within his article: the use of the scientific method to devise an ethnological code of ethics, and how to stay ethical.
Acknowledging that a code of ethics will vary among different environments, contexts, etc., Jorgensen asserts that an Anthropological code of ethics cannot be based solely on the concepts of scientific method, rather it be based on ones understanding of human nature. He supports this argument by noting that in natural science new findings can be falsified or proven by repetition, whereas in social sciences both personal experience and those experiences of subjects will prevent another from arising at the same conclusion. Further strengthening his argument towards an unscientifically based code of ethics, Jorgensen mentions that often times scientific discoveries can be generalized to other topics and fields, hence producing a “new breakthrough” in knowledge. On the other hand, studies in Anthropology are most often based on a small group and cannot be generalized in such ways.
After Jorgensen disputes the notion of having a code of ethics predominantly based on the scientific model within an anthropological context, he suggests several topics that should be considered when creating a new code on the basis of reason. He introduces three key ethical issues that anthropologists face in their career: right to private personality, consent/confidentiality, and validity.
Jorgensen warns us that United States law does not protect the information we collect as anthropologists. Unlike that of priests and doctors, information that we obtain can be demanded by subpoena. Therefore it is important to remove names from interview sheets and destroy all information not being published. Jorgensen stresses the importance of picking research carefully to avoid ethical dilemmas that may occur because of this. He also declares that subjects should be informed of research intentions and of what will be done with the research after gathered. It is helpful, Jorgensen states, to have your subjects proofread all materials before publishing them. Proclaiming that concealed coercion is extremely unethical, Jorgensen stresses that as an anthropologist it is imperative to report and expose all those who use our name as a cover up due to the fact that the information being published may only be half understood. Therefore, harming the subjects and to the possibility of harming the field of anthropology. The main message that Jorgensen conveys throughout his article is that anthropologists must remain honest, open, and truthful to maintain their subjects’ safety, the validity and credibility of anthropology as a field, and in order to have access of continuing study within various areas of the world.
SHERRI BRAINERD Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Jorgensen, Joseph G. On Ethics and Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1971 Vol. 12(3):321-334.
In his article, “On Ethics and Anthropology”, Jorgensen addresses the need for a code of ethics in anthropology. At the time this article was published, there were no clear guidelines for the procedures used to collect and analyze data in anthropology. Jorgensen brings to light several ethical issues which may be encountered in both present and future anthropological research.
Jorgensen focuses his argument on the relationship an anthropologist has with the people he studies. He divides his argument into four parts. Jorgensen dedicates a great deal of time to his first section, where some might lose interest in or become confused by his extensive differentiation between natural and social sciences and the research processes associated with each. He states that an ethical code should be based not on “science”, but on our knowledge of and experience with human behavior.
In the second section, Jorgensen states that an ethical code should be able to account for future changes in the social environments where anthropologists may work. He states that an ethical code should anticipate future interest in anthropological research by certain governmental agencies for purposes other than those originally intended by the researcher. He also mentions the issues involved with technological advancement and the ease with which new devices might be misused to collect and report information.
In the third section, Jorgensen explores several types of ethical issues concerned with anthropological research of human subjects. This section is divided into five subsections: “Right to Private Personality”, “Consent and Confidentiality”, “Can the Truth Hurt?”, “Validity of Research Reports”, and “The Effect of the Researcher on the Host Community”. Jorgensen resorts to both real and hypothetical examples to demonstrate the ethical issues which may be faced and to illustrate the complexity of some of the probable issues and possible resolutions.
In the final section, Jorgensen restates his stand on ethics in anthropology and offers suggestions for the foundations of an ethical code. Jorgensen states in conclusion that an ethical code which addresses the costs of publishing the truth, the complexities behind gaining permission to use data, and the respect of privacy among many other important issues should be established for anthropologists. He goes on to state that ethics committees should also be established “to interpret the codes when situations are unclear” (333). Jorgensen goes further to state that the foundation of an ethical code for anthropology should be based on the fact that anthropology “is dedicated to free and open inquiry and the pursuit of truth” (333).
Though Jorgensen spends too much time in his first section, the remainder of his paper is the work of someone who sees well into the future of anthropology. At a time when anthropology had no clear guidelines for research ethics, Jorgensen provided a valid window into the ethical issues one should be prepared for and a substantial foundation for the building of an ethical code among anthropologists.
LINDSEY MERCER Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).
La Barre, Weston. Materials for a History of Studies of Crisis Cults: A Bibliographic Essay. Current Anthropology February 1971 Vol.12(1):3-44.
La Barre defines Crisis Cults as “any group reaction to crisis, chronic or acute, that is cultic.” He goes on to describe a crisis as a sense of helplessness, fear or worry with which a person cannot cope. Cultic, as La Barre puts it, allows people to “indulge in the appetite to believe,” by participating in activities with other people who are dealing with the same crisis. These activities take on a sacred meaning within the cultic tradition. La Barre’s emphasis is on the history and diversity of crisis cults and the literature that has been written about them. He speculates on the role of politics, indigenous religions, colonization and prophets, among other influences, on the role of the formation and perpetuation of crisis cults around the world.
La Barre spends considerable time discussing Messianism in detail, focusing on apparent similarities exhibited by those who profess to be divine reincarnations. He discusses followers’ unwillingness to admit or believe in the death of a leader, and the implications of the leader’s role as a returned or reincarnated hero. He also focuses on the effects of acculturation on existing crisis cults and the role of acculturation in facilitating new crisis cults by subjecting people to “cultural identity crises.”
La Barre concludes by criticizing the “tunnel vision” of political scientists and social scientists in their past approaches to the research of crisis cults, stating that in order to understand this phenomenon, a more holistic approach must be undertaken.
Most commentators agree that the work composed by La Barre represents a very valuable achievement as resource material and as criticism of past approaches to the study of crisis cults. Some commentators have additional citations that they believe should be added to La Barre’s list, and most express satisfaction with the overall content and analysis La Barre offers. Still, some criticize the use of the term “crisis cult” to encompass the wide variety of subjects La Barre takes on, and others believe that bibliographic information presented was too dense, and good sources were undifferentiated from poor ones.
La Barre discusses several points that he confesses to having overlooked in the essay, and responds individually to suggestions for further insight into the material and debates about semantics, as well as differing opinions of possible inclusions or exclusions to the category of “crisis cults.” He stands by his point of view that symbols are human-made, though disputed by Burridge in the comments section, and admits to the inadequacy of any essay encompassing the entirety of all available resources.
SUSAN DIEPEN Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Magubane, Bernard. A Critical Look at Indices Used in the Study of Social Change in Colonial Africa. Current Anthropology, 1971, vol. 12 (4-5): 419-445.
In this paper, Bernard Magubane seeks to dispel the ghosts of British social anthropology, predicated on Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown and furthered by the work of Mitchell and Epstein. The technique of this brand of anthropology, states the author, is ahistorical and methodologically unsound. By concentrating on the indices used to account for “acculturation” in the works of Mitchell and Epstein, Magubane shows how the conclusions they draw are buttressed less by anthropological methodology and more by neocolonial, ideological proclivities.
Colonialism in Africa, especially in the southern areas most settled by Europeans, forced an urban order on the indigenous populations. The trend in the 1950’s was to study how the indigenous populations incorporated European culture into theirs: this process is dubbed “acculturation”; Magubane pejoratively re-labeled it “Westernization” and/or “Europeanization”. Epstein and Mitchell, two of the most respected British anthropologists whose work centered on this phenomenon in Zambia, sought to index this acculturation empirically by using indices such as occupation, education, income and most importantly the wearing of European-style clothes. The author shows that the basic assumption underlying the index of European clothes is that Europeans were an elite class to be expressly imitated by the indigenous Africans. Mitchell and Epstein use this index to describe the formation of status groups and classes in the urban African populations they studied. Magubane shows how this index, if not placed in its proper historical-cultural context, does not convincingly point to the adoption of European culture by Africans for the sake of imitation per se. In the context of colonialism, every sector of culture is affected. Economically, Africans were drawn into a money-consumption based economy. As a corollary of the new social norms and forms placed on the Africans by the colonial powers, dressing in the European-style became normalized. To Magubane, simply labeling this as “status seeking” is arrogant and ideologically driven.
For Magubane, this is a matter of supplanting anthropological insight for colonial ideology. He shows that the indices used by anthropologist like Mitchell and Epstein take the colonial environment for granted; thus, for them, colonialism does not need to factor into the anthropologists’ analysis of acculturation. However, social stratification and objective oppression cannot be divorced from any assessment of acculturation within a colonial context. By removing the analysis from the oppressive context, the author charges that this kind of perverse anthropology robs its subjects of dignity and leaves the colonizers (i.e. Europeans) unaccountable. Furthermore, the author shows that the unit of analysis employed by Mitchell and Epstein- the individual social actor- is too small to make the kind of sweeping generalizations made by the said anthropologists. This level of analysis does not capture the collective feelings and aspirations of a colonized people resisting colonization. As the author eruditely states: “The analysts have not seen the forest, only trees (431).”
Victor D’Souza, Nancie Gonzales, Philip Mayerand, and Satish Saberwal conditionally support Magubane’s argument, although each commentator draws attention to the heavy-handedness that marks his argument. Saberwal admits that this article will contribute to “Third World reappraisals of Western social science (438),” but goes on to say that this should not really be the work of Third World anthropologists. Gonzales warns that Magubane may have taken his defense of Africans too far by ignoring the truth that some Africans do aspire to be like Westerners. Mitchell and Epstein conduct valiant defenses that seek to rectify the decontexualizations, misreadings and misquotings that plague Magubane’s work. Van den Berghe, who was quoted and disparaged in Magubane’s text, offers a caustic rebuttal. However, it is Oladejo Okediji who provides the most in-depth and thought-provoking commentary. He lays out the relationship between Mitchell, Epstein, British social anthropology and the colonist projects in Africa, particularly Zambia. Although the reader may be confused as to which position to believe, the author’s or Mitchell and Epstein’s, Okediji lengthy commentary fills in the gaps of Magubane’s article and fleshes out his argument, making it clear that Mitchell and Epstein were in fact ideologically tainted in favor of the colonial powers.
It is no surprise that Magubane discredits and disregards the harsh criticism found in the Commentary section. It is also no surprise that he feels camaraderie with those who agree with him. Magubane does admit to some midreadings and errors, but holds his the main point- how anthropologists’ ethnographies can be ideologically bent by the colonial systems they (even unconsciously) uphold. He detailedly restates the pluralist position found in the writings of Van den Berghe, Epstein and Mitchell and convincingly reaffirms his argument that colonialism and neocolonialism must be approached from the perspective of those colonized and sensitive to the political underpinnings of prior anthropological works.
SWEETAPPLE CHRISTOPHER. Western Michigan University (Dr. Bilinda Straight)
Magubane, Bernard. A Critical Look at Indices Used in the Study of Social Change in Colonial Africa. Current Anthropology October-December, 1971 Vol. 12(4/5):419-445.
The ideologies of the victor are always remembered. History is written by the winners, not by the people who, for various reasons, failed. So is the case of Africa, a whole continent spoken badly of because of their uncivilized way of life. European colonialism in Africa is one of the worst tragedies in world history. Western society is told that African’s are a “people without history,” and that darkness is equated with impurity and unrighteousness, Westerner’s have always been feed lies by the ruling party. To oppress a people without a voice is a great travesty; the Western world has committed this travesty over and again, as it continues today.
This article by Magubane shows how, once again, African people have been generalized in order to promote Westerners own self serving agendas. Magubane focuses on acculturation of the African people and how this cultural meshing has been recorded through European eyes. Anthropologists decided to use Western indices such as clothing, jobs, education, and income to study the African processes of acculturation. This in turn cripples African people because it took all credit away from them and placed a sense of superiority on European ways of life. “Colonialism imposed the urban order on the indigenous societies of Africa, especially in those areas of southern Africa settled by whites…Based on the assumptions that white settlers were an elite to be imitated by Africans…Studies utilizing these indices seem to perform a definite ideological function of vindicating white cultural supremacy, thus justifying Europe’s ‘civilizing’ missions” (Magubane 429: 1971). In Europeans eyes, Africans were not a civilized people, but savages and in need of a saving grace. The more like themselves Europeans could make the Africans, the more they could promote their ideologies about life and its purpose.
Magubane uses two authors, Mitchell and Epstein, to show how these cultural biases are blatantly written. Magubane believes that these two writers have obvious biases for Western culture that derive from nothing more than ethnocentricities. He includes excerpts from these authors’ works to illustrate how these biases are written. “European beer is preferred to African beer. Unlike most of his fellows he eats his meals with knife and fork instead of with his fingers in the traditional way; we have here a ‘detribalized’ African” (421). These two authors explain Africans on an individual level to extract the theories that they want instead of explaining the truth. “Because these studies looked only at individuals, Africans were portrayed as aspiring to what were called “goals of European character” (Ibid.).
Magubane tries to destroy the ideology that Africans needed European assistance. Oppression and force made Africans like Europeans, not matters of free will as some wish to believe.
DANIEL NABERS Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).
McCracken, Robert D. Lactase Deficiency: An example of Dietary Evolution. Current Anthropology, Oct.-Dec. 1971, vol. 12 (4/5): 479-517
In this article, McCracken tackles an issue that he argues within biological anthropology, has not been widely researched. He is dealing with answering questions critically about why people in certain cultural areas are lactase intolerant and why some are not. It is believed from previous studies that adult lactase producers are either homozygote dominant or heterozygote for lactase productions. And those adults that are deficient are lactase homozygote recessives. In this paper he tests the following hypothesis; that infant lactase deficiency is due to random mutation. Second, that primary adult lactase deficiency is a genetic survival from a time before adults began to consume milk in significant quantities. Third, that places where there is a lot of lactose the people there will eventually become lactose deficient, and if they haven’t yet it is because the lactase levels there are relatively new. And lastly, he states that lactase deficiency rates should be high in cultures with out dairy animals and with dairy animals but with out consumption of their milk, and modern cultures where milk production is low and there is variable consumption of milk by adults.
McCracken informs the reader that in European cultures where there is an extremely early history of goat milk, many people in comparison to other regions are not intolerant to lactase. While in other parts of the world, Asia and Africa in particular, people have more of intolerance to lactase. He discusses that within America, he sees this evident when comparing White Americans lactase deficiency rates with African Americans. It is considerably higher within the African American population.
McCracken discusses how there are some problems with newly civilized areas, because of so much gene flow in the area it makes it more difficult to tell racial backgrounds. He argues that this makes testing lactase deficiency almost impossible, because he is trying to look at it from a biological and cultural standpoint. He then discusses the reasons why populations that consume lactase aren’t deficient. He lists multiple reasons as to why this is, but he also repudiates every single one of these ideas. He gives reasons why these suggestions are not accountable.
McCracken then moves on to discuss types of additional and future research that should and can be done, when looking at lactase deficiency. He suggests more on primate research, he states that there are some studies that show low levels of lactase within primates but there is not much in the field. He also suggests more family studies, the idea that lactase deficiency comes from recessive genes needs to be examined more closely. He also points out that more distributional data needs to be done. He should have focused more on non-European countries, with close attention to the Mediterranean. He provides an example of Greek people, in that even though they have a lot of lactase in their diet they are not deficient due to the vast amount of cheese production of their milk. He states that this also holds true within Italy as well.
He concludes this essay by referring back to the many different tables he has provided, which examine the cultural groups that he tested. Biological man is a product of interaction between mechanisms of biological evolution and individual cultures. He states that this is through regulators, such as cultural roles as well as biochemical regulators. He states that adult lactase tolerance is similar to many other human adaptation strategies. In that it enhances survival for people who are tolerant. Because of this he concludes that thorough review is needed of milk distribution to third world countries where the people who are lactase intolerant constantly receive huge amounts of it, only to add in making them sick.
McCracken had tons of commentary for this essay regarding lactase deficiency. Most anthropologists commented on the importance of this issue and what a thorough job he did when researching this. A lot of anthropologists wrote that there is concern in the field that this is a neglected area. Several different responses state that it is interesting to do a physical evolutionary and cultural historical viewpoint. Some discussed several problems that they saw within this research. One that was discussed was distinguishing between new and old milk consumers. Another one of concern involved the demographics of the research, with a lack of non-European dairying areas. Most anthropologists did agree that more research in this area would be useful and that testing this hypothesis further should be done.
In his reply, McCracken goes through and discusses the new lactase information that had recently come out, after his essay was published. In doing this, he inadvertently answers some of the questions addressed by other anthropologists. He also discusses individual points from anthropologists in the commentary and what he thinks should or should not be done in regards to them. He agrees with most of the commentaries that state more specific research should be done and he spends some time discussing how and why.
ELIZABETH PESTA Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight).
Pfeiffer, John. The Emergence of Man—Book Review. Current Anthropology June, 1971 Vol. 12(3) p. 377-384
John Pfeiffer’s book, The Emergence of Man, which attempts to comprehensively compose an explanation of human evolution by synthesizing information and theory from a variety of disciplines, is reviewed here by seven different anthropologists. Their critiques reveal a wide range of theoretical backgrounds, as well as perhaps professional biases, towards the development of evolutionary knowledge. A French anthropologist bemoans the omissions of European scientists and their work in areas that Pfeiffer covers extensively. A Russian Marxist advocates for the inclusion of a historical materialism based approach saying that, “Soviet historians could elucidate many important problems of prehistory just owing to the theory of historical materialism.” (pg. 378) Two different reviewers are critical of Pfeiffer’s analysis of hunting as an evolutionary motivator; one saying that “we(archaeologists) have as yet no means of distinguishing scavenged meat from hunted meat.”(pg.380)
Of particular interest is the scathing evaluation given by Louis Leakey who repeatedly criticizes Pfeiffer for confusing theory with fact. “In the first part of the book, which I am confident to discuss, there are scarcely ten consecutive pages in which facts are not so confused with theories as to make a misleading picture,” Leakey says. This is in marked contrast with the other reviewers who, despite some criticism, all give Pfeiffer credit for attempting such an ambitious undertaking.
This book review provides insight into the content and purpose of the book, The Emergence of Man, but even more interestingly, provides insight into the intellectual beliefs of the reviewers, their personal dispositions, and the dominant theories of the late 1960’s.
Pfeiffer graciously thanks the panel of book reviewers for their efforts and then sets out to succinctly address each of their individual concerns. In a number of instances he acknowledges that the criticism has some merit and suggests that their will be a revision or inclusion in a later edition. It is implied in many of his responses, as it was in the criticisms of the reviewers, that unfortunately not every detail of every theory surrounding human evolution could be included. In response to Leaky’s criticism he replies that Leaky should have spent more time reading the book and that many of Leaky’s points are addressed in the later chapters.
BOONE W. SHEAR Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Phillips, Claude S., Jr. Education for Mankind: Report on an International Conference. Current Anthropology February, 1971 Vol.12(1):75-81.
Education for Mankind is a report written by Claude Phillips on an international Conference assembled for the reason of tackling the issue of educating worldwide with a purpose to disassemble “problems that threaten to disunite mankind” (76). The report on this conference took an intercultural perspective to the problem specifically pointing to four foci as guidance: “intercultural understanding could be best sought through consideration of means (1) to strengthen the cohesive forces which encourage men to live together in peace and harmony; (2) to minimize the divisive forces; (3) to implement the idea of mankind without causing conformity or antagonism; and (4) to apply these notions to intercultural education on a worldwide scale” (76).
Claude Phillips broke his report into two main sections: first and second halves of the weeklong conference. He broke the first half into two segments: pre-conference planning and discussions that took place during the conference. Within the pre-conference he described the method with which the conference was going to be constructed, and a description of the problem and insights to solving the problem. Within the discussion section he described (linearly) dialogue that took place between the people of the conference. First, he described what was argued pertaining to violence and its most popular explanations. Second, he wrote about what was discussed dealing with minorities and within that context conformity was the most popular heading. Phillips went on to report that the topic of the role of religion in education was dropped as soon as it was brought up. From the topic of religion he noted a quick conversion to discussing intercultural understanding and its relation to individuals and cultures. Phillips reported that the second half of the week was dominated by understanding education in the role of all this.
Four commentators, Egbert DeVries, Gerhard Hirschfeld, Seizo Ohe, and Quincy Wright explained their views of the conference. Egbert DeVries said that the conference should have a follow up, and proposed three ideas: a think tank, a permanent group functioning as the conference had, and a worldwide journal pertaining to the issues discussed in the conference. Gerhard Hirschfeld remarked on his enjoyment of the conference and thought that a consideration to bring about a world society marked by peace should be further developed. Seizo Ohe reminisced on the section of discussion that underlined violence. Quincy Wright focused on a summary of the conference, emphasizing a “world safe for diversity” (81).
An ‘afterword’ was written about the conference by Sol Tax, one of the three who helped organize the conference. He wrote that the conference confirmed his idea for the need of a universal humanistic type of education, and that he would like to see a journal started like that which DeVries alluded to.
MATTHEW BAIR Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Quigley, Carroll. Assumption and Inference on Human Origins. Current Anthropology, October-December 1971 V. 12 (4/5): 519-540.
When addressing the subject of human evolution, an anthropologist is presented with a scarce amount of evidence. Someone looking to unlock the secrets of the human past must draw their conclusions from the minimal amount of bones and tools, which have survived in the archaeological record. This lack of evidence can lead to certain assumptions that have become widely accepted today. Carroll Quigley addresses some of these assumptions and their validity in his article, “Assumption and Inference on Human Origins”.
Within this article, Quigley is attempting to displace certain assumptions held by anthropologists as facts. The author is not entirely attempting to present a more accurate description of human origins, but rather to bring to light items that may not be as true as many people have come to believe. The author states, “My suggestions are not offered as being truer, but as alternatives to some of the unproved…assumptions which now block our discussion,” in the introduction of the article.
Quigley presents his argument in a systematic manner; first addressing what the author sees as an assumption then presenting information that is often over looked. The assumptions addressed in the article includes the belief that humans changed from an animal state to a human state rapidly, that humans are a success in evolution, and finally the assumed environment that early hominid evolved within. Using these basic ideas, Quigley brings to light other ideas that have come to be accepted as fact due to the acceptance of these basic ideas.
In his pursuit, Quigley uses a number of studies that are already accepted to back up his views. Pulling evidence from studies considering apes, African wildlife, and the nature of tools and behavior, the author presents a picture of human evolution not typically seen through archaeological evidence. Quigley is of the opinion that without such studies the artifactual remains are insufficient to draw reliable conclusions.
In the conclusion of the article, Carroll Quigley points out that by attempting to dispel assumptions that have become widely held as truths anthropologists are able to “make different assumptions and more persuasive inferences about human origins”. The author points out that this also makes it easier to attempt to explain such changes in humans as increase in size, the loss of body hair, the darkening of skin, and “even, perhaps, the growth of his emotional and hormonal characteristics”.
It should be noted also that Quigley uses masculine words to describe the human being. For instance, Quigley uses “man” instead of “human” or “his/he”. Perhaps this is due to the time period in which the article is written and also that of the dominance of anthropology by men for most of the history of anthropology.
Quigley’s article received fifteen comments from the anthropological world. Perhaps, it should be noted that Carroll Quigley is actually a professor of history and not an affiliate of anthropological studies. While most of the commentary expressed some agreement with Quigley’s views, the majority of the commentary pointed out certain places where Quigley’s explanations fell short of having enough considerable information. A couple of the reactions accused Quigley, himself, of using assumptions in his arguments that had already been disregarded by many anthropologists. Others pointed out the author’s strong use of strict opposing ideas such as “man or animal” and “nature or culture”. The strongest reactions came from the author’s idea that humans have somehow moved above nature by way of culture. Many of the responding anthropologists were quick to dismiss Quigley’s own conclusions while at the same time acknowledging that his logical analysis of human evolution may be valuable for future anthropologists.
KATIE LATHAM Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)
Wright, Gary. Origins of Food Production in Southwestern Asia: A Survey of Ideas. Current Anthropology, Oct.-Dec., 1971 Vol. 12(4/5): 447-477.
At the time of publication of this article, many ideas about the origins of food production were circulating, which Wright summarizes here. He discusses these different ideas in light of new information at the time. Initial hypotheses cannot be criticized too much, for they made sense at the time. However, in light of the current data, these needed to change. The foundation was built off of initial developments, and neglected to change immensely over time. Wright makes it clears that his purpose is “to show how anthropology has advanced in its attempts to solve one important problem in one particular area.” In the past, Biblical history was a driving force for study, until about 1950; thus, early agriculture was neglected. Wright does more than provide a survey of ideas; he includes the historical archaeological research in the area, dating from even the 1500s. One important note to consider is that the actual testing of thoughts on the foundation of food production in southwestern Asia did not begin until the late 1940s, in Iraq.
Wright makes the case that merely describing and dating the “new culture does not explain the new adaptation and man-land relationship.” His search for more in depth analysis leads to new approaches, and changing ideas in this area of study and research. Wright undertakes an immense task in writing about this vast of a topic. Early models discuss the evolutionary stages of agriculture; Wright says, “Many different cultural-evolutionary schemes of universal history were formulated in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of these evolutionary classifications began with a hunting and gathering stage.” Although some of these approaches are problematic for whatever reason, there is some sense in them. Wright comments on several more approaches dealing with one part of the problem or another: the deterministic culture-environment point of view, including the oasis hypothesis by Childe, the three-stage evolutionary theory (from hunting, to pastoralism, to agriculture), environmental determinism, propinquity theory, an ecological approach, and more. He focuses on the Flannery-Binford model to evaluate a contemporary idea. Based on much evidence, it is suggested that food production did indeed begin in southwestern Asia. The resulting decision is that this agricultural modification was a result of a mixture of climatic change (from the glaciations in the area onward) and population increases in the area.
As Wright outlines the work of many people over time it becomes clear that this is not an easy subject, but rather a hugely complex debate. The work of these people led to further investigations and paved the way for others. Wright includes a lot of information on the short amount considering historical basis of ideas in the region; he summarizes these theories in a relatively short article considering the expansive content.
The comments that are included offer a hefty amount of criticism. Most commentators agree on part of Wright’s paper, but say he neglected important points. Skimming and summarizing a few of the major theories and focusing mainly on one, namely the Flannery-Binford model, was also problematic for some commentators. On another note, some commentators enjoyed the summation of Wright’s work, and decidedly think it to be valuable work. Both extremes are represented in the comments, but not without explanation. This helps to get an understanding of problematic factions of Wright’s argument.
If this is your area of study or interest it will be most helpful to read the author’s reply. Wright supports his argument while accepting some of the comments as true. However, he does not change his argument; rather, he only attempts to explain it further. While he attempts to clarify the paper, he also adds some of his own assumptions and ideas. He closes the reply with this statement referring to the Flannery-Binford hypothesis: “I think it is the best hypothesis at present. If it proves wrong…that is fine with me. I am interested in the solution to an important anthropological problem.” Wright accomplished his goal of summarizing the history of ideas in this area, and thus leaves it to future finds to decide.
DANIELLE NORDBROCK Western Michigan University (Bilinda Straight)